Katrin Raabe
Webdesign & Fotografie

Instagram Topbeiträge versus aktuelle TopbeiträgeIn June 2023, Instagram rolled out an update that caused anger and frustration among many users: Since then, small accounts have had almost no chance of being found via hashtags.

First of all:
Although this post has now been viewed almost 55,000 times, only a few people visit my Instagram account afterwards. That's a shame, because my profile is unfortunately one of those small profiles that are hardly ever found via hashtags.

My request:
If this post has helped you a bit, please take a look at my Instagram account. I appreciate support in any form!
Thank you very much!

Hashtag search: Top posts - recent posts - recent top posts

Until the update, there were two ways to display the results for a specific hashtag: Top Posts and Recent Posts.

The first category only showed posts with a high "engagement", i.e. posts that were liked, commented on or shared particularly often. In the second section, the results were displayed chronologically: Every account, no matter how small, made it into the results list.

This is now a thing of the past. The "Recent posts" tab has been changed to "Recent top posts". The results are almost identical (at least in my tests): I mainly see posts with lots of likes and comments. They are not current.


What's the problem with the new Instagram sorting of hashtags?

The option of displaying posts on a current topic - for example on a storm or a memorial day - no longer exists, as the chronology has been removed. The search results are also significantly limited: I'm almost exclusively shown posts from large accounts.

What frustrates me the most: Small accounts have no chance of continuing to be found via hashtags.

An example from my personal timeline:

Some time ago - before the update - I created a post about a beautiful graffiti in Göttingen. The post was well received and was found by several hundred profiles, mainly via the hashtags. According to Insights, 68% of the accounts reached were not followers, but users who had discovered the post on the hashtag page.

My last post about my photo shoot with Svenja - shortly after the update - was found exactly 11 (!!!) times via hashtags. Users who are interested in historical fashion or the Belle Époque have no chance of finding my post as it doesn't appear in the search results. This is absolutely frustrating.


Hashtag spamming? What is the background to the Instagram update?

Instagram started a test back in 2022 and removed the "Recent Posts" tab from some profiles. In 2020, the tab was also temporarily removed in the context of the US elections in order to reduce the spread of potentially harmful content in real time (see Instagram's statement on Twitter).

The current update is intended to prevent abuse of hashtags and hashtag spamming and make the results list more "valuable".

But is the number of likes and comments really a criterion for quality? Are my posts worth less than the posts of large accounts that achieve more engagement through the number of existing followers alone?

Ultimately, large accounts are favored. Small accounts have no chance of growing.
According to my observations, the approach of avoiding "hashtag spamming" leads to a kind of "question spamming": many accounts ask more or fewer meaningful questions in their posts in order to increase the number of comments. This is sometimes interesting, but in my opinion does not increase the "value" of a post.


What can we do?

Unfortunately, not much. I find the tip to install an old Instagram version questionable for security reasons. This hack also only helps with searching, not with being found.

Perhaps Meta will change its mind if there are numerous complaints and negative reviews in the app store? I have written a review in the Playstore and hope that others will follow.

We can also protest in other relevant places. Instagram boss Adam Mosserie, for example, is of the opinion that hashtags "don't really" help to generate reach anyway (see here). Maybe you can convince him otherwise?

Another option would be to contact the (well-hidden) Instagram support team. You can find it via the hamburger menu at the top right. There you can click on "Settings and privacy". At the very bottom there is the "Help" item and there again the "Report a problem" item.

In order to be found, it is also advisable to add a location to the post.
The location can still be displayed chronologically.

Of course, we can also try to use some extremely rare hashtags to get into the top lists. But will that get us anywhere? Rare hashtags are of course also searched for less frequently.


Accounts I love

Last but not least, we can all try to support each other. For example, I have a story highlight on my Instagram account in which I present accounts that I particularly love. Why don't you take a look and do the same if you like them?

And of course I'm also happy about subscriptions, likes and shared content. :-))

Examples of top articles and recent top post

Bei allen Tests, die ich gemacht habe, waren die Suchergebnisse von "Topbeiträgen" und "aktuellen Topbeiträgen" komplett identisch.
Hier zwei Beispiele: