Instagram adds hashtag following in a potential boost to discoverability
- Instagram, the Facebook-owned image-sharing app with 800 million users, now lets users follow hashtags to see curated posts about a particular topic. The feature will show top posts and Stories about a topic on a user's home page instead of restricting the discovery of hashtags to the search function or Explore tab, per TechCrunch.
- Instagram uses automated and manual systems to weed out spam and objectionable content, a major worry for marketers that don’t want to see their hashtagged posts appearing amid inappropriate images. The app has hundreds of people on its community operations team who monitor user and automated reports to review content around the clock.
- Instagram has an algorithm that selects the best posts to show in a hashtag feed based on criteria such as quality and timeliness. Users can also down-vote posts they don’t want to see in a hashtag feed by using a drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the app, per TechCrunch.
With the update, marketers could use the discovery tool to reach targeted audiences and communities by including a desired hashtag in their posts to potentially boost reach. At the same time, Instagram isn't yet using hashtag following to provide more meaningful targeting data or information on interstitial ad placements. In the future, the Facebook-owned company could let brands pay to have their posts inserted into a hashtag's feed, essentially creating a new space for sponsored ads.
Hashtags have been a popular feature on other social media apps, namely Twitter, to let people explore all public posts about individual topics like breaking news, sporting events or popular TV shows. Hashtags help people see which topics are trending and join in on the discussion with their own posts.
Instagram is also relying on its user community to help screen out off-topic posts that are hashtagged by users who want to get more publicity or attract a bigger following, Marketing Land reported. The app’s “Don’t Show for This Hashtag” option lets users tag irrelevant or inappropriate posts, helping to provide a more personalized experience for each user and sift out poor-quality content.
Meanwhile, brand safety is one of the biggest concerns among marketers who have had to cope with complaints that their ads support objectionable content from hate groups or terrorist organizations. Instagram has made improvements to its systems that source and rank hashtag content to mitigate the problem.