Popular photo-sharing platform Instagram is believed to be testing a new feature that could potentially change the way in which users interact with the social site.
Its latest move has seen a handful of users being allowed to follow hashtags. At present, users are able to only follow other accounts on the site, but can still explore photos and videos with the same hashtag in one place.
The change would see users able to follow hashtags in the same way that they can other accounts, so the main news feed would become filled with content relating to the hashtag the user has chosen to follow. This could mean that the user is exposed to new content they are interested in and may have missed out on beforehand.
With relevant and interesting content being made more easily accessible to users, Instagram believes that they would become more likely to engage with it, resulting in spending a longer amount of time on the site instead of rival networks like Snapchat and Pinterest.
The feature is currently in a testing phase right now, so only a few selected users have the ability to follow hashtags at present.
However, some hashtags are pretty common and users can post thousands of posts to a certain hashtag each day, so in order to avoid overwhelming users’ feeds with a particular set of hashtags, Instagram will only show a user recent stories and top posts.
To follow a hashtag, if you have access to it of course, you just need to search for a hashtag you are interested in and tap the ‘follow’ button that appears on the results page.
Should the feature prove to be a hit with the users who are able to play around with it while in its testing phase, and should it manage to keep them on the app for longer, it is possible that it could be rolled out on a universal basis in the near future.
Many social media sites such as Instagram and parent company Facebook spend a lot of time coming up with new features to test, with the aim of making the user experience better, and to keep users on the sites for longer.
Instagram has made a string of changes to its platform in recent months, with the introduction of features such as the Superzoom tool, polling stickers and seasonal augmented reality lenses and filters – all in a bid to beat competition from rival networks.