Today Instagram completely changed the game. Instagram has always been THE social network for following influencers and creators, but they just stepped it up a notch.
As of today, Instagram users can follow hashtags as they do users – thus making the user experience on Instagram more personalized than ever before.
So what does this mean for marketers and brands on Instagram?
#Blessed, Hashtags Are Being Revived
For the past few months, there has been a significant drop in engagement from hashtags on user profiles. The Instagram algorithm has made it more difficult for accounts to be found via hashtag – but this update is going to change that.
This new feature might seem minor, but it’s actually a HUGE deal. By allowing users to follow hashtags that are relevant to their interests, there is a higher chance of engagement and reach for each post that is associated with a hashtag.
Before, users would have to aimlessly click around through hashtags and profiles or scroll through the Explore tab to find interesting content. This will eliminate that extra step and make browsing as simple as following a friend.
How The Feature Works
The posts that are shown to the followers of a hashtag are selected by a new algorithm. The algorithm will show content based on quality and how recently it was posted.
This means that adding a lot of popular hashtags to your posts won’t necessarily mean that users will see them unless they meet the requirements of the algorithm – similar to Facebook and other social platforms. Users will also be able to downvote content that they are less interested in from hashtags and unfollow hashtags if they decide to.
How Brands Should Use This Feature Moving Forward
If you’ve been feeling ho-hum about hashtags lately, this feature should help you see them in a new light. As long as you are focusing on quality content, it can help supercharge your engagement on those posts. Here are a few suggestions on how we think that brands should utilize this new Instagram feature.
– Be Smart About Your Hashtags. Be sure to use relevant hashtags but also keep the popularity of your choices in mind. Getting more specific with your hashtags might be better for your brand than only posting with the top hashtags for your product/industry. We recommend using a mix of popular and less popular hashtags.
The reason we are suggesting less popular hashtags is that brands will have more opportunity and visibility to the grow with the smaller number of followers than they would if they only used the most popular hashtags on Instagram. Similar to the strategy of utilizing longtail keywords vs. general ones, lower volume hashtags will likely have less competition and a more targeted audience (i.e. choose #houstonfoodie over #food or #foodie).
If you think about it, every restaurant or food production company is going to use #food. The probability of their post being seen will drop significantly every second because thousands of #food posts will be posted every minute. We aren’t saying to rule them out altogether, but include some other more specific hashtags in your rotation.
– Create Branded Hashtags. This new feature is the perfect opportunity for brands to try out branded hashtags. A great example of a branded hashtag is Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke. Users all over the world share photos of themselves with Coca-Cola products – so you can use the same approach to associate people back to your brand.
– Use This Time To Try New Things. This feature is BRAND NEW and it’s not an exact science. This feature will affect every brand differently, but this is the time to try new things. Sample new hashtags, find your niche, and have fun with it! Instagram is meant to be a fun platform, so run with it!
Follow Marketing Refresh on Instagram Today!
We are really looking forward to seeing how this affects our client’s Instagram profiles and experimenting with new hashtags to see what works and what doesn’t.
We try to have fun with our Instagram profile and would love for you to follow us!
We are also running an experiment with this new feature so if you’d like to see some fun content and help us out – follow #TheHolidayYeti on Instagram. This hashtag will follow our new friend, The Holiday Yeti, to see what shenanigans he gets into over the next two weeks!