You don’t need me to tell you that Instagram is huge. The image sharing site owned by Facebook is home to everyone who is anyone and hosts millions of images online. The trouble is with such volume is that it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for if you’re after something specific. For all you Instagram newbies out there, I’m going to discuss how to search in Instagram.
I’ll cover the very basics of searching that you might find useful before you dedicate your life to this very addictive social network.
Searching in Instagram
Instagram does have a search function called Search and Explore but there is a little more to using the social network than that. To use search, just select Explore and then the magnifying glass icon and select either a People, Places or Tags. Currently, these are the only three options open to you but more are apparently coming.
In the mobile app, the magnifying glass is in the top right after you hit Explore. On the web, it is a box in the center top, helpfully labeled Search. Tap it and go from there.
There is also a search function in your Profile section. Select the person icon in the bottom right of the screen to access the profile tab. Then you see a search bar at the top. Type in a location, name or hashtag here for a list of likely profiles. It works best with names but seems to work with location and hashtag too.
Just type in the name of the person, company or brand you’re looking for and Instagram will do a search.
This works on Android, iOS and the web. The syntax may be slightly different depending on how up to date your app is but the menus are the same.
While not strictly search, you can find Instagram users by allowing the system to make suggestions. This is a good way to find random or related people to follow on Instagram.
- Navigate to Find Friends which is off of the Profile page. Tap the menu icon in the top right.
- Select Suggested users within the Find Friends page.
- Scroll through until you find someone interesting, tap their profile link than then Follow.
How useful suggested users is depends on who you are friends with already and how much you have allowed Instagram to integrate into your life. The more friends or contacts you have, the more varied the suggested users will be. Some seem to be companies and random people, but many will be the usual friends of friends or people your friends follow.
Use an Instagram search website
If neither of those two methods work for you, you could try a third party website that provides search for Instagram. If you have tried the browser version of Instagram, you will have noticed that it isn’t that great. The network does everything it can to get you using the mobile app and this is the result. Search on the website is woeful, which opens the market for these kinds of websites.
Some are better than others but there are a couple that seem to work well. One is Websta. A website designed for social media marketers to perform analytics. As one way to use Instagram is to follow influencers, it provides a decent search function with which to find them.
Searching using hashtags
People tag images the same as on other social media websites. It is partly so they can order them efficiently but mainly so others can do the same. It’s a very clever way of being able to search for something quickly by using a form of keyword.
Hashtags work by prefixing something with ‘#’ which is a hash. So for example, I visit the Empire State Building, take a picture from the top and then tag it ‘#EmpireState’. This tells everyone the subject of the image and will enable the image to show up when anyone searches for the Empire State Building.
However, you can add any hashtag to any image. Spend five minutes searching hashtags and you will quickly see that people tag their images with anything just to get them seen. So while it is an effective way to order images, it isn’t exactly quality controlled. So be careful what you search for!
Searching in Instagram isn’t exactly intuitive and is harder than it should be on the web. However, that hasn’t stopped the social network building a huge following of millions of people who take pictures of everything they see on their travels. If you have the patience, it is certainly a network worth your time.