Prior to the last couple of weeks, the most common hashtags on Instagram were joyful phrases, such as #happyholidays. But lately, Instagrammers have taken a defensive posture, begging the fast-growing social network to not delete their accounts. What’s up? Well, during December 2014, Instagram community standards took front stage, as Instagram began cracking down and deleting potentially bogus accounts, as well as accounts not following Instagram’s published Community Guidelines.
This follows the typical maturity curve of social networks that we’ve seen before with Facebook and other channels. As Instagram becomes more successful, it needs to start policing its community and content more aggressively.
What Does This Mean for Your Brand?
First of all, don’t panic. For most brands, Instagram has no intention of deleting your account. If you are in good standing, posting images that you own or license correctly, not spamming others or acting in ways that offend others, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if you are a bot or using Instagram unethically, then yes, you will be a target of this crackdown.
While your account is most likely safe, you may see some changes in your follower count or other updates to your metrics. If you’re a Rival IQ user, your data will be refreshed at least every 24 hours, so you will know exactly where you and all the companies in your landscape stand on Instagram.
Declined Follower Count: Wave the bots goodbye!
As spam accounts get booted out of the InstaWorld, your follower count may see a sudden drop, depending on how many of your followers are spam or bots. Don’t be alarmed! While a large follower number feels good and is pleasing to the eye, these people could care less about the content you are posting.
Do you really want to spend time creating an Instagram marketing strategy and posting great images only to have a false sense of success? Seize this refresh and realize the followers you have after this clean-up is a true representation of your brand reach. This is the brutally truthful number you should be measuring your Instagram marketing performance against. Bots give us a false sense performance, which may make us feel better, but doesn’t truly help when making data-driven decisions.
Lower Engagement: Those weren’t real “Likes” anyway!
With a decrease in followers comes a decrease in engagement! If you have been seeing hundreds or thousands of “Likes” on each post, you may notice that number trending downwards as time progresses. Also, if you were being followed by bots, you were probably benefitting from a bunch of automated “Likes.”
On the flip side, now you can see what your true engagement rate is among your core community. With this information, you can make more accurate decisions on what type of content works and doesn’t work for your target audience.
Instagram Community Standards Explained
Now is the perfect time to review the Instagram guidelines and make sure you are compliant. To help you get started, here are the main “Not-to-Dos” Instagram includes as part of those standards.
- Don’t share photos or videos that aren’t yours. This includes other people’s posts, and/or things that you have copied or collected from the Internet. Accounts that solely consist of only this type of content may be disabled at any time.
- Don’t share photos or videos that show nudity or mature content. If you wouldn’t show the photo or video you are thinking about uploading to a child, or your boss, or your parents, you probably shouldn’t share it on Instagram. The same rule applies to your profile photo. Accounts found sharing nudity or mature content will be disabled and your access to Instagram may be discontinued.
- Don’t share photos or videos of illegal content. If you are reported for sharing prohibited or illegal content, including photographs or videos of extreme violence or gore, your account may be disabled and we will take appropriate action, which may include reporting you to the authorities. Additionally, it is neither possible nor permitted to complete transactions involving regulated goods on our platform. If your photos or videos are promoting the sale of regulated goods or services, including firearms, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, or adult products, we expect you to make sure you’re following the law and to encourage others to do the same.
- Don’t spam. Instagram is a place where people can share beautiful moments from their lives, and when you engage in self-promotional behavior of any kind on Instagram it makes people who have shared that moment with you feel sad inside. This guideline includes repetitive comments, as well as service manipulation in order to self-promote, and extends to commercial spam comments, such as discount codes or URLs to websites. We ask that you keep your interactions on Instagram meaningful and genuine.
- Don’t be rude. Instagram is a friendly place where everyone should feel safe and comfortable sharing their lives through photos and videos. It is not an appropriate place to abuse, attack, harass, or impersonate others. If we receive valid complaints about your conduct, we’ll send a warning or disable your account. Alternatively, we’d recommend people block all meanies & trolls to prevent further issues.
- Don’t promote or glorify self-harm. While Instagram is a place where people can share their lives with others through photographs and videos, any account found encouraging or urging users to embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or to cut, harm themselves, or commit suicide will result in a disabled account without warning. We believe that communication regarding these behaviors in order to create awareness, come together for support and to facilitate recovery is important, but that Instagram is not the place for active promotion or glorification of self-harm.
New Data. Better Decisions.
While it is tempting to be frustrated by the decreased growth in Instagram followers and engagement, take it as a blessing in disguise! Because of this refresh you will have new and more accurate data to work with — giving you the ability to accurately measure your performance within your target community. Let the new data drive more accurate marketing decisions!