Why Instagram Business Tools Aren't All They're Cracked Up To Be - From Someone Who Tried It

     As an avid user of Instagram, I can’t help but notice that a lot of people around my age have been switching to business profiles, even though most of them don’t own a business and aren’t famous by any stretch of the imagination. It seems to have evolved into a status symbol, or a means of making oneself look more professional. Part of me wants to look down at the people in question, but I know that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

     Last year, I switched one of my Instagram accounts to a business profile because I was lead to believe that doing so would increase the levels of engagement on my account. Having access to analytics and other features sounded great in theory, but I eventually switched back to a personal profile a few months later. As a non-business owner, I reaped absolutely no benefits from having a business profile on Instagram.  Here are my five grievances against Instagram business tools:

  1. It forces you to pay for engagement

     I switched to a business profile because I’d read on a social media strategy blog that it could help you beat the loathsome instagram algorithm. As a small (under 1,000 followers) account, my engagement suffered at the hands of the algorithm changes. Instagram business tools can help your posts reach more people - but only if you’re willing to pay up. Instagram charges around $5 for your post to show up in the feeds of 1,000 accounts who aren’t following you. This may not seem like much, but frequent promotions will add up, and as college students we need to be smart with our money. Spend your money on cute things to photograph for your instagram, not on your instagram account itself.

2. The analytics are hard to interpret, effectively rendering them useless

     Part of the reason I switched to a business profile was for the analytics. I wanted to know what times to post and which hashtags to use in order to ensure maximum engagement. Unfortunately for me, Instagram business tools’ analytics focus on the age, gender, and location of the people who follow you. I guess this would be useful if you ran a business whose services or products were aimed at a certain demographic, but they were useless for me. The analytics feature can give you a ballpark figure of the best times to post, but its not really helpful when it comes to planning your feed. Luckily, there are a lot of online tools that can provide you with analytics for your personal profile (unionmetrics.com is my personal favorite)

3. It forces you to give up a degree of your privacy and/or anonymity

     First of all, business profiles have to be public, so it’s already not an option if you choose to keep your instagram account private. Even if you’re okay with making your account public, you may not be comfortable revealing where you live, your phone number, or your email address (personally I choose not to disclose these things on Instagram). Instagram business tools forces you to provide at least one form of contact, such as an email address or phone number, and attaches it to your profile. This puts you at risk for being contacted by people you don’t know, and makes it hard to separate your personal life from your online one. Unless you’re legitimately looking for clientele, you don’t need your contact information attached to your Instagram.

4. You need to link your business profile to a Facebook page

     Again, this makes sense for an actual business, but chances are you don’t have a Facebook page (even if you have an account on the site).  I ended up creating a Facebook page in order to switch to a business profile, and it ended up just sitting there for months without being updated. I rarely post statuses on Facebook, let alone photos to a page. Of course, the attachment of said page to my Facebook account led to a disturbingly high number of notifications alerting me to the fact that it had no new likes in the past week or that I need to upload a profile picture. If you manage or are on the admin team of a Facebook page, all power to you, but I don’t have the time and energy to handle it.

5. You’ll get annoying notifications on Instagram, too

     Social media notifications (especially those of the “push” variety) are one of my pet peeves. So you can imagine my consternation when I started getting notifications that said things like “this post is doing better than 95% of your recent post, promote it to reach more people." As I mentioned before, I didn’t want to put my hard-earned money towards my instagram account, which made those notifications all the more annoying.

 

      In short, switching to a business profile on Instagram isn’t worth it unless you actually own a business. I don’t think Instagram business tools are bad by any means - I’m sure they’re really useful for business owners. But if you’re not trying to sell something, provide a service, or rise to fame, you don’t need to have a “Just For Fun” or “Personal Blog” label under your name. You’re better off simply using relevant hashtags, writing an enticing bio, and posting regularly to build a following.