Banned hashtags can affect the visibility of your Instagram account when you use them in your captions, posts and comments, but how are you supposed to avoid them when everything from #adulting to #besties could be banned? Initially, hashtags were banned if they were deemed ‘inappropriate’, however with the influx of bots and spam accounts on Instagram’s platform, the company has started implementing even stricter methods which has led to what might seem like ‘everyday hashtags’ to be banned.
In this article, we’re going to explore what banned hashtags are, why they exist and more importantly, how to make sure you never use them on your page.
What are banned hashtags?
Take it from us – hashtags are a great way to increase the reach of your content and account, they can help up your visibility by around 40%, which means 40% more eyes on your content (and those are eyes that might not otherwise have seen it).
But, if you use a hashtag that is actually banned, it might have the opposite effect. This is because Instagram is essentially flagging your post as ‘spam’ when you use a banned hashtag and therefore, not sharing it to a wider audience as they want to minimize spam as much as possible. Banned hashtags are put in place as an indicator of spam content for Instagram’s algorithm, so it knows what content to propel and what content to restrict.
What’s important to remember, is that banned hashtags change every day. A hashtag that might be banned today, could be unbanned tomorrow, which can make it confusing for users to know what is safe, and what isn’t. Because banned hashtags are always changing, your number one goal when it comes to avoiding them, is to make sure you are using safe hashtags in realtime – because you gain the most results from hashtags in the minutes, hours and days after you post.
Types of banned hashtags:
Flagged hashtags: These are temporarily banned hashtags – they are only banned for a short period of time, and could become unbanned. We refer to these as flagged hashtags.
Permanently banned hashtags: These are hashtags that will stay banned, no matter what. They are flagged as ‘spam’, so if you post in these continuously, your account could be penalised.
What are the impacts of using banned hashtags?
You might be in full panic mode at this point, trying to think back on all the times you could have used banned hashtags, but don’t worry, it can all be fixed. So, what happens if you do use a banned hashtag?
Well, you may see a decrease in, or a low level of engagement on the content where you used that banned hashtag. And, if you use them frequently over time, not only will you potentially have a lower engagement level, but your account could be at risk of being flagged long-term (even shadow-banned), especially if they are permanently banned hashtags.
💡When your account has been shadowbanned, it means your posts aren’t discoverable. They’re not being found via hashtags or showing up for anyone who doesn’t already follow you.
For example, the hashtag ‘#tbt’ was so frequently used, that it eventually was flagged by Instagram as spam, and became banned. Now, if you post in the hashtag ‘#tbt’ it’s likely that you could see little results, or lower engagement. Even though these banned hashtags remain searchable, don’t be fooled – using them will still carry the risk of impacting the health of your account.
How do you check if a hashtag is banned?
Like we said before, it can be really hard to guess or predict which hashtags are banned, not only because they are constantly changing, but also because you might not think something like ‘#beautyblogger’ would be banned, when really, it is.
There are two ways that you can check if a hashtag is banned, to make sure that you avoid using them on your own posts – manually or automatically.
How to manually check:
If you know you want to use a particular hashtag but you aren’t sure if it’s banned, you can search for it in Instagram. Once you find it, you can scroll through the images in that hashtag. If it isn’t banned, you should continue to see photos as you scroll. If it is, you will eventually reach an end-point of photos, with a message from Instagram that highlights that the rest of then posts are “currently hidden, because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”
However, checking each and every hashtag to see if it’s banned can be time-consuming, especially when you want to increase your potential for reach, by using the maximum of 30 hashtags every time you post. Luckily, you can also check if a hashtag is banned, automatically.
How to automatically check:
At Flick, we have recently released a tool, that allows you to check if your hashtag selection contains any banned hashtags, before you post. Let’s walk through it, step-by-step.
- Open Flick, and search for the right hashtags that match the post you’d like to publish on your Instagram – more on how to find the right hashtags, here. You can check for banned hashtags whether you are just exporting hashtags for a post, or if you are building a collection of hashtags for the future. You can also check if hashtags in a previous collection have been banned before you use them.
- Once you have your selected hashtags, you can run the banned hashtag scan. This will show you which hashtags out of the ones you have selected, are banned.
- Remove the banned hashtags, and replace them with hashtags that are relevant to your content, but aren’t banned. Run the scan again to make sure, and export your hashtags for use!
If you prefer to learn visually, we’ve also created a video to show you the process below:
No matter how you choose to check for your banned hashtags, it’s essential you make sure you aren’t using them, if you want your account to reach new audiences and your content to receive higher engagement levels. Hashtags are a great way to increase reach, as long as you are using them the right way! For more tips on how to use hashtags effectively, and to make sure you aren’t making any other common mistakes when it comes to hashtag use, take a look at this article.
Click on the banner below if you want to see more about how the new Banned Instagram Hashtag Checker works!