Ever read the Instagram terms and conditions? No? Here are top Instagram rules you need to know about if you want to win at Instagram marketing.
Up until I sat down to write this post I hadn’t either … They aren’t exactly fun light reading.
Plus, by the time I started using Instagram, I’d already signed my firstborn over to
Facebook Rumpelstiltskin anyway…
It turns out that Instagram has some pretty strict rules about certain things. If you break these rules, you can get shadowbanned or have your account suspended. But enough with the suspense!
Let’s take a look at what these Instagram rules actually are.
1. Use a Trusted Third-Party Posting App
Instagram used to have a completely closed API; it didn’t allow third-party apps to post directly to Instagram at all.
Now, however, (well, since 2018), you can now use an official Instagram partner like Agorapulse to manage your Instagram business profile and schedule, queue, and publish directly.
While you can now publish directly to business profiles following these steps, there are still some notable restrictions in Instagram’s terms and conditions.
Be aware, there are some apps that ignore these and use methods of publishing not approved by Instagram.
This is a big Terms and Conditions no-no. Use a certified Instagram partner like Agorapulse and keep your profile safe!
After all, you don’t want to get banned from Instagram for using a rule-breaking partner. (Much better to choose a trusted certified Instagram partner while you implement a picture-perfect Instagram strategy.)
Not all hashtags are created equal. Using one of Instagram’s banned hashtags can land you in hot water, and ignorance is not an excuse.
While some banned hashtags are pretty common sense and align with Instagram’s terms of service, others aren’t so obvious.
For example, the banned list includes #adulting, #citycentre, and #eggplant, according to the Huffington Post.
Do the research
Research the hashtags you use carefully, make sure that they are relevant for your audience, and don’t have a secret, urban dictionary or emoji meaning you didn’t know about… (Not that this has ever happened to me!)
How do you check whether a hashtag is banned? Simple. Just type it into the search box.
If you get the “No results found” page then the hashtag is banned and you are best off staying away from it.
3. Don’t Post Too Much
Instagram favors real, human posters, and all the dos and don’ts are meant to prioritize them over spammers and bots.
While Instagram hasn’t released official numbers, Ana Gotter did some in-depth research and came up with the following limitations:
- Following and unfollowing over 60 people an hour
- Liking more than 300 posts an hour
- Posting over 60 comments an hour
As long as you use your account normally and don’t pass off the responsibility to a robot butler you should be fine.
Be mindful of bots on Instagram.
Speaking of robot butlers …
4. Stay Away From the Robots
Look. In any other circumstance, I’ll be the first to point out the potential of bots in automating your marketing process, but that’s not what Instagram is all about.
Why you should be aware of bots
Bots that auto comment and follow/ unfollow people can be a tempting way to grow your account. You’ll be the kind of person that uses them responsibly, right? But going back to Rule 3, this kind of behavior will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.
Keep your interactions human.
5. Reposting Comes With Its Own Instagram Rules
Retweeting or sharing a post on Facebook is pretty easy. Add your own insights, hit that share button and users can see who the original poster was.
Instagram makes it a bit harder. As a result, a lot of us aren’t sure what the rules and etiquette surrounding reposting are.
What it boils down to
Make sure you’ve got permission from the original poster and attribute the content to them. When you post the photo include the hashtag #regram or #repost and tag the original content owner. Now you can repost UGC without breaking the rules!
Repost on Instagram the right way.
Beefeater does a pretty good job of re-sharing a user-generated photo while sticking to the rules.
6. Don’t Run Illegal Contests
Running an Instagram promotion or contest is a great way to get new followers, engage your existing followers, and promote your brand. But before you jump in, make sure you are playing by the rules.
You are fully responsible for the way the contest is run and for compliance with any government rules in your area as well as regulations related to any prizes you give away.
So, if you make craft beer and you are running an exclusive contest, it’s up to you to make sure all contestants are of legal drinking age and that the contest doesn’t break any rules. Instagram squarely puts all the responsibility at your doorstep.
Plan your Instagram social media strategy today to get ahead of your competitors.
The Not Quite Rules Rules
So, I’ve already covered some of the actual rules that can get you shadowbanned or worse. But like with all social media platforms (and generally just with any social interaction), there are other kinds of rules.
Breaking those rules will decrease your effectiveness on Instagram and lead to a drop in engagement rates.
No one wants that.
Other rules to know
So, here are some of those other rules worth staying on the right side of.
- Don’t ignore the comments. If someone’s taken the time to interact with you, engage with them! Otherwise, this won’t turn into much of a two-way relationship.
- Come up with a posting schedule. If your Instagram account is just for friends and family, you don’t need an official schedule. But, if you are using it to grow your brand and business, you need a solid posting plan to maximize ROI.
- Create a theme for your posts. This makes it easier to post regularly because you know what’s coming next. It also builds a branded look for your account.
- Be human. Instagram’s best practices really come down to how a real person is likely to interact with an account versus how a bot/spammer/troll would. Using your common sense will get you a long way!
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always read the terms and conditions when I sign up for a new platform. I’m pretty sure I’ve signed my soul over to Apple several times over by now.
But breaking Instagram’s rules, even if you aren’t aware of them, can negatively impact your brand and marketing strategy. You can get shadowbanned or your account can get suspended, which costs money. Stay on the right side of Instagram!
Get started on saving time and energy on your own social media management!
Check out our free trial of Agorapulse to help you schedule, track, and measure all your social media efforts.