What Does Instagram’s API Change Mean for Influencer Marketing?

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By: Courtney Gibb

“Progress is impossible without change.”

Almost 100 years old, this perceptive quote from George Bernard Shaw rings more true every day in the digital world. Social media has to adapt and innovate in order to improve and stay relevant. Although these necessary changes may be met with initial user resistance, the ultimate goal – to improve and achieve success – reigns over any temporary upset.

Which brings us to Instagram, and some recent – and controversial – changes the platform has made to the way it collects and distributes data. With more than 500 million users, for example, it’s inevitable that Instagram’s changes won’t be loved by everyone at first. We’re talking about you, Instagram feed algorithm updates. Why isn’t content in chronological order any more?

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post,” according to Instagram.

Instagram’s quest for innovation means that they’re anticipating user wants and needs instead of just reacting to them. The new feed algorithm is progress within their platform; another step toward the future in which quality content rules. While it’s easy to view alterations such as this through only one user-focused lens, as marketers, it’s also important to consider the business of social media.

Back in November 2015, Instagram announced that they would be updating their platform API policy to: “improve people’s control over their content and set up a more sustainable environment built around authentic experiences on the Instagram Platform.”

As is their right, the platform is now restricting what their API can be used for, and, along with the end of /users/self/feed and /media/popular API endpoints, instituting a new permissions review process. Existing third-party apps were given until June 1, 2016, to apply for review and get approved.

Mashable reported that this change announcement came quickly after a third-party Instagram app was removed for stealing users’ passwords from the App Store and Google Play. Along with providing more platform security and developer control, this API change will create a more consistent user experience – driving more traffic directly to Instagram and its ad network. And as noted by TechCrunch, the move away from an open platform gives them the opportunity to focus on their own Instagram apps.

So, how will this change your influencer marketing strategy?

Instagram’s API update impacts the ability to see Instagram’s data, meaning that an influencer partnership will need to clearly outline reporting policies moving forward. The update will also cut apps off from seeing a user’s entire Instagram feed. According to Nordic APIs, this may be a good thing in that it will clean up the platform and help get rid of fake “likes” and follower programs. If you relied on spambot apps to follow, like content, or repost content for you, a new engagement strategy is needed (#keepitreal).

It’s vital to stay up to date on Instagram changes and how they impact your marketing strategy. Please contact the FYI team with any questions about this Instagram change. And, learn more about Instagram best practices here.

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