All About Instagram’s Character Limits
Character limits on certain social media platforms may seem, well, limiting a lot of times, but they also encourage users to be more creative with their content. On Instagram, the character limits imposed on usernames, bios, and captions, as well as the limit on the number of hashtags create consistency throughout the news feed and help facilitate cleaner, more straightforward, and more engaging content.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these Instagram limits and how you can optimize your content in spite of them.
What are the Instagram Character Limits You Should Know About?
Instagram gives users a greater latitude when it comes to caption length, compared to Twitter’s 160-character limit. There is still a character limit, mind you, but it’s generous enough that anybody can get as wordy as necessary to convey their message. Keep in mind, however, that Instagram is more about the visuals, so the caption length limit is rarely a hindrance to one’s freedom of expression.
There are also character limits for the username and bio, which are more understandable. Let’s break down each one for you.
Instagram’s Character Limit on Captions
An engaging post is many things, but one thing that makes it truly effective is when it tells a good story both in words and visuals. Instagram allows users to create lengthy captions for their posts, but the maximum number of characters they can use is 2,200.
That number still represents a lot of words. In fact, everything you’ve read so far up to this POINT is only 1817 characters or 298 words! As you can see, that’s too lengthy for most posts on any social media platform. People rarely read through or even bother browsing over lengthy captions. With so much content to consume online, the majority of users prefer short, to-the-point, interesting, and easily digestible text.
When a post appears on Instagram’s news feed, the accompanying caption that can be readily read are the first 125 characters only. If your caption is longer than 125 characters, your readers will have to tap on “See more…” to reveal the rest of the text. Unless your post is intriguing enough or your audience is a loyal fan, they are less likely to expand your caption in its entirety. So to make sure that you always capture the attention of your target audience, keep your captions to 125 characters or fewer, as much as possible.
Instagram’s Character Limit for Usernames
Understandably, there’s a 30-character limit for the username. A good username, after all, must be easy to remember and relevant to your profile or brand and content.
You’ll have to wear your creative thinking hat to come up with a decent username; with roughly 1 billion active users to date, it’s getting more and more difficult to create a unique and catchy username that’s representative of who you are and that’s still available, i.e., not already taken. Fortunately, there are third-party apps out there that can help you generate good options to choose from or to give you inspiration.
Instagram’s Character Limit for Bios
Your Instagram bio should only be limited to your basic information, including your name, age, location, and a brief introduction. Instagram’s character limit for a bio is 150 characters, which is usually more than adequate to leave the impression you want on viewers and/or to let them get to know you enough.
If your account is for your brand or business, you can add a clickable link that will direct users to your website in case they want to learn more about you. The link can be the name of your website or a call to action.
A lot of well-known influencers on Instagram only have their name in their bio, and this is okay because they’re already popular. If you’re just starting to build your brand, it’s a great idea to make use of the bio section to share the most relevant information about you.
Instagram’s Limits for Hashtags
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past several years, you should already know that Instagram’s hashtag feature is a powerful marketing tool for businesses or an effective engagement booster for personal accounts.
The limit for hashtags is not for the characters but for the number of hashtags used per post, whether it’s a caption or comment. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags but, again, maximizing this limit may work against you if the hashtags make your post look too cluttered or worse if you end up delivering a message that’s all over the place.
Remember that hashtags help generate more engagement by connecting your post with other posts that use the same hashtags. It’s also important to only use hashtags that are relevant to your content. Fortunately, Instagram provides related hashtags and an estimate of how many times a hashtag has been used; you can use this information to help you decide which hashtags to use based on their relevance to your content and their popularity.
Alternatively, you can perform a search for hashtags that are currently trending and create content around these hashtags, whether you just want to jump in the bandwagon or if the hashtags are actually relevant to your niche.
Can You Go Around Instagram’s Character Limits?
For your Instagram username, 30 characters should be more than enough; whether your account is for personal use or for your brand/business, the most suitable username needs to be short, original, and specific to you or your brand. You’d want it to be striking and memorable, and using more than 30 characters for your username would not be effective for these purposes.
The limit of 30 hashtags per post is also more than adequate, as too many hashtags — even using up your maximum limit — can make your post look crowded, messy, and unappealing. Given that you don’t expect your audience to actually read beyond the first few hashtags and part of your objective is to maximize your hashtag relevance, using one too many hashtags can also mess up your analytics and give you inaccurate and inconsistent results.
There’s no getting around the character limit for the bio section. What you can do is place an external link in your bio to direct your followers to your website where they can read more about your brand. As much as possible, use a shortened URL (via a URL shortener) so the link won’t eat up a lot of your character quota.
Instagram is mostly a photo-sharing platform, but captions play an important role in generating interest and engagement. Many users get easily bored and quickly lose interest when a post has a lengthy caption and they won’t bother tapping on “See more” to see more of what you have to say.
The 2,200-character limit for captions is actually quite generous, but if you’re a blogger, for example, and your audience loves to read your posts, you can get past the caption limit by continuing your post in the comments section. Just make sure to let your readers know that your post is continued in the comments section. You can end your caption with a call to action, such as, “Read the comments section for continuation,” to inform your readers.
There are other ways to encourage engagement aside from telling an intriguing or delightful story in your caption. You can also invite comments by asking questions instead. The give-and-take practice is also widely practiced on Instagram, which means you can urge other users to like, comment, and or share your post when you make the initial gesture by showing interest in their status updates, stories, live feeds, etc.
Instagram’s Unfollow Limit
Instagram also imposes limits on certain activities on the platform to discourage spamming and the use of bots and automation. When it comes to the daily unfollow limit, Instagram has not published an official number; what they do is send a message to a user who is unfollowing multiple accounts when they are exceeding their limit for a single hour.
Based on some real-world estimates, the unfollow limit is around 150-200 per day or around 10-20 per hour. Keep in mind that follows and unfollows are considered the same activity, so if you’re on a following and unfollowing mission, both actions will be counted against your hourly/daily limit. Make sure to keep track of your follows and unfollows, and heed Instagram’s warning when you receive one; pause your follows/unfollows until the next hour/day.
If you continue despite the warning, you will run the risk of having your account temporarily suspended. This is why it’s also a bad idea to use third-party apps that offer automated follows and unfollows. Instagram detects these bot-like activities and suspends or even blocks accounts that use these apps.
A picture paints a thousand words, as the popular saying goes. On Instagram, photos are the main content — the star of the show, so to speak; captions only play a supporting role. Even for the writers out there, the platform’s character limit for captions is more than sufficient. And as writers, they have the necessary skills to keep things short, sweet, and engaging. The limits on username, bio, and hashtags are reasonable enough and easy to work with.
Remember that one of the keys to good engagement on Instagram is presenting unique and relevant content; if you feel that you need more characters than you’re allowed to make your content engaging, then you must not be doing it right and you should re-evaluate your work.