It’s no secret that over time, most sectors have begun to rely on social media to expand their client base and boost their economic competitiveness. Startups and small businesses, too, require a strategic approach to grow and social media has emerged as the most effective tool for them to engage with potential clients. Instagram is the fifth most popular social media platform, trailing only Facebook.
If you use Instagram, you’ve probably seen many small businesses market their products and services through various posts, reels and stories on the app. The visual element of Instagram distinguishes it from other social networking networks. Instagram is the ideal medium to promote content if you have a business that derives from the style of your products or if you offer a service with a visible result.
It wouldn’t be hyperbole to suggest that the time it takes to promote these products and services is analogous to the time it takes to create them. Small business owners take time to grasp and ace the nuances of Instagram’s policies and algorithms to promote their products and services, and attract their intended audience. This trend has led to a surge in social media managers, who sought to increase engagement on social media pages by gaining followers through quality content, catchy captions, hashtags and interactions.
Instagram unveiled a feature in July this year that enabled users to select the content they wanted to see on their Explore feed. To combat hate speech, bullying and harmful content on their network, Instagram introduced the ‘Sensitive Content Control’ setting. However, many people were disgruntled with these modifications, which has hampered the app’s engagement.
People were enraged because Instagram set everyone’s account to the default — to “restrict” so-called sensitive stuff rather than “allow” or “limit even more”. As a result, many small artists, content creators and small business owners were concerned about how this setting will negatively impact their account’s visibility to their followers. Automatic content filters are detrimental to artists and curator pages, and numerous users have claimed that engagement on their posts has dropped by as much as 90% after the platform implemented the feature.
One such artist, Phillip Miner, who primarily works with LGBTQ+ artists, prepared an infographic educating his followers on how to remove these boundaries; their post gained over 45,000 likes. Most Instagram users did not about this update as it was announced on Instagram’s website but not on its app, prompting many users to accuse the app of concealing the change. This way, Instagram drove away artists, content providers and underrepresented communities that rely on the platform for exposure, learning and revenue by limiting the reach of their content.
People’s ingenuity is also limited as a result of this. Artists are now more aware of what they should and should not post, because even the tiniest of errors can limit their reach. This might also make content repetitious, making users’ experience tedious. Such updates will also make it more difficult for people to discuss stereotypical themes because their posts will be removed or their material will be less visible.