Above all other social platforms, Instagram has evolved so much that it’s almost unrecognisable in comparison to its original form. Once a place to simply follow friends and creators sharing pictures taken from their mobiles; Facebook’s influence on Instagram has now built a channel with smart algorithms, powerful ad targeting and carefully-curated content streams.

If you’re an avid Instagram user, you may have noticed over the last few months a dramatic drop in your organic engagements on posts you share – well fortunately, you’re not alone. In an attempt to stamp out hashtag spamming, Instagram have made changes which allows for an increase in paid posts; prevents spammers from controlling hashtag feeds; and reduces the number of ‘poor quality posts’ flooding your timeline.

Sounds great, right? Maybe not. Because Instagram uses a computer to decipher this information, naturally your ‘average Joe’ feels the impact more than anyone because content from these handles suffers the largest reduction in reach.

The science goes, if less people are seeing your posts, your engagements will be lower. Which is particularly frustrating for small businesses or start-up companies that have a ‘man behind a phone’ approach to Instagramming and less than 10,000 followers before the change.

But there’s still hope.

Well, that’s according to the team at Instagram. Having recently incorporated a feature that allows you to follow your favourite hashtags (yes, that’s a thing now), rather than having to dig the content out of search or by rifling through the ‘Explore’ tab, you can see all the best #foodporn or #styleinspo posts all in one place, all of the time.

This new feature has the potential to help these users see beyond their own social communities, and to affiliate with smaller communities that are relevant to their brand or person. For example, rather than having your content lost in a sea of big hashtags, you can make and mould more specific hashtags so your posts are more likely to be seen by people who are actively searching for content in your field.

While the ‘Explore’ page helps you discover new content by users you aren’t following (based on certain things; such as what they – or their friends – have liked), you can now actively follow a hashtag for a more curated experience. In theory, this increases the chances that your work will make it in front of fresh eyes on a regular basis, particularly if you can predict which hashtags others will opt to follow.

Your content will be selected by Instagram’s clever code based on factors such as recency and quality, which means hashtag bashers will receive a lower reach and classic users who want to share beautiful, relevant photography, will receive more. We’ll be keeping out eye on the new feature – but in the meantime, we see this as a huge benefit for smaller brands looking to make a big impact on Instagram.

If you need help kicking things off for your brand, feel free to get in touch. We’d love to chat!