Instagram has made a bunch of changes to the way it presents information to users and it just made another change that we think will be even friendlier for creatives such as photographers.
As most of us that have used Instagram (or even have a cursory knowledge of it) are aware, the whole system of discovering content is centered around the use of hashtags. Well, at least it was until the platform started rolling out more contextually-based methods of finding content.
Now they’re debuting a topical search feature that will deliver up content based upon the category of what the user is looking for rather than the hashtag.
We’ll let Instagram explain:
“Search is built to help you find accounts and topics of interest. It's different from Feed, Stories, Reels and Explore because your input helps us figure out what to show you. Your search tells us what you’re looking for, and it’s noticeable when the results aren’t useful. It’s important for us to get this right, so we try to organize search results by what’s most relevant to you — whether it be a close friend, a creator you love, or ideas for vegan desserts.”
So far, there’s nothing new here as the company has trotted this blurb out with almost every new search and platform update.
The post continues:
“Let’s say you’re interested in finding pictures of space after seeing the blue moon. When you tap the search bar on the Explore page, the first thing you see is your recent searches. As you begin typing “space,” we show you accounts, audio, hashtags, and places that match the text of your search. In this case, results like @space and #space show up because ‘space’ appears in their name.”
From there, Instagram uses metrics such as your actual search text, platform activity, and broadly-based popularity indicators to then show you the content it thinks you’re likely to want to see.
In many ways, this sounds more like what Google and YouTube do with searches on each of those platforms. At the end of the day it makes it easier for people to find content and associated accounts that they are interested in seeing and following. It also probably helps a lot with Instagram’s push into commerce.
Beyond that, though, it takes some of the edge off of hashtag manipulation schemes and potentially opens up a new world of possibilities for less savvy though no less talented content creators on the platform.
As nice as all of that might be, some of us are probably still wary of investing too much time into Instagram after the whole “our future is video” PR debacle. Still, as a way of finding relevant content in our field, Instagram is one of the best places out there – even though Twitter is trying to nip at their heels with improved image uploads.
What do you think of Instagram adding a topical search feature to its content discovery options? Will these changes benefit photographers ultimately? Let us know your thoughts on Instagram’s latest change in the comments below.
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