Instagram is Changing the Way We Interact with Hashtags
This is a big shift, so what does it mean for you?
by NIK GOODNER
Instagram rolls out a radical change in the way we follow hashtags. Announced earlier today (December 13th, 2017), our favorite social media app will now allow you to follow hashtags.
Until now digesting media on Instagram could only be done in three ways:
1. By following accounts of people you like.
2. By exploring through an Instagram curated feed of users.
3. By searching a specific hashtag or related hashtags that you are interested in seeing.
For those unaware, Instagram uses hashtags as a simple way of categorizing posts across the platform. For example, you can search #CRTVCHURCH to find other churches in our community sharing their work. One can also leverage hashtags to keep up-to-date on local events or even specific events i.e., our current #CRTVMAS17.
Many businesses and churches have been leveraging hashtags since their inception in 2007. Historically, users have had to search those hashtags to interact with them; however, that changes today…
While the use of hashtags remains the same, Instagram is changing the way we follow them by now allowing users to follow specific hashtags.
Following a hashtag will add a selection of top posts, chosen by Instagram, to your feed which will appear along with the accounts you follow. Meaning you’ll see more of the content and user accounts you’re interested in without the need for all the manual searching.
Following a Hashtag on Instagram:
To follow hashtags on Instagram, search for a hashtag like #CRTVCHRUCH via the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen, or tap on a hashtag on any post, to bring up a page of images related to that hashtag. On the top of the page you will now find a big blue ‘Follow’ button, tap that and you’re done.
Refining Your Followed Hashtag Feed:
Now, let’s say you aren’t too keen on seeing every single person using a specific hashtag in your feed, well don’t sweat. Instagram will allow you to filter out those users/posts you don’t want to see. To do this, tap the three-dots icon at the top right of any hashtag-based post and select ‘Don’t Show for This Hashtag’ from the pop-up menu. This will remove similar posts from the hashtag you follow, which trains Instagram’s algorithm to learn your preferences.
How to keep things private:
Are you worried about the entire world seeing your hashtagged photos? Well, fret not, setting your account to private will limit visibility of your used hashtags to your followers only.
Our new world:
There are broader implications to the new way we follow hashtags. Potentially, users can now use Instagram without following any user accounts at all. This could eventually reduce the value attached to having large numbers of followers while shifting the emphasis more towards the number of likes + interactions. Something that real social media nerds already strive for having.
There’s also another worry that this will lead to brand defamation. While we have never been able to control what our hashtags are used for, we have been able to live in peace knowing it’s not popping up in user’s feeds. With that changing, it begs the question will others try to maliciously attack brands by using a brand’s hashtag and filling it up with offensive posts. This could lead brands that rely heavily on branded hashtags to start rethinking their strategies.
On the sunny side of life, you can now get your posts seen by a wider audience by merely using key/well-followed hashtags.
Either way, you look at it, this is a radical change for the platform and the future of social media as we know it.
Content creator + founder of CRTVCHURCH