Instagram’s Biggest Update Allows You To Follow Hashtags
Instagram’s latest update is a big one, as the social network now allows users to follow hashtags as well as profiles and business pages. This is a bit of a game changer – social media is primarily about following other users, but this change will allow you to hyper-personalise your own feed. Rather than having to manually look for content using the search facility (which is a bit longwinded), you can now follow a hashtag and see popular posts from that tag come up in your main feed alongside user content.
There are some concerns – Instagram will have to do some clever filtering to ensure that objectionable content or spam doesn’t get distributed by hashtag following. But the change is likely to make Instagram even more addictive, as users can dig deeper into niche communities and the things they care about. Over time, hashtag following could allow Instagram to collect more powerful targeting data, giving the network the opportunity to show more relevant ads to its users.
So how do you follow a hashtag? It’s simple. Find a hashtag in the usual way (by clicking on it on someone’s post for example, or manually searching for it), and click through to the hashtag’s feed. You’ll see a big follow button at the top, which will add the tag to you list of followed hashtags. From this point, you’ll start to see posts from this hashtag appearing in your main feed.
Another great feature is that when you’re looking at a hashtag, Instagram will suggest other relevant tags to follow. Be warned – this is likely to send you further down the rabbit hole as you start to follow more and more super-niche hashtags. It’s a slippery slope – but who hasn’t spent hours of their lives scrolling through #yolkporn? (We’re a hungry bunch).
Instagram’s algorithm will select which posts to show you based on factors such as recency and quality. This means that just because a post is using a hashtag you follow, it doesn’t mean it’ll show in your feed unless it is high-performing. Also, you’ll be able to downvote any posts you don’t want to see from hashtags using a drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the post (click onto the three dots to open up the menu).
It’ll be interesting to see how the update affects businesses. In a worst-case scenario, followings may drop as users opt to follow their favourite hashtags rather than users and business pages. However, using the right hashtags could help propel your content straight into people’s feeds, so keep posting great content and searching for those golden hashtags.