Instagram has been rolling out a series of changes over the last couple of days, with promises of more to come. Here’s what you need to know.
Instagram Now Lets Users Follow Hashtags
Since it’s inception, Instagram has only allowed you to follow people, brands, or businesses, so if you wanted to explore a particular topic of interest, you were forced to search for the corresponding hashtag. Then came weeding through hundreds of posts in the tag, hoping to find something that caught your eye.
As of December 12, Instagram now allows its users to follow hashtags directly, broadening the scope of content that appears in their feed, without any extra hassle. To use this handy new feature, all you have to to do is search for any hashtag, then click the follow button that sits underneath. Immediately, Instagram will start inserting the most popular post from the tag inside of your dashboard. Unfortunately, purposeful mistagging could mean that posts that aren’t relevant to the tag could end up in your feed. The upside, however, is that you will have the ability to downvote posts that have been mistagged, and over time, Instagram’s algorithm will learn your personal preferences.
Just remember that any hashtags you follow are viewable to the public — unless your account is private. In that case, your followed hashtags are only viewable by people who follow you.
Instagram Testing Out “Recommended For You” Section
Instagram is also currently testing out a “recommended for you” section reports The Verge. This means that Instagram will soon start littering your dashboard with posts that your friends and followers have liked. Some select users have already gotten to experience this feature, but a permanent rollout will occur soon. This feature will, once again, broaden the scope of content that appears in your feed, without you having to go looking for it.
Time will tell how if Instagram users settle into these new changes, or if they’ll protest them like the last big update, which left users feeling cheated. If you remember, before March 2016, user’s feeds were displayed to them in reverse chronological order. Since the change, Instagram’s algorithm selects the posts they think users will like best, which they select from a pool of the people users engage with the most. This means that users don’t get to see every post from everyone they follow. And it’s possible that if they aren’t constantly liking and commenting, they might not see posts from some accounts at all.