According to Hootsuite, over 1 billion people use Instagram every month. Its usefulness for your brand can’t be argued against. This is backed by the fact that 81% of people use Instagram to help research products and services, and two out of three people say the network helps foster interactions with brands. But doing business on Instagram is risky. Numerous brands have lost everything - including followers they have garnered, after getting banned by Instagram. This is a serious threat to your business. So, how can you prevent this from happening? And more importantly, how can you be less dependent on Instagram, and therewith build a far more sustainable business?
The risk of getting banned on Instagram might not apply to everyone, but the risk of losing your Instagram followers is very real for every creator. If you only focus on building up a following on Instagram, you are simply placing all your eggs in one basket. And you don’t even own the basket. Instagram has all the power over your business. Instagram could always decide to ban your account, which will hurt your brand irreversibly. However, it is also important to consider that Instagram could decrease in popularity and cease to exist, like what happened to Vine or MySpace. If your followers suddenly all decide to go on TikTok and never return, your Instagram followers will be worthless, too.
Types of Instagram bans
Let’s kick off by discussing the number one threat if you are mainly active on Instagram with your brand; Instagram bans. There are 3 types of bans on Instagram: Action Blocks, Shadow Bans, and Bans. Instagram bans are not uncommon and all three types of bans will hurt your brand.
Firstly, Action Blocks will disable your account for a limited amount of time. You will probably get an Action Block for a small misdemeanor like spamming comments.
Shadow Bans - the only type of Ban Instagram denies exists - will limit your reach, and result in reduced engagement.
Finally, there are permanent Bans, which will fully disable your account for an unlimited amount of time. None of these Bans are good news for your brand and the relationship with your followers.
Why your account usually gets banned
There are various reasons for Instagram to ban your account, which is usually when you break the rules of the platform. We will discuss the most apparent violations of Instagram’s rules below.
1. Mass Following, Unfollowing, Liking, or Commenting
Instagram punishes those who are trying to quickly grow their account, usually with an Action Block at first. Instagram goes after all accounts who are using mass following, unfollowing, liking or commenting to grow their account. They will block you if you do this with third-party promotion tools, but also if you do it manually. And while Instagram doesn’t have set limits for this (classic Instagram), you need to pay attention to the following numbers.
- Maximum number of likes per hour: 60;
- Maximum number of comments per hour: 60;
- Maximum number of follows per hour: 60;
- Maximum number of messages per hour: 60.
But if your account is fairly new, the limits are different:
- Maximum number of likes per hour: 30;
- Maximum number of comments per hour: 30;
- Maximum number of follows/unfollows per hour: 30.
2. Buying Followers and Likes
For the same reason named above, buying followers and likes from third-party promotion tools will also result in a Ban from Instagram.
3. Buying Someone’s Account
Buying someone else’s account and treating it as your own is also deemed illegal according to Instagram’s rulebook. When making your account, you agree you will not sell, transfer, license, or assign your account, followers, username, or any account rights.”
4. Duplicate Spam Comments and DMs
Unwanted comments and DMs that are commercial or harassing are also prohibited by Instagram. This is oftentimes sending a duplicate message over and over again.
5. Sexual or Inappropriate Content
Posting sexual or inappropriate content is not allowed by Instagram and can result in a Ban for your account.
6. Copyright Infringement
Like sexual or inappropriate content, posting content of which the copyright is owned by someone else, will also result in a Ban. Copyright infringement is a grey area for Instagram as they usually only Ban accounts after they get reported by the copyright owner.
It’s often thought that if you ask for permission from the creator and post it with credit to them, you are doing it rightfully. However, Instagram does not care if you have asked permission of the copyright holders. If the copyright holders decide to report your post, after all, you will still get banned.
7. Banned Hashtags
According to Instagram’s Guidelines, a good part of hashtags are banned for use within the app, for quite obvious reasons. However, you need to be careful with using hashtags, as using these banned hashtags can result in a Ban.
8. User Complaints
Of course, any user complaint to your content will be taken seriously by Instagram and can result in a Ban for your account. People can report your content very easily, so you should be careful to not offend anyone with your content. It could easily leave you empty-handed.
Instagram bans are a threat to your business
Logically, Instagram is the epicenter for your business when it comes to acquiring customers and building a community. However, everything you build up on Instagram is not yours to keep. To be a little clearer here, you do not own the data of your followers, Instagram does. So, this means that when Instagram decides to ban you, or when Instagram ceases to exist, you will lose everything you have built. This is why Instagram bans are a threat to your business, and you should make sure to minimize this risk to make your business more sustainable.
The risk of placing all your eggs in one basket
As previously mentioned, if you only focus on building up a following on Instagram, you are simply placing all your eggs in one basket.
What we mean by this is that a lot of things that are out of your power can happen to your account, and therewith your following, and therewith your business.
Yes, having an engaged following of customers on your Instagram is important, but if for whatever reason, you lose this channel, you lose everything. That is why you need to focus on finding other channels for reaching your community. This way, you lower the risk of losing these valuable connections.
You can do this by going live on other social media platforms, but these platforms have the same threats Instagram has. Besides, they will still be the owner of the data from your fans.
So, if your account is lost, you will still have no way of connecting with your fans.
There are, however, many ways to build up your own database of customers. You can collect email addresses or phone numbers and OWN that data, so you will always have a way of reaching your customers. This way, you are not dependent on social media platforms like Instagram, which could simply ban you because some people felt the need to report your content. This makes for a far more sustainable business.
Besides, winning on social media platforms is getting rarer and rarer. Organic reach is dying, and to reach a large share of your hard-earned following on Instagram or Facebook, more often than before, you need to pay to advertise.
How to avoid losing your followers
So, how can you minimize this threat and achieve a more sustainable business model? There are many ways to do it, but you will often need your own website. Your own website is the perfect place to gather data from your customers and you can redirect your customers very easily from your social channels.
Fangage is a perfect example of a tool that helps you become less dependent on social media platforms for reaching your following and start taking full control of your customer relationships.
Fans can go on your website and unlock exclusive content items in exchange for data like their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. From your admin panel, you will even be able to engage with them directly. Unlike social media platforms, you will reach 100% of your customer base instantly. You can also sell content or monthly subscriptions from a Fangage-powered website for your fans, which can be a great new revenue stream for your business.
If you’re serious about taking control of relationships with your customers, you can create a fully branded website for your fans for free in under a minute.