How to find your locals on Instagram

Screenshot of VisitOKC Instagram rodeo photo
Screenshot of VisitOKC (the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma CVB) Instagram rodeo photo

While I think it’s a given that tourism organizations should connect with their local bloggers – just as they should know the local print, TV and radio media people – it’s also important to remember that social media influence goes beyond bloggers.

With the galloping increases in the importance of visual content, why not connect with your locals on the photo-sharing app Instagram?

Open up Instagram on your phone, or use the Search tool in Statigram (now called Iconosquare (a website for using Instagram on a desktop computer.)

You’re going to search for hashtags related to your destination, attraction or hotel. The Search icon (small magnifying glass) is in the Explore section of the app, which looks like a compass. You can search for both users and tags. If more people put their full bio information and home location into their Instagram profile, it would make it easier to find them, but they often don’t, so you’ll find them through their use of local hashtags.

It helps if your destination has a distinctive name; there aren’t many places called Biloxi, but there are a lot of places named Columbus. Often adding the state or province initials to the hashtag will help….try both the initials (#BiloxiMS) and full name (#BiloxiMississippi.) Instagram will show you the stats on how many have used a particular hashtag on a photo, so you can tell right away which ones are more popular.

I did a search for San Jacinto, California photos, using the hashtag #sanjacintoca. There were 65 Instagram photos tagged #sanjacintoca, which included some nice landscape shots by username justin_srh who appears to be a local based on how many photos he took in this part of southern California across a period of time.

San Jacinto Valley CA landscape (courtesy justin_srh on Instagram)
San Jacinto Valley CA landscape (courtesy justin_srh on Instagram)

If someone likes and photographs your area, especially when they’re pretty good at it, I think they’re worth a follow and a friendly Hello on Instagram.

Justin sounds like a possible local online champion and local ambassador in the making.

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