Instagram finally allows keyword search, but there’s a catch

Tips & Techniques

Instagram announced yesterday that users will, from now on, be able to search the platform using keywords. It’s great news for all of you who want to increase your visibility on the platform, considering that it used to be possible to search only hashtags and accounts. However, the new option is limited only to certain countries, and we can say that it’s also not quite there yet.

Speaking to The Verge, an Instagram spokesperson said that the company considers “a number of factors” when determining what the post is about. This includes “type of content, captions, when it was posted,” and more criteria that will give you relevant results. The spokesperson also said that Instagram relies on machine learning in the process, too.

I think this is great news because your content will now be visible to a broader audience even if you don’t include hashtags or don’t have a specific word in your account name or bio. For example, if someone looks for “wedding photographer,” Instagram will offer them your page even if you don’t use the #weddingphotographer hashtag or don’t have it in your account name.

But like I said, there’s a catch. More than one, actually. First of all, the new feature is limited only to six countries, including the UK, US, Ireland, and Canada. I was eager to try it out, but alas, I live in Serbia so I can still only search for accounts and hashtags.

Second, the search doesn’t seem to be quite there yet. Ashley Carman of The Verge tried searching for “healthy recipes” and the search brought back gluten-free and paleo cookie recipes. These things can be healthy, but these are quite limited and narrow search results.

Finally, there are some terms that are not searchable at all. Instagram told The Verge that “the search is limited to general interest topics and keywords that are within Instagram’s community guidelines.” You won’t be able to search for sensitive topics such as “vaccines” or “QAnon.” Ashley says that she was even unable to search for “Trump” or “Biden.”

So, while I think keyword search is a great thing and a welcome change, I think there are still some things left to fix. Judging from Ashley’s search results, the algorithm needs to be refined, which I believe will happen in the future. And as a creator who is trying to promote a blog post in Serbian on Instagram, I must admit that I’d also love to see this feature roll out globally, not only in six countries.

[via Engadget]

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