Instagram policies hurt small businesses

Instagram includes features business owners can use to run their own small businesses. The business account features on Instagram makes it possible for people to have a store on their page, where others can purchase from their shop from the app. Small businesses have found this more helpful than spending money on Etsy or a website that could cost up to $30 a month.

Although the business feature can be extremely helpful for small business owners, there have been a few issues on the platform lately. The current issues are becoming harmful to small business owners. First off, a term known as shadowbanning has been circulating through the small business community. 

Shadowbanning is the practice of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community so that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned.

The main way a business can get shadowbanned by Instagram is by an act called “like spamming,” where someone goes on their own page and likes every one of their own posts.

Instagram dislikes when someone like-spams their own account, so they use shadowbanning as a form of punishment.

I believe shadowbanning is very detrimental for small business owners as some of their only source of income is their business, and cannot afford to spend all the extra money on a website or Etsy page.

Another major issue that comes with using Instagram is that some accounts are being disabled due to being part of group messages.

Group messages also known as “gain group chats” are especially popular among small business owners on Instagram. The gain group messages are used to gain followers, get others to like and interact on your posts, and make friends with other small businesses. The main reason for being in the groups is for interaction because Instagram is changing their algorithm where posts will only show up on follower’s feeds if the content has been saved, liked, shared and commented on.

Group messages are great for all the small businesses, but Instagram does not fully understand the idea of them. If Instagram finds out someone has sent one of their posts to a group asking for likes, it is possible they will permanently disable the account from using the app.

The possibility of accounts being disabled has become a major topic and concern among the small business community, as it can be irritating to all the owners since they are trying to gain engagement. This has resulted in a lot of business owners leaving the group chats so they do not get disabled.

As a member of the small business community myself, I can definitely say it worries me each day on what I can and cannot do on the app to make sure I can keep my business growing without being banned.

For example, I personally have had to leave group chats, and inform my followers the best ways to support me without the fear of possibly being shadowbanned. I experienced being shadowbanned for a week or so a few months ago and I realized very quickly that my likes were going down and no one was seeing my posts. After getting help from fellow small business owners who have experienced the same thing, I finally got the shadowban revoked and my account was back to normal.

Instagram has made changes to the algorithm and guidelines that are very inconvenient for small businesses to try to gain exposure and grow their business on the app.