As of May 2021, Instagram has over one billion active users, with more people joining every day. Although millions of people use this app daily, most people are not familiar with Instagram rules. Come to think, only very few users will take their time to read the terms and conditions before signing up on any app. Most people just scroll down to the end to accept the terms. While a regular user can do this and maybe get away with it, a business may not.
As a business owner, knowing the rules governing the use of Instagram can help you promote your brand better. As well as knowing Instagram’s algorithms and how comments and likes on your post affect your account visibility can help you develop the right marketing strategy, and most importantly, effectively enhance your account performance. Without further ado, here are 10 Instagram rules every business should know before developing a marketing strategy.
1. Create or Switch to a Business Profile
If you want to promote your business on this app, Instagram prefers you use a business profile rather than a personal one. You can easily switch from a personal profile to a business one or create a business profile from the scratch. To switch, go to your account settings and click on ‘switch to business profile’. Follow the instructions to complete the setup. Switching to a business profile gives you access to tools that you can use to understand your audience. Last but not least, using a business profile allows you to run Instagram ads without needing Facebook advertising tools.
There are several reasons you should consider switching to a business profile if you’re yet to. First, a business profile offers a space for your contact details, that way; your followers or customers can click on your contact and get in touch with you from your IG page, the same way they would have if it was your website.
Besides, a business profile allows you to use Instagram analytics tools, to gain insight and statistics on the reach of your posts and the impressions you’ve made.
2. Never Use Banned Hashtags
Although using hashtags can increase your visibility to your targeted audience, you should also know that not all hashtags will do you good. Using banned hashtags for your marketing on Instagram can land you in serious trouble. This is why you have to be extra careful when using these tags.
Admittedly, some banned hashtags are pretty obvious even to the untrained eyes. However, others aren’t that obvious. For instance, it’s highly unlikely to think that hashtags like #citycentre are banned. But it is (according to the Huffington Post). Other banned hashtag examples are #eggplant, and #adulting.
It is okay not to know all the banned hashtags. They are a lot. To ensure that you are using the right hashtags, do research. First, make a list of hashtags that you would most likely want to use for your posts. Then, cross out the ones that are irrelevant to your audience. Skip the use of emojis as hashtags because they don’t speak well for your business. Finally, take your time to check each hashtag you have on your list to know whether it is banned or not.
To do this, type the hashtag into the search box on Instagram and if you get the “No results found”, then you can cross that hashtag out. It is banned, and it is better that you stay far away from it.
3. Don’t Mass Follow and Like
So many people fall into this category, and it is quite understandable why. Mass follows and likes are some of the many tactics that fake follower boosters employ to grow a notable number of followers. Those fake boosters would ask Instagram account owners to follow a lot of people at once, to gain followers in return. But this can get you in trouble with Instagram.
The reason for this is that there is a limit on how many people a user can follow and how many posts you can like. Regarding the number of likes and follows per hour, the maximum is 60. And if the account is new, the maximum is half of that – 30.
When your account is found suspicious by Instagram, your account might be temporarily blocked at first. But if you are not so lucky, you could lose your account altogether.
4. Avoid Violation of Copyright Rules
In any field, it is always best to stay away from violating copyright rules, and the same applies to your Instagram Business page. It is also one of the things listed in the terms and conditions before opening an account.
For one, all the pictures on your profile have to either be original (i.e., yours) or allowed by the owner to be used on your page. If your account is reported for claiming a person’s work as yours, or Instagram figures it out, then you have lost the shot at marketing your business. The same applies to reposting. When you post the reposted photo, add the following hashtags: #repost or #regram. Then don’t forget to tag the owner of the content.
More so, when using pictures for commercial purposes, always refrain from using other people’s pictures without asking for their permission first. Any photo that is used in your advertisement video or e-flier should not be claimed as yours if it isn’t.
In addition to this, any background music used for your video that isn’t allowed by Instagram would be immediately removed. In some cases, you won’t be able to post the video. Note that Instagram blocks users for copyright infringement. So, to avoid this situation always abide by copyright rules.
5. Be Careful When Running Promotions
Running promotions on Instagram is a very good marketing strategy for growing followers, increasing your visibility, and engaging your existing customers (followers). But it is quite easy to break one or two of Instagram’s rules while doing this.
First, you are handed full responsibility for all that concerns the contest. So, you need to ensure that your content doesn’t violate any government rule in your community. This applies to the contest’s prizes as well as the requirements for entry.
6. Complete Setting Up Your Account
You might ask yourself why this matters when it’s just the account set up, right? Not quite. The steps required to set up your business account include providing a profile picture, a bio, and attaching contact addresses. These are all very important to keep your account already for a good marketing strategy. And they also keep your account from getting banned or blocked by Instagram.
As a business, you need a face. This is where the profile picture comes in. A faceless business is seen as a scam or an unserious business. The bio is also very important. This tells the public (your existing followers and visiting users) what your business is about at a glance (in 150 characters). You can also add your business website for easier access.
The third thing is the addition of contact addresses, including an email address. Where most people go wrong with this is forgetting to verify their email addresses. This is how you can prove that you and your business are real. When a business account stays too long without a verified email address, Instagram begins to get suspicious, and this can be a valid reason to get temporarily blocked or banned.
7. Don’t Spam Comments
Mass follows and likes are frowned at by Instagram but this is not where the biggest portion lies. IG is very watchful of comments and when there is a spam event going on, there is a huge likelihood that the account will be blocked. Sending too many comments on one post at once or repeating the same comment on the same post too many times is a big NO!
8. Use Only Trusted Third-Party Apps.
In the past, Instagram was completely closed to the idea of using other apps to manage your business profile. Now, things have become slightly more flexible. Some apps have been accepted by Instagram as third-party apps, and they can be used to organize and manage your account. The things you can do on these apps include scheduling posts, organizing posts based on aesthetics, queuing, and direct publish to your feed, story, or contact.
As mentioned earlier, not all apps follow Instagram’s T&C, so not all third-party apps are approved for use. If any contact is detected between those apps and your profile, you could face a temporal block or a permanent ban. You could also lose your account to hackers, who can begin to scam your customers.
Also, working with a third-party app that follows Instagram’s rules would work quite well when implementing your marketing strategy. This is because you can make changes to your posts before it enters your original IG account.
9. Run Away from Bots
We can’t deny the fact that bots and automation make things easy for a business to answer messages on time, follow and unfollow accounts, send comments, and so on. But on Instagram, this is not so wise. Yes, bots can help a business stay on its feet, remain active and relevant, as well as grow its account. It can also help a user to avoid the work of being an actual human using social media. But whether or not you would use it minimally, you would be breaking some Instagram rules.
Similar to the mass follow, mass-like as spam comment, Instagram frowns strictly at any behavior that doesn’t seem human. Any activity that seems like a robot is operating the account is immediately sanctioned. So, stay away from automated bots – at least on Instagram.
10. Avoid Getting Reported
We have finally gotten to the final Instagram rule that every business should know before implementing a marketing strategy. And the final rule is to avoid getting reported for violation. Now get this, even if you stay away from the above nine rules, you can still be banned or blocked.
Privacy is important to many people and when other users sense that you are infiltrating their privacy, you can be reported to Instagram as a scam. The ways you can offend another user are by stalking them with your products, sending too many broadcast messages, tagging them regularly on an irrelevant post, being offensive on comments and direct messages, posting graphic-sensitive content, and so on.
Yes, you want to be seen by your followers and you want to engage them in what you do. However, beware of being too clingy, else you would be tagged as a scam.
Instagram is very sensitive to what is being posted every day and how it is being used by account holders. Because many people skip the terms and conditions during account opening, many of us are unaware of what is disallowed on the app. By following (or avoiding) what has been mentioned in this guide, you can keep your business account free from Instagram’s frown and ready for a good strategy to market your product, service, and brand.