Instagram has its share of rumors, particularly among the influencer set.
Do bot followers impact the growth of organic followers? Is “shadow banning” a thing? Will using too many hashtags get you “shadow banned”? If you edit a caption in the first 15 minutes or even the first hour will you get less likes? Does Instagram hide any posts?
The answer to all of these questions, which apparently fall into the category of common Instagram myths, is “no,” according to representatives of the platform — Kristie Dash, Besidone Amoruwa and Emilie Fife, who all lead industry partnerships.
“I wish we had a button where it’s like ‘Nope, nope, nope, nope,’” Dash, Instagram’s manager of beauty and lifestyle partnerships, said of all the things she hears about the platform’s operations that are untrue.
As for shadow banning, which came up a couple of times during the event, Fife, Instagram’s manager of emerging fashion partnerships, said the entire concept is fake. “We were never shadow banning. It’s some kind of sexy phrase that came out.” She added that people are free to use as many hashtags as they like, too.
One thing that seems to have some truth to it is the whole issue of influencers making clear that posts that are in reality paid advertisements for a company or product are marked as such — influencers don’t like doing this and many of them still do not disclose when they are paid to promote products. Instagram has had a “paid partnership” tag since 2017, created after the Federal Trade Commission outlined specific disclosure guidelines for influencers and celebrities promoting product. This includes not only partnership posts, but even those that include free product or promotion of anything that an influencer or celebrity has a “material connection” to.
Asked if the use of Instagram’s “paid partnership” tag reduces engagement on posts, Dash insisted that it does not. Never mind that some influencers in the audience started pulling faces and whispering about “never” using the tag because they see that disclosure does affect their numbers. According to Dash, it isn’t the tag’s fault, but that of some paid posts in and of themselves.
“The paid partnership tag does not downrank you, it’s another myth,” Dash said. “[If you experience less engagement with a disclosure] it just means you need to make sure your content feels organic and fits in with the rest of your strategy.”
Nevertheless, Instagram is making it even easier for influencers and brands to work together on the platform and get users to buy the things they advertise with the development of Instagram Shopping. Essentially a three-click process that allows users to shop promoted products without leaving the platform, Shopping is still in “extreme beta” and being tested with roughly 20 brands. But Instagram has high hopes for the new tool.
“To me it’s the most exciting thing we’re working on,” Dash said, “and I think it will completely change the face of not only how people are shopping but how influencers work with brands.”