Instagram has announced an update to its search functionality which will give users the capacity to search for specific keywords, as opposed to being limited to profiles, hashtags and locations.
Up till now, when you've gone searching for something on Instagram, your results have been limited to names, user names, locations and hashtags. But as you can see in this example, you'll now be able to tap on specific search terms and Instagram will show you all the posts that include those exact words.
That'll make it easier to find a wider range of content, while it could also change search considerations for brands looking to maximize their Instagram performance.
For example, if you wanted to show up for relevant searches previously, you had to include the right hashtags in order to get into those channels. But now, you won't necessarily have to add every possible hashtag variation to maximize visibility, as the terms you use within your caption will be enough, in many cases, to ensure people find your content.
That said, it is a little limited.
According to Instagram, keyword searches will be "limited to general interest topics and keywords that are within Instagram’s community guidelines”. So not every niche keyword and topic will be searchable in this way.
Instagram will also rank its keyword search results based on a number of factors "including the “type of content, captions, when it was posted, and more". It'll also look to highlight the most relevant matches to each individual user, based on algorithm calculations.
So it's not pure keyword searching, and there are qualifiers that play into how the content is displayed. But it could have an impact on search and discovery, and how people find your profile on the platform.
It might be worth running a few experiments and seeing how your posts show up, with and without hashtags, in order to formulate the best strategy moving forward.
Instagram's search update is available in English to all users in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, starting today.