How to Find Someone on Instagram, the 2021 Edition

Have you ever struggled with how to find someone on Instagram? One of the main purposes of social media is to connect with other people. But that’s not always as easy as clicking “follow.”

What do you do when you want to find someone on Instagram but don’t know their username? 

You might know the real name of the person you want to find, but remember that many social media users create handles, or nicknames, to identify themselves online. So if you don’t know someone’s handle, how can you find them?

Thankfully, there are some other ways you can find someone on Instagram. This article will look at the most effective ways to do that. We’ll also touch on how businesses can find Instagram influencers easily by using Heepsy.

How to find someone on Instagram

According to the most recent count, there are over 1 billion active monthly users on Instagram. That means more than 12% of the world’s 7.7 billion population use Instagram every month. Long story short: there are a lot of people on Instagram.

If you want to find one specific person among these billions of users, there are various techniques you can use. Let’s look at 8 different ways to find someone on Instagram.

Read this first: the Instagram search bar

Before you can start trying to find someone on Instagram, you have to understand the app’s search bar. Look for the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the app, and click on it. It opens the search and discover panel.

At the top you see the search bar, and below that, you see content that Instagram recommends you check out based on your habits on the platform. Let’s ignore that content for now and focus on searching.

If you tap the search bar, you’ll see it open up with four options:

  • Top – These results are a mixed bag of accounts, hashtags, and places. Instagram shows you things you’ve recently searched, as well as what it thinks you might want to find.
  • Accounts – If you choose this tab, the app will only show you accounts. If you start typing in a name, Instagram will show you accounts you already follow, celebrities, or popular influencers whose handles match what you’ve typed in.
  • Tags – This is the same as Accounts, but for hashtags.
  • Places – You can see locations near you, or type one in.
A screenshot showing how to find someone on Instagram using the search bar.
An example of the search bar, searching for my own profile. You can see the four tabs mentioned above.

In general, Instagram’s algorithm uses your past usage to predict what you might be looking for and show you the results it deems most relevant. 

Accounts

A screenshot showing how to find someone on Instagram using account names.
If we put in selena, the app shows us the most popular accounts with that name, like @selenagomez.

Now, if you know the handle of the user you want to find, it’s easy. Or, if you know their name, you could try searching for that, too. In addition to creating a handle, Instagram allows people to include their name on their profile. To find someone on Instagram with this method:

  1. Click the magnifying glass to go to the search panel.
  2. Tap the search bar at the top and then the Accounts tab.
  3. Type in the handle or the name of the person.
  4. Look at the users who pop up and see if you find your target.

Voila! Their profile will show up, and you can take a look or follow them. Remember if the profile is private, you have to request to follow them and wait for their approval before you can see their content.

Anyway, if you’re reading this article, chances are you might not know the handle or full name of the person you’re looking for. If you don’t know the person’s handle, finding them will be significantly more difficult. But you can give some other methods a go.

Friends of friends

Is the person you’re trying to find a friend of a friend? If your target might be connected to someone you already follow, you might be able to find them through your friend’s profile.

To find someone on Instagram through someone else you already follow:

  1. Navigate to your friend’s profile (the profile of the person you already follow).
  2. At the top of their profile, tap either followers or following.
  3. Start to type the name of the person you want to find.

At this point, Instagram will show you all the people connected to your friend whose usernames or names match what you’ve typed. If you find the person you’re looking for, great! If not, try another method from this list.

Discover people

If you couldn’t find the person you’re looking for through a specific friend’s profile, you can try using the Discover people feature. This is a good option if the target might be connected to someone you already follow, but you’re not sure specifically who.

Full disclosure: if you have no connection whatsoever to the person you’re trying to find, they probably won’t show up here. But it only takes a few seconds to check.

To find someone on Instagram using Discover people, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your profile. Look for the person icon at the bottom of the app.
  2. Next to the button that says Edit Profile, click the dropdown arrow.
  3. In the expanded section, scroll to the right to see people Instagram thinks you know.
  4. If you want to discover more people, click See All.
A screenshot showing how to find someone on Instagram using discover people.
The arrow circled in green opens up Discover people.

The accounts that appear in this section works pretty similarly to Facebook’s recommended friends widget (and not surprisingly, as Facebook owns Instagram). Instagram will show you primarily accounts that you have mutual friends in common with. So if the person you’re looking for knows some of the same people as you, they could show up here.

Sync contacts

Another way to find someone on Instagram is to go through the contacts you already have on your phone. So, if you got someone’s number and name, but can’t find them on Instagram, you could sync your contacts and see if the info you have on your phone matches what Instagram has on file.

You can sync contacts in a few steps:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Click the icon at the top right that looks like three lines.
  3. In the pop-out menu, click the gear icon to go to Settings.
  4. At the bottom of the list of settings, choose Account.
  5. Within the Account menu, tap Contact syncing.
  6. Toggle Connect contacts ON so that Instagram can access your contacts.

Now, if you go back to Discover people, you’ll probably see new suggested accounts based on the contacts you have stored in your phone.

Places

A screenshot showing how to find someone on Instagram using places.
In a city like New York, which has millions of residents and visitors, it will be difficult to find someone using places.

If none of the above methods helped you find the person you’re looking for, it might get a bit more complicated now. But, you can try to find someone on Instagram by looking for them in connection with a specific location.

Do you know where the person is from? What’s their favorite restaurant, bar, or spot to hang out? Are they currently on vacation somewhere?

If you know something about the person’s location, you can use Places to try to find them. To find someone on Instagram using Places:

  1. Click the magnifying glass to go to the search panel.
  2. Tap the search bar at the top and then the Places tab.
  3. Type in the place where you expect to find the person.
  4. Scroll through the content and see if you find them.

Keep in mind that you’ll only be able to find someone if they’ve recently posted on Instagram. Also, while this might work at the micro level, like a specific restaurant or small town, it’s not a feasible strategy for very large places popular on Instagram. For example, trying to find someone who you know is in New York City will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Hashtags

A screenshot showing how to find someone on Instagram using hashtags.
An example of a hashtag search on Instagram.

Hashtags are essentially keywords that people apply to content on Instagram. If you take photos of your Rottweiler puppy and want other people to be able to discover that content, you might apply the hashtags #rottweiler, #rottie, or #dogsofinstagram.

So, if the person you’re trying to find belongs to some niche and might use hashtags on their posts, you could potentially find them if you search for the right hashtags. To find someone on Instagram using hashtags:

  1. Click the magnifying glass to go to the search panel.
  2. Tap the search bar at the top and then the Tags tab.
  3. Type in the hashtags you want to target. You don’t need to put the #, Instagram will do that for you.
  4. Take a look at the content tagged with those hashtags and see if you can find the person you’re looking for.

Now, this strategy really only works if you know that your target person is dedicated to a certain niche. For example, if the person is into #veganglutenfreebaking, which matches 2.1K posts, you might be able to find them. 

 

But if they would only be using broad hashtags like #travel, which appears 571M times on Instagram, it will be nigh on impossible to locate them. Likewise, if they don’t use hashtags at all, they won’t show up here.

Search engine

You could step outside Instagram and Google the person if you’re not able to find them on the app. With the power of an entire search engine behind you, you’ll get much more comprehensive results. One of those results might in turn lead you to the Instagram profile of the person you want to find. 

Just bear in mind that when you search the entire Internet, you’ll see all types of results not related to IG. So this could take up a bit more time if you want to thoroughly review what the search engine returns to you.

Ask them!

If you’ve gone through all these other steps to try to find someone, you’ve probably done it because you don’t want to actually tell the person you’re looking for them on Instagram. But if all else fails, why not just ask the person directly if they have an account?

Nowadays, it’s normal for people to trade Instagrams, TikToks, LinkedIns, and other social profiles without it being awkward. A simple “Hey, do you have Insta?” could save you lots of time you’d otherwise spend searching. The next time you see them, ask them! And if it’s not someone you see often, try reaching out via email, SMS, Whatsapp, or another social network.

Reasons you might not be able to find someone on Instagram

No matter how hard you try, sometimes you just won’t be able to find the person you’re looking for on Instagram. This could be for a variety of reasons, which have nothing to do with you or your searching skills.

Why might you be unable to find someone on Instagram? Well, it could be due to any of the following:

  • The person doesn’t have an account. 1 billion people use Instagram monthly, but another 6 or so billion don’t.
  • You mispelled their name or username. Keep in mind some common names have multiple spellings (Katherine or Catherine? John or Jon?)
  • Their account might have been deleted, suspended, or blocked. Maybe they had Instagram and chose to get rid of it. Or maybe the network suspended or blocked them.
  • It could be a bug. See if anything else in the app is acting weird. Despite the resources behind companies like Facebook, not everything is always 100% under their control. 
  • The user may have been shadow banned. For example, imagine you know the person you’re trying to find was Instagramming at a specific restaurant last night, but you can’t find their posts when searching for the restaurant in Places. First off, maybe they didn’t use a geotag. Or, Instagram may have shadow banned their post. With this type of ban, the whole profile won’t necessarily appear blocked

How to find someone on Heepsy

Heepsy isn’t made to find people on Instagram just to take a look at their profile. We designed it specifically for businesses, primarily brands and agencies, to help them find and analyze influencers.

The idea of Heepsy is that you don’t have to know which influencer you want to find. Yes, you can search by handle. But you can also use our search filters to find influencers that meet your specific criteria.

Want a fashion influencer? Who has between 15-50K followers? Who’s based in London, and who’s interested in slow fashion? Plug those parameters into our tool and you’ll see all the Instagram influencers who match them.

To learn more about how to find influencers with Heepsy, check out the blog post How to Best Utilize Your Influencer Search.

Conclusion

After reading this article, hopefully you understand how to find someone on Instagram using various techniques. So the next time you find yourself wanting to check out someone’s Instagram, give one of these a go. And if you’re a brand or agency who wants to find influencers for a marketing campaign, check out Heepsy! 

 

 

Kate works on the Marketing team at Heepsy as a content writer. When she's not online you can find her traveling or trying out a new recipe.
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