Written by Lisa Kalner Williams

April 11, 2018 at 1:17 pm

What the Facebook and Instagram API Changes Mean for You

Remember when we social media marketers freaked out over the “Facebook apocalypse?” That seems sooooo Early 2018 now. Our newest freakout du jour comes in the aftermath of Facebook and Instagram restricting third-party tool use of their APIs.

In the past, some third-party tools took advantage of the data they had access to through these APIs. Other tools let users be incredibly spammy. Because of these few bad apples, these Facebook and Instagram API changes are saying this to ALL third party tools.

API slam door
This is regardless of any Partner Status or how well a tool has followed the developers’ terms of service.

But we will get through this.

Let me explain what Facebook and Instagram API restrictions are now in play and their implications for marketers who use social media management tools like Agorapulse.

Facebook API Changes

1. Tools’ access to the Facebook Groups API is temporarily suspended.

What this means for users: You cannot use a third party tool to manage your Facebook Groups.

Will this ever be reversed? Although third party tools can’t currently access the Facebook Groups API, Facebook will conduct a thorough review process with tools wishing to regain access.

Freakout factor: Medium-Low. Many find value in terms of reach and conversations in Facebook Groups. Yet others still don’t know what to do in a Group versus on a Page. Given that Facebook has plans to revisit tools on a case-by-case basis, the former group should find relief in the near future. For the latter group, this API restriction is a non-issue.

Facebook Group

Some admins of active Facebook Groups will have to “go native” temporarily.

2. Tools’ access to Facebook Page private messages has been temporarily suspended.

What this means for users: If you began using a third party tool for the first time after April 4, 2018, you will not be able to manage the private messages (PMs) you receive on your Facebook Pages. (You can see all PMs natively — just not on a new-to-you third party tool.)

Will this ever be reversed? In many cases, yes. Facebook will go through a thorough review process with each tool wishing to regain access.

Freakout factor: Medium-High for new users. None for existing users. Our tool Agorapulse has great private messaging functionalities that are currently off limits to post-April 4 users. If you’ve started a free trial with Agorapulse before April 4, there are no consequences. If you’ve started your free trial after April 4, you will not get private messages in Agorapulse. That applies to all the social media management tools out there by the way — so no need to shop around for alternatives.

This is a temporary measure from Facebook — we expect to get a solution in the coming weeks.

facebook private mesages

Did you just sign up with a third party tool? Then you most likely won’t be able to access your Facebook Direct Messages through it. At least for now.

3. Tools’ access to the Facebook Search API is deprecated (ie. shut down).

What this means for users: With the Search API shut down, you can no longer search for users or pages. That means when you use a tool to post or comment, you can’t tag/mention other pages.

Will this ever be reversed? There is no word when this might be reinstated for social media management tools.

Freakout factor: Low. Go through your last 20 posts on Facebook. How many of them tagged other pages? I’m guessing not more than 20% — and even in those instances, the tags didn’t produce much ROI in terms of reach or engagement. This change should not impact your bottom line.

Instagram API Changes

1. Tools’ access to the Instagram Search API is deprecated (ie. shut down).

What this means for users: Starting April 4, 2018, your third party tool will no longer allow you to:

  • reply to or like public content (posts you retrieve via our listening feature, i.e., hashtags and location searches)
  • see the full profile info on such public content
  • see the list of followers for a user
  • follow or unfollow users
  • see if a particular user follows you

As of December 11, 2018, you will no longer be able to conduct hashtag or location searches using a third party tool.

Happy Holidays.

How will this affect Agorapulse?

Starting as of April 4, you will no longer be able to reply to a post retrieved via a hashtag or location search from within Agorapulse (or any third party tool). You’ll have to click “view on Instagram” and reply from there.

Also, the user profile we display for the author of the concerned post will be reduced to the username (no name, no profile picture, etc). Pretty minimal (and almost useless).

Finally, you won’t be able to follow or unfollow a user from Agorapulse. This will also force you to “view on Instagram” and follow/unfollow from there.

Starting on December 11, you won’t be able to search for posts containing certain hashtags or mentioning a certain location. That basically means the death of our listening feature on Instagram. This functionality will also cease for all other tools out there, unfortunately.

Will this ever be reversed? Not in the “old” existing API. The new API may offer similar features in the near future, but no word on this yet.

Freakout factor: High. Many UGC and influencer marketing campaigns rely on easy monitoring features that third party tools provide. However, the missteps of some tools that searched for Instagram hashtags and locations and automatically liked posts based on that criteria have brought on these restrictions for ALL tools.

We know that our users of Agorapulse have relied on the accessibility and customization of our monitoring searches (although we never did anything spammy). We will be hard at work to come up with a listening solution that follows Instagram guidelines. (After all, we are an Instagram Partner.)

There is a bit more in the official announcement about the Facebook and Instagram API changes with a bit more geekspeak if you’re interested.

How will your social media marketing change in light of these Facebook and Instagram API changes? Let us know in the comments!

Rivka Hodgkinson

June 20, 2018

Dhariana Lozano

June 14, 2018

Ana Gotter

June 6, 2018

Lisa Kalner Williams

Lisa Kalner Williams is the Lead Social Media Strategist for Sierra Tierra Marketing and the Content Marketing Director for Agorapulse. You might see her speaking across the country on how to better market using Instagram.

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