One of the ways to grow your Instagram wildlife photography account is to add hashtags for popular hubs to your pictures. Instagram wildlife hubs are curated accounts that feature photographs tagged (#) with the hub’s hashtag. Credit is given to the owner of the photograph, so a feature gives you exposure to all the hub’s followers!
More exposure = more likes and follows!
There are other ways to grow your following too – I share all my secrets at the end of the article, including how to get ahead of the Instagram Algorithm.
Make sure you follow me on Instagram to get the latest hashtag and Instagram updates.
Which Instagram Wildlife Hubs Should I Use?
Instagram wildlife hubs come and go and there are a lot to choose from. To make things easier, I put together this ultimate guide to the top active wildlife hubs on Instagram! I’ve organized the hubs by category: Birds, Nature, Animals, Insects and Travel. There is also a hashtag list at the end of each section for easy cutting and pasting into your photographs.
You can only add 30 tags to each photograph so choose wisely to maximize your exposure.
New to the world of Instagram wildlife hubs and tagging? Keep reading and I’ll explain how to tag your pictures.
Bird Instagram Hubs
These hubs feature wild bird photographs. Follow them and add their hashtags to your bird photographs for a chance to be featured.
This list is in order of followers and is up to date as of March 2018.
@your_best_birds – #your_best_birds
@nuts_about_birds – #nuts_about_birds
@bestbirdshots – #bestbirdshots
@best_birds_of_IG – #bb_of_ig
@_kings_birds_ – #kings_birds
@bird_brilliance – #bird_brilliance
@eye_spy_birds – #eye_spy_birds
@bns_birds – #bns_birds
@feather_perfection – #feather_perfection
@birds_adored – #birds_adored
@pocket_birds – #pocket_birds
@planetbirds – #planetbirds
@thebirdingsquad – #thebirdingsquad
@birdsblooms – #birdsandblooms
@birds_illife – #birds_illife
@sassy_birds – #sassy_birds
@birds_captures – #birds_captures
@nature_worldwide_birds – #nature_worldwide_birds
@ip_birds – #ip_birds
@total_birds – #total_birds
Cut and paste these tags into your bird photographs:
Inactive Bird Hubs
These bird photography hubs aren’t currently doing features. Use this list to clean up your tags!
@birdingphotography – #birding_photography
@thetweetsuites – #thetweetsuites
@allmightybirds – #allmightybirds
@ig_discover_birdslife – #ig_discover_birdslife
@underdogs_feathers – #udog_feathers
@birding_lounge – #birding_lounge
@birdselite – #birdselite
@aves_del_mundo – #avesdelmundo
@perfect_birds – #perfect_birds
@birdfreaks – #birdfreaks
Specialist Bird Instagram Hubs
@fowl_waterfowl – #fowl_waterfowl
@elite_raptors – #elite_raptors
Nature Instagram Hubs
These hubs feature nature photographs including birds, mammals, flowers, insects and landscapes. Follow them and add their hashtags to your nature photographs.
@nature – #nature
@nature_brilliance – #nature_brilliance
@nature_sultans – #nature_sultans
@macroworld_tr – #macroworld_tr
@exclusive_wildlife – #exclusive_wildlife
@naturehippys_ – #nature_hippys_
@fiftyshades_of_nature_ – #fifyshades_of_nature
@pocket_allnature – #pocket_allnature
@picturetokeep_nature – #picturetokeep_nature
@bestnatureshots – #bestnatureshots
@ip_connect – #ip_connect
@wildlife_in_bl – #wildlife_in_bl
@eye_for_earth – #eye_for_earth
@inspire_nature_now – #inspirenaturenow
@efe_nature_or_nothing – #efe_nature_or_nothing
@addictedto_nature – #addictedto_nature
Cut and paste these tags into your nature photographs:
Inactive Nature Hubs
These nature photography hubs aren’t currently doing features. Use this list to clean up your tags!
@eye_spy_nature – #eye_spy_nature
@photoarena_nature – #photoarena_nature
@allnatureshots – #allnatureshots
@natureaddictsun – #natureaddictsun
@great_captures_nature – #great_captures_nature
@igworld_nature_ – #igworld_nature_
@show_us_nature – #show_us_nature
Animal Instagram Hubs
If mammal photography is your thing, these are the top hubs featuring wild animal photographs. These hubs will also feature birds.
@animalelite – #animalelite
@splendid_animals – #splendid_animals
@animal_sultans – #animal_sultans
@animal.fanatics – #animalfanatics
@world_bestanimal – #world_bestanimal
@ir_animals – #ir_animals
@kings_animals_love – #kings_animals_love
@shots_of_animals – #shots_of_animals
@ok_animals – #ok_animals
Cut and paste these tags into your animal photographs:
Inactive Animal Hubs
These are hubs featuring insect photographs. Follow these hubs and add their hashtags to your insect photographs for a chance to be featured.
@kings_insects – #kings_insects
@tgif_insects – #tgif_insects
@bns_bugsinsects – #bns_buginsects
@ip_insects – #ip_insects
@insects_of_our_world – #insects_of_our_world
@insectguru – #insectguru
Cut and paste these 7 tags into your insect photographs:
These are hubs that feature photographs, including wildlife shots, taken in specific countries or continents. I like using some of these tags in my 30 as it’s a great way to network with other wildlife photographers in your area or in countries you are visiting.
This is not exhaustive an exhaustive list. A great way to find hashtags for a country you’re visiting is to search for them on Instagram using the country’s name.
@visit_costarica – #CRfanphotos
@iceland.explore – #exploreiceland
@discoversouthamerica – #discoversouthamerica
How To Hashtag Your Pictures on Instagram
There are different methods for tagging your pictures. Some photographers will add the hashtags after their caption. I prefer to keep my caption clean and to add tags as a comment. Both methods work, so it’s a personal choice which you prefer.
I keep a list of the tags I’m using in the Notes App on my phone. I cut and paste them from Notes into each photograph I’m posting on Instagram.
You should be aware that if your Instagram account is private, the hashtags won’t work.
Lastly, you can use the “Tag People” feature to tag hubs to your photographs. Your photograph won’t appear in the hashtag, but the hub will get a notification that they’ve been tagged in your picture. You also have the option of doing both: adding a hashtag and using the tag people feature. You can tag up to 20 accounts per photograph.
Instagram Hashtag Strategy
Instagram allows 30 hashtags per photograph. My strategy is to use all 30 of these spots to maximize the exposure of my photographs. I choose a mixture of hubs with large and small followings. Generally speaking, the more followers a hub has, the lower your chances are of getting featured. But if you do get featured by a large hub, you get the benefit of all their followers seeing your picture! It’s also a good idea to mix up your hashtags and not use the same ones every time you post. Not only does this get you more exposure, but it avoids your account being flagged by Instagram as spam.
I also hashtag each photograph with the species in the picture. e.g. #yellowwarbler . People often peruse the hashtag for a species they’re interested in or have recently photographed. Plus, if your photo is popular it will appear in the top hashtag photographs!
Tagging your pictures with general things like #bird or #animal won’t have the impact of the hashtags I’ve covered in this article. For example, #bird has been used nearly 15 million times so your picture will likely get lost in this huge mix.
Depending on your location, you may also want to include a hashtag for your town or city. I’m currently living in a small mountain town, so using the #Fernie is quite productive. If you live in New York City, #NYC (with 92 million+ photographs) will be too broad.
Although hashtags are great for getting featured by wildlife hubs, using them also means your account can be found by bots. Some accounts pay for bots to like and comment on photographs for them. They are against Instagram’s rules and aren’t recommended: read more about why I don’t like them here. Bots use hashtags to find users, so if you use tags you may get comments from robots. It’s not a big deal, but it is something to be aware (look out for spammy repetitive comments).
Instagram Shadowban and Banned Hashtags
There are a lot of rumours and speculation about Instagram Shadowban. The theory is that Instagram can ban your account (usually temporarily) from being seen in hashtag feeds by accounts that don’t already follow you. This hasn’t happened to me, but if you see a sudden dip in engagement you might want to ask someone who isn’t following you to check if your account is visible in hashtag feeds. The best way to avoid Shadowbanning is to follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines. I also read that that it’s a good idea to mix up your hashtags and not always use the same ones every time you post. You should also avoid using banned hashtags which I’ll explain in the next section.
Instagram banned certain hashtags to clean up harmful content on its platform. You can find out if a hashtag is banned by using Instagram’s search feature. For example, when you search #boho you will only see the top posts, not the recent ones. When you click on recent, it says “Recent posts from #boho are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.” Don’t use banned hashtags!
Instagram has also cracked down on wildlife hashtags that show cruelty to animals. Searching for #owlselfie comes back with a message “Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram. You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment. ”
Grow Your Account – Understand the Instagram Algorithm
Adding hashtags to your wildlife photographs is only one part of the equation, especially with the ever-changing Instagram algorithm. Here are some other strategies (aka all my secrets) that you can use that have worked for me:
Have a great bio that encourages people to follow you
Many wildlife photographers use a bird or animal photograph as their profile photo. If you want to grow your account, I suggest using a photograph of yourself. People want to follow accounts they can connect with. Secondly, write an interesting bio that makes you stand out. People make snap decisions about who to follow and the bio is your chance to sell yourself.
Understanding the Instagram Algorithm
You may have noticed that Instagram no longer shows your home feed in chronological order. Instead, Instagram uses an algorithm to determine which posts it thinks you will be most interested in seeing. To get ahead of the algorithm, you have to get good engagement (likes, comments, saves etc.) on your photographs. The algorithm rewards those who post authentic and engaging content, making it more difficult for those who buy followers or use bots. Once you understand how the algorithm works, you can use it to your advantage.
When and How Often to Post
Before the algorithm, posting multiple times a day to get to the top of people’s home feeds was a reasonable strategy. With Instagram’s changes, I’ve experienced diminishing returns if I post more than once or twice a day. My strategy is to focus on one, or at the most two high quality posts per day.
If you switch to a business account, you get access to Instagram’s analytics. The analytics provide useful information, including what time of day your followers are the most active. For me, it’s usually between 9am-12pm Mountain time, so I try to post during this time frame.
Network with other wildlife photographers
If there are accounts you like to follow, leave them a comment or send them a message. If you comment on someone’s photographs, they will likely start looking at and commenting on your photographs too (which increases your engagement)!
It’s also important to respond to comments on your photographs. This encourages people to want to follow you and to continue commenting on your work. Don’t just focus on the number of likes. With the Instagram algorithm, the number and length of comments are important too. I’ve also read the engagement in the first hour or so after you post is the most important. If your post gets good engagement, the algorithm will continue showing it to a wider audience.
Get your photographs onto Instagram’s Explore page
You can find the Explore page by clicking on the magnifying glass icon on your Instagram app. This page is different for each user and shows you photos/videos/stories that you may be interested in (based on an algorithm). While there is no way to guarantee that your photograph makes it onto this page, having good engagement is the way to boost your chances.
Take great photographs
With all the best strategies in the world, there is no substitute for taking high quality photographs. There are millions of wildlife photographs on Instagram. You are lucky if people spend more than 2 seconds looking at your photo before scrolling down to the next one in their feed. Taking a great photograph will make people take a second look. Don’t skimp on photo editing either. Most good photographers use editing to bring out the best in their photographs.
Let your personality shine through
Captions are important. It’s not enough to post a great photograph if it doesn’t have an engaging caption to go with it (remember: you want people to comment on your photographs, not just like them). Let your unique personality shine through! I also recommend using Instagram Stories so people can get to know you better. Sharing some personal information is a great way to connect with others in the Instagram community.
Use appropriate hashtags to increase your exposure and get featured by wildlife hubs. Hubs come and go so it’s important to periodically update your tags for the highest chance of being featured. If you really want to grow your following, then increasing engagement on your photographs is key to stay ahead of the algorithm. Commenting, responding to comments, using Instagram Stories, writing interesting captions and sending messages to network with other Instagrammers are some of the ways to do so.
Did you find this article helpful? Follow me on Instagram to keep updated with the latest hashtags and Instagram changes. I update this article regularly!
If there are Instagram wildlife hubs I haven’t included, please let me know and I will add them to the article.
Thanks for reading,
-The Afternoon Birder