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How to Optimize Your Instagram Strategy for Search Discoverability



How to Optimize Your Instagram Strategy for Search Discoverability

On social media platforms, the more exposure you can get, the better. Like many others, Instagram has a search and explore page to help users discover new content.

Most brands already leverage timeline posts and Stories to reach their core audience. However, not enough leverage all the opportunities these features offer.

Let’s dive into what those are and what you can gain from using them.

How Instagram’s Search and Explore Feature Works

To start, there are five main search categories on Instagram:

How Instagram's Search and Explore Feature Works

  • Top – This includes top posts related to your search term, regardless of the type of post.
  • Accounts – This lists the accounts that match your search term.
  • Audio – This features songs and artists on the platform with the same name as your search term.
  • Tags – This shows the hashtags related to your search term along with post volume.
  • Places – This refers to the locations around the world that include your search term.

What’s interesting about the “Tags” tab is that it breaks down hashtag results even further in three categories: top, recent, and Reels.

instagram search

You can also use Instagram’s search feature on the web app. However, it doesn’t have as much functionality. For instance, on the web app, you’ll only see results from the “Top” tab, unless you add the “@” or pound hashtag “#” to narrow down your results.


Now onto the Explore tab.

Similar to other social platforms, Instagram’s Explore tab works by showing you content based on the people you follow and the posts you’ve engaged with.

instagram search

My Explore page is full of cat videos, food recipes, and natural hair care. Recently, I’ve been more interested in home decor, so that’s starting to feature more prominently on my Explore page.

The key difference between the Search and Explore features is that one is highly personalized whereas the other is not.

How to Get Featured in Instagram’s Search and Explore Posts

So, you want to expand your reach and get more engagement on your posts? Here are some steps you can take to help you meet those goals.

1. Add hashtags to your posts.

When you add a hashtag to your post, it allows users with similar interests to find your post more easily.

When adding hashtags, you want to use a mix of popular and niche tags. Why? Well, if you only use popular hashtags, your post may get lost in the hundreds of thousands of posts.

However, if you only use really niche hashtags, you may not expand your reach by much. As such, use a balance of both.


On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags in a post. While we don’t recommend using them all, focus on having a mix of five to 10 relevant hashtags, going from general to specific.

The best part is you don’t have to do any guesswork on which ones to use.

instagram hashtag search results page

For instance, say you’re a coffee brand and post a cappuccino. Instagram already tells you how many posts are linked to this hashtag, making it easy to select the relevant ones.

Don’t forget that you can also add hashtags to your Stories by clicking on the emoji icon and selecting the hashtag feature.

how to add hashtags to your instagram post

As you type your keyword, relevant hashtags will appear. Pro-tip: To avoid ruining your Stories post with a ton of hashtags, you can do one of two things: Make them very small or use the color feature to identify a color in the image and use it to blend the hashtags into the image.

how to add hashtags to your instagram post

2. Add a location tag to your posts.

Another way to improve your search discoverability is to add a location tag to your post.

Start by clicking on the emoji on the top right corner.

how to add a location tag to your instagram post step 1

Then, select the location feature in the list of options.

how to add a location tag to your instagram post step 2

Type in your desired location. This can be a physical location like “Pasion Del Cielo Coffee” or a fictional one like “Coffee Time” that adds personality to the post.

how to add a location tag to your instagram post step 3

The last step involves placing your clickable location tag somewhere on your Stories post.

how to add a location tag to your instagram post step 4

3. Add relevant keywords to your Instagram profile.

If you want users to easily find you, make sure your profile reflects the terms they would use to find you. It could be in your username, page name, or bio – if it’s somewhere in there, users can find you.

For instance, if you’re a coffee shop located in Miami, Florida, your profile should include both “coffee” and “Miami” to help users find you.


4. Write descriptive captions.

Captions are another way for users to find you in search. That means that short, vague captions aren’t going to cut it.

Instead, opt for a descriptive caption that is relevant to the image you shared. That way, when users type in the search term, your post has a better chance of showing up.

5. Up your content quality.

When it comes to search, you want to be in the “Top” tab.

It shows the most popular posts, with the most engagement – likes, comments, and shares. The way creators get there is by having high-quality content that captures users’ attention.

And when we say, we’re not just talking about visual quality – although that’s very important too. The content itself should be interesting and resonate with your audience. You meet these two requirements and you have a good chance of outperforming similar posts.

How to Search on Instagram

Before we dive into the steps to search on Instagram, let’s cover the main reasons why you’d want to.

The first is to scope out influencers and potential partners. Say you want to work with an influencer for a campaign but haven’t yet identified someone.

With the search feature, you can search for influencers with content that align with your brand and industry. You can use hashtags and keywords to find them. They’re also likely to show up on your Explore page.


Another reason you may want to conduct a search is to learn more about your audience. Perhaps you want to put a face to your buyer persona – you could visit some users’ profiles to get a sense of who they are, their interests, and how they might connect with your brand.

Lastly, it’s valuable to learn how certain hashtags are used and if they align with the content you’ll be posting.

For instance, you might think the word “cappuccino” might generate only coffee-related content. However, many posts for this hashtag are about beauty products, from eyeshadows to lipsticks.

Knowing this, you can make sure you use the most accurate hashtags for your posts.

Instagram Hashtag Search

1. Start on your Explore tab and type your term in the search bar.

Instagram Hashtag Search step 1

Pro-tip: If you want to go straight to the posts tied to that parent term, you can add the pound symbol directly in front of your keyword.

2. Navigate to the “Tags” tab and sift through the relevant hashtags to find the one you want.

Instagram Hashtag Search step 2

3. Scroll through the Top, Recent, and Reels tabs related to your keyword.

Instagram Hashtag Search step 3

Instagram Location Search

1. Start on your Explore tab and type your term in the search bar.

Instagram location search step 1

2. Navigate to the “Places” tab and sift through the list of related locations.

Instagram location search step 2

3. Scroll through the results.

Instagram location search step 3

Optimizing your Instagram for search will help your brand expand its reach and boost your social media performance.

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6 martech contract gotchas you need to be aware of



6 martech contract gotchas you need to be aware of

Having worked at several organizations and dealt with many more vendors, I’ve seen my share of client-vendor relationships and their associated “gotchas.” 

Contracts are complex for a reason. That’s why martech practitioners are wise to lean on lawyers and buyers during the procurement process. They typically notice terms that could undoubtedly catch business stakeholders off guard.

Remember, all relationships end. It is important to look for thorny issues that can wreak havoc on future plans.

I’ve seen and heard of my share of contract gotchas. Here are some generalizations to look out for.

1. Data

So, you have a great data vendor. You use them to buy contacts and information as well as to enrich what data you’ve already got. 

When you decide to churn from the vendor, does your contract allow you to keep and use the data you’ve pulled into your CRM or other systems after the relationship ends? 

You had better check.


2. Funds

There are many reasons why you would want to give funds in advance to a vendor. Perhaps it pays for search ads or allows your representatives to send gifts to prospective and current customers. 

When you change vendors, will they return unused funds? That may not be a big deal for small sums of money. 

Further, while annoying, processing fees aren’t unheard of. But what happens when a lot of cash is left in the system? 

You had better make sure that you can get that back.

3. Service-level agreements (SLAs)

Your business is important, and your projects are a big deal. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a prompt response to a question or action when something wrong happens. 

That’s where SLAs come in. 

It’s how your vendor tells you they will respond to questions and issues. A higher price point typically will get a client a better SLA that requires the vendor to respond and act more quickly — and more of the time to boot (i.e., 24/7 service vs. standard business hours). 

Make sure that an SLA meets your expectations. 


Further, remember that most of the time, you get what you pay for. So, if you want a better SLA, you may have to pay for it.

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4. Poaching

Clients and vendors alike are always looking for quality people to employ. Sometimes they find them on the other side of the client-vendor relationship. 

Are you OK with them poaching one of your team members? 


If not, this should be discussed and put into writing during the contract negotiation phase, a renewal, or at any time if it is that important.

 I have dealt with organizations that are against anti-poaching clauses to the point that a requirement to have one is a dealbreaker. Sometimes senior leadership or board members are adamant about an individual’s freedom to work where they please — even if one of their organization’s employees departs to work for a customer or vendor. 

5. Freebies

It is not unheard of for vendors to offer their customers freebies. Perhaps they offer a smaller line item to help justify a price increase during a renewal. 

Maybe the company is developing a new product and offers it in its nascent/immature/young stage to customers as a deal sweetener or a way to collect feedback and develop champions for it. 

Will that freemium offer carry over during the next renewal? Your account executive or customer success manager may say it will and even spell that out in an email. 

Then, time goes by. People on both sides of the relationship change or forget details. Company policies change. That said, the wording in a contract or master service agreement won’t change. 

Make sure the terms of freebies or other good deals are put into legally sound writing.

Read next: 24 questions to ask ABM vendors before signing the contract


6. Pricing factors

There are many ways vendors can price out their offerings. For instance, a data broker could charge by the contact engaged by a customer. But what exactly does that mean? 

If a customer buys a contact’s information, that makes sense as counting as one contact. 

What happens if the customer, later on, wants to enrich that contact with updated information? Does that count as a second contact credit used? 

Reasonable minds could justify the affirmative and negative to this question. So, evaluating a pricing factor or how it is measured upfront is vital to determine if that makes sense to your organization. 

Don’t let contract gotchas catch you off-guard 

The above are just a few examples of martech contract gotchas martech practitioners encounter. There is no universal way to address them. Each organization will want to address them differently. The key is to watch for them and work with your colleagues to determine what’s best in that specific situation. Just don’t get caught off-guard.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Steve Petersen is a marketing technology manager at Zuora. He spent nearly 8.5 years at Western Governors University, holding many martech related roles with the last being marketing technology manager. Prior to WGU, he worked as a strategist at the Washington, DC digital shop The Brick Factory, where he worked closely with trade associations, non-profits, major brands, and advocacy campaigns. Petersen holds a Master of Information Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brigham Young University. He’s also a Certified ScrumMaster. Petersen lives in the Salt Lake City, UT area.

Petersen represents his own views, not those of his current or former employers.

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