If there’s one thing that we all know in this industry, Instagram isn’t a fan of cannabis. Everything from its algorithm to its privacy controls are on the prowl for cannabis-related content. Your account is just waiting to shadowbanned or shut down.
Something as small as hashtags could put you at risk of getting your cannabis Instagram account disabled.
Hashtags are important for cannabis social media
From tried-and-true platforms like Instagram and Twitter, to newer ones like TikTok, hashtags are an important part of social media strategy. Clicking on a hashtag leads to a gallery or feed of posts using that particular hashtag. As an example, #cannabis on Instagram shows you the top and latest posts for that tag.
Hashtags give users the ability to explore related posts and connect with others who have the same interests. In other words, when you use the right hashtags for your brand, your content becomes searchable. It can be discovered by new audiences, translating into account growth.
While there’s no denying the benefits of implementing a hashtag strategy, there’s a lot to keep up with on Instagram. Since its launch in 2010, the app has constantly made changes to the best practices of using hashtags.
What are the recent changes to Instagram hashtags?
In the early days, cannabis brands and creators would hashtag every word they could think of, relevant or not. Nowadays, you need to research cannabis hashtags before using them, otherwise the algorithm can dock points against you.
The answers to common questions around Instagram hashtag strategy are regularly changing. Common questions are:
- Where do you put the hashtags?
- How many hashtags should you add?
- How do you know which hashtags to choose?
Best practices for Instagram hashtags are constantly changing
Best practices have changed more than once in just the past couple of years. In 2021, they’ve even changed more than once in a matter of months!
For instance, it was once considered better to add hashtags in the comments instead of the post caption itself. This not only made brand posts “cleaner,” but it was also seen as more accessible. This practice would prevent a string of words being read aloud for users with screen readers.
However, in a more recent post by Instagram explaining how the search feature works, they share:
“For a post to be found in Search, put keywords and hashtags in the caption, not the comments.”
Instagram bans and hides some political hashtags
The app has started a new wave of commitment to safety and privacy. Since the 2020 U.S. elections, Instagram has been banning and hiding hashtags to help stop the spread of false information or inflammatory content.
While Instagram’s intent might have come from the right place, the censorship of hashtags has created an obstacle for creators. Those in more restricted industries, such as cannabis, face challenges.
Using banned hashtags will restrict your posts
Using banned hashtags can set your cannabis account back from non-cannabis counterparts. If you use a banned hashtag – whether it’s #snapchat or #cannabiscures – your post will be restricted from being shown to followers and other app users. Using banned hashtags may also internally flag your account for its content.
In combination with Instagram’s newer features, like Sensitive Content Controls, using one wrong hashtag could make it hard for your post to gain traction.
The app continues to scrutinize cannabis-related content. Banned cannabis hashtags are likely to have a greater risk for your account and your social media strategy.
What hashtags should cannabis accounts be using?
Selecting the right cannabis hashtags on Instagram is half the battle. As a cannabis marketing agency that’s been through it all on social media, we recommend the following:
- Do hashtag research regularly (about once every other month or more frequently)
- Keep tabs on popular, relevant hashtags in your community
- Ensure the hashtags you use are not being banned without your knowledge
Hashtags work similarly to SEO keyword research. In addition to helping you brainstorm content ideas, you’ll learn which cannabis hashtags are popular and how likely it is for you to gain popularity.
For instance, let’s say you want to gain awareness for your CBD skincare products on Instagram.
If you use the hashtag #CBD, you’re competing with 13.8M other posts. Whereas if you use #CBDskincare, you’re not only getting more specific, but you’re only competing with 352K other posts.
In this case, the “most popular” hashtag isn’t always worth it. Depending on your following size, your ideal target range of hashtag volume will vary.
When we conduct hashtag research for our cannabis clients, we spread the 30 Instagram hashtags out to get a healthy range of volume. We focus the majority of the hashtags on those that align with your account and audience. This ensures your posts get the recognition they deserve.
How to check if a cannabis hashtag is banned
To check if a cannabis hashtag has been hidden or banned:
- Search your tag into the Instagram search bar with a #
- Pay close attention to the results and search predictions
- If the tag doesn’t come up with a result, it’s likely that it’s banned
For instance, there are no results found for #cannabisheals. However, if a tag appears, you should investigate it further. Many hashtags are hidden by Instagram and will be noted as such in the search results.
While not all cannabis hashtags are completely hidden or banned, use them with caution. Our social media team recommends avoiding hashtags with the phrase “cannabis” completely unless they’re niched down.
Cannabis hashtags to avoid
Here’s a list of hidden and banned cannabis hashtags on Instagram to avoid: