Following hashtags is Instagram's latest #innovation

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Instagram has rolled out some major changes in the past month, the most exciting of which, for Obviously, is the brand-new feature that allows you to follow hashtags (#thatscray).

As with any changes that take place with something near and dear to our hearts, there was some initial hesitation and even a little backlash.  But so what?  Does anyone remember when Facebook first introduced The Feed?  Everyone hated it.  Now, I literally can’t imagine Facebook without it.  Seriously, how did we ever find anything? I have a strong feeling that this new feature is going to transform the way we use Instagram in a similar way, becoming an essential part of our experience.  Before long, we’re going to be asking ourselves how we ever got along without it.

Unlike the Explore feature, which uses an algorithm that commonly brings up random viral posts or simply posts from celebrities with lots of likes, the new hashtag follow is driven by you.  So, while both features do learn what you like and dislike over time, the hashtag follow takes your personal interests as a direct starting point.  It also allows you to refine categories within a hashtag.  This is particularly useful for hashtags that may have more than one meaning, like #Jet, which could refer to either the Aussie pop-rock band from the early 2000’s or a literal airplane.  The ability to vote posts up or down allows Instagram to learn what you’re really looking for, making it much more effective than Explore.


So let us clue you in on how to get the most out of following hashtags.

For influencers

The ability to follow hashtags can be leveraged as a networking tool.  You will be able to discover who is interested in the same places, activities, and brands as you.  Also, this allows you to be more visible to brands you might like to work with.  Simply find out their hashtag and be sure to use it -- you can bet they’re following.  Similarly, when you’re on a project, it will be easy to find out who else is collaborating with that brand.

For brands

It’s now incredibly simple to find out what’s being said about a brand on social media and by whom.  We can also find out what hashtags are commonly followed by people who post about a brand, giving us at Obviously a better understanding of who to target for possible collaborations.

How it’s great for everyone

While we used to rely mostly on word of mouth to learn who to follow, now we can easily discover who is creating the best content related to our unique interests. When you visit the page of a hashtag you like, you can also find related hashtags to follow.

We can also stay up-to-date about what’s going on in all our favorite places and learn who else is hanging out and what they’re interested in.  Overall, it opens up a whole new world of possible connections.  Which is really the whole point, right?