2 Tagging Mistakes to Stop Making On Instagram

Tagging other people and brands when you refer to them on social media can be really valuable. Correctly tagging others can help you notify someone that you posted about them, leading them to start a conversation with you, or even follow you. It also makes it much easier for them to share your post onto their own feed or story, increasing the amount of people who see your original post.

But there seems to be some confusion about how tagging features work and how to get the brand or person you’re mentioning to actually notice your post.

In my job as a social media consultant for wineries and other small businesses, I spend a lot of time scrolling through my feed to see how other brands are using social media. And while I see a lot of creative work that inspires me, I also see some very simple mistakes being made that, if fixed, could help these businesses reach a lot more people!

Mistake Number 1: Using only a hashtag associated with a brand, not tagging the brand profile themselves

If you visit a winery and share a picture on Instagram from your experience, you can’t just use a hashtag of their business name and hope that they’ll see it or share it. You have to actually tag their profile (such as @winerynamehere) – and if that sounds obvious to you, you’d be surprised how often I see brands make this mistake and then wonder why the business they tagged never engaged with their post (because they never saw it!)

Mistake Number 2: Using a brand’s location tag, but not tagging the brand profile

The only kind of tagging that sends someone a notification and gives them the ability to share your post is profile tagging, with the @ symbol. Location tags and hashtags are really important tools on Instagram – but neither of them notify a business when you use them. Read more below about the differences between these tag functions and the right ways to use them, if your goal is engaging with the business or person you’re mentioning.

Types of Tagging on Instagram and How They Work

  • Tagging a Profile
    • When you tag another brand or person, starting with “@” followed by their username
    • Can be done either in the caption, or on the photo/video you posted
    • Can also be added as a sticker or in the text of an Instagram story
    • The brand or person you tagged will receive a notification, whether you tagged them in a story or in a post
    • If used in a story, profile tagging makes it very easy for the brand or person to re-share your story onto THEIR story (giving you more views!)
    • If used in a regular post, your post will show up under the brand or person’s “tagged photos” section on their profile (unless they’ve hidden this section)
  • Location Tags
    • When you add a location to the top of your photo or video post, or when you add a location sticker to your Instagram story
    • Does NOT send a notification to the business associated with that location, whether it’s used in a post or a story (though social media managers should periodically search their brand’s location to see what people are posting)
    • If used in a story, tagging the LOCATION of a business only will NOT allow them to share your story onto their story (you need to tag their profile, too for that)
    • It’s important to use locations for your own business’ posts, in case potential customers search your location and want to see what it’s like there
    • Using a location tag for your business in your stories can help you reach new people who don’t already follow you – because doing so allows your stories to automatically show up in your city’s location-specific stories (which can be viewed by searching your city or neighborhood in Instagram)
  • Hashtags
    • When you designate that your post or story is related to a certain topic by putting “#” before it, such as #winery or #vineyard or #chateaustmichele
    • Does NOT send a notification to the business associated with a hashtag (but your post will show up under that hashtag if people search for it or follow it)
    • If used in a story, hashtags of a business’ name alone will NOT allow that business to share your story onto their story – you’ll need to tag their business profile using “@” for them to be notified and able to share
    • Hashtags are a great way to reach new followers who might be interested in your business, but are not a way to mention someone and have them see it, unless they follow their own hashtag. Read more about picking the best hashtags to use here

Recap: Best Practices for Tagging on Instagram

To ensure that people or brands see your posts when you mention them, tag their username with the @ symbol. Using location tags and hashtags associated with that brand or person alone will not notify them about your post, and may prevent them from being able to share your stories (but they ARE important features to use to help new potential followers and customers see your posts!)

Thanks for reading – and stay tuned for more wine marketing tips next week.


Meaghan Webster is a wine and food photographer, marketing consultant, and results-based social media manager for wineries in Washington, DC, Virginia, and New York. Learn more about her services at meaghanwebster.com or see her latest work and tips at instagram.com/meaghanwmarketing.

In addition to managing social media and taking photos for clients, Meaghan is also available to host classes, lessons, and one-on-one workshops on social media best practices for brands. Interested in booking a workshop or class? Get in touch here!

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