Key TakeawaysInstagram's latest update to searches bring some pros and cons.The ability to search with any keywords is a huge buff for Instagram users.The removal of hashtag requirements in searches should make Instagram more accessible. Getty Images / Alexander Spatari
A recent update to Instagram's search function removes the requirement to use hashtags, which will make searching easier for users looking for new content.
Instagram continues to provide new updates to the application and the latest brings a new function to the search system. Where the app used to require the use of keyword with hashtags in front of them—#nofilter for example—the new system will let users search without keywords. This change, experts believe, should make searching Instagram much easier for users.
“The ability to search for keywords without the system requiring hashtags is a copy of what Twitter and Youtube implemented a while ago,” social media expert Bianca Polizzi said in an email. “It is incredibly useful and is definitely a step in the right direction for the evolution of search engine abilities.”
Like most social media apps, Instagram regularly updates its application, bringing new features like Reels and even bringing in anti-bully systems to help protect content creators. The latest update added a few other changes, including the ability to search without hashtags.
"A lot of people still don't know how to use hashtags."
While this might not seem like a huge change, Polizzi believes it could make the app more user friendly and even improve the way that Instagram users set up their posts. For some time now Instagram has required users to include hashtags like #nofilter, #food, and so on to tag their content for searches. This has also forced the creators to include a ton of different tags in their captions, which can help get their content out to more people on the application.
By removing the gate that hashtags placed on content discovery, Instagram is opening the floodgates for smaller content creators to make a name for themselves in the crowded world of online photography. As of January 2020, Instagram reportedly had over 1 billion active users, which means getting your content noticed with the old hashtag system was a massive chore. By simplifying the search requirements needed to showcase new content, Instagram is finally giving a chance to all the smaller creators out there.
“A lot of people still don't know how to use hashtags so this allows users to get connected easily,” Polizzi said later during our email. “It's a move away from the `coding' realm into an easily accessible world.”
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Not all is a step forward with the new updates, though. While the new search function will be much easier for users to navigate, Polizzi also sees some flaws in the system.
“This update especially has caused a lot of drama among Instagram users with the notifications being moved to the front page and a major Reels feature taking the center stage.” Polizzi said.
Despite some disdain over the changes that have come with the Reels feature, many have taken to Twitter to express their excitement around hashtag-less searching.
“Exciting to see these changes coming to Instagram,” Twitter user @jasminedefoore said in response to a video breaking down the new search changes. “The search results interface is nice too. Will be helpful for photo editors looking for photographers.”
Being able to simply type in a word that you want to see posts for instead of having to worry about hashtags will help bring even more new content into your feed. Searching for keywords in Instagram might have been a bit of a nuisance before, but Polizzi believes the update to the system is a huge step in the right direction and even hopes that it could lead to users posting longer captions, which could in turn help them gain more reach and followers from their posts.
By simplifying how creators share content on the app, Instagram's new search function is a huge boon that should help bring users new content they wouldn't have found as easily with the old system.