Not long ago, I shared the post on WordStream’s industry report for 2018. It was a fascinating look into Google advertising stats across 16 industries. It was a valuable read, especially for those in the dating and relationships sector who are on a hot streak. (like the Math guy who hacked OKCupid to find his girlfriend)
It got me thinking about Instagram and which of those industry markers were represented. Here I go again, a little voice said to me. Why is this such a “thing” for me? Honestly, I’m not sure but I am of the mind that Instagram is untapped in so many ways. And while I may never have the kind of data access that some other outfits have (yet!), I think the first step to helping me to understand more about the platform, is figuring out more about engagements and if were there any patterns I could discern.
With me so far? Let’s take a look, shall we?
A Few Reminders
First off, there are quite a few “happening” trends in the travel sector, such as foodie travel and even solo travel tours so this is a pretty top level pie wedge in the grand scheme.
As with my other stab at hashtag analysis, I used the same app I used before (but this time it seemed to work a little better). I am only able to grab a max of 100 results and for Instagram, these can be a drop in the bucket, depending on your search.
These posts are from March 12-13, 2018 and as I’m limited by the maximum number of results, it’s a challenge to grab legacy information to better understand the pattern but I use the tools I have.
Instagram is very fluid, meaning that someone could like a post of yours today that’s months old. Therefore, these like and comment counts would increase as time went on.
Now, not all industries in that WordStream report are represented on Instagram in a way that’s obvious. That’s what leads me to believe that Instagram is really highly underutilized and underexploited by quite a few businesses and sectors.
As far as the WordStream report, it was very generic as industrial services could be considered business services so I would have to do an analysis of a specific business or term to figure out how it was represented on Instagram, if the account has good engagement etc.
Because of that, I had to do a bit of research on hashtags so that I could find the ones that were somewhat relevant. I searched for general terms and saw how they were represented. Now, there were times when certain business terms translate into something different on Instagram. For example, many of us know B2B as business-to-business.
However, when that abbreviation is used as a hashtag, it can mean something else that has nothing to do with a business providing services. I tried another term, #business2business, which seemed to bring up more business service oriented posts. Again, it’s not 100% but it was enough to help me see what I could see.
Finally, this is a generic look; very top level with some insight (I hope) into patterns of hashtags, posts and engagement. Could some of these people be influencers? Possibly, but that would require a different look at a specific user’s data.
Now that I’ve gone through the semi-fine print, let’s take a look a sliver of the Travel Sector.
This was a pretty basic search term that helped me to find enough users who had travel as their business.
I used hashtags count as the basis for the graphs as I wanted to see if there was any correlation between the count and the engagement.
Posts with Top 10 Likes
Most posts had their hashtags in the caption but a few had them in the first comment. The hashtags in the comments were picked up by the application but not listed. Despite having that hashtag limit of 30, 7% had 31-35 hashtags.
As far as likes, 84% had 30 or fewer likes, with 35% of all having between 1 and 10 likes.
Here is the specific breakdown 1% had no likes. 35% had between 1 and 10 likes, 29% had between 11 and 20 likes, 19% had 21-30 likes, 7% had 31 to 40 likes, 1% had 41 to 50 likes, and 8% had more than 50 likes, with 3 of those having between 150 and 400 likes.
When we take a look at the hashtags involved, of course they’re all travel related. Many are specific to the region, such as #india_gram or #Maldives or #NewZealand, so that helps them to speak to a specific audience. For those with the top 10 likes, hashtags such as #beautifuldestination(s) make more than one appearance. The same goes for #travelgram, which is used to show styled selfies. and when you look at the profiles, There might be a clue:
User: @theessentialpassport‘s popular post:
It seems that this profile is of someone who is a constant traveler and may work for National Geographic. This is post with the most likes and it’s no wonder. This looks a scene from one of those historical movies that take place in some dessert in Africa or Asia.
Quick note that will come up later: This post has more than 30 hashtags, and it’s understood that Instagram limits posts to 30 hashtags.
Posts with Top 10 Comments
As far as comments, which are a deeper form of engagement than likes, 97% of posts pulled had 4 or fewer comments. The breakdown is as follows: 28% have 0 comments, 47% have 1 comment, 11% have 2 comments, 9% have 3 comments 2% have 4 comments and 3% have 5 or more comments.
For those posts with the higher number of comments, hashtags related to the Caribbean, beaches, swimming, were represented. It’s not surprising considering that in some parts of the world, winter snow is still the norm during March. Also, hashtags with tour-related terms such as #tourtravel and #tourplanner made appearances. Here’s an example of a post that got 3 comments
This is a picture of the Aosta valley region where they have the Sant’Orso Fair. This could be sculpture from that event. It’s a great pic, very mysterious but apart from the hashtags, there is very little else about the picture that the poster shares. But, still, it’s gotten 55* likes so far!
Instagram Outlier Posts
There were a few posts that were outliers. I wanted to profile those and see if I could understand the context a bit more.
Posts with Most likes**
@travelgallery.ig # of Posts: 166 # of followers: 16.4k Post Likes: 353 1,166 Post Hashtags: 20
Firstly, this account seems like one of those curation accounts. The profile itself has one very generic sentence. The captions for these pictures have little else but the hashtags and when users comment, the owner of the profile doesn’t respond. These curation accounts are pretty popular because of their great pictures and their purpose can be many things including to build up an audience and influence on Instagram to turn around and sell the account or to do sponsored posts.
The hashtags seem to use specialized terms (#backpackasia or #twomonkeystravel) that may help them to target special business hashtags to build them up enough for a secondary purpose.
Accounts like these are very prevalent but don’t really take advantage of the user engagement opportunities, like other active businesses do.
@brandonsharpe # of Posts: 403 – # of followers 7,749 – Post Likes: 303 451 Post Hashtags: 28
This is a great profile as it’s the actual owner of Sharpe Travel showing his travel photos. The first post was on March 9, 2016 and there are fewer than 100 likes as of March 2018 but still a few comments. This user has taken his time to create a solid gallery and build interaction with commenters over the last couple of years.
This post resonates strongly for a variety of reasons. In many parts of the world, snow is still falling and many would love to be where he is and following his regimen.
Posts with most comments***
@rudy_walter_sihombing # of Posts: 393 – # of followers: 890 – Post Comments: 4 13 Post Hashtags: 11
This is a post by a young Indonesian entrepreneur, Rudy Walter Sihombing, running his business, Trafellas Tour & Travel. The first post was on Jan 1, 2015 and it was personal. In this profile, there is a mixture of personal/family shares in addition to some professional pictures with his business name. Others are of his travels. It’s a very laid back, slightly intimate look at a young business owner but it doesn’t cross the line of oversharing.. He’s built up his audience over the past three years and it’s working well on this platform.
@my_suitcase_adventures # of Posts: 155 – # of followers: 551 – Post Comments: 8 10 Post Hashtags 4 26
This user seems to be a travel blogger who was sharing pictures of france. She’s a solotraveler with pictures from all around and from her first post in Dec 2017, she’s worked at interacting with commenters.
She put about 22 hashtags in her first comment as she posted this picture and her interaction with her audience is very good so far.
Final Thoughts on This Instagram Hashtag Project
For this particular set of posts, I didn’t see any interesting pattern between comments and likes or even hashtags. There are many variables that go into engagement including the relationship that’s been built between a user and followers and it seems that those who have committed to promoting their businesses on Instagram through interaction seem to reap the benefits of stronger profiles that don’t look like unmanned curation accounts.
Now, I did see posts with more than the supposed limit of 30 hashtags, do okay. I’m not sure what Instagram’s exact punishment for breaching that limit. It does suggest that the platform may be more accommodating when it comes to breaching that limit in certain cases or they haven’t come up with a way to net all “violators.”
So what sector is coming up next? I’ll let you know soon enough.
* As previously mentioned, the number of engagements may increase by the time you read this post. The data is snapshot of a moment in time.
** The account of the user who posted the third outlier of 183 likes no longer exists
*** One of the outliers was not a travel business. She had another business and was giving a shout out to her personal experience with a travel agent.