This post was last updated in October 2018
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Understanding Instagram Limits and Possibilities
Some call Instagram the next Facebook; some call it the cat’s meow. 😼 One thing you can’t call it is random. This photo and video sharing app is a sure thing if you want to grow your brand and build a community. The Instagram possibilities are endless and if your brand is joining the party, it’s never been more critical to make sure your plan is current and up to date.
Gone are the days of posting a photo and adding a filter. One word captions without a hashtag? Might as well roll the dice.
No location? No exposure. And can you survive without an aesthetic? Technically yes, but why would you? And we are not talking about facials. Have no fear, throw on a mask and read on.
2018 is the year brands will learn how to push the limits on Instagram and beyond to meet a goal and find that precious ROI. If your 2018 marketing goals and objectives include Instagram, you might see things are a bit more complicated, tricky, and strategy has never been more important
Most in demand for 2018? Followers, reach, exposure, and impressions. While you are trying to weed through the feed for answers and opportunity, be sure you understand Instagram’s capacity for characters, hashtags, and more.
The following is a list of Instagram limits to help craft, tweak, and expand your Instagram possibilities.
Your Instagram Aesthetic
You just need one. Every brand should have its own Instagram aesthetic that matches its look and feel. An Instagram aesthetic is the uniform design and style you curate and edit your Instagram feed. According to social media speaker and Instagram trainer Peg Fitzpatrick, there is not a right or wrong Instagram aesthetic. Although there is one certainty: to be successful on Instagram your brand should have a well thought out Instagram aesthetic. Your brand is an extension of you, let your feed reflect that. Whether it’s dividing your feed with pictures and quotes or bringing that vibrant personality of yours to life with a colorful feed, let your Instagram aesthetic be a reflection of you.
Instagram Caption Character Limit
2,200 characters (about 400 words)
While most captions are short and sweet, longer form captions are a way to share your story with more depth. This can be a huge opportunity for storytelling and using Instagram posts as mini blog posts or a way to feature brand or industry news.
5 Tips for Longform Instagram Posts
- Less is more. Even though Instagram offers 2200-characters, this does not mean you must use them all up. Get to the point and minimize the scrolling.
- Using more than one image? Serialize them (1/4, 2/4, etc.) journalism style your followers know they are part of a series.
- Use hashtags with relevant keywords and locations at the end to optimize and reach a wider and targeted audience.
- Make sure to Geotag every post for the chance to reach people in your area.
- Direct followers to a specific website or blog by referring them to a specific link in your bio.
- Customize. Make the custom URL very short and memorable.
One of my faves for going “all in” for Instagram captions is Danielle Radulski, and here is the perfect example.
❤️Attachment to L I K E S ✔️To comments 🙋🏼To engagement 🙈To outcomes. ⠀ I was talking with a couple friends last night and we got into a conversation about social media. About the peaks and valleys, About the opportunities and the pitfalls. ⠀ Specifically on Instagram, It’s such a visual platform where we often put SO much time, energy and thought Into what we share… Which makes it honestly HARD not to get attached to outcomes. When you take time to do a photo shoot or pay for the shoot, And then the photo doesn’t get the likes, or comments or engagement that you had expected it was going to get. Or when you take so much time writing out a thoughtful caption, That you feel like no one actually read. Or when you are SO proud and excited of something that you’ve created, And then don’t get the reaction you were hoping for. ⠀ To some it may sound silly, but it’s almost as if you’re Putting out a piece of work- of art, And you want as many people to experience it as possible. ⠀ I have to remind myself often that I AM NOT THE LIKES. I AM NOT THE COMMENTS. I AM NOT THE ENGAGEMENT. ⠀ I am WORTHY no matter what. The ❤️s on my post, don’t determine my worth, Or my value as a human OR as a yoga teacher. ⠀ So here’s a friendly reminder to everyone out there sharing you’re soul… You’re beautiful. You’re WORTH it. You’re making an IMPACT whether you know it or not. ⠀ Happy Friday friends, and happy (almost) New Year 🍾 Wearing all @flexilexi_fitness #flexilexigirls Mat @yogahustle #yogahustle #yogspiration #iamwellandgood #newyearmantras #selfworth #selflove
A post shared by Danielle / Silver Lining Yoga (@danielle_radulski) on Dec 29, 2017 at 6:48am PST
Instagram Hashtag Limit
- Rumor Alert!…If you follow Hashtags your profile might be favored if you’re following hashtags. So follow your favorites!
- Spamtags! you can have 30 hashtags in a post, this can now be picked up as spam. What’s the sweet spot? Some people say they seem to have better reach and engagement with around 5 unique hashtags.
- Hashtag You’re It! Fitzpatrick says “I suggest using tags that have high search results, but not SO many that they’re too popular and your post will immediately get buried in all the others that are being uploaded like crazy.”
Social PR Secret: Be Unique! Don’t use the same hashtags over and over.
Instagram Bio 😎 Character Limit
150 characters including emojis. You can now also add live hashtags to your bio as well as links to your company or brand profile.
Number of Tags in an Instagram Photo
Only 20 people can be tagged in a post. (I tested this!)
The Instagram ❤️ Limits
There is a limit on the number of likes you can perform on an Instagram photo. This limit is 350 likes per hour.
One… the Instagram Link Limits
The maximum number of links in an Instagram Bio: One.
Social PR Secret: If you need to share more than one link, here is a tool you can do more with: https://linktr.ee/
Caption Display in the User’s Feed
Within users’ feeds, the caption is cut off after the first three lines. If you want your entire caption to display in the feed, we recommend adding a caption of 125 characters or fewer.
Social PR Secret: Front load it with crucial details and calls-to-action, leaving any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.
Mentions on Instagram Stories
Instagram stories help you pop up more in your audience’s newsfeed.
You can mention up to 10 people in each photo or video you share in your Instagram Story and it can only be 15 seconds.
Social PR Secret: Be sure to tag people and brands RELEVANT to your post. This will help get more exposure if done properly. Or it could lead to your account getting reported for abuse or blocked if done in a spammy way.
You can have up to 10 pictures can be added on a single post. (I tested this)
Follow/Unfollow Limit Per Hour
As far as I’ve been able to confirm, Instagram only allows you to follow/unfollow 160 people per hour.
Instagram Live Time Limits
You can go live on Instagram for up to an hour.
Instagram Live Stories Limits – Appear at Top of your Followers Feed:
The limit that your Instagram Live Stories appear at the top of your followers’ news feeds is for 24 hours.
Instagram Posts Per Day Limit
You can have 100 Instagram posts per day.
Instagram Users Following You
There is no limit on how many people can follow you on Instagram.
- Exposure for Engagement! Responding to comments left on your posts within 60 minutes could help your posts get a boost in reach.
- Comment Bots: The emojis or comments like “Great pic!” or “Love it!” supposedly now do NOT count as engagement. — Try using 4 words or more!
- No More Comment tags – Hashtags that you post in the comments section of your post will no longer display under search results. Now you have to include hashtags in the body of your caption only.
- You can NOT include more than five @ mentions in a single comment.
- You can NOT include more than 30 hashtags in a single comment.
- You can NOT post the same comment multiple times (including emoji.)
Instagram Image Limits
- You can NOT share images that include nudity.
- You are not allowed to praise terrorism, organized crime, or hate groups. You cannot support them on the site. Likewise, you cannot offer sexual services, or the buying and selling of firearms, drugs, or anything else restricted by law. Online gambling is allowable only with written permission from Instagram.
- You are not allowed to make “credible threats” or hate speech, or anything that targets individuals in an attempt to shame them or bully them in any way. In general, anything that could be construed as a threat, bullying, or an insult can be removed at Instagram’s discretion.
- You are not allowed to glorify self-harm, which includes cutting, but also includes eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Instagram has a help center page dedicated to helping others with these disorders. If you encourage, 4chan style, users to harm themselves, Instagram not only will ban your account, they may refer you to local law enforcement.
You must be over the age of 13 to use Instagram.
To help reduce spam, Instagram does not allow you to follow more than 7,500 people.
If you have a new account that has only been active for a few months, you can follow/unfollow around 20 accounts an hour, with the limit being 100-200 users a day.
Instagram rolled out a long-form video platform earlier this year that lets you engage with your community for longer than an Instagram story does.
- Videos can only be 15 seconds short or 10 minutes long (select accounts can be up to an hour long, with the hour-long option becoming available to everyone shortly)
- Videos can only be uploaded in vertical form
- Pick a cover photo for your video that you love! Once you pick it, you can’t go back and edit it
Video Chat in Direct Messaging Limits
You can only video chat with people you are currently directly messaging! So you won’t be able to video accounts you haven’t had a conversation with.
Good news, there is no time limit on video chat! Feel free to chat away to your heart’s content.
You can video chat with up to four people using Direct Messaging.
You can still browse Instagram while you are on a video chat! Just click the minimize button on the left and your friends face will appear in the corner of your screen for you to drag around.
Instagram Highlights Limits
A max of four highlights shows across your profile so keep the most important ones front-loaded by updating them regularly.
Your highlight name will cut off somewhere between 8-10 letters, so keep your highlight names short and sweet!
You can add up to 100 photos or videos to a Story Highlight, and there’s no limit to how many Highlights you can create, according to TechCrunch. https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/05/instagram-stories-highlights/
Delete or Archive it
- The 24 Hour Edit Rule Do NOT edit your caption for 24 hours after posting.
- Delete+Repost = Yikes! Do NOT delete your post and then repost it.
If you decide after you publish something you don’t like it, it’s not performing or any issues – delete it or archive it and move on. (Note: the only problem is you might mess up your aesthetic, so weigh the pros and cons, strive for excellence, not perfection.)
Brands are challenged more than ever to pass the Instagram success limits in 2018. If there is one thing brands should not limit is the continued education to stay up to speed on Instagram’s constant change.
Do this by following credible and reliable sources such as the Instagram business blog.
Anyone who grew their Instagram following before the algorithm and is still talking about tips and tricks pre-algorithm may NOT be a credible source. This is difficult for Instagram newbies to decipher and easy to mask.
How To Get Verified: The Famous Blue Checkmark
The elusive blue checkmark has long been impossible to pin down. Now, however, we have the limits and qualifications you need to add one to your page!
- Reach a large audience: the larger the audience the more likely to be approved.
- Make sure your page has, “authenticity, uniqueness, completeness and notability”
- Go to your settings and find “request verification” fill out the information and cross your fingers!
Sources: Instagram Kiplinger Program Updates from Feb 2018 - The Pigeon Letters Sue Zimmerman Big Cat Creative Instagram Getting verified
Image Sources: Deposit photos Peg Fitzpatrick Danielle Rudulski
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I only recommend brands, products and companies that I use and truly love.