Hashtags and Geo Tagging can really push images and posts to the front of Instagram users' feeds. Originally used with Twitter, hashtags weren't really able to shine except in short with the restrictive 140 characters.
Instagram offers much more freedom from Twitter, in that the character count is less restrictive: 2200 characters with a maximum of 30 hashtags.
The caption length for Instagram helps uses post short essays, sometimes tagged with #photoessay (27,344 posts) or #instaessay (2,281 posts). While many users are using the tags to gain more viewers, at least one user had some success creating photo essays. (Sadly the profile, seems to inactive.)
LITTLE PLEASANT BAY, CAPE COD -- The wind is strong and the boat is fast and you, who I told to sit up front, are screaming. "Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit," you yell. "No. No. Dan. No. I hate this." The boat rises again and we lean against it, cutting through the receding tide like a stone skipping. Both sails are taught. The tiller is stiff. It holds fast our tack, and we aim up wind of the shallow sandbar, white waves breaking over its golden arm. But what is it? Not having fun? Well, when in the moment you're not, not at all, no way in hell would you be, you often do after you're home where the floor doesn't lurch. Try to think how it will feel under you later, when you are still: rising, falling, coming about and the boom snapping around as you changed course. Curt. Kinetic. A power in the wind that could split a skull. // And yet you rode through it, you'll think later, yes, screaming some, but without bleeding. That balance. That ability. Do the muscles in your legs not ache thinking about it? // But maybe the boat is just too fast, so we will head in. Don't fret, it will glide flat now because the wind is blowing from behind. See, the surf is silent. Now pull that line; we are too shallow for the daggerboard. I'm going to swing close to shore -- between those two rocks -- and will you jump? No, it's waist deep. Here it comes. You have to. Do it. Now. Jump. (Photo by @violet_ohoh, my darling cousin who screams louder than a seagull. Video of the ride on her Instagram page.)
Early on in the Quad-City Times experiments with Instagram, I didn't rely heavily on hashtags to generate traffic, but as I started to research more and more I began to incorporate area-centric hashtags such as #tagtheqc and #helloquadcities, including tagging city and state names in the caption.
Instantly we began to notice more and more users liking, commenting and following the Quad-City Times. Since Feb 2016, our Instagram followers has grown from 630 to over 1030 today, mostly with organic growth and hashtag use.
I began to wonder what happened if I retroactively began adding hashtags and geo tagging to older posts. I began with some of my own posts, and began tagging various photos with appropriate hashtags and location tags. In less than an hour I watched as the number of photo likes reached over 40, and at least six or seven people began following me.
Over the course of the next few days, I plan on diving back into the @qctimes posts and adding appropriate hashtags and geo tags as needed.