Discerning brands, influencers, and content creators know that they can’t overload a post with hashtags; those that do look like they’re dredging the social media floor, looking for followers.
But according to ace developer Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane), Instagram is testing a feature that would let you hide your hashtags from your post, without limiting the number of hashtags you can use (at least for now). That way, your picture of an incredible meal can show up in the feed for posts marked #food, #foods, #deliciousfood, #noms, or any other trending concept you’d like—without giving you away to your core followers.
Another upside to this is that users’ Instagram feeds will be much less cluttered. Feeds will be more about what makes Instagram so likeable—the photos and captions—and less about an endless stream of words jammed together.
Why would Instagram do this?
Wong offered the perfect explanation for why Instagram would make this change, explaining that people and brands are misusing hashtags in order to promote their content:
“#because #people #like #posting #with #captions #like #this #in #hope #of #boosting #the #engagement #but #it #ruins #the #user #experience” she wrote on Twitter.
How can brands and marketers benefit?
The rules for a smart branded post will still apply to those marketing a product: Posts that are sponsored will still likely need to prominently display “#ad” or #sponsored” in the caption.
But this will open up the playing field a bit for brands that want to expand the reach of their post, but didn’t want to risk ridicule by overloading their captions.
It appears that the hashtags will still be available for users to view—but they’ll be packaged together behind a lead hashtag (i.e., “#NewYork + 6”), keeping them out of sight and out of mind.
Because the feature is still testing, a lot could change between now and the time it’s rolled out—Wong estimates in 1-3 months—but so far this appears to be a promising development by a platform that will need plenty of new press in the coming weeks as it deals with the departure of its co-founders.
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