Every quarter I go back to my last 3 months checking what’s happened in my Social environments.
Have I been using the best travel hashtags for Instagram? And what about Twitter? How can I improve my work and my reach?
In the last quarter I have been quite happy with the increased number of followers, follow-up and views. I fact I was honestly extremely surprised about the results.
On Instagram I had less than 20,000 followers 12 months ago. There are now 53,000 people following my work. Moreover, the engagement has gone up quite considerably with lots of likes and comments. And it’s still growing fast.
I have been even more surprised with the growth on Twitter. My account is now followed by over 60,000 people, from less than 10,000 followers 12 months ago. But what is best is actually the engagement with almost 2 million tweets monthly views and a very high percentage of comments and re-tweet.
I think I was able to engage people on Instagram and Twitter thanks to a profound analysis of the top travel hashtags.
In fact I sometime noticed how people commenting and reposting, or retweeting, my work were not actually following me directly but they arrived to my feed thanks to my choice of travel hashtags.
There is no science in the hashtag selection process. Everyone has probably the own view on what is best.
Which method works best?
The one that gives me more follow-up, I like to think.
Follow-up means views of my work, comments on my work, re-posting on other feeds
More followers are great however if there is no interaction (likes and comments) I always ask myself if I am doing a good job. Receiving likes and/or comments help me to grow in my travel and photography work. Comments do not need to be only good, constructive critics help improving too!
The best travel hashtags I usually add to a photo come from three subsets
- popular ones
- photo related ones
- media and Instagram contests (magazines, competitions, newspapers, websites….basically media that can re-post or re-tweet my work)
The easy winner is, as expected, travel, and by a large margin. An interesting note to add to the list below is that travelling is both reported with double and single L.
This table comes from an Instagram analysis, however I use it also for Twitter, except when the word “gram“, or “ig“, is into the hashtag
What do I usually do?
I usually select #travelphotography and #travelling.
I originally used them only when physically travelling however I have started using them in almost all of my posts, also when I am in my hometown, St.Kilda/Melbourne.
The main reason is that I use the hashtags for people to reach me, and my photography work, and not for describing my status.
These are all very generic hashtags and I would personally suggest to use just 2 or 3 of them. Except #travelphotography, which gives more information of a type of photography, all of the others are almost the same.
This is a great question mark.
Sometime it is better to explain with an example.
Let’s build a scenario with the popular hashtag above, #travel. You tag your photo and it will stay in the first search page for just one or two seconds because many other people have been using the same popular travel hastag for their photos too. Have a test, go on Instagram and search for #travel, refresh the page straight away and you will see brand new photos.
Is it worthy?
Personally I do not think so
What do I usually do?
I prefer to use less popular ones, at least you have more seconds in the first page, although less people looking for that hashtag too 😀
I have done few tests and, for these generic tags, selecting the ones with a popularity of 1M to 10M works well.
You may argue that you can use all of them and even more. To my eyes just does not look nice to see a post with 40 hashtags, it looks confusing.
What do I usually do?
I use around 10-15 travel hashtags (sometime 20, but rarely). I may use the hashtags even in the description of the photo. I like to write a bit about the image, not just hashtags. The description may contain the hashtag itself. This is an example about a photo I posted a while ago:
Navigating the Yarra river, Melbourne (I usually start with a short title and the place)
Another awesome way to visit #melbourne is by #boat following the #yarra #river . Do it at sunset and it becomes #magic (I have already added 5 hashtags in the photo description)
Here below the photo
Now that we have gone through the popular travel hashtags, lets see what are the other top ones you should use
When I tag the photos I usually use a W&G process. Yep, this is a new process I have just invented LOL. Let’s see below
I use 2 hashtag, one for the city/town/village (place where the photo was made) and one for the country
The activity I am doing, usually just one hashtag as #walking, #trekking, #cycling, etc
- When (which special day, if any)
I add one hashtag however only if it is a memorable day like #nye or #australiaday or #independenceday or #chinesenewyear or any other day that the photo is about
Why am I adding the photo? I describe the image with few hashtags (4-5) as:
#market #building #street #tram #river #sunset etc
#awesome #lovely #amazing etc
The fantastic thing of Instagram is that meanwhile you write the hashtag you get a suggestion and the volume; stay below a 10M volume, if you have a choice
I add the two popular travel hashtags as discussed above (#travelphotography and #travelling)
I add two travel hashtags used by the local tourism boards (usually city/area and country). This is the most important step. You may have a great outcome if they love your photo and re-post it, which usually gives a wide visibility of your work. You may wake up the day after and have suddenly hundreds more of followers, just thanks to a re-post.
How do you find these local travel hashtags?
You need to google the travel tourism board website and see their instagram account. As an example, #visitmelbourne is the official hashtag used by the city of Melbourne, #tourismthailand is another one if you are visiting Thailand and so on
TripAdvisor has a list of the Tourism Boards, you can also look into Wikipedia, they have usually a link to the city/country website and from there to the tourism office. Do not be disappointed if you cant’s find it. Sometime it happens that they have still not started using Instagram 😮
I ultimately just google “<place/city/region> tourism board instagram” and usually I get the IG account on top of the ranking
Describe the type of photo from a technical prospective if you wish. Popular hashtags are #landscape #portrait #closeup etc
I use them only if I run out of hashtags 😀
If there is a predominant colour I tag it, otherwise nothing
Hashtag the Tourism Board
Based on my experience, the tourism board is probably the most important hashtag of all. The visibility that they do provide, if they repost, is immense.
Two the main reasons. They have usually a huge follow up and, even more important, they are all interested in the subject and they want to see more photos. There is a great possibility that some of the followers will come to your account to see your work.
Sometime the Tourism board does not provide an hashtag. The work around is to include the IG account. For example, the Indonesia Tourism Board does not have an hashtag, just include in your description the IG account instead (@indtravel). They will get a notification.
Actually Indonesia introduced an new travel hashtag lately, called #WonderfulIndonesia 😀
Remember that the tourism boards are always searching for great content around the Instagram feeds.
Here below a table with the top travel hashtags for Australia.
They are mostly related to the tourism boards.
Remember to use them if you are down under 😉
|New South Wales
|Australian cities and areas
Another popular hashtag I tend to use is #discoveraustralia
I usually travel a fair bit however, once back in Melbourne, I can’t stop myself going out and do what I like the most, photography.
As a result I have a considerable amount of photos about this beautiful city which I regularly post on Instagram.
Here is a list of Melbourne hashtags I often use with my posts.
- #VisitMelbourne (City Tourism board)
- #VisitStKilda (tourism board of StKilda, the beach area)
- @3182_stkilda (it’s not an hashtag however you can tag it and they may repost it)
- #southgate (a popular area for photos)
These hashtags are mostly related to popular IG accounts that have re-posted my work in the past, and consequently made my account more popular in the city.
For the photos I like the most I use also hashtags of magazine, important websites/feeds, newspapers or ongoing competitions.
The competition here is quite high, so moderate the use to your best shots
The ones I use the most are:
- #travellerau (Aussie newspaper)
- #LP (Lonely Planet)
- #fodorsonthego (Fodors Travel)
- #RTWChat (BootsnAll’s hashtag)
- #TLPicks (Travel + Leisure magazine, with over 2M followers a repost is pure gold)
- #traveldeeper (AFAR media, voted the best travel magazine in USA)
- #BPMag or #TakeMeBackpacking (Backpacker Magazine, mostly on trekking)
- #surroundmewithwater (Islands Magazine)
- #vacationwolf (popular feed with over 300K followers that repost the best tagged photos)
- #theglobewanderer (you get reposted here and you will suddenly see you followers increasing in thousands – feed with over 2M followers)
- #passionpassport (another fantastic popular feed that reposts)
- #dametraveler (female travelling feed which repost as well)
- #roamtheplanet (popular travel community)
- #BDTeam (Beautiful Destinations feed with over 7M followers, hard to get reposted, however if it happens…)
Look for locals publications and you may have a greater success. Lonely Planet is great but how many photos are tagged with #LP, well, over 4 million till now, it can be difficult to get exposure in this busy room 😀
Travel hashtag generator
The life could be awesome if a tool could generate hashtags for us. The great surprise is that there is a new website that does that.
A very simple one
And I can say that I looked for it almost on a weekly basis and I can not find anything really effective.
If you are aware of any, please, add them in the comment section below
The one I like, although still in its infancy, is called Dehaze Instagram hashtags generator (no affiliation, just what I like)
Very simple to use.
On the left side you select the photo style (in our case travel) and on the right side the city, or country.
As a result, Dehaze provides a list of 25 popular travel hashtags.
Interesting that a few of them overlap with mine. I guess we have used a similar process to build our databases. In fact Dehaze is not a robot, it is a database built with human intelligence.
This project, at the moment, includes only 119 cities/countries, which is a great beginning.
Looking forward to see how it grows
- Where: #thailand
- What: #trekking
- When: not applicable
- Why: #temple #sunset #khmer
- Get Global: #travelphotography #travelling
- Get Local: #tourismthailand #amazingthailand
- Get technical: none, I had already enough tags on this photo
- Colour: #red (the sunset colour)
- Where: #thenetherlands, #leiden, #amsterdam (Leiden is a beautiful town outside Amsterdam)
- What: #walking
- When: not applicable
- Why: #lane #church #cathedral #pub (on the right corner) #bluehour
- Get Global: #travelphotography #travelling
- Get Local: #ontdekleiden #iamsterdam (in both cases the tourism boards do not have a Instagram account, I used the twitter hashtag)
- Get technical: #lightrail
- Colour: none that stands out, no hashtags
In the last example, I could not find an Instagram profile for the tourism board. I added instead the Twitter one. My Instagram account is connected to Twitter.
In a nutshell
Using the top travel hashtags help immensely to spread your work around.
Build up your own process and optimise it based on the outcome.
What described above did not come overnight for me, it took a bit of time to refine it and it works well for me. I personally suggest it
Happy hashtag and remember to follow my Instagram feed 😉