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How Instagram’s new features could impact your marketing strategy

INSTAGRAM has introduced even more features to its picture-sharing platform. These include the ability to follow hashtags and the introduction of a “recommended for you” section, presenting to users posts liked by friends.

So what are the implications of these new features for brands, publishers and influencers?

Increase in content clutter

Both features will add increased content into the feeds of users, meaning users will need to scroll through a mountain of posts before reaching organic content. Ever since Instagram made the move from a chronological algorithm to a more tailored feed for each user, brands have to pay to be seen.

Yet while the new updates may drive more content into the feeds of users, Instagram has said these changes will not impact where paid ads will appear within the feed. Posts which are not backed by Instagram’s paid ad strategy risk being buried.

The introduction of hashtag-related posts allows users to follow a certain hashtag such as #travel. From this, Instagram will determine what to show the user in their feed based on the recency and quality of the posts.

According to an Instagram spokesman, there is no limit on the amount of hashtag-related posts which can appear in the user’s feed.

The new “recommended for you” section will include three to five posts which will show up on the user’s feed once they have viewed all their new posts.

Increased discoverability

With Instagrammers now being able to follow hashtags, marketers can take advantage of the art of social listening and capitalize on trending conversations in an industry.

“For years, brands that had a right to be seen alongside certain hashtag-related content were buried by the algorithm,” said Matt Lang, senior digital strategist at digital agency Rain, as reported by Digiday.

“But now they’ll have a chance to surface.”

In addition to being able to discover which topics are being most talked about, the new feature is a free way for brands to increase their reach.

Brands can utilize the power of trending hashtags, adding these to their engaging content for users to discover.

Even those brands who have minimal followers can get their content in front of thousands through the use of hashtags, proving a powerful tool for brand exposure.

While the hashtag-following addition isn’t yet being monetized, this could be set to change in the future. For instance, Instagram may choose to prioritize sponsored hashtags in the feeds of users, and perhaps charge these brands for access to analytics surrounding the hashtags.

Hashtag abuse

Source: Unsplash

With the power of the #hashtag becoming even more prominent with Instagram’s new feature, we may now be set to see a whole lot of hashtag abuse.

In order to stand out among a sea of hashtags, brands must be wise in determining which of these are actually relevant and can add value to conversations.

As with an SEO strategy, brands, as well as influencers, should consider how they can strategically create content, including the image, caption and hashtag usages, in order to maximize organic reach.