Last week, Instagram announced updates to its app that (1) gives users greater control over their content with the ability to turn off and remove comments on individual posts and (2) makes it easier to remove certain followers of a private account without blocking them entirely.
These updates serve as a response to complaints about the platform’s lack of protections against Internet trolls and cyberbullies, who run rampant in comments sections across profiles. The threat of trolls and bullies looms large for every digital communicator creating content around sensitive topics–and Instagram is responding. With these latest updates, social media managers now have more control over the conversations happening within their community of followers. But what does that control mean for day-to-day account management?
Creating a Safe Space
The update allows organizations to create virtual “safe spaces” for their audiences, where comments can be monitored and filtered down to the individual user level. For brands focused on youth or child advocacy, this is a crucial update to ensure that a page is welcoming to all ages.
These sorts of controls are critical. According to NoBullying.com, 25% of teens report that they have experienced repeated bullying on the Internet. LGBTQ+ youth reported higher rates of digital abuse than heterosexual youth. Regarding the updates, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom stated:
“Comments are where the majority of conversation happens on Instagram. While comments are largely positive, they’re not always kind or welcome.”
The seriousness of cyberbullying is no secret to professionals working in education or youth-focused nonprofits. With these updates, social media and brand managers can not only remove individual comments, but turn comments off completely. This level of control allows profiles to create inviting and safe communities for users to engage in.
Proactive Community Management
Digital communicators may feel a wave of relief at the thought of having more control over the conversations happening around their organization’s photos. But having this much control means that it must be appropriately asserted.
Crisis communications on Instagram, prior to its most recent update, often allowed brand managers to be reactive only. The benefit of proactively monitoring and curating conversations at the individual level on Instagram enables community managers to be vigilant in snipping hostile comments that could potentially spiral into large-scale negative conversations. By surgically removing these negative conversations early, managers can prevent a PR crisis and protect their brand’s cherished followers.
As a result, not every bad comment on a post needs to be a “crisis communications” situation, as it can be removed along with the troll at hand. This autonomy will save brand managers time and stress, but we caution discretion with these tools so as not to censor the authentic nature of comments.
Too much comment removal, particularly on comments that may express opposing opinions to the brand, can ruin brand credibility. We recommend that managers implement a working document that outlines clearly the kinds of comments that should be removed.
By creating these safe spaces, where genuine and respectful conversations can happen, social managers can cultivate a follower base that is authentic and representative of their organization, and protect those who choose to participate.
Maintaining an Authentic Following
Instagram boasts more than 500 million followers, but do you know how many of your own followers are actually engaged with your content?
The process of filtering comments enables social media managers to prevent spammers and solicitors from saturating their posts with irrelevant comments. These measures of control remove whatever benefit solicitors might find in haphazardly following pages, and as a result, it could potentially discourage them from following a profile in the first place. Ideally, this should produce more authentic follower bases where the conversations are relevant and inviting.
Overall, the latest Instagram updates are being received positively by digital communicators. How will you use the new features to improve user experience on your feed?
Want to learn more about leveraging social media to grow your following and improve your brand image in the marketplace? We’ve got a guide for that.