Instagram is increasing its social factor and is allowing users to follow not only other creators and friends, but also hashtags. So far, users have been able to see more content filed under a certain hashtag by searching for the specific hashtag in the Explore tab, or by tapping the hashtag on someone’s post. For most users it’s likely not that hard of a method, but it’s probably not ideal either. For users who would like to see more content under a certain hashtag more frequently and with less hassle, the ability to follow that hashtag makes things easier and more convenient, eliminating the extra steps to discover that content.
At the same time, this also makes it easier for users to have their content seen by more people. Hashtags help improve Instagram posts’ visibility regardless of how many followers one has, which is why many Instagram users add hashtags to their posts in the first place. If someone has just 20 followers, for instance, posting something without any hashtags will limit the audience to those followers. Adding a popular hashtag can open it up to thousands of other Instagram users, who can now subscribe to it and see more similar content in the future. Following a hashtag is just as easy as following another Instagram user: just search for a topic of interest or tap a hashtag from a post, then tap the follow button on the hashtag page. The top posts and latest stories featuring that hashtag will then appear in the stories bar. If it gets too overwhelming, users can always choose to unfollow a hashtag just as easily.
Those who have their profile set to public will also have their hashtag lists public, which means that other users will be able to see which hashtags they follow. Those who have their profiles set on private, meanwhile, will have their hashtags visible only to their followers. Instagram will have to actively filter spam and inappropriate content that might make its way under a certain hashtag, but it plans to use both manual and automated systems to flag and block inappropriate posts and abusive users. Dedicated teams will monitor hashtag trends and ensure that only relevant and safe content makes it to hashtag pages. This change could significantly expand users’ horizons, helping them dive deeper into various communities, hobbies, or interests, by seeing more photos and videos from users they’re not connected with. In time, Instagram could also leverage the hashtag following to serve better targeted ads.