A methodology for mapping Instagram hashtags

  • Tim Highfield
  • Tama Leaver


While social media research has provided detailed cumulative analyses of selected social media platforms and content, especially Twitter, newer platforms, apps, and visual content have been less extensively studied so far. This paper proposes a methodology for studying Instagram activity, building on established methods for Twitter research by initially examining hashtags, as common structural features to both platforms. In doing so, we outline methodological challenges to studying Instagram, especially in comparison to Twitter. Finally, we address critical questions around ethics and privacy for social media users and researchers alike, setting out key considerations for future social media research.

Author Biographies

Tim Highfield
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Media and Communication at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Tama Leaver
Senior Lecturer in Internet Studies at Curtin University, Perth, Australia
How to Cite
Highfield, T., & Leaver, T. (2014). A methodology for mapping Instagram hashtags. First Monday, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i1.5563