Instagram about to remove Top 9 for hashtags

Instagram might be getting rid of the Top 9 images for hashtags that normally are placed on top of the screen under each tag. Getting into the top 9 has been a great way to get your posts exposed to people who are not among your regular followers.

One of of my Instagram accounts I noticed today that the Top 9 posts are gone. In that place there are now two tabs and two feeds for each hashtag:

  1. Top Posts
    The left tab shows top posts under this hashtag and there is no limit in terms of number. So there are more than 9 posts, you can scroll down to find as many as you like.
  2. Recent Posts
    The right tab shows the most recent posts under this hashtag.

What does this mean?

There has been a lot of speculation as to whether hashtags are becoming less important or not. Some say they see less reach from hashtags and then there is the entire issue of the infamous shadow ban. But I believe that hashtags will continue to be an important tool, since Instagram recently added the ability to follow hashtags.

A new tab with a feed of the top post will show more high quality photos or videos, that Instagram assumes you will like. So hashtags will continue to be important as a means to reach non followers.

Note: follow me on Instagram at @kullin

Read my travel blog at hanskullin.se

One of the best travel experiences during 2017 was our visit to Crater Lake in Southern Oregon. This spectacular lake is actually inside the caldera of a volcano. It is also the lake in the US with the clearest water since no rivers flow into the lake. This is one of the top travel destinations of 2017, read more on the blog (link in bio). . . #craterlakenationalpark #craterlake #southernoregon #traveloregon #oregonexplored #oregonnw #cascadiaexplored #pnwdiscovered #exploregon #sky_brilliance #travelgram #wanderlust #beautifuldestinations #neverstopexploring #goexplore #passionpassport #exploringtheglobe #ilovetraveling #oregonhikes #theamericancollective #theIMAGED #visualambassadors #royalsnappingartists #teamtravelers #vscoexplore

Ett inlägg delat av Hans Kullin ✈︎ Travel (@kullin)

 

Petition! Instagram Users Are Banned From Using Hashtags

The concept of a shadow ban on Instagram is a much debated topic, and a controversial one. There is no real evidence that it exists and Instagram has never verified that there is such a thing. The shadow ban is a term used by the Instagram community as a description for when a user’s posts is not showing up under hashtags, which it would normally do. The “shadow” label is due to the fact that to the user, everything looks normal, but if you look at the posts from a non-following account, suddenly posts do not appear. If this “ban” has hit you, only your followers can see your posts, resulting in a significantly lower engagement.

There are basically two different explanations to why this happens. 1) Instagram is banning your posts because you have been engaging in some practice that Instagram defines as spammy. Like using the same hashtags over and over again, or using third party apps or bots to like or follow/unfollow hundreds of accounts. 2) It’s a glitch in the algorithm and you are just unfortunate to be affected.

Thousands are banned from Instagram hashtags
But about two weeks ago, the discussion around the shadow ban reached new levels. That was when many accounts got a message that they had to verify their telephone number to be able to access the account. Many even lost their accounts after this verification incident, others reported that suddenly months of posts were completely gone.

Suddenly hundreds if not thousands of users reported that their photos were completely blocked from hashtags, for no apparent reason. I’ve seen users with very small number of followers, up to one account that has 219.000 followers, all affected by this. And it happened to me too. I noticed on the image below that only my followers were liking and commenting. So I looked at the photo from an account that doesn’t follow me, and that’s when I realized that I had been banned from these hashtags.

 

That’s nine days ago, and I’m still banned. Here’s how my latest photo appears under a hashtag with my name (#hanskullin). Below is how it appears to me, the photo is visible under the hashtag. Above is how it appears from a non following account. The photo is now gone.

Petition to fix the hashtag ban
For many users who have spent countless hours perfecting their Instagram presence, this is a real blow. It is now practically impossible to increase the reach of your content or account. And since Instagram is not addressing the issue, users have started a petition called “Fix The Glitch! Innocent Instagram Users Are Banned From Using Hashtags!”

Petition initiator Adele Giles writes:

“From our understanding, normal ‘shadow banning’ is lifted within a few days. This has not been the case for us. This is not a typical shadow banning for users abusing the terms and conditions, this is a glitch that is affecting those who do not deserve it. We have checked if we are using banned hashtags, we have tried not posting or using Instagram for long periods of time, we have tried all that we can but this is in Instagram’s hands. We need you, Instagram, to help us innocent users get our content registering in hashtags.”

So far more than 700 people have signed the petition that will be delivered to Facebook and Instagram founders Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systom. Let’s at least hope that Instagram will acknowledge that there is a problem affecting innocent users and that they will find a solution.

Hashtags on Instagram not working causes uproar among users

Many users are currently reporting problems with hashtags on Instagram. When some users upload photos that are tagged, their photos do not show up under the hashtags they used. I have read about this issue in discussion forums the last few days and yesterday it happened to me as well.

I uploaded a photo yesterday evening using about 30 tags, which is the maximum number allowed by Instagram. Normally after I have done this, my photo would immediately show up under the hashtags that I used. But now it didn’t. In fact, on the tags that I had used, almost no new photos from the last hour or so showed up, even on tags where there usually are new photos uploaded every minute, like #reflections.

It was soon obvious to me that this was an actual thing, not something that only I noticed in my app. Normally I get a small number of likes, say 10-15, during the first few minutes after uploading a photo. And many of them are from non followers because they discover my photos elsewhere than in their feed.

Now, however, notifications were almost silent. Only a single like or two during the first five to ten minutes, and only from followers. This was a clear sign that my photo was only visible to my followers.

Hashtags on Instagram aren’t working

So I started to investigate. None of the tags I had used displayed almost any recent photos. Some 30-40 minutes ago, some from an hour ago. My photo did not show up anywhere.

I logged in to other accounts but the results were the same, even for tags that I had not used in this photo. So had I been shadow banned? I don’t know, the concept of shadow ban is controversial and many experts say it doesn’t exist. Shadow ban is a theory that a user is somehow being punished by Instagram’s algorithm, resulting in their photos not being displayed under hashtags.

After about 2-3 hours the problem seemed to have been resolved and my photo was visible again on the hashtags. It even got promoted to the top 9 trending hashtags on more than 10 tags, so clearly all was fine again.

>> Follow my travel blog here. <<

Users are upset

It was soon clear that this problem was affecting lots of people. Instagram tweeted out this weekend’s hashtag project and the replies to this tweet are mainly about the tag issue.

instagram_hashtags_not_working2

In a Facebook group about social media, people were frustrated because their photos tanked and weren’t displayed at all.

hashtagdiscussion

There does not seem to be a workaround for users at the moment, should this issue continue. My only recommendation at the moment is to check the hashtags before you publish and see if they are displaying recent photos. If not, maybe you should wait and publish later.

Also, check Twitter discussions and see if other people are having the same problem with hashtags. Then at least you will know it is a general Instagram bug and not someting that you did.

Footnote: follow me on Instagram for travel photos: @kullin

 

Autofill is not working on Instagram hashtags

The latest update to Instagram apparently has caused a vital feature to stop working. Normally when you post a photo or a video and then want to add some hashtags, Instagram would auto-complete the hashtags with suggestions from tags you’ve previously used.

autofill instagram

For example:

If I type #c in a comment to one of my photos, Instagram would suggest #clouds #cloudscape #cloudstagram if I have used them recently. Or other examples if I type # and another letter.

This makes it easy to add more tags and it also prevents misspelling, which is easily done if you add several hashtags.

Now however, this feature is not working. Instagram won’t autofill any hashtags if you do like I showed above. Instead, the app is now suggesting ALL recently used hashtags if you start typing #. And this is no good because you might want to add only tags related to black and white photography if you post a bnw photo, so now you have to scroll through all of them to find the appropriate ones. And not only that, you can only add one at a time from the suggested list, so this makes it all more time consuming.

Hopefully it is just a bug and I really hope Instagram will restore the autofill feature to what it was before the last update.

Popular hashtags temporarily suspended on Instagram

One of the most common advices on how to get more likes and followers on Instagram is to use popular hashtags on your photos. By doing that, your photos and videos can be discovered by other people than just the ones that follow you.

Instagram removes recent photos from some popular hashtags
But for quite some time, Instagram has had major problems with spam and inappropriate content. Some of the most commonly used hashtags have been flooded with offensive content that do not follow the community guidelines. That can for example be nudity, threats or hate speech.

Instagram’s response to this problem has been to completely remove the “Most Recent” section from the app/site for that hashtag and only show Top Posts. This is done for a limited period.

Some of the top hashtags that have been affected by this problem recently are:

#fun
#swag
#cute
#sun
#sunrise
#sunset
#clouds

cute_hashtag

sunset_hashtag

sunrise_hashtag

sun_hashtag

clouds_hashtag

These are among the most used hashtags and if you use them in order to increase visibility for your photos, there is a real risk that it will not work. Only top posts will be visible under these hashtags and no new users will see your photos.

My advice is that before you tag a photo on Instagram with a popular hashtag, always check if the tag has been temporarily suspended. If not, then it’s ok. But if it has, choose other tags.

To find relevant tags to use you can for example:

  • Find top 100 hashtags on Websta.me
  • Go to the search tab on Instagram and see trending hashtags
  • Visit a hashtag page on Instagram and find up to five related hashtags on that topic

Note: find me on Instagram at @kullin

Instagram removes time stamps and here’s what I don’t like about it

Instagram has added a new follow button on images that you find when you search on a specific hashtag or location. This change has the potential to increase the number of accounts users follow because it removes a few steps. Now if you see an image you like you can instantly follow that account with one click as opposed to before when you had to click on the user profile in order to follow that account.

It’s a smart move but the downside of this change is that the follow button has replaced the time stamp (“Följ” is Follow in Swedish).

instabutton2

I think the loss of the time stamp is bad for two reasons.

Hashtags on old photos
First of all, searching for images from a location or from different hashtags is a great way to discover new accounts to follow. But some people like to game the system and I don’t want to follow such accounts. Some people have a habit of deleting and adding hashtags to old photos just to get more likes and followers. And since Instagram displays images in reverse chronological order under hashtags, the images with the most recent hashtags are displayed first, even if they are a year old.

Previously you could instantly see if a photo was old, but now you can’t see the difference between an image that was uploaded 10 minutes ago and one that is 10 weeks old. Well, you can, but you have to click on the user profile and scroll through that person’s feed. In the feed, time stamps are still visible.

Photos in Instagram competitions
The second reason is that when brands arrange competitions on Instagram, there are almost always a time frame in which photos need to be uploaded to be eligable for a prize. If an image is uploaded after a certain time and date, it can’t win the competition. Previously you could see that immediately under a competition hashtag in Instagram, but now you can’t. You can still do this on sites like Iconosquare so it’s not a big problem.

The replacement of the time stamp is somewhat of a trade off. It removes a few steps in one place and adds them in another. I would have liked if Instagram could have kept it and still add the new follow button.

Follow med on Instagram: @kullin

Hello from the other side

Ett foto publicerat av Hans Kullin (@kullin)