Popular hashtags temporarily suspended on Instagram

One of the most common advices on how to get more likes and followers on Instagram is to use popular hashtags on your photos. By doing that, your photos and videos can be discovered by other people than just the ones that follow you.

Instagram removes recent photos from some popular hashtags
But for quite some time, Instagram has had major problems with spam and inappropriate content. Some of the most commonly used hashtags have been flooded with offensive content that do not follow the community guidelines. That can for example be nudity, threats or hate speech.

Instagram’s response to this problem has been to completely remove the “Most Recent” section from the app/site for that hashtag and only show Top Posts. This is done for a limited period.

Some of the top hashtags that have been affected by this problem recently are:

#fun
#swag
#cute
#sun
#sunrise
#sunset
#clouds

cute_hashtag

sunset_hashtag

sunrise_hashtag

sun_hashtag

clouds_hashtag

These are among the most used hashtags and if you use them in order to increase visibility for your photos, there is a real risk that it will not work. Only top posts will be visible under these hashtags and no new users will see your photos.

My advice is that before you tag a photo on Instagram with a popular hashtag, always check if the tag has been temporarily suspended. If not, then it’s ok. But if it has, choose other tags.

To find relevant tags to use you can for example:

  • Find top 100 hashtags on Websta.me
  • Go to the search tab on Instagram and see trending hashtags
  • Visit a hashtag page on Instagram and find up to five related hashtags on that topic

Note: find me on Instagram at @kullin

Top 10 Swedish Instagram accounts

Like

My favourite photo app Instagram continues to grow and reached 400 million active users per month last fall. Many Swedish brands, celebrities and skilled photographers have been able to build huge followings on Instagram.

The 20 largest Swedish accounts added approximately 5 percent more followers last month (between Dec 4, 2015 and Jan 4, 2016).

18 Instagram accounts now have at least a million followers

You now have to have more than 100,000 followers to be among the top 100 Instagram accounts in Sweden. At least 18 of them have more than a million followers, not bad for a country of less than 10 million people. But then again, the most successful users all have an international audience.

The Swedish brand with most followers is H&M – 11.8 million (global account, they have several local accounts too).

Among individuals, PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Swedish Youtuber Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg are in a league of their own. Excluding businesses, the top 10 accounts in Sweden are (data collected on Jan 4, 2016):

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 10.7 million
  2. Pewdiepie – 6,900,000
  3. Tattoos of Instagram – 3,200,000
  4. Avicii – 3 million
  5. Men with class – 2,700,000
  6. Anna Nyström – 2,100,000
  7. Elsa Hosk – 2 million
  8. Maher Zain – 1,800,000
  9. Rachel “Yoga Girl” Bråthén – 1,700,000
  10. Alesso – 1,600,000

Note: I am @kullin on Instagram

One in ten posts on my social networks are ads

LinkedIn sponsored postOver the last few years most major social networks have introduced some form of advertsing as a revenue source. Even Instagram has now started to insert sponsored posts in the feeds for Swedish users. As social media users transfer from desktop use to mobile use, it becomes more and more important to place ads or sponsored posts in the news feeds instead of in a sidebar on the desktop site.

The more ads that the networks can display, the more revenue they can make. However, if ads become too frequent, users will dislike it and eventually stop using the service. So balancing the number of ads is a delicate task. Too few and you aren’t making as much revenue as you could, too many and users will leave, also lowering your profit.

One in ten posts in my feeds were social ads
So the billion dollar question is, how much ads are users prepared to take? The answer, it seems, could be somewhere around 10%.

LinkedIn new mobile app
LinkedIn just released a major update to its mobile app, making it look a lot like Facebook. What first struck me was how many ads there were in the feed and that they appeared early. The second post in the feed was always sponsored. So I decided to study the ad frequency of the big four social networks.

I looked at the percentage of posts in each feed that was sponsored and found that approximately 10% of all posts were ads. Twitter had a slightly lower share of ads at about 8%. On LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, 10% of posts in the feed were ads.

Since I only looked at my own feeds we must not make general conclusions. To do that one would have to look at a much larger statistical sample. However, I find it interesting that all four social networks have about the same share of ads in my feeds and it will be a topic to follow in the coming months to see if the ten percent figure is accurate or not.

Take a look at your own feeds and see if you see the same pattern.

Note: Just to give you an idea of when ads appear in feeds, I looked at 100 posts on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter via their respective mobile (iOS) apps.

Worth noting is that ads stopped appearing on Instagram after 70 posts. Also, ads on LinkedIn appear on the exact same spots in the feed on mobile as on desktop even if I checked several days apart. LinkedIn ads also appear earlier, so after looking at 20 posts you are already exposed to 3 ads. Over 100 posts it still is at 10%.  So to study this topic in more detail you need to know how far back users normally scroll. I think most users don’t ever reach 100.

social ads

None of the 20 largest cities in the US control their names on Instagram

New York skyline

In the early 90’s it became possible to trademark buildings in the US so that the use of for example images of the Chrysler Building in New York would be protected. The owners of trademarked building could now stop unlawful commercial use of their buildings on everything from t-shirts to souvenirs. As trademark law evolved, more areas have been subject to trademark protection and for example the New York Port Authority has claimed ownership of images showing the Manhattan skyline. Weird as this may be, it shows the commercial value in owning and protecting a trademark for a famous landmark or place.

Social networks are exceptions

With that in mind, it is rather strange that social networks are exceptions to the rule that a trademark owner can claim the right to a name. Most social networks distribute account names on a first come first served basis. That is the reason some major brands like Mercedes-Benz own the domain name mercedes.com but the Facebook address www.facebook.com/mercedes belongs to an individual.

There is of course a democratic aspect of this approach since it means that everyone has the same chance to register a name and it’s not just about who has the deepest pockets. Maybe you remember how Facebook took away the vanity url “/harman” from Harman Bajwa and gave it to Harman International? A move later reversed by the social network.

The other side of the coin is of course that brands stand little chance of being the first to register on every new app or platform that may be the next Twitter. Even if you use external services to keep an eye on such registrations, the management of all this eventually will become expensive and time consuming. Individuals are almost always the first to enter new sites and while some may have a legitimate reason to register a name, many don’t. And once a name has been assigned, it is almost impossible to claim it unless you have a trademark registratation. Even if you do, there are no guarantees that you will get your name back.

Branding places in social media

An area where social network user name policies becomes almost completely unregulated territory is place branding. Countries and city names aren’t necessarily protected trademarks everywhere. I haven’t been able to find out if it is common to have a trademark registration for a city name for example. An effect of this is that a large portion of place names on Instagram have been snatched by individuals instead of for example tourist boards or other official tourist bodies.

In fact, none of the 20 largest cities in the US control their actual names on Instagram. Both @newyork and @newyorkcity belong to (unknown) individuals. The unofficial @newyorkcity and @sanfrancisco accounts have 1.2 million and 111,000 followers respectively which means that owning these accounts can be quite lucrative.

Four accounts are private and four others are completely inactive with 0 posted images. Half of the 20 accounts have posted 10 images or less. It might seem like a little waste that an account name like @losangeles only have 13 followers (after studying this account for two days it seems that the owner deletes and posts new images every day to keep the account active, three days ago it had 10 images, today it has 3).

Instagram names of the 20 largest cities in the US (number of followers)

1. https://instagram.com/newyorkcity – Unofficial (1.2m)
2. https://instagram.com/losangeles – Unofficial (5)
3. https://instagram.com/chicago – Unofficial (12,900)
4. https://instagram.com/houston – Unofficial (1,132)
5. https://instagram.com/philadelphia – Private (827)
6. https://instagram.com/phoenix – Unofficial (523)
7. https://instagram.com/sanantonio – Unofficial (49)
8. https://instagram.com/sandiego – Unofficial (3,656)
9. https://instagram.com/dallas – Private (326)
10. https://instagram.com/sanjose – Unofficial/Inactive (57)
11. https://instagram.com/austin – Unofficial/Inactive (8,806)
12. https://instagram.com/jacksonville – Unofficial/Inactive (1,595)
13. https://instagram.com/sanfrancisco – Unofficial (111,000)
14. https://instagram.com/indianapolis – Unofficial/Inactive (43)
15. https://instagram.com/columbus – Unofficial (129)
16. https://instagram.com/fortworth – Unofficial (303)
17. https://instagram.com/charlotte – Private (133)
18. https://instagram.com/detroit – Private (2,602)
19. https://instagram.com/elpaso – Unofficial (9)
20. https://instagram.com/seattle – Unofficial (2,690)

What to do then? I don’t have definitive answers but I do think there needs to be a debate about this. Account names in social media is real estate, it is part of an infrastructure and a good handle can be of great value much in the same way as a good street address.

  • There has to be a balance between the democratic principle that everyone has the same chance to register and the protection of certain rights holders. These are the news ways in which people, brands and organizations communicate. If it is easy to find the right account of a city, country or a brand it benefits all users.
  • It should not be possible to register a valuable name and not use it. Inactive accounts should get a notice of cancellation after 12 months of inactivity, with the chance to activate. If not, the account should be terminated. And it should also be possible to apply for inactive names even without a trademark.
  • Social networks need to prevent obvious cases of cybersquatting. For a city like Charlotte, it might not be a surprise that there are others that want to claim the same handle, but in many cases people register these names hoping to benefit in some way. Networks need to work against that.

The most commented post on Instagram ever has 400,000 comments and tagged 3 million users

Earlier this year, Kim Kardashian posted a photo from her wedding with Kanye West. It became the most liked photo on Instagram ever with more than 2.4 million likes to date.

However, it is not the Instagram post with most comments. Kardashian’s image has about 57,000 comments but last week a video was posted that currently has many times more than that. Apparently spammers are finding new ways to spam Instagram after the social network recently deleted millions of spam accounts.

More than 3 million user names tagged
The video below is used to post thousands of comments that each tag about 8 user names. This is done by using hundreds of fake accounts that post these comments. If you are tagged on Instagram you usually check out who did it and what they say.

Tag people on Instagram spam

So by using this technique, spammers have now posted more than 400,000 comments and thereby tagged about 3 million user names.

Instagram most commented photo/video

Some people got mad at Instagram for deleting fake accounts so that many saw their follower counts drop significantly. But the video above shows have Instagram continuously has to monitor against spammers and take measures to fight them. I am only amazed that a spammer has been able to tag so many people without being deleted. I would imagine that many people have already reported both the post and the account as spam.

How to install the drop down menu for suggested accounts on Instagram

A while back, Instagram introduced a new feature where you would see an arrow and a drop down menu next to the follow button on some Instagram accounts. The menu shows other accounts that are similar to the one you are looking at. But not every account had this menu and it was unclear who got it. I speculated that only accounts with a certain number of followers got it, but now I think I have found the solution.

If you log in to your Instagram account on a desktop and edit your profile you will find a box at the bottom of that page. If you tick the box that says “suggested accounts” then Instagram will add the arrow and the drop down menu to your account. This also means that your account will appear on other similar profiles as a suggested account. Please note that you need to have a public profile in order for this to work.

 

I tried it myself and logged in to a second account to see if it worked. I already had the menu on my profile which looked like this.

Instagram

When I unticked the box the arrow disappeared.

Instagram

I then went back again and ticked the box and the arrow came back.

Does this work for you? (Note: you can’t see it if you look at your own account)

Follow me on Instagram at @kullin

UPDATE 2: Even if you follow the description above, it doesn’t mean that you automatically will get the arrow. Some do and some don’t and at the moment I have not been able to figure out why.

UPDATE: There is a rumour that if you don’t have the arrow on your account it will be deleted on Jan 1, 2015. This is just a hoax, your account won’t be deleted and you don’t need to get it verified.

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