Since June 2016, Instagram requires all third-party suppliers to abide by the 4-hashtag rule. This includes hashtags used in your comments as well as the photo caption. They have introduced this to reduce hashtag spam. Now the confusion here is the fact that the app itself will still allow for 30 hashtags to be used. Why are we limited to just four?
In case you are interested, here is the official Instagram developer documentation
, which says:Create a comment on a media object with the following rules:
- The total length of the comment cannot exceed 300 characters.
- The comment cannot contain more than 4 hashtags.
- The comment cannot contain more than 1 URL.
- The comment cannot consist of all capital letters
Since we're working with some of the very largest agencies, we can't risk getting shut down using other ways to work around that limitation. In fact, also in June 2016, Instagram made true on their threat to shut down the majority of applications using their old API (read more here
). This even included access for major apps like Flipboard, IFTTT and many others.
Why are they suddenly so strict about this?
At the end of the day, Instagram does not want anyone to use "posts" as free advertising. We suspect they have a two-step approach to shut this behaviour down as follows:Step 1
is to differentiate all accounts into so-called consumer and business profiles (many will do this in hopes of preferential treatment). Step 2
is to direct-market to (and monitor) the business profiles to get them to purchase actual advertising through Instagram and Facebook's Ad Manager. As of right now, Instagram isn't making a single dollar from any of the people using services like ours. They only make money from consumers scrolling through their feeds and consuming ads. So this has become their primary mission — monetize the non-consumers.
Now, what's so annoying is how they are communicating those limitations. Publicly, there isn't much information on the 4-hashtag limit (there is if you want to spend some time searching for it), but to third-party suppliers, they are pushing this without mercy at the moment.
The app still supports up to 30 hashtags, but when the time is right, they'll start enforcing this in the app as well. It's just that every time they do something as drastic as that, it'll generate a massive outcry. What's already starting to happen in the background is that not all of those 30 hashtags are actually driving traffic to your account. To a real person, those 30 hashtags mean nothing, they are purely annoying. And Instagram wants to get rid of this but at the same time not cause a massive chaos.