Last updated on August 13th, 2018 at 04:00 pm
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 in 2018 for Instagram? 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 by the results.
On Instagram I had less than 85,000 followers 12 months ago. There are now over 125,000 people following my work. Moreover, the engagement has gone up quite considerably with lots of likes and comments.
And it’s still growing although with the last Instagram changes it’s becoming harder and harder. My personal view is that Instagram is a free platform and we should accept as it is. Of course 12 months ago I used to have a much better engagement, around 6 times more! But, hey, I always thought I use Instagram as my portfolio and surely for fun. Anything else is a plus.
I have been even more surprised with the growth on Twitter. My account is now followed by over 120,000 people, from less than 90,000 followers 12 months ago. But what is best is actually the engagement of 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 in 2018 thanks to a profound analysis of the top travel hashtags.
In fact, I sometimes noticed that the people commenting and reposting, or retweeting, my work were not actually following me directly but they arrived at 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 strategy works best on Instagram?
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 to improve too!
By the way, if you are after travel photography tips, compositions, tutorials and much more then why not reading and, if you prefer, downloading for FREE (no need to pass your email, no worries) this ultimate guide for travel photography. Over 70 pages that may change your way to make (not just take) photos when travelling.
The best travel hashtags I usually add to a photo come from three subsets
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.
Try to change from time to time. Instagram has not confirmed however it seems that it penalizes sequence of posts with the same hashtags. This is not my experience I must say but changing does not hurt.
If I am in the middle of a travel campaign I sometimes post the recurrent hashtag (tourism board etc) in the first comment, as soon as I post the photo. This may be another way to avoid any possible penalty if existing
This is a great question mark.
Sometimes 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 hashtag 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
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. Sometimes 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 perspective 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
As a travel blogger I consider the hashtags related to the tourism board probably the most important 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, these followers are all interested in the subject and they want to see more photos. There is a great possibility that some of them will come to your account to see your work.
And it’s not all about repost here. These so-called “travel blogger hashtags” are actually great for much more than Instagram visibility. They are fantastic to create a job opportunity.
Let’s be honest here. It’s always hard to cold-call a tourism board to see if there is a collaboration possibility, even if you have a good Instagram follow-up, a great FB page or 50K page views per month, if not even more.
But, if they re-post your photo, you have the perfect opportunity to email/call them starting with “Many thanks for reposting my xyz photo, so glad you liked it. I am in the area for another 2 weeks and I bla bla bla”
I use this trick even when I plan to re-visit a country. I just post old photos. Things may happen and you may end up with a collaboration.
Sometimes the Tourism board does not provide a hashtag. The workaround is to include the IG account. For example, the Indonesia Tourism Board does not have a hashtag, I just include in the description the IG account instead (@indtravel). They will get a notification.
Actually, Indonesia introduced a new travel hashtag lately, called #WonderfulIndonesia 😀
Remember that the tourism boards are always searching for great content around the Instagram feeds.
TIP: if you see your photo re-posted by a tourism board then you may try to contact them and see if you can start a collaboration. I personally do it. It’s already clear they like your work, they shared your image.
They may be looking for Instagrammers. You may get an invitation for an influencer trip, and from there, your Instagram CV will grow with something more substantial than only great photos
In the next heading, we will write a list of hashtags with a strong relationship to publications, magazines, websites. They are all busy rooms and if you get featured then you will certainly see your engagement increasing.
Before that, let’s go more into the niche of creative travel hashtags that help to describe the moment you are living when you take the photo:
Every day new ones come out. From time to time I use one or more of the above. I suggest to build your own list and use it when needed
Most of these tags are not managed by anyone and this means that your photos will not be re-posted. I use these tags only for visibility.
For the photos I like the most I use also hashtags of magazines, 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:
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 😀
Do not get upset if they do not report your photos. You can only try. The market is very competitive nowadays
You can try to create your own personalized travel hashtag. This is a great way to expand your work and possibly branding it.
It’s a common step in any marketing campaign, and if you are after more exposure to your feed then marketing is the magic word.
But what does it mean a personalized travel hashtag?
It means you create your own brand new tag which was never used in any feed before and it has a relationship with your work.
As an example, if you do travel photography and your name is Joe then you could create #TPwithJoe (avoid #TravelPhotographyWithJoe, way too long). Maybe even promise to feature someone else work in your feed if they use that tag in their photos.
Another example, if you travel mostly in one country, say Thailand, then create a personalised tag as #WonderingThailand. Again repost other people work if you can. It’s a way to increase your engagement.
People will start to know you because of your hashtag
Adding another one is not a big effort and you never know what could happen with it. Maybe nothing, maybe not and we are optimistic of course 🙂
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.
These are my favourites. If you are aware of any other, please, add them in the comment section below
The one I like, although still young, is called Dehaze Instagram hashtags generator (no affiliation, just what I like). They recently moved to an app version only and you may have to fork out a couple of dollars inside the app
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 seeing how it grows
Another nice hashtags generator I came across is Photerloo. It’s actually quite impressive. In this case, you do not need to go through a list or a menu, you just need to load the image and Photerloo will analyse the photo and it will propose the hashtags.
As easy as that. But there is more
You can also select your strategy when the hashtags are generated, from most to least popular (more people looking for it but higher competition, or less popular but lower competition too). I like to go for “very popular”, a sort of middle ground.
Of course, not all generated hashtags are correct, you need to filter them, it’s basically a good starting point.
I have a list in my mobile called travel photography hashtags. Usually before posting anything I pick the tags that fit the best. Here below I share this list, organised by moment or type.
As any list in this post, it is not exhaustive and it’s something you build and change with the time.
Also remember to follow some great travel photographers as @elialocardi, @treyratcliff, @chrisburkard or even me 😉 and check beside the photos also the tags that are used. Sometimes new trends come out 🙂
You can check a more exhaustive list of photographers in my Travel Photography Ultimate Guide.
Finally it’s vacation time, finally the waiting is over, finally the planned trip is coming. I love these moments.
What I usually do before starting any trip is to build a list of vacation hashtag ideas that I will use in the future, during the trip, to describe my travel moments.
I start with the country hashtags, I move to the places I will visit and the possible experience I will have.
Here is an example I am building for my next trip to Sri Lanka.
Country hashtags: #srilanka #hashtagsrilanka #amazingSL #srilankadaily #wonderlustsrilanka #srilankadaily
Places I will visit: #sigiriya #ahangama #pinnawala #kandy #gallefort #galle
Activities: #surfpics #wlinsta (surfing lifestyle) #surfphotography #teatime (tea plantations visit) #teaplantation #earthcapture #traintrip #trainride #hikinglife #peoplewhohike
These collections help me also to be inspired for my photography in Sri Lanka and this is really what’s all about Instagram I think.
When not travelling I spend my time in Melbourne and I can’t stop taking photos of it. I have built a set of city hashtags that I would like to share with you:
This list can be so much longer and it depends on the type of photography you do.
The message here is to build your lists, add them in a text file on your mobile and copy and paste based on the photo. In this way, you will not forget any important city hashtag
@living_destinations tends to repost quite often city photos. They have over half a million followers which could give a nice push to your account. Use the hashtag #living_destinations in case
@discover_europe_ is another good account to tag if you post about European cities (#discover_europe_)
If you tend to include also street photography during your travel I suggest to include a few tags from the list below
When should we use the travel hashtags for couples? Yes, I got asked that. My suggestion is to go for them when:
The hashtags can be very personal here, as they should describe not only what you are doing but also how you feel and live the experience.
It’s another way to engage with your followers, expose part of your private life (with some limits though LOL).
Here below some of my favorites:
The @authenticlovemag magazine is also a great source of inspiration (they include mostly photos of people in love), use their #authenticlovemag tag and you could be reposted of course, which is great because they have over 175K followers.
Here below a table with the top travel hashtags for Australia (I travel a lot here)
They are mostly related to the tourism boards.
Remember to use them if you are down under 😉
|Tourism Australia||@Australia||#SeeAustralia #RestaurantAustralia|
|New South Wales||@VisitNSW||#NewSouthWales|
|Australian cities and areas|
Another popular hashtag I tend to use is #discoveraustralia.
I usually build a similar table before I visit any country. At least I have a ready to pick bucket for my photos.
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.
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.
I used to post my photos using the hashtags as described above. Lots of them.
Lately, I have changed slightly my approach, mainly for two reasons:
How is my new approach?
Before visiting a city, or a country, I build two sets of hashtags which I use every second day.
For example, on my Cuba trip I built these two sets:
I have also organised two groups of creative travel hashtags (used on top of the location ones) that I again use every second day
I feel this approach has improved my visibility.
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.
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 😉