The competition for online search is heating up. Just the other week, it was released that Apple was working on launching their own search engine to compete with Google's dominant search feature. Based on a recent article from The Verge, it appears that Facebook/Instagram are taking steps to do the same by adding keyword search to Instagram.
Prior to this new release, searches within the Facebook-owned Instagram were limited to serving up account names or hashtags that included the keywords you were looking for. A search for "luxury apartment miami" would lead to results that included accounts or hashtags that included these keywords or potentially nothing at all if there was no match. With this new feature, Instagram will now serve up luxury apartment in Miami posts that don't necessarily include those keywords in the account name or hashtag.
How Instagram determines what is shown to keyword searchers is somewhat of a mystery. As reported by the Verge, an Instagram spokesperson said the results one sees during their keyword search depends on a number of factors including "type of content, captions, when it was posted." The spokesperson also notes that machine learning is used to "find the highest quality content that's relevant to you."
The change brings up three interesting thoughts in regards to multifamily digital marketing:
1. The Future of Online Keyword Search: Multifamily has long relied on Google Ads and the ILSs to drive prospects to their property websites. Like most advertising channels, as the saying goes, marketers ruin everything. Competition continues to increase within Google Ads making proactive SEM campaign management more important now than ever. If Apple and Instagram can create a keyword search experience that can compete with Google, the online digital ad environment will change significantly and likely for the better.
2. The Future of Facebook & Instagram Ads: Current social media strategies are limited to the Facebook and Instagram feeds and Facebook's Network of Partner Sites. The potential introduction of keyword auction bidding within Facebook Ads Manager could create an even stronger push for paid social media ads to be a key component of multifamily marketing strategies. Assuming Facebook can push the keyword feature to be commonly used in the weeks, months, and years to come, social could evolve to be a necessity for multifamily digital marketing strategies.
3. The Future of E-Commerce: You have probably seen the adjustments to the Instagram user interface over the past few weeks firsthand. The social media platform repositioned the main buttons on the app, which made the shopping icon more prominent. The push is to make Instagram a key player in e-commerce, so it can compete with the likes of Amazon, Google, and Pinterest as a digital storefront. By making the shopping icon more prominent, having an idealistic lifestyle brand, and introducing keyword search, Instagram has the opportunity to position itself as key player in e-commerce. Imagine wanting a brand new apartment and going to Google to conduct your search. Your results on Google and the ILSs would show you a variety of communities, locations, floor plans, and prices in front of a plain white background for you to choose from. Now think about doing that same keyword search within Instagram. Your results could come to display local, national, and global influencers living in your desired area's apartment buildings, further influencing your buying behavior to live at that apartment community vs another....
The future of social media content and strategy could be even more impactful in the near future if Instagram evolves this feature further. You will likely see the keyword search feature live within your app today.