I haven’t been as active on Instagram this past month, no real help from Alvin, just a lot going on. I did notice a massive drop in followers while I was off the net in the Kimberley's, and I have seen a more gradual return recently, and I probably attribute that to a bit more of a focus on using specific hashtags. The “fame” of a good image on Instagram is a fleeting thing, last a day or so at most. For am image to be found it has to be searched (either by your name, and not so many folk know me by the weird Instagram names I have, or via hashtags). Using hashtags is however a double edge sword. Some tags are so generic there are hundreds of competing images and often conflicting themes, for example #FollowTheSun is used a lot but more importantly it is used by the folks promoting bikinis and beach wear or travel services. My project of following the sun around Australia and my sketches don’t get notice beside a pretty girl or a dreamy location. Also the folk that follow the sun are more likely to be the fair weather followers (they want more and more beauty each day, if you don’t post it seems its the unfollow button for you).
A better strategy for me has been to focus down on more specific Hashtags. The good example here is the #AIart tag I started using it in Flickr & twitter late last year, and from about April this year on Instagram, to describe using neural networks trained to recognized a given style (or content) with a regular photo to produce a hybrid work somewhere between the photo and the art work. The real trick here is to get at least one of your images displayed in the opening nine. Instagram has a algorithm, no idea what it weights to include photos in this opening nine, but they probably represent the better and/or more popular images within this hashtag group. In the case of #AIart I am fortunate to currently have 5 of the top 9, within some 1410 post. It is probably easy to have a hashtag only you use and you will be in that top 9 for sure, The magic happens when you encourage or inspire others to use the hashtags as well. Alternatively construct composite tag so it shows up in more general searches (eg AI + art) or the little related topics that often appears that the top of a search include it because it is similar. Now many more people might see your work.
Its not only Instagram posts that I tag with the same hashtags, I use them in twitter (where photos have a much shorter life, and without so many followers virtually no general exposure for me) but a hashtag means they can be found. (eg #janesweather, which means several have been on the TV weather report) I must admit I’m not a twitter fan, have had very little feedback/engagement and probably will abandon it soon. Finally tags, without the hash symbol have always been a good tool for finding things in flickr, they still are.
Keep on (hash) tagging. Just not with spray cans or a Posca on walls, landposts & postboxes.