No need to have #FOMO, you can literally follow the hashtag on Instagram thanks to a freshly rolled out update designed to increase content discoverability.
Prior to the update, users could only follow individual accounts. If you wanted to discover new content, you would browse Instagram’s algorithmically curated Search & Explore tab. If you wanted to check out content around a specific hashtag (e.g. #SantaMonica), you would need to manually input the term into the search box.
Per The Verge, Instagram hired former product manager of Discover Weekly at Spotify to lead this effort. Instagram’s Matthew Ogle shared that his mission was to “find ways to take the friction out of [the] process, to bring discovery and community-led goodness to where people already are.”
The notion of discovery has become increasingly important on platforms like Twitter (they announced a new Explore tab earlier this year), Pinterest (Explore), and Spotify (Discover) as these players strive to hold onto consumer attention and identify new opportunities to surface relevant, and often-times personalized, content to their audiences.
Now that we’re caught up with the backstory, let’s take a look at how the feature will work:
As the short video recaps, when you search for a topic or hashtag, you’ll be presented with a “Follow” button at the top of the page. From there, you’ll see a selection of top posts from that feed. Users can improve how the algorithm works by commenting and showing some love by tapping the “heart” icon, which signals to Instagram that you’d like to see similar content in the future. Conversely, you can also downvote by selecting “Don’t Show For This Hashtag,” or unfollow any hashtag completely.
As far as brands are concerned, it’s reasonable to assume that the feature will turn into an opportunity to buy targeted ads within topics and hashtags. As TechCrunch notes, “Eventually, hashtag following could give the app more powerful ad targeting data and an opportunity to show more interstitial ads between Stories, but the company says it’s not doing either right now.”
In the interim, social media teams should look into the trending relevant hashtags that align with their content in order to include the tags that will help drive organic views and engagement.
Cover image via Engadget.
What are your thoughts on the news? Do you think you’ll be spending more time on Instagram? Share your reactions in the comments below!
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