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 log in on the desktop version, or spend a little money for a high-powered Search tool like Statigram (now called Iconosquare).

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 users, tags, and photos taken in a location.

On desktop Instagram, there’s a search box to put in your location of interest, and it will serve up a mix of most popular and most recent photos taken there, related hashtags, and users who appear to be related to the destination. Some photographers are actually local, some aren’t, so click through the photo itself to see.

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.

As an example, I did a search for Cody, Wyoming photos, using the hashtag #codywyoming which was more popular than #codywy. There were more than 10,000 Instagram photos tagged #codywyoming, which included some nice shots by username “shelly_ivie” who appears to be a local based on how many photos she took in this part of Wyoming across a period of time.

Instagram photos tagged codywyoming by shelly_ivie on IG

Instagram photos tagged #codywyoming by shelly_ivie on IG

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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