How To Hot-Link Instagram Images

Update — March 2018: This does no longer work!

If you are looking for a way to repurpose your already edited and published Instagram photos without downloading them from your social network profile and uploading them again on another server, this might be a handy workaround for you. It’s only a tiny bit technical — I promise!

Let’s say you want to integrate an Instagram photo on your blog or website, but you don’t want the typical Instagram look around it (no link to your profile, no caption, no social likes or comments like for the following photo).


Instead of saving this image on your own server (or in your WordPress library for example) you can choose to create a link within your website or blog with the URL of the Instagram server. This process is known as hot-linking or inline linking. That’s how the result would look like:

How to:
Open your Instagram profile, click the image you want to save, then right click on it and choose “Inspect Element”. This will open the developers tools box and highlight the URL of the image blue (please click on the image below for a readable version):


Copy and paste the URL after “https” and until “jpg” into a new browser tab. You’re almost there!

In my case, I would have copied the following: https=2//igcdn-photos-h-a=1akamaihd=1net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/t51=12885-15/e35/10467974_785588951567543_1739105950_n=1jpg

This line requires a little bit of tweaking before hitting “Enter”. Replace the “=2” by a colon and each “=1” by a dot. To stick with my example:

Hit “Enter” and you will see your image in full resolution in your new browser tab. Just copy the URL and refer to it with an <img src=”YourURL“> tag.

Major concerns when hot-linking to Instagram:
You are linking to an image of 1080×1080 px (if uploaded in square format to IG). So if you plan to display it at 20% of its size it would still be better to create a smaller image and upload it on your own server. Why? Even if you display the image at one fifth of its original size, the complete image must be downloaded to a browser before it is displayed in the smaller size, which can make your website or blog significantly slowlier if you proceed with all your images like this.

Major concerns when hot-linking to other websites:
If a large number of people are accessing your website, then a large number of people will be loading that image from the other website to display on your site. This might cause traffic problems for your website or the other website, including charges for serving many images.

Please keep in mind the copyright rules! Do NOT use this method to publish others’ Instagram images on your own website or blog; especially without mentioning the source. This trick is meant to help photographers who wish to repurpose their Instagram photos without having to upload them once more to a second server.

If you like this post you might also like New Free Tools To Analyze Your Instagram Followers And Engagement Rate

Instagram Acronyms Were A Thing In 2015

As the end of 2015 is approaching with rapid strides I digged into my blog statistics to find my most read post this year. Believe it or not, the winner is “Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #gotd, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #tv on #ig”, a text I wrote back in 2013!

The numbers speak for themselves: My Instagram acronym collection attracted well over 5,000 readers in the past 12 months. That’s what I call ‘a good score for a small non-commercial travel & photo blog’, and what content creators call ‘evergreen content’.

Due to the post’s popularity I just updated it with a few new links for extra information and I made sure the content is still correct. Turns out Gang Family is now Global Family, but the handle name and hashtags stay the same and #owu (aka One World United) is no longer active. As bonus, I added a new interesting acronym I discovered in 2015: TV (Transfer Visions).

If you are looking for additional exposure on Instagram to get a name in your photo niche, please read my original article.

If you like travel, nature and urban photography please consider following me on Instagram. Apropos popular: Here is my most liked IG photo of 2015:

My 5 most popular blog posts this year:
1.  Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #gotd, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #tv on #ig
2. Auckland Skyline: Photo Locations
3. New Free Tools To Analyze Your Instagram Followers And Engagement Rate (And Why Iconosquare Is Still Best)
4. New Zealand Communities On Instagram
5. Auckland Sky Tower Colours

French Communities On Instagram

Louvre, Paris, France

Louvre, Paris

After announcing that I moved to France, it seemed like a no-brainer to list worthwhile Instagram accounts that focus on “la joie de vivre” in this part of the world. Please see this post as a sequel to “New Zealand Communities on Instagram” and “Australian Communities on Instagram”. As done before, I recommend checking out the following accounts to learn about stunning travel locations, ideal photo spots, or to connect with the locals.

The hashtag behind each linked Instagram account is the official hashtag you should use if you aim to get featured and grow your audience.

Tip: Don’t forget about the emoji hashtag with the French Tricolore


France in general

@ig_france #ig_france
@exclusive_france #exclusive_france #france_vacations
@loves.france #loves_france
@loves_france_ #loves_france_
@gf_france_ #gf_france

Also try:


@igersparis #igersparis #igers_paris
@paris_jetaime #parisjetaime
@paris_maville #parismaville

Also try:

Big cities

@objectiftoulouse #objectiftoulouse
@igersmarseille #igersmarseille
@bnw_marseille #bnw_marseille
@lillemaville #lillemaville

Also try:


@provenceguide #provenceguide

Also try:

Bonus: Europe

@wueurope_ #wu_europe #europe_vacations

Do you know of any popular French account or hashtag that I missed? Please leave a comment below!

Make sure to follow me (ae_i) on Instagram for “France through my lens”. Thank you!

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✩ Maggio 04, 2015 ✩ Il Team @LOVES.FRANCE presenta: ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ ✦🏆 foto di @ae_i 🏆✦ ❉ "Lyon, France" ❉ 〽️️Seguite e visitate la sua bellissima galleria 👊🏼 ㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡㅡ ⓒ ⓞ ⓝ ⓖ ⓡ ⓐ ⓣ ⓤ ⓛ ⓐ ⓣ ⓘ ⓞ ⓝ ⓢ ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ ❥ seguite ☞ @LOVES.FRANCE ❣ ❥ Tag ☞ #LOVES_FRANCE ❣ ✩ Admin Profile ☞ @olga_sforza ❣ Always …👇🏼 ❥ Group @Loves_Team_World ❣ ❣ ✍ ✍ ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ ❣ Seguite anche: @loves_vehicles @loves_jobs @loves_besthdr @loves_molise_ @loves_emiliaromagna @vivoturkey @vivosicilia @vivobasilicata ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ ❣ Follow ☞ #loves_world #loves__europe #loves_mediterraneo #loves_panama #loves_emiliaromagna #loves_landscape #loves_vintage #loves_mountains_ #loves_freedom_  #loves_trentino #vivobasilicata #vivoturkey #ig_france #igfrance #gf_france #bns_france ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

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New Free Tools To Analyze Your Instagram Followers And Engagement Rate

UPDATE — 18th of January 2016: Iconosquare switched once more back to paid plans (there is only a free trial). Good news though: Compared to the last switch (in April 2015) the new plans are much more affordable. If you don’t care about exports of your reports you can get started with $28.80/year already. I am still convinced that Iconosquare is doing a great analytics job; if you are looking for a completely free tool however, please continue reading…

At the beginning of 2014 I published the blog post Track The Success Of Your Instagram Content Strategy, in which I strongly recommend the usage of Iconosquare, an easy to set up, complete and free analytics tool. Over a year later, my opinion hasn’t changed. Iconosquare is still the king of free Instagram analytics.

However, they shocked their huge and active followerbase a few days ago, when they announced that they had switched their analytics services to paid only. They shortly introduced 3 new plans for different budgets, which I personally considered as way too costly for private users. Their basic analytics pack started at $199 a month. Sniff!

But all is good (for) now. The team behind Iconosquare admitted they “blew things up”, and they rolled back to the version I fell in love with. They have all my respect for that decision; it surely isn’t easy to sacrifice months of work ‘for the mob’. One word only: Crowdsourcing.


Iconosquare’s email from May 2, 2015

Just to be on the safe side in case Iconosquare switches back to paid only in the future, I’ve been doing some research, trying to find free alternatives for all shutterbugs and ambitious photographers, who depend on some basic Instagram analytics to understand what their followers like or don’t like, and who their followers are.

I filtered all tools I found by the following criteria:

  • does not require additional private data to actually get your hands on the report, but offers a direct connect with existing Instagram login data
  • does not charge anything for at least the very basic data I’m after (all tools below will actually offer more analytics for money too)
  • does work through a web browser or on the two major smartphone / tablet platforms (iOS, Android) to guarantee unlimited access from several administrators (if needed)

3 tools to consider:

1. Besides follower growth and overall engagement, the free Locowise Instagram Analyser compares your post interactions (likes, comments, response time; for both image and video posts) with those of similar Instagram profiles (based on the amount of account followers).

This tool runs in any web browser and will give you a basic understanding if your Instagram growth and engagement rates are healthy, or need to be worked on.


Locowise Instagram Analyser

2. SocialRank does not focus on growth and engagement rate (yet). However, their filters allow you to drill deeper into knowing who your followers are and whom to follow back. You can not only filter by “most valuable”, “most engaged” and “best followers”, but also by bio keyword (for example “photography”, “Canon 5D”, “travel addict” etc.) as well as location (city, state or country) and hashtags they used in the past. With only 1 click you can sort out all those accounts who are inactive or never posted on Instagram.

3. InsTrack (aka InstaFollow, by INNOVATTY) is a mobile App, running on both iOS and Android devices. Free App features include a list of gained and lost followers, a list of Igers that you personally follow, but who do not follow you back, as well as a free “fans” list; followers you don’t follow back. All accounts in these lists can be directly followed or unfollowed from within InsTrack.

Under “Media Insights” you will find a short summary of your Total Likes and Total Comments, as well as Average Likes / Comments Per Post. To see your most popular (liked or commented) media, gain better user insights, or learn more about your most and least engaged followers you will have to do some in-app purchases. You can currently unlock all premium features for a total of $7.76 (one time payment). Sounds fair.


INNOVATTY’s InsTrack (InstaFollow)

Iconosquare statistics, which these 3 tools won’t deliver (for free):

  • best time of the day to publish something new on your Instagram profile
  • average lifespan of a post
  • hashtag trends / search / impact
  • filter impact
  • list of all unread comments (plus possibility to reply or delete them)

If you are after the most complete AND free reporting, Iconosquare is still the best choice. Though for various reasons, you might still want to try one of the above mentioned tools; for example if you need to check your Instagram growth and engagement on the go thanks to a mobile App (something Iconosquare does not offer).

If you want to look into further free tools that didn’t match my filters mentioned above, please check:

Did you find another free Instagram analytics tool I didn’t mention here?
Which of the paid Instagram analytics tools mentioned in this Agorapulse article would you recommend for smaller budgets?

Make sure to connect with me on Instagram!

If you like this post you might also like Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #gotd, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #owu on #ig

Wanaka: That (Instagram) Tree Again


2014: THE tree in Wanaka, New Zealand

When I moved to New Zealand in 2011, for me, Wanaka was all about Skydiving. Now, 3 years later, Wanaka is all about “the lone tree”.

This image shift started on social networks, most notably on Instagram. Filtering by hashtag #GigaTownWanaka, I came across the same idyllic, picturesque, maybe even romantic scenery again and again – a single tree in the middle of a lake. That tree clearly had its followership!

But that’s not the whole story. That tree has its own hashtag! There are currently hundreds of photos tagged with #ThatTreeAgain.


2014: #ThatTreeAgain, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

And as if this wasn’t enough, THE tree also has a name thanks to Instagram. True story! I found several Instagram photos of the lone tree captioned with “Hinemoa, Lake Wanaka”. My first reflex was to ask Google about the background story of Hinemoa. But Google didn’t know! (Also a true story!!)

So I asked a New Zealand photographer who has taken stunning photos of “Hinemoa, Lake Wanaka”. To my surprise he couldn’t tell me where he heard the name first or where it came from. But he referred me to @fi_austin.

Fiona (@fi_austin) used to post heaps of photos of #ThatTreeAgain (on her former account @haweachick). She told me, back then she has been regularly asked if the lone tree had a name. And somehow it was a pity it didn’t. So when a friend of hers stumbled across the Maori legend of Hinemoa, also known as the Lady of the Lake, Fiona started to refer to the tree as a “she” and gave her the name Hinemoa – on Instagram. The name stuck!

Working in Social Media, for me it’s the perfect example of how rumours can go viral on any network without having real control. And now, thanks to my blog post, Google also knows. The tree is only a heartbeat away from immortal fame ;)

If you like this post, you might also like New Zealand Communities On Instagram


2011: My very first photo ever of Hinemoa, Lake Wanaka


Australian Communities On Instagram

Travel guides are out! Instagram is taking over!

Well, at least in my case. But I’m an addict. I personally like to follow regional and national Instagram accounts as part of my trip preparation. It usually helps me to learn fast about a certain location, to stay informed about ongoing or coming events and to get to know some of the best local photo spots and opportunities.

Since I just spent a few weeks in Oz I compiled a list of worthwhile Australian Communities on Instagram. I figured it would be a nice addition to my updated blog post “New Zealand Communities On Instagram”, which I first published in May 2013.

I’m happy to share my Top 10 (alphabetical order) with you. Please note that these accounts are featuring the work of worldwide Igers while they travel through Australia and make use of specific hashtags:

@aussiephotos #aussiephotos
@australia #seeaustralia
@australiagram #australiagram
@australialovesyou #australialovesyou
@bnw_australia #bnw_australia
@discoveraustralia #discoveraustralia
@exploreaustralia #exploreaustralia
@exploringaustralia #exploringaustralia
@icu_aussies #icu_aussies & #icu_aussies_bnw
@wow_australia #wow_australia

Accounts focusing on Oceania in general (also featuring photos of worldwide artists):

@au_nz_hotshotz #au_nz_hotshotz
@wuoceania #wu_oceania
@loves_oceania #loves_oceania

Further tags to instantly find and connect to Insta Aussies locally (partly featuring photos; though most of these hashtags are used by locals and tourists alike to discuss or show regional captures without being featured):

@exploreuluru #exploreuluru
@queensland #thisisqueensland
@tasmania #discovertasmania

Please leave me a comment if you know of any Australian Instagram account that definitely belongs in this list. Thanks a million!

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To have one of your photos featured in our gallery, you must follow the following guidelines 1⃣ follow us @aussiephotos 2⃣ tag your photo with #aussiephotos by doing this you're agreeing to allow us to repost your photo here on Instagram, and we'll be acknowledging that the photo belongs to you 3⃣ photos are original and belong to you 4⃣ your photo must relate to Australia, only Australian themed photos will be featured in our gallery 🐨🐨🐨 5⃣ we will be featuring 6 different profiles on a daily basis 6⃣ we will be conducting challenges every month with weekly winners announced every Monday if the month 🏆🏆🏆 today we have another daily feature, @ae_i terrific photo and as always thank you for supporting us and congratulations again, we'll be looking forward in seeing more of your work in the near future #featurephotooftheday

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If you like this post you might also like Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #owu on #ig

Track The Success Of Your Instagram Content Strategy

UPDATE — 4th of May 2015: Due to the Iconosquare rollout on April 28, which caused social media specialists without Instagram budget to panic a little (and which was rolled back on May 2), I had a closer look at additional free Instagram analytics tools. Head over to this blog post for more. It surely won’t hurt to be prepared with a set of different tools to analyze your Instagram followers and engagement rate in case Iconosquare still switches to paid only services in the near future. For now, all statistics described below can again / still be accessed for free!

Since most social media marketing blogs agree that Instagram will be “the king of social media in 2014”, or at least they consider a visual content strategy as the right thing to do this year you might be interested in getting a brief overview what Statigram (Update: As of April 23, Statigram is now Iconosquare) can do for you. You should read this if you’re a target focused numbers guy – or if your boss is – and if you are motivated to boost your website traffic or (photo) sales through Instagram.

Statigram / Iconosquare is a third-party Instagram webviewer for your PC that, once connected to your Instagram account, analyzes your profile activity and coughs up a few metrics, charts and graphs of interest that I am going to explain to you with a few screenshots from my private Statigram / Iconosquare account.

Curious? Visit Iconosquare and connect your Instagram account for free to get started.

Once you are connected, your “Viewer” page is loading all the content you can basically find in Instagram as well: posts from your friends, your media, your followers, your followings, your likes and also the most popular photos on Instagram right now. I usually don’t spend much time on that summary page though.

I prefer to drill down the “Statistics” tab instead.

The first interesting feature on the Statistics “Overview” page is your score card for follower engagement on your last photo or video (big number on the screenshot below) and the average engagement based on your last 15 media posts (small number).


Engagement Score Card

Let’s say you have 1,000 followers and reach the numbers above. In that case, your last post was liked by 228 of your followers and 128 people who don’t follow you; it generated around 60 comments, though I’d recommend to take that number with a grain of salt as Instagram / Iconosquare counts each comment, even if you made it yourself to thank your followers for their comments or to fill it with a few hashtags to get found.

What to do with these numbers?

According to this Buffer article, for every 1,000 followers you have, you can currently expect about 37 interactions per photo. 37 out of 1,000 is 3.7%. In other words, you can expect about 4% of your followers to like or comment on your photos. If you reach scores like on the screenshot above you know you did very well and you’ve found a piece of content people love. Publish more of it!

If you are constantly below the average 4% you know you need to change something about your photo quality, or image descriptions, calls to action or even your strategy.

The second interesting feature I want to discuss can be found on the “Rolling month analysis” page. It’s a more visual presentation of your most engaging posts and a growth number which indicates at a glance if your photos perform better or worse than during the previous month.

Statigram engagement

Does your engagement rate increase or decrease?

The screenshot above was taken in the middle of March. However, two of the analyzed photos were posted in February already which leads me to the interpretation that you’ll always get an engagement overview for the past 4 weeks compared to the 4 weeks before that (rather than a comparison between March and February).

Since February and March were some good months for me to head out and get some photography done – Auckland lit up in rainbow colours; I visited the film set of The Hobbit; I climbed Mount Taranaki – all my engagement numbers went up quite a lot. I did not only gain more likes and comments because I posted more photos, but the average number of likes and comments per photo increased by almost 10% and 24% respectively. I was pleased to receive a few questions about my trips and glad I could offer advice. Note to myself: I need to do more mountaineering to keep my Instagram engagement rates high!

Your “Rolling month analysis” page also allows you to sort all the photos you ever posted by number of likes or number of comments, which makes it super easy to keep track of your most and least liked media.

The “Content” page will give you a brief overview over your own posting behavior.

Turns out I publish more photos on Mondays than on any other day, and I usually do so around 12pm or 6pm (surprise, lunch break or after work). But all of this information wouldn’t be of much value without the “Optimization” tab on which Iconosquare offers a chart comparing your posting habits with your followers’ engagement habits.

Statigram post times

Find out the best times to post on Instagram

The dark circles indicate when I posted photos during the last 90 days (repartition by hour horizontally, and by day vertically). The light grey circles show when my followers have been interacting more (big circles) or less (small circles or no circles). The biggest light grey circles are therefore the best times for me to post.

To be honest, I am currently not making much use of this chart for my private photo account. I just get my stuff out when I have time for Instagram – including time to look at the profiles of people I follow and catch up, like, comment myself. After all, Instagram is a SOCIAL network.

However, from a marketing point of view this chart could be of high value if you plan a new content campaign which requires a lot of engagement. Apropos engagement, the “Optimization” page has another interesting curve to offer: the average lifespan of a post.

Post lifespan on Instagram

My average post lifespan on Instagram

This graph shows how fast your community comments on a media you post. It also shows after how long you can usually consider that a post will not receive any more comments. Again, this curve is based on your activity over the past 90 days.

Unsurprisingly, most of my photos received most comments during the first 2 hours; there is a small peak for hour 4 after publication and hour 12 after publication. I am living in New Zealand but I do have a bunch of followers in Germany, my home country; they usually check in while I’m asleep and vice versa. Some posts still generate comments after 24 hours, but it’s safer to say that most of my Instagram posts have a lifespan of 12 hours. That’s huge compared to Facebook (3 hours) and Twitter (15 minutes).

The “Statistics” tab and all its sub-pages offer you a few more numbers and charts. Today, I introduced you to the ones I find most useful myself. If you have any questions about the rest feel free to ask in the comments below. I’m happy to help.

If you manage Instagram for a company, Iconosquare is a great way to grant access to all administrators through a web browser, no need to have a smartphone or to use your private phone for work matters. The “Manage” tab sends a notification when there is an unread comment, and you can directly reply, delete or post a new comment within Iconosquare.

If you are an advocate of simplicity you probably prefer to use as few tools as needed to manage all your social network profiles. In that case you’ll be happy to hear that Iconosquare can be integrated in your existing HootSuite dashboard. I expect more social media management tools to follow soon.

And of course, Iconosquare offers you a few tools to promote your Instagram account on your blog or Facebook fan page. I personally made use of their “Snapshots” feature depicting my best moments on Instagram in 2013.

If you like this post you will also like Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #owu on #ig