ONE new test from Instagram may make it harder for you to see the latest content in the app. Although you can now look up all sorts of recent Instagram posts centered around a particular hashtag, the test will only let you see the posts with the most likes or short videos called ‘Reels’ related to the hashtag. The company says this trial will mix “newer and timely content” in the two groups to see how people engage with it.
When they were first introduced on Instagram, hashtags could be a fun way to highlight photo trends, but now they are primarily a way for users to get more visibility and thus more clicks and likes. According to Instagram, the “top posts” tab shows popular posts, while the “latest” tab shows the content in the order it was posted, no matter how many likes it gets.
For a small group, we test recent and current content on the ‘Top’ and ‘Wheels’ tabs in hashtags and remove the ‘Recent’ tab. We want to see if this helps people connect with more interesting and relevant content on hashtags, while keeping them across what is current. pic.twitter.com/nLb6BiFRws
– Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) April 19, 2022
Social media apps continue to rely on algorithms to show users more varied (and more salable) content despite negative reactions from users who prefer to see their timelines in chronological order. With apps like TikTok that remove users and attention – even by staying more more popular than YouTube for Android users – Instagram has rolled out (or in this case removed) features to try to make Reels a natural alternative to viewing photos.
Finding out ways users can interact with more system-sorted content has also influenced changes across other platforms. Last month, Twitter made it harder to see things in order by setting users to an algorithmic timeline, but reversed that change after a few days.
If and when it is released more widely, it will be interesting to see how this change affects what kind of content users see on Instagram.