Instagram Updates Search Functionality for Keywords


Move over #hashtags! Social media giant Instagram has gotten busy this past month and has released a new functionality: allowing users to search for content with keywords in addition to traditional hashtags.

Learn more about this new feature below and what it means (or could mean) for digital marketers!

How does the new search functionality work?

Basically, the new search functionality enables Instagrammers to search for posts using words or phrases that may appear in photo and video captions. Previously, users could only see posts tagged with #bakingrecipes. Now, Instagram lets people see posts that feature baking recipes even if the specific hashtag is missing.
So, instead of being limited to using a hashtag like #bakingrecipes, users can simply type in “baking recipes” to better direct them to their interests. Posts that have captions related to keyword searches will also pop up in the search results.

Instagram Keyword Search Function Preview

Here’s a tip: try it on your phone right now! (Make sure you have the latest version of the app.)

Questions about the new feature

We have no word yet on exactly how Instagram will determine what a post is about without the use of hashtags. A couple of questions were also raised from the announcement of the new update. One of the most important questions was: “Is it exact-match only?” Well, we’re not sure how Instagram’s algorithm will work or if it’s even capable of understanding synonyms and if it involves image recognition.

According to Instagram’s spokesperson in a conversation with The Verge, a number of factors return specific search results. This includes the type of content, captions, date of posting, and more.

He states: “The search is limited to general interest topics and keywords that are within Instagram’s community guidelines.”

The future of Instagram SEO

Marketers are keen to know whether the update will make way for Instagram’s potential for SEO. Traditionally, the only way to optimise Instagram posts was to use hashtags and a location tag. With the new keyword search update, a whole new algorithm has been born for marketers to understand and optimise for.

Though it may be exciting for users, social media managers, and digital marketers alike, only time will tell how users will adapt to the new change. Will users take advantage of the keyword search to find visual content, or will they prefer using traditional hashtags? Though it’s promising to see an increase in user engagement after the launch, it’s best to wait and see how this update influences user behaviour.

Instagram keyword search rolled out on the 18th of November in English to all users in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.

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