Ah, social media updates. If it isn’t a changing algorithm, it’s a modernized user interface or the debut of a brand-new social media platform altogether. It’s hard to keep up, especially when multiple social channels are a part of your marketing strategy. But don’t worry; that’s why we’re here! We keep up on all of this so you don’t have to. In particular today, we want to share a little about what’s going in the world of Instagram. With the all-new keyword search functionality introduced, your Instagram strategy (and use of Instagram hashtags) may need to be adjusted. Keep reading for more info and some tips. 


Searching by Keywords

Last month, Instagram announced that users can search by keywords and have access to even more curated results than ever before. If you remember, prior to this, search was much more limited. You’d enter a hashtag and any posts tagged with that specific hashtag would appear for you. But now, your search is broadened and has been transformed into more of an actual search engine that finds relevant content (even without tags). This is exciting for users, as it makes discovery and exploration of their areas of interest smoother and less limited. 


But, It’s Still Limited

As excited as everyone is about this feature (and we share their enthusiasm), the logistics are still a little bit fuzzy. For example, it’s not totally clear how content is pulled up when a relevant keyword is searched. An Instagram spokesperson said its team considers “a number of factors,” including the “type of content, captions, when it was posted” when yielding results. It also uses machine learning to “find the highest quality content that’s relevant.” 

Furthermore, you can’t search for everything you want and magically access related posts. Instagram admits that “the search is limited to general interest topics and keywords that are within Instagram’s community guidelines.” So, this feature will serve people whose interests (or businesses) fall within such categories, and not those whose interests (or businesses) fall outside of them. 


What You Can Do

It’s always good to revisit and revise your content strategies every quarter, if not monthly, since social media updates happen so often. But it’s particularly important to consider your approach when you hear of a change that may impact how users find your content. For businesses who use Instagram to connect with their target buyers and showcase their products or services, there are a couple key things to know. 


First, continue to prioritize creating and sharing quality content. Your content should appeal specifically to your customers, have a fresh angle or perspective and be aligned with your branding. Also, be sure you’re including creative and relevant captions. The more content you post, and higher quality it is, the more you’ll appear in search results. 

Second, recognize that hashtags will operate differently than they did before. Previously, users could add hashtags to old posts in order to bring them to the top of their feeds. But now, images show up in users’ feeds based on the date they were actually posted. So you’ll need to post often in order to appear often. Furthermore, you’ll want to include more keywords in your captions and posts so they have a greater chance of being pulled up when someone searches for related topics. 


It’s still not certain whether including hashtags alongside keywords is useful, so we’ll update you when we know more about that. For now, we recommend testing it. Post a photo with a caption that includes hashtags and keywords, and see how it appears in the search results, then try it again without the hashtags. Compare results. 

The only constant in life is change – and this is true with social media updates too. We hope our recap of the recent changes on Instagram helps you understand the latest and shift your Instagram strategy accordingly.  Please give us a call if you’d like help getting maximum results from your marketing!