Instagram has declared that its users will be able to follow certain hashtags on the stage, along with profiles, with updates using these tags emerging in your news feed.
As described by Instagram:
Following a hashtag is just like following a friend. To get started, search for a subject you are engaged in or tap on a hashtag from any post. You will find relevant hashtags displayed in your search results along with interconnected accounts. When you discover a hashtag you like, open the hashtag page and tap on the follow button. You will start seeing most popular posts from that hashtag in your news feed and some of the hottest stories in stories bar. You can always unfollow a hashtag at any moment.
The new alternative expands the possibility of Instagram as a search engine.
The challenge will be in Filtering - some of the very popular tags have tens of thousands of fresh posts added each and every single day, far more than what you can see on your own feed. To offset this, Instagram will probably use an algorithm to choose the best of each, depending on certain factors. Users may also have the ability to enhance their feed by choosing an 'I do not like this' option out of a drop-down on each.
The addition of hashtag following might also cause communities using more unique tags to better filter their particular messages and content. Perhaps, instead of #flowers, you can get more obvious, with #redroses or similar, which smaller groups can then follow along. Obviously, the more popular the tag, the more receptive it will be to trendjacking, however, if you can build smaller communities about quite picky tags, which could make them a more workable addition to the regular feed (without overpowering it).
It is hard to tell what hashtag following will add to the Instagram experience, but apparently, from Instagram’s perception, they’re keen to expand users’ horizons and show them more of what the platform has to offer.
In a separate experiment, Instagram’s also adding ‘Posts you might like’ to people’s news feed to show them more of the content they might be interested in.
Clearly, it's in Instagram's interests to get you check out more information, and when they get it right they will provide more ways that will assist you to uncover relevant posts, which could keep users engaged to the platform for a longer period, while also providing Instagram with more information and chances to show advertisements.
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The ability to follow particular hashtags also opens up new opportunities for marketers. But if you are conducting an event, you can guide your viewers to follow the dedicated event tag, which might help to improve the exposure by reducing the user’s effort to go and search by their own. The function may also help boost hashtag campaigns.
The true worth of this option will mostly come down to the effectiveness of the algorithm, and Instagram's ability to filter those out seeking to tap into trending discussions. But definitely, it might add a substantial element to the Instagram’s process.