Could Instagram myths be holding you back from growing your business?
From Instagram’s shadowban, to your posts only being shown to 7% of your audience, we’ve heard lots of rumors about how Instagram works.
And the fact is, these mistruths could be stopping you from reaching your full potential.
So here’s the truth about 12 BIG Instagram myths — so you can start growing your brand on Instagram with confidence:
Instagram Myth #1: Instagram is Shadowbanning Business Profiles
We can finally put a stop to this rumor: there is no such thing as an Instagram shadowban!
According to the rumor mill, your posts could be “shadowbanned” (blocked from the Instagram feed) for using the same hashtags over and over, or liking too many posts.
Thankfully, shadowbanning is not a real thing.
According to Techcrunch, who attended an Instagram whiteboard session with reporters, the Instagram team responded to many of the most common questions and conspiracy theories about how the algorithm and feed works.
And when asked about the shadowban conspiracy, Instagram stated that “it doesn’t hide people’s content for posting too many hashtags or taking other actions”.
Instagram product lead Julian Gutman explains the algorithm, via TechCrunch
So you can rest easy knowing that your posts won’t be banned from Instagram (as long as you follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines of course!).
Instagram Myth #2: Switching to a Business Account Negatively Impacts Your Engagement
But we’re here to debunk this one too — there’s no reason why your engagement would be impacted if you switch to a business account!
In fact, there are so many bonuses to switching to a business account that it’s worth considering the move — you could have access to better Instagram analytics, swipe up links in Instagram Stories, and even the ability to auto publish to Instagram with Later!
And even if you do experience a short-term dip when you switch, with a business profile you’re armed with more knowledge and features, so you can be so much more strategic about your future growth strategy.
TIP: If you’re planning to switch to a business account to gain access to Instagram tools or app, make sure to choose an official Instagram Partner, like Later.
As an Instagram Partner, we have explicit permission to use the API, so your account is always safe and secure!
Instagram Myth #3: Instagram Is Penalizing Your Stories Views
This is a brand new rumor on the scene and we wanted to investigate it!
According to various brands and profiles, Instagram Stories views have been dropping significantly and the Instagram algorithm is the prime suspect.
In fact, when Elise reached out to her +75K audience to ask if others were experiencing a decline, over 80% revealed they were experience it too:
Travel influencer and social media manager, Flo Boniface has noticed the same pattern on both her personal account, and those of her clients:
“My personal Instagram story views have dropped by 70% over the last two weeks,” explains Flo. And when it comes to managing her social media clients, she watched one account’s Instagram Stories views drop from 1,500 daily views to just 300.
Without changing anything in their Instagram strategy, it seems numbers dropped almost overnight: “It’s a small sized account, but with a highly engaged audience. It just seemed bizarre!”
But, this dip may not be a bad thing for your business.
Earlier this year, Instagram confirmed that fake views on Instagram Stories were on the up as “growth hackers” infiltrated your view count.
Third-party bot services allowed profiles to “view” millions of stories on their behalf, in a bid to increase their exposure and grow their following. Which resulted in an uptick of Instagram Stories views, but from “ghost accounts”.
But now it appears as though Instagram has cracked down on these deceptive bots — causing your Story Views to dramatically decline over the last few weeks.
And although it can be disheartening to see your Instagram Stories views drop, this could actually be a good thing for your brand or business.
Instagram’s spring clean has removed all the fake views that aren’t contributing any value to your business — and the lack of genuine engagement could have actually been harming your Instagram algorithm ranking.
So from now on, while your Instagram Stories views might appear less than what is was a few months ago, your stats are a more genuine reflection of your audience engagement.
Instagram Myth #4: You Need to Post to Instagram At Least Once a Day to Stand Any Chance at Growing
Let’s make this official — this Instagram myth is completely false!
Instagram is (and always has been) about quality over quantity, so even if you can only post 3 times per week, that’s A-OK — as long as you do it well!
Plus, there are ways for your brand to be consistent on Instagram without having to actually be on Instagram — all you need is an Instagram scheduling tool, like Later!
With Later you can schedule Instagram posts to your feed at optimized times for your audience.
Once you’ve set up your Later account, you can quickly drag and drop all your photos and videos to your Media Library and immediately start scheduling your Instagram posts in just a few minutes. It’s so simple!
Learning how to schedule Instagram posts for free is still one of the best ways to save time, increase your productivity, and stay connected with your Instagram followers.
You’ll not only be able to up your frequency, but you’ll also be able to win back time that could be spent developing your strategy or growing your community! It’s a win-win situation.
Ready to start planning, scheduling and automatically posting to Instagram? Sign up to Later today — it’s free!
Instagram Myth #5: Instagram Can “Steal” and Use Your Photos in Any Way They Like
Remember when posts like this went viral, with celebrities like Pink, Julia Roberts and Usher sharing it:
This hoax dates back to 2012, and it’s been rumbling along ever since.
“I do not give Instagram or any entities associated with Instagram permission to use my pictures, information, messages or posts, both past and future,” the post read.
The truth however, is that you already granted Instagram all of those rights from the second your signed up and created your account — it’s all part of the Instagram terms of service!
Instagram’s Terms of Service
The Instagram T&Cs state: “We collect the content, communications and other information you provide when you use our Products, including when you sign up for an account, create or share content, and message or communicate with others.”
So by signing up to an Instagram account, you’ve agreed (even if you didn’t read through it all!) that Instagram has permission to “collect” your content.
According to Instagram, this information is used to improve the product, run research projects, improve the quality of ads you’re seeing in your feed and most likely improve the Instagram algorithm so you see more relevant content.
So unfortunately, once you’ve agreed to Instagram’s T&Cs, re-posting a hoax chain-post doesn’t revoke any of the permissions you’ve already granted.
Instagram Myth #6: Instagram is Deliberately “Only Showing Your Posts to 7% of Your Audience”
This myth spread fear amongst brands and influencers alike — to the point that Instagram themselves released a statement to set the facts straight!
According to the rumor, Instagram has been actively restricting the reach of posts to 7% of a profile’s total following.
In order to counteract this, brands began sharing a text-based post highlighting the conspiracy, and called on users to like and comment on that specific post.
The hope was that in sharing the viral post, it would either counteract the drop in engagement or highlight just how little of their followers saw their that post in the first place.
But it’s time to put this to rest — it’s a total MYTH! As Instagram explains on Twitter:
We’ve noticed an uptick in posts about Instagram limiting the reach of your photos to 7% of your followers, and would love to clear this up.— Instagram (@instagram) January 22, 2019
“What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.”, the thread reads.
And just like the shadowban claims, Instagram clarified that they never hide posts from your audience: “We have not made any recent changes to feed ranking, and we never hide posts from people you’re following – if you keep scrolling, you will see them all. Again, your feed is personalized to you and evolves over time based on how you use Instagram.”
While it can be frustrating to see some post perform better than others, or your engagement rates drop, it’s comforting to know that there’s nothing shady going on behind the scenes.
Use any drops in engagement as an opportunity to learn about what your audience likes and dislikes, and strengthen your strategy for the future!
Looking for strategic ways to get more eyes (and likes!) on your posts? Check out our 9 Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement in 2019 blog post for tips and tricks!
Instagram Myth #7: You Need to Respond to All Comments Within 24 Hours
If you’re always scrambling to reply to your comments as quickly as possible, then we’ve got some good news for you.
Apparently, replying to all comments within the first 24 hours has no difference on your post performance.
But we do know that the Instagram algorithm favors genuine conversations.
So if you’re actively responding and engaging with the comments on your posts, that’s a positive signal to the algorithm that you have a “relationship” with that profile. In short — it’s a sign that you’re actual friends!
Check out how mega-brand Lululemon makes sure to always check in on their Instagram 3M audience to respond to comments, questions and insights from their followers:
So with that in mind, it’s more about providing quality conversations, rather than quick, short replies.
Instagram Myth #8: There’s No Way You Can’t Make Sales or Capture Leads Without Spending $$$ on Ads
There’s no denying that Instagram has moved towards a more commercial model in recent years.
However, that doesn’t mean that you need to spend money on Instagram to drive traffic and sales from the platform.
In fact, we’ve seen brands go from strength to strength on Instagram — without spending a ton of money on ads.
For example, you can use Instagram’s built-in features, like product tagging, to seamlessly integrate shoppable posts into your feed.
Instagram Stories can also be a huge traffic driver for your business. With Instagram Stories links, you can pair engaging content about your product with the direct link your viewers need to shop — making it a simple user journey from browsing to shopping!
Another way to drive traffic to your website to make sales is with Linkin.bio by Later.
You can tag your Instagram posts with any link you want (think product pages, articles, and blog posts!) to turn your feed into a clickable, optimized landing page.
And the best news, Later has launched a free version of Linkin.bio, so everyone can start driving more website traffic and reaching their sales goals through Instagram with Later.
You can set up Linkin.bio by Later right now for free – no trials or credit card needed!
Instagram Myth #9: Instagram Will Penalize Your Posts if You Repeatedly Use the Same Hashtags
There’s no denying that the Instagram algorithm is one smart cookie — it knows how to recognize spammy behavior and identify accounts that are hacking the system to get more likes.
While using hashtags repetitively will not be penalized, it’s important to always be strategic and genuine with your use of them.
Hashtags are a valuable tool to grow your following, but you should always use them correctly.
Using the same 30 hashtags over and over again is not only boring (and not helpful to your Instagram strategy) but it will only lead your followers to the wrong type of content.
Your hashtags should be used as an aid — to help your audience and potential followers find content that interests them!
The best rule of thumb is to analyze your hashtags based on their relevance to your post — will it help people discover your post? Does it accurately reflect what you’re talking about in your caption?
Take a look at how travel company G Adventures always uses relevant hashtags on their posts:
While G Adventures will always included their branded hashtag in their captions, they’ll also hand-pick other hashtags that are representative of the content they’re sharing. Whether that’s to do with #backpackingtips or location specific hashtags like #india, or #machupicchu.
TIP: Keep all your hashtag categories organized with Later’s saved captions feature. You can save all your hashtags in one place to easily add them to each post you share!
Instagram Myth #10: The Instagram Algorithm is too Hard to Beat
Can you actually beat the Instagram algorithm?
It’s a question that’s caused a lot of confusion (and frustration!) for brands on Instagram since the controversial move away from a chronological feed.
For many, it seemed the Instagram algorithm was making it harder than ever to reach target audiences, get more followers, and improve engagement on your posts.
But the fact is that once you understand how the Instagram algorithm works, you can use it to build a killer Instagram strategy and continue to grow your account!
And trust us, we’ve seen thousands of accounts successfully grow on Instagram, thanks to a strategic content plan and clever posting on their account!
Instagram Myth #11: You Have to Be a Professional Photographer to Post to Instagram
Since Instagram is a visual marketing platform, your images and videos definitely matter – but that doesn’t mean that you have to be a professional (or splash out on expensive kit) to create an eye-catching feed!
While outsourcing your content creation is always an option, you can also learn to take gorgeous photos with little more than a smartphone and a few inexpensive editing apps!
You can change the color gradients, pump up the saturation or create a cohesive aesthetic across all your images in just minutes.
Editing with Lightroom Presets
Want to learn about how to edit photos in a snap? Check out our blog post on The Best Instagram Filters in Photography Apps for our top tips!
If you still need more content (who doesn’t?) there are also some amazing stock photo websites that are perfect for Instagram, which can help you to supplement your feed when you’re running low.
Still not convinced? You can even curate a stunning feed with just user-generated content!
Instagram feeds like @ihavethisthingwithfloors and @menandcoffee have a whole feed dedicated to their unique theme. And no matter how far you scroll through on their grid, all these images are perfectly aligned with their aesthetic or style, despite being created by their followers!
And if you’re thinking sourcing UGC is going to take up just as much time as shooting your own content, think again!
With Later you can easily search for, find, and curate a stunning feed with user-generated content on Instagram!
From discovering content you’ve been tagged or mentioned in, to reposting content from your brand’s biggest fans and loyal followers, Later has you covered!
Instagram Myth #12: You Need a Big Budget to Make Content for IGTV
This is one myth we seriously want to debunk — especially if it’s holding you back from creating content on Instagram’s growing video platform IGTV!
So many brands are making top-performing content on Instagram with zero budget. And with IGTV’s new ability to create series, there’s no excuse not to get involved and share some video content with your followers.
No fancy equipment, set locations or huge budget required!
Take for example beauty brand Trinny London. Founder, Trinny Woodall jumps on camera to share quick makeover videos on their IGTV channel, all shot on-the-fly on mobile:
Not only are these direct-to-camera videos are fantastic for showing Trinny London products in action, but the lack of post-production edits make the content feel more genuine and authentic.
While stationery brand Paperchase creates winning IGTV content in the form of flat lay-style videos of their products in action — all it takes is tripod, a cute desk setup and a willing hand model:
Despite this simple setup, some of Paperchase’s videos have received thousands of views from their stationery-obsessed fan base!
So there you have it, Instagram’s biggest myths have officially been busted!
Instagram allows you to connect directly with your target audience and share the best parts of your business, building brand awareness and helping you to make more sales.
If you’ve been searching for excuses to avoid using the platform, hopefully we’ve convinced you otherwise!
Level-up your Instagram game with Later — start planning, scheduling and posting to Instagram for free!