Instagram has been trying to clean up the platform in various ways, mostly removing spam accounts, but now they are targeting revenue competition on their platform. Dozens of meme accounts were recently purged from the network, with some accounts having millions of active followers. It is thought that these accounts were providing shoutouts or other sorts of promotion, where brands that are trying to grow pay for posts on these large meme accounts, usually at a better reach than what they would get paying Instagram directly.
What some smart online marketers have figured out, the algorithm by which these respective online social media networks is governed can be gamed and monetized by the users. Unlike Youtube, Instagram does not pay for users that produce content. However, account owners with huge followings, especially in a niche market, can sell space on their account for posts and shoutouts for brands that are smart enough to pay. Additionally, the reach for those meme accounts is a better cost to advertisers.
Instagram doesn’t like competition. What most users (and even marketers) forget, all the social media platforms care about is making money. They are not here for their own good will, it’s not a charity. The media outlets can impose their will at the drop of a hat, and make months or years of work developing an account go up in smoke with the click of a button. Most of the time there is little if any recourse an account owner has. We’ve seen this time and time again on YouTube, but now it’s happening at quite a large scale for Instagram.
There are ways to avoid this kind of outcome, if you happen to have an extremely large and well ranking account on any platform. Setup backup accounts that you can convert a certain percentage of your followers to. Once you’ve got a large account, getting people to subscribe to you on other platforms should also be highly regarded as good diversification. The only person I can think of who has been almost entirely banned from basically the internet is Alex Jones.
Instagram may reinstate some of these account, or they may not. The lesson is that users do not own their account on any social media platform, regardless if they produced or curated the content. Moreover, if the platform feels like an account is taking away from their revenue, the user is at risk.