I was completely blown over today reading an article over on PetaPixel with regards to photographers accounts being “shadow banned” on Instagram. If you aren’t familiar with that term or what it means, shadow banning is when a users account is banned or restricted in some way, but without them realising it.
From a users point of view everything seems normal, however nobody else is able to see their images, like them, comment on them etc… thus destroying their marketing efforts and engagement levels.
PetaPixel been receiving complaints from photographers about this for many weeks and have found that it seems to limited to business accounts and associated with hash tagging.
Huge Drops in Engagement
In a nutshell, affected users upload an image with a certain hashtag. The image however is only visible to that account or individuals that follow that account. Even when another user does a hashtag search, the image isn’t visible.
Some users have reported as much as a two thirds drop in engagement because of this.
The most concerning part however is Instagram’s response to this matter. Admitting there is a problem, however offering no solution other than to tell people to “stop relying on hashtags”.
We understand users have experienced issues with our hashtag search that caused posts to not be surfaced. We are continuously working on improvements to our system with the resources available.
When developing content, we recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags. Having a growth strategy that targets the right audience is essential to success on Instagram.
Good content on Instagram is simply good creative. And it follows the same three creative principles you’d apply to any marketing channel:
– Have a distinct visual presence: Include your logo, an iconic brand element, a brand color or even a product you’re known for to make your content distinct and easily recognizable for the community.
– Be a storyteller: Tell a story that supports your business goal. Whether you want to raise awareness or increase sales of a specific product, make sure the imagery and copy latter up to your main goal.
– Put thought into your creative: Be well crafted to stand out. This doesn’t mean you need to build additional content for Instagram. It just means you need to put as much love and care into the content to inspire as you do in your business.
We truly appreciate your understanding and patience in this matter.
The Instagram Team
According to Instagram you shouldn’t be relying on hashtags
Given that hashtags are the main discovery method on Instagram, if you can’t rely on them, how then as a photographer are you supposed to market yourself outside of those already following you?
Although Instagram are describing this as a “bug” personally I think it seems very much like a “Facebook-esk” organic reach restriction for business accounts in an attempt to make them pay for advertising.
Costly, time consuming and ineffective for photographers
Instagram is a social network, just like Facebook or Twitter. It relies on the relationship model – you have to follow someone and they have to follow you. This makes marketing your services as a photographer difficult, as you are always marketing to the same people and fighting to break out of that social circle.
phlow isn’t a social network. You aren’t marketing to your friends and family or the people that already know you. Your images are being seen based on their context and merit, and by the people interested in them the most – whether they know you or not.