Hashtags vs. mentions II: changes for 2019
Hashtags used to be one of the most relevant elements on Instagram but, recently, there has been a change in this dynamic.
The role of hashtags on Instagram is to reference conversations.
To date, when starting a conversation with a brand, Instagram users would do this by adding hashtags to their posts.
More recently, as discussed in the article Mentions vs hashtags: the new trend, this very specific use has been distorted, leading to an abuse in the way hashtags are used.
This excess occurs both in the quantity of hashtags used in each individual post, as well as in the lack of rigour applied when choosing hashtags, including many expressions which have no context regarding the publication.
This has led to Instagram taking matters in the subject.
From quantity to quality
The most notable aspect of this modification is its change of focus: now attention is more focussed on quality rather than quantity.
The main goal of a hashtag is to draw attention from those who are really interested in a subject, and not to highlight users' own content artificially stressing their relevance.
We should also remember that, in Instagram, we can identify different types of hashtags: those known as branded hashtags and the community hashtags.
The former are those which are based around brands; while the latter are part of all those other posts focused on specific subjects. These questions mainly affect the branded hashtags.
Changes in conversation dynamics
To improve the content quality, Instagram have decided to do a turn-around and focus attention on the mentions.
Through this measure, it is hoped that the model that the users employ to converse with a brand will be redefined. Reinforcing mentions as more precise indicators when identifying a brand-consumer dialogue.
The role carried out by tags (labels in the image) is also important, and these are seen to give more weight to these new measures.
For this reason, we're talking about a more secure environment when allowing such dialogue between brand and consumer.
How it impacts
In solutions which give legal value to the Instagram inspiration, the hashtag is also the main axis for the acquisition of images, for which the appropriate measures have already been taken.
In relation to the brands, marketing strategies should be adapted to this new trend and there should be awareness of the use that these are given, both for mentions and for hashtags.
This will generate a series of dilemmas about whether or not to maintain the specific strategic criteria that the brands have applied until very recently.
There are various thoughts in relation to this. While some consider that these measures are obstacles to communication, others see them as an opportunity to achieve greater transparency in their relationship with consumers and the general public.
We will follow this evolution closely.