I waste spend more time on Instagram than I probably care to admit. I follow a range of different accounts, from travel to food to web comics. And I also take advantage of leverage hashtags on my own posts in hopes of being seen by a wider audience. I'm certainly not alone in this, but the way hashtags have worked up until now has been a much more active affair. That's changing with the added ability to follow hashtags on Instagram.

The new feature was just announced today and it works exactly the way it sounds like it does. You can follow hashtags exactly the same way that you follow Instagram accounts. In both cases, the actual posts are still at the mercy of the Instagram algorithm.

What this means, though, is that you no longer have to click/tap on through on a hashtag to see more posts that have used the same hashtag. You also don't have to navigate over to the "Explore" tab to type in the hashtag you want to see either. The posts that use that hashtag will just appear in your regular feed, right alongside the accounts that you follow.

So, for example, you might choose to follow #360photo (like above) if you want to see a whole bunch of people posting their 360 photos. If you wanted to follow my year of daily posting, you might follow #kwan365, which contains a good mix of both #dadlife and #foodporn posts for your viewing pleasure.

But what if the posts that start populating your feed aren't exactly your cup of tea? Some people who choose to follow #mustang might like the car, both other people might follow it for the actual animal. The other creature-related example would be #cougar. You can see how that could go sideways in a hurry.

To combat this, when you see a hashtag-related post in your feed that isn't relevant to your interests, you hit the corresponding menu button and say that you don't want to see that kind of content. When you follow a hashtag and do like what you see, you engage with the post by liking it (heart) or leaving a comment, just like how you would with any other post. In both cases, this helps to teach the algorithm what you like and don't like. Over time, your feed becomes more personalized.


As both a marketer and a consumer, I like this idea and it feels like the natural evolution of the platform. Here's a quick video from the Verge demonstrating how this whole "follow hashtags" thing works.

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