How to recover, protect a small business Instagram account

A Vancouver business owner shares advice on recovering a remote account and other ways to reach customers

Charlie Plante woke up to a strange email from Instagram on September 12 through her account. She mistook it for a bot or spam email and deleted it. A few hours later, the business owner realized the magnitude of this one-off email.

Plante runs a vintage shop called Muzi in the Dominion Building and runs her business primarily through Instagram. “My website is just a landing page with information [about] where i am I use Instagram to sell to my customers. I do story sales several times a week. It’s really my only form of communication,” she says Vancouver is great over the phone.

She adds that prior to the email from Instagram, she never received a complaint from the social media company or a notification that her account violated their terms of service. “It just came as a complete shock.”

The email from Instagram came in around 12:30am Monday (September 12) and when Plante woke up around 9am and tried to log in, she was “completely locked out without warning”.

“No reply from Instagram”

Cases like these, while very common, are detrimental to small businesses, especially those that rely primarily on social media platforms like Instagram to sell and communicate with customers.

“When I started this vintage shop I started selling on Facebook Marketplace and had 90 followers. I grew my fan base to over 3,000 followers who were very, very loyal followers and very engaged. I organically built a really tiny little community on my own,” says Plante.

Plante has since created a new Instagram account and received support from other business owners in the community, but is eagerly awaiting a response from the social media platform.

“I had dozens of people in the vintage community reposting my new account and tagging media, tagging Instagram, tagging [Instagram’s business account and] i’m just trying to help. People find mine [new] account, but I don’t get a response from Instagram,” she says.

A week later, Plante was able to log back into her account. “I immediately checked the settings and violations and zero were listed. I don’t think I’ll ever find out why my account got deactivated in the first place,” she tells VIA

Removed Instagram accounts are common but harmful

Plante’s story is anything but unusual.

Despite the platform’s focus on e-commerce, even with the heart-shaped activity tab replaced by a shopping section to urge users to buy as they scroll, many business owners struggle with remote accounts.

The Vancouver luxury company Mine and Yours also had his Instagram account removed, even though he had around 48,000 followers. Unlike Plante, who was able to get her account back within a week, her account was offline for months before its sudden, inexplicable revival.

Mine and Yours founder Courtney Watkins says she receives messages almost daily from business owners asking for advice on how to get their accounts back. In fact, it happens so often that Watkins now has a document on hand with advice and methods for those who need it.

Watkins had tried several ways to get her account back when it was removed, including trying to contact Instagram through Facebook and getting media coverage of the situation.

“If you’ve ever placed an ad [on Instagram] then there is a chat system there. We contacted them almost every day,” says Watkins, describing her efforts. “I don’t know if Facebook’s Mike was a bot or if it was actually a person, but we were never able to get anyone on the phone. And we kept hearing the same thing over and over again. They said, ‘You violated the Community Guidelines,’ but they wouldn’t tell us how we violated them.”

She adds that her company’s Instagram account was accidentally restored the day after the media picked up her story, “but I have no idea,” Watkins reiterates.

How to recover your deleted Instagram account

There are several precautions Watkins takes for her own business’ Instagram account that she recommends to other business owners as well.

As a small safety measure, Watkins now adds a disclaimer at the end of each post. “We are now saying that this product is not affiliated with any brands or trademarks – or we are not affiliated.”

But Watkins’ key advice is that small business owners should engage with customers on multiple platforms, not just rely on Instagram. She suggests ways like an email list, website, and TikTok account. “It’s a lot easier to engage with your customers through Instagram [but] If you can be on as many platforms as possible, then at least if something happens to Instagram you’ll have those other channels.”

How does Instagram decide which accounts to remove?

Whether it’s content or an account, if it violates Instagram’s Community Guidelines it will be deleted.

With the platform amassing 1.44 billion active users by 2022, it can be difficult to keep track of each account. Therefore, Instagram has taken a progressive approach.

“We use a combination of technology and user reporting to determine whether specific content violates our Community Guidelines. We then use either technology or a review team to remove anything that doesn’t meet our standards as quickly as possible,” Instagram wrote.

They add that “the frequency with which something is reported does not determine whether or not it is removed from Instagram”.

What Instagram Policies Might Apply to Small Businesses?

Violating the Community Guidelines is a common issue for business owners whose Instagram accounts have suddenly been deleted.

In short, the guidelines urge users to post authentic content, not share nude photos or photos of this nature, obey the law, respect others, not glorify self-harm, be cautious about sharing newsworthy events when the content contains graphic violence contains and enable real interactions.

“Exceeding these limits may result in deleted content, disabled accounts, or other restrictions,” warns the Community Guidelines.

Of all the policies listed that vaguely relate to businesses, they relate to authentic content and real interactions.

Posting Authentic Content

The first policy directs account holders “to post authentic content and not to post anything that you have copied or collected from the Internet that you do not have the rights to post.” Such content may include images from Pinterest.

A TurboFuture article addressing the legality surrounding the photo-based app states: “Pinterest has a non-exclusive, transferable worldwide license to the content on the site. This means that any content posted there can be shared and saved to others. This only applies to Pinterest; it doesn’t mean you can take content from there and post it somewhere else.”

However, there is one exception. The article adds: “Unless you’re sure the image can be shared (e.g., you have permission from the owner or it’s in the public domain), you should avoid sharing the image off-site.” “

Re-sharing content within Instagram may also violate this policy. An entity may publish content created by other users without that user’s permission or acknowledgment.

Enable real interactions

The second policy asks users to “help us stay spam-free by not artificially accumulating likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent,” Instagram writes.

“Do not offer money or monetary gifts in exchange for likes, followers, comments, or other engagement. Do not post any content that involves, promotes, encourages, facilitates, or admits to offering, soliciting, or trading in fake and misleading user reviews or ratings,” they add.

Business accounts can sometimes be confused with these violations.

Instagram also suggests several precautions and tools to protect small businesses from harassment, spam, or extortion. These tools can also help small businesses avoid being reported for non-compliance.

Instagram’s advice includes:

  • Restrict people from approving their comments and direct messages
  • Prevent people from interacting with your business account
  • Control who can tag or mention your business in their posts and stories in settings
  • Pin positive comments to appear at the top of your post
  • Manually filter inappropriate, abusive, or bullying comments (manual filter hides specific words, phrases, numbers, or emojis)
  • Control who comments on your posts or turn off commenting on a specific post
  • Control who can send you direct messages

What to do if Instagram deletes your account

As with Plante, those whose accounts have been deactivated will see a message informing you of your account status when attempting to log in. However, some “accounts that do not comply with our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service may be disabled without warning,” says Instagram.

The app adds, “If you think your account was accidentally deactivated, you may be able to challenge the decision by opening the app, entering your username and password, and following the on-screen instructions.”

Those who don’t see a disabled message may have a sign-in issue, while those who deleted their account or had someone with access to their password delete their account “have no way of recovering it,” Instagram confirms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *