A lot of you have read my previous post on Instagram travel hashtags. It’s become my most popular post on this blog and many have you even reached out to me on Instagram thanking me for it. Unfortunately, there appear to have been some changes to how hashtags work on Instagram.
One of the rumors that increasingly seems to be confirmed is that Instagram is taking further action to control spam. That means anyone that likes too much, comments too much, or follows and unfollows too much might find themselves either temporarily blocked from using those actions. I’m someone who thrives a lot on interacting with lots of people on Instagram. I will comment on a ton of pictures, scroll through feeds liking everyone’s posts and following as many accounts as I find interesting.
In my two years on Instagram, I’ve been blocked from certain actions maybe three times total. In the past month alone, I’ve been blocked three times. It seems like Instagram is lessening their quota for what it means to “spam” on Instagram. It’s completely understandable why they’re doing this, but I definitely think they’re hurting active users by clumping them in with legitimate spam accounts.
Aside from blocking certain actions, many Instagram bloggers have expressed outrage at Instagram’s choice to lower the limit on hashtags per post. You can still post up to 30 hashtags, but basically, they won’t show up on feeds. At first, I thought that this would be devastating to the Instagram community of aspiring bloggers.
However, I do think there could be some benefits if you use it wisely. After experimenting a bit with the limit, here’s basically what I’ve got.
So what is the limit?
In my original post about hashtags, I gave you a long list of hashtags that would be good for travel bloggers. Originally, you could pick up to 30 of them to accompany each Instagram post. Now, it seems that limit has gone down to 10 maximum, with some other bloggers claiming that it is actually now just 5 hashtags.
I’m assuming this was done to clean up hashtag feeds and prevent them from being filled with the same pictures. Most casual Instagram users typically don’t need more than a few hashtags per post. With this change, Instagram appears to be targeting spam accounts, but inadvertently hurting Instagrammers aspiring for large followings.
What does this mean for popular Instagrammers?
Hashtags have been essential to Instagram since they first started being used on the platform. If you used them properly, you could see a huge spike in your likes, followers, and engagement. However, it also kind of served as an engagement cheat code. Instagram users would immediately be flooded with likes that may not have been genuine ever since “automated-liking” services have started popping up.
In the earlier stages, hashtags were genuinely used by casual users to find content they were interested in. Eventually, bots and spam accounts started taking advantage of these to fill up as many hashtag feeds as they could with spam content.
In short, this really slims down the pool of popular Instagram bloggers. Those without loyal followings will be exposed. Accounts whose main source of engagement was through hashtag spamming will be severely hurt by this. Accounts who have legitimate followers who are genuinely interested in what their account has to post will not be hurt at all. In fact, they might actually find that their content will be seen by more people as Instagram weeds out the users that are cheating the system.
Influencers often get a bad rap when they do sponsored work for companies. A lot of companies complain that while the engagement looks alright, the conversions don’t match up. In short, real accounts with real followings will not be hurt. They might actually come out of this better than before. Accounts that scam companies with inauthentic engagement will gradually disappear, making Instagram a much cleaner platform for influencers and companies to work on.
How to make the most of your limited hashtags
Specificity is key. If you have to pick ten (or five) hashtags, which do you think would be the most effective? I would stop using extremely general hashtags like #travel or #travelgram. This is a personal bias but I mostly use hashtags when looking up a specific place. I am in Bali right now and I have been looking through relevant #Bali hashtags to try and find cool spots in Bali.
If you haven’t read my last post, you can check it out here. I have my full list of hashtags there. Try to narrow it down to ten hashtags and definitely experiment as much as you can.
Here would be my ideal set of hashtags for each post.
Two general travel-related hashtags
Make sure these aren’t too general. I use #backpackers and #hostellife because that is my style of travel. It is a lot more specific than just #travel or #wanderlust, so it says more about my account.
Two hashtags to get featured.
I’ve been featured multiple times by multiple accounts, so this is definitely the hardest one for me to narrow down. Yours will vary from mine, but @BBC_Travel and @GuardianTravelSnaps have been my top two accounts to try and get featured by. Their respective hashtags are #bbctravel and #guardiantravelsnaps.
Six hashtags about the place you are at.
Instagram has become a popular place for people to research destinations. My group of friends in Bali last night discussed Nusa Penida simply as the place that everyone Instagrams. A lot of people discover places on Instagram and hashtags are a good way for them to further research that place. It might look stunning in one person’s pictures but if you scroll through the hashtag, you might find that it isn’t entirely that great.
You should revolve the majority of your hashtags around specific places. I am currently living in Ubud, Bali and the hashtags I use are:
Location: #Ubud #Bali #Indonesia #SouthEastAsia
Content of the photo: #RiceTerraces #Ocean
You can mix and match depending on the place you’re at. For example, #SouthEastAsia might be too general so you can add another hashtag for the content of the photo.
Overall, I think this change will be good for the genuine Instagrammers that are struggling to get their content seen above the spam bots. I hope this guide helped. Make sure to follow me on Instagram below!