Instagram’s testing out a small, but significant new function, which could have varied implications for social media marketers.
The option makes sense – sometimes you’ll be interested in a specific topic, and having related posts added to your home feed will help you more easily track it. Twitter actually has a similar option in place for selected Moments – some Moments include a ‘Follow’ button, which enables you to follow any updates to that Moment as they come in, with related tweets inserted into your timeline.
It’s not exactly the same as Instagram’s test, but the idea is similar, providing a new way to uncover relevant content without having to conduct individual searches for your favorite tags every day.
And as noted, for marketers, this could provide another way to boost your messaging.
Hashtags have always been a key part of an effective Instagram strategy, helping to boost reach, but as the platform has continued to grow, the more frequently used hashtags have become more and more crowded, making it harder to get your brand message to stand out in related streams.
This has lead to marketers looking for more niche tags to target, relative to their audience, or even to create their own, dedicated tags to help promote their businesses.
The ability to follow specific hashtags could help in this regard – if rolled out to all users, you could advise your followers to not only follow your brand, but also to follow your brand hashtags to help build community and encourage engagement.
If you’re able to create a popular, branded hashtag, guiding users to follow it could encourage more of them to take part, after seeing what others are posting. This could not only help boost your campaign messaging, but it could also provide you with more UGC to use in future initiatives.
Following non-branded hashtags also provides opportunities to better track what’s happening in a specific niche, within the app.
While you can already keep tabs on hashtags in certain social management apps, if you were considering targeting a smaller, more niche hashtag for your business, you could follow it and see what people are using it for, with related posts coming up in your feed, as you scroll through as part of your normal usage.
It seems like a small addition, like it doesn’t add a heap to the Instagram process. But there are opportunities in the function worth considering.
There’s no word as yet as to how widespread this test is, and/or whether it will see a full rollout anytime soon.
Also on the Instagram front – the app’s added a new set of city color filters for Instagram Stories which look pretty cool.
It’s another advance for Instagram Stories, another tool which Snapchat doesn’t have. It likely won’t be long till the gap between the two tools increases significantly.