With 1 billion active users, there's no question that Instagram can be a goldmine for your business--but it can also be tough to break through the noise to reach the consumers most likely to engage with your brand.

That may get easier soon, though, as Instagram is reportedly testing out new features that can change how you target audiences on the platform, beyond your carefully curated visual feed. One such update could revolutionize one of the most basic tenets of social media: hashtags.

We know they can be extremely helpful in expanding your reach among the most relevant users, but there are limitations. Not only does Instagram only allow 30 hashtags per post, but there's also a bit of a stigma associated with bulk-hashtagging.

Plenty of influencers do it, but most attempt to bury the majority of the hashtags in their posts by posting them several lines down within the caption or in a separate comment (using a period on each line so it shows up as an ellipses until followers click to reveal more).

Most business accounts, meanwhile, bypass hashtags completely or stick to their brand-specific tags (like Away's "#travelaway"). But in September, The Verge reported that the platform is testing a way to hide hashtags from your captions--and use as many as you want.

Developer Jane Manchun Wong tweeted screenshots showing how it would work: When creating a post, you'd click on "Add Hashtags" and select an unlimited number to include. When you share the post, though, the hashtags won't be part of your caption; rather, they'll be up top next to the location. For example, Wong's screenshot shows a post with "#NewYork + 6." Users can seemingly still click to see all of the hashtags you included, but it will be much more subtle and keep the caption and comments (where most users likely focus, aside from the image itself) clutter-free.

Wong also tweeted that Instagram is testing geofencing, which would allow you to target your posts to specific countries (catching up to the advanced geo-targeting capabilities available through traditional display ads).

If you're running a location-specific promotion, or your business only operates in certain countries, this can certainly be a valuable feature that keeps users who can't actually engage with your product from viewing your posts.

Instagram may also be upping its e-commerce game, with a standalone shopping app called IG Shopping. The platform has gradually been increasing shoppable opportunities for brands and consumers over the past few years, first with a feature that allowed businesses to create clickable product tags within their posts and then by adding the functionality to Instagram Stories.

IG Shopping (a tentative name) would make it even easier for customers to not only discover your products but also to buy them directly within the app.

These features are all reportedly still in testing mode, so anything could happen--but if they come to fruition, it would certainly make a good case for devoting even more of your marketing efforts and dollars to this powerhouse platform.

Published on: Oct 26, 2018