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PHOTO: Pierre DeBois

Social media is increasingly a starting point for users online. So it should come as no surprise that searches on social media platforms have also increased.

With that in mind, Instagram has introduced a new variation on its search, which marketers should consider social media optimization, a complement to SEO.

Instagram Search By Keyword: The 3 Ways to Customer Nirvana

With Instagram search, the user speaks or types the query word in the search window on the app. Search was originally limited to profiles, hashtags and locations. With the introduction of keyword search last November, Instagram expanded the content that could be discovered. For example, creators of IGTV can be discovered much more easily using a keyword search when the person is not familiar with the creator's hashtag, resulting in a larger audience for the IGTV creator.

For example, when I type Corvette I see the phrases "corvette stingray," "corvette lifestyle" and "corvette restoration" among the results. If I select one of these phrases, profile images and videos appear, so clicking an image or video is a way to discover new profiles, which may lead to a new follower and a potential new customer.

This approach provides a couple of benefits. First, it changes the emphasis on the image alone to demonstrate a service or product. Second, it reveals ideas for popular keyword phrases among Instagram users. You can tailor content for what people are seeking on the platform.

corvette lifestyle

The Significance of an Amplified Social Media Search

The improvements to Instagram search arrive just as Instagram is evolving into a more prominent role among social media platforms of providing information and convenience. People are increasingly making retail decisions on their preferred social media platform to shop. For example, Facebook commissioned a study which found 54% of survey respondents purchased right after seeing a product on Instagram (keep in mind, Facebook owns Instagram).

All of this means that people are turning to Instagram as a starting point to research product and service ideas. Brand managers have to keep that behavior in mind when managing the customer experience — just as they did with SEO to attract customers to their websites. Most people on Instagram respond to authentic content, so marketers have an opportunity to meet customers at the early stages of research and discovery.

The changes also imply that brands should upgrade their post quality, with an emphasis on brand voice that incorporates keywords into hashtags. Instagram allows users to include more hashtags at the end of their posts, as compared to Twitter and YouTube. The best strategy in light of the keyword search feature is to place important words in the first phrasing of a post. Marketers should select images and video that naturally attract purchasing interest.

Instagram will continue to grow as a powerhouse social media platform. Strengthening the search strategy for Instagram-related content will make your marketing strategy a powerhouse, too.

About the Author

Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana, a small business digital analytics consultancy. He reviews data from web analytics and social media dashboard solutions, then provides recommendations and web development action that improves marketing strategy and business profitability.