Instagram is testing a new way to categorize Reels, according to social media consultant Matt Navarra.
New! Instagram lets you add 'Topic' tags to Reels
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) September 5, 2022
The new option allows users to add “Topic” tags to their Reels when uploading. The topic tag should help users “reach people who share your interests.”
If the icon is any clue, topics might be the next evolution of Instagram hashtags. After all, they’re both used to categorize content. Hashtags often have a bad reputation for keyword stuffing. But topics could offer Instagram more control. It seems safe to speculate that the platform is trying to improve recommendations without completely outsourcing them to users (RIP #likeforlike).
Instagram head Adam Mosseri has said that “[hashtags] help us to understand what a post is about” but don’t improve reach. Topics, though, might help Instagram’s algorithm learn more about related content. A smarter recommendation engine can then promote Reels to a more engaged audience.
TikTok-style recommended content is still a touchy subject at Instagram. The platform received criticism this year for flooding users’ feeds with recommended posts. Mosseri may have backtracked on some changes, but that retreat is likely only temporary.
This latest test proves that Instagram is still focused on Reels and recommended content. If topic tags can help improve those recommendations, we’re all for them.