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Do you use Instagram for your business? Andrew Hutchinson from Social Media today brings to our attention that Instagram are now rolling out a new option for users to follow a hashtag? What does that mean, I hear you ask! Well this is what Instagram themselves say about it;

 “Following a hashtag is just like following a friend. To get started, search for a topic you’re interested in or tap on a hashtag from any post. You’ll see relevant hashtags displayed in your search results along with related accounts. When you find a hashtag you like, open the hashtag page and tap on the follow button. You’ll begin seeing top posts from that hashtag in your feed and some of the latest stories in your stories bar. You can always unfollow a hashtag at any time.”

This will undoubtably increase the potential of Instagram being used as a type of ‘search engine’.

With so many hashtags being used Instagram will be using an algorithm to select the best of each one used, based on a range of factors.  As a user you will be able to improve your feed by selecting the ‘I don’t like this’ option from a drop-down menu that will appear on each one.

Hashtag following will more than likely lead to communities using more specific tags to filter their own content and messages better. For example, instead of using the generic hashtag like say #ponies, you could get more specific and use #welshsectionA or something similar. Instagram will be displaying which hashtags each profile follows, so you can then get a better idea of which tags you’d like to follow.  However, users can choose to hide their hashtag following list.

This enables you to build smaller communities around very specific tags, making them a better addition to your regular feed, without having all the other stuff associated with the #ponies tag.

Who knows what hashtag following will add to the Instagram platform, but Instagram are clearly keen to expand their users experience and show them more of what the platform has to offer.

This could open up new opportunities for marketers as being able to direct users to a specific dedicated hashtag you are using for an event or product will save them from having to go searching through Instagram to find it.

This new feature is in its trial stages and may take a while to take off, but if you don’t try it and give it a go, you will never know. A lot depends on how Instagram themselves use their algorithm method which would enable users to jump onto trending discussions. For now, it’s in its suck it and see stage but, if it takes off, it could really add to the whole Instagram experience and as they say;

‘Following hashtags is just the beginning of how we’re giving you the tools to discover and be inspired by our community.’

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