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How to search Instagram

With more than 1 billion users, Instagram now contains extensive information of interest to analysts, reporters, investigators, and other researchers who closely follow current events. (Marketers tracking “brands” have also become very attracted to Instagram.) Instagram contains not just photos and videos, but associated textual comments, which are sometimes lengthy and substantial.

However, Instagram itself has the barest of search capabilities. With Instagram’s search box, you can search by user name and get all images posted by that user (if not marked private). You can also search for places and by hashtags but you will only get images and videos, chosen by Instagram, that “were selected automatically based on things like the people you follow or the posts you like.” When searching for topics, much can be missed.

Improving search on Instagram

There is, though, a solution. If you go to Google and perform a Google “site search,” you are likely to find a good portion of Instagram posts relating to your topic, if the posts contain adequate topic-related text.

Here are two examples

Try them: Click on results; and look at photos, videos, and comments for a feel of the types of content present:

  • detroit carjacking
  • venezuela guaido rally OR mitin 2019

This is simple, quick, easy, and effective.

This article was adapted from an article in The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, a newsletter published by Information Today, Inc. For more information, visit

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