How To Avoid Blocked Hashtags On Instagram

Did you know that you aren’t allowed to use the hashtag #books on Instagram?
Until today, I certainly didn’t.


Instagram have been blocking some terms – mostly to do with sexism, sexual content, body shaming and bullying, or so I thought. It’s called a shadowban: posts using blocked tags are less visible than others, and repeated use can result in more definite blocking of posts or accounts.

Surely there’s nothing offensive about #books though? Yet it’s one of the hashtags that will cause your posts to drift into obscurity.

As an author, reader, book reviewer and all-round book nerd, that’s a trap I’ve fallen into more than once, but thankfully my love for tags like #bookstagram and #booklover has been saving my bookish hide more often than I ever realised.

I did find a rather extensive list of hashtags banned by Instagram, courtesy of the great people over at, but I don’t really want to go and consult another site and spend my valuable time reading through horrible words – and some of them are horrible – in order to find out if something relatively innocent is also blocked.

I’d rather be able to check quickly and easily inside the app itself. And that is quite do-able, even if you’re a novice.

Follow these handy and simple instructions to discover if a term you want to use is acceptable without consulting a long list somewhere that may even be out of date by now.

1. When you’re using the Instagram app, click on the search icon. It’s the one that looks like a magnifying glass.

2. Type in the hashtag you want to use. A list of possible tags will come up. So far, it looks like #books is okay.

3. Next, click on the Tags tab of the search window. #books is still there and still looks alright. However…

4. Tap on that tag in the list and scroll down, you will find only a few images, followed by a message that says the tag has been banned because reports have been made regarding inappropriate content.

If you go ahead and use the tag, nobody will see your tag because they can’t find posts using that tag, either. And your other tags might also end up being blocked. So might your account.

Nobody wants to end up there.

So, as authors and book lovers, we need to tag our posts differently so that other book lovers will find our posts.ScreenHunter_439 Mar. 13 19.13

When you click on a tag that is not blocked, you’ll see some further “related” tags that you could use in your posts. Notice, though, that this does not exist for #books.

I’ve slogged through a whole bunch of these “related tags” to find some great hashtags with good popularity that you can use safely – for now, anyway.

Try some of these great tags for your bookish posts:

If you’re posting images or reviews of books you’ve enjoyed, consider some of these:

My final piece of good news is that if you have been using a blocked hashtag, you can rescue your posts and make them fully visible again.

1. For each post, click on the three dots to the right of your username.

2. Choose edit from the menu.

3. Scroll to your hashtags and change or remove the banned one.

4. Click on ‘done’ and your post will be back to full visibility.


Handy hint: if you “like” your own post once you’ve changed it, your post will re-enter the general Instagram feed.
It’s a good idea to do this one or two posts at a time, not all at once, so you don’t flood your followers’ feeds.

Facebook Page Ratings and Reviews: The How and Why.

How did I not know that this existed?

How did I not know about this?

Even though I’ve been on Facebook for about a squillion years – I was an early adopter – I’ve only just discovered the feature called ‘Reviews’. It has been around for years, but I’ve never used it before.

Then again, I’ve not really had a page apart from my personal profile until late-ish last year when I emerged onto the world stage as a budding poet with many important things to say.

As an author, the way I’ve learned to use Facebook is entirely different than the “look at me” and “look at my selfie” way I used to drive the social media bus. These days, I don’t want people to look at me. I want them to look at my work, discover my books, and tell their friends about them, too. I want to be read, not noticed.

That’s where Facebook reviews and ratings come into the picture.

Facebook reviews and ratings help by leading potential customers to trust your brand or products.

According to Review Trackers,  71% of people say they “somewhat” or “completely” trust what they read on Facebook. At the same time, 66% of consumers regularly share feedback, thoughts and opinions on their purchases using social media.
In short – if someone likes your work enough to leave a review or rating, that’s going to be an encouragement to other people to try it for themselves.

Reviews can also help by increasing your engagement with your audience.
If a new visitor sees that you’ve responded positively to your previous visitors, that will also encourage them to trust you and your products. The more you engage with your audience, the more likely they are to become return customers.

How to add the Reviews tab to your page:

1. Navigate to your page
2. Click on ‘Settings’ at the top right-hand side.

ScreenHunter_416 Apr. 24 19.11
3. Click on ‘Edit page’.

4. Under Templates, scroll down to where it says ‘Add a Tab’.ScreenHunter_418 Apr. 24 19.12

ScreenHunter_419 Apr. 24 19.12
5. Click on ‘Add a tab’.

6. Click ‘Add Tab’ on ‘Reviews’, then on the ‘Close’ button.

ScreenHunter_419 Apr. 24 19.13

7. Rearrange your tabs by clicking on the icon that looks like three little lines next to the title of the tab and dragging up or down.

ScreenHunter_420 Apr. 24 19.13

I have rearranged the tabs so that the Reviews tab is at the top, immediately under ‘About’ and above ‘Likes’ so that it’s always in a prominent place and easily seen by visitors to my page.

When you’ve completed these steps, visitors to your page will be invited to leave a review.

There is one catch.
If someone leaves a negative review, you can’t delete it. Only the reviewer can delete a review.

You can, however, report it and have it removed if you can show that it is not a fair review.
Having a bunch of positive reviews and interactions on your page is your best resource in that situation.

If it turns out that you don’t like the Reviews feature, or if it’s not working for you, you can simply disable the reviews by removing the Review tab, following a similar process to that used to add the tab in the first place.

Leaving Reviews.

Leaving a review is easy. You choose how many stars out of five, and leave a short comment. The minimum length is 40 characters.  It can be as simple as “Your book covers are fantastic. I love the colours and design.” This would work perfectly well as a positive review.
This means that helping a small business or Indie author/musician/whatever  by leaving a positive review could take as little as 30 seconds out of your day.

If you’ve read the book, heard the song, received a beautiful hand-made card or eaten a delicious meal at a restaurant, leaving a review is a great way to acknowledge the work that went into bringing you pleasure.

My Commitment.

I’m going to spend some time over the next weeks leaving reviews and ratings for the Facebook pages for authors and books I’ve been reading and appreciating lately.

I’m going to make this an ongoing thing. In conjunction with the reviews I write and post on Amazon, Goodreads and my Book Squirrel blog, I’m going to make a point of leaving a review on the author’s and/or the book’s Facebook page.

The Challenge:

It would be fantastic if you would do that for the writers and other Indies you know, too.

Not only will that brighten a writer’s day, it just might help them sell a book or two.

Great Hashtags for Indie Authors

Following my previous post about how to use hashtags effectively, I thought it might be helpful to provide you with a list of hashtags that work well for Indie authors.

Hashtag_exampleMy aim in this post is not to give you every hashtag that writers use, but to provide you with a functional list of the most common, and therefore the most valuable.



Hashtags for connecting with other authors:


  • #AmWriting
  • #AmEditing
  • #WordCount
  • #WriterWednesday (or #WW)
  • #WritersLife
  • #PoetTues
  • #IndieAuthors
  • #NaNoWriMo
  • #WritingPrompt
  • #Creativity
  • #WIP (work in progress)
  • #WritersBlock
  • #WritingTips
  • #WriteTip
  • #WritersTellMe
  • IndieAuthorsBeSeen

Hashtags for identifying and connecting with other bloggers: 

  • #blog
  • #blogger
  • #blogging
  • #bloggerswanted
  • #bloggersrequired

Hashtags for connecting by genre:


  • #Romancehashtags_o_2430667
  • #SciFi
  • #KidLit
  • #PNR  (Paranormal Romance)
  • #MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
  •  #MemoirChat
  • #FlashFic
  • #Romance
  • #Horror
  • #FanFic
  • #YA
  • #History
  • #Poetry

Hashtags for connecting with publishing colleagues:

  • #GetPublished
  • #BookMarket
  • #BookMarketing
  • #PromoTip
  • #SelfPublishing
  • #SelfPub
  • #Publishing
  • #AskAgent
  • #AskAuthor
  • #AskEditor
  • #EBooks
  • #IndiePub (or #IndiePublishing)
  • #BookMarketing
  • #PubTip

Hashtags for connecting with readers:

  • #books
  • #bookworm
  • #FridayReads
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #MustRead
  • #ReadingList
  • #WorthReading
  • WhatToRead
  • #StoryFriday
  • #TeaserTues
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #free
  • #kindle
  • #nook
  • #iBooks
  • bookslover
  • bookspecials
  • bookpost
  • IndieBooks
  • IndieBooksBeSeen

Hashtags for Instagram only:

  • #writersofinstagram
  • #readersofinstagram
  • #poetsofinstagram
  • writerscommunity
  • #readers

Your own hashtag:

In addition to these, you can also make a hashtag for your own book or brand.

However, if you’re going to do this, make sure it’s unique to you or your book so that you don’t get lost in a haze of brand confusion.

You can see here that #jvlpo was good, but not good enough.

ScreenHunter_416 Apr. 12 15.39







However, #jvlpoet was completely unique to me. I did this same search on both Twitter and Google when deciding on my domain name,

ScreenHunter_417 Apr. 12 15.39


Why You Should Always Have A Pinned Post.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any other social media where you can pin a post, you should.

Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.29
other social media where you can pin a
post, you should.  Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Here’s why.

It is an immediate way for people to see what you’re about – your book, your favourite charity, an upcoming event, social justice issues, whatever it is. 

It also serves as an easy way for people to share your posts and get your message out to even more people. Some of those people will share your interest, and either share your post or follow you. Some will do both. 

In short, it’s a great way to get more attention with minimal effort. 

If you have a good number of new followers on a regular basis, you can change your pinned post each week or each month to give followers and “click-throughs” something new to share on your behalf. 

It’s also a great way to get feedback on the effectiveness of your post.

The stats at the bottom of a pinned tweet tell me how many replies, shares and likes that post has had. Clicking on the little graph icon at the far right gives you even more detail about how far your post has travelled.

ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.32

It can get you more followers and more shares. 

There’s another thing to consider, too. If people click through to your profile and all you have is shares or retweets, they can easily decide you don’t have original thoughts to share and lose interest. Given that they’ve been interested enough to click through to your profile, that’s probably a bunch of shares and prospective followers that you’ve missed out on. 

To pin a post is easy.

On both Twitter profiles and Facebook pages, each post has a little down arrow at the top right-hand side. Click that, and choose “pin etc”.

That will remain your pinned post, and always appear at the top of your profile, until you choose to pin something else there.