In late 2017 the most followed Instagram user at the time, Selena Gomez, went private. Of course, her millions of existing followers wouldn’t have noticed this. They had already been accepted into Selena Gomez’s private Instagram world. But it came as a shock to those Instagram newbies yet to apply. And that was just the beginning. Quite a few popular Instagram accounts have made their accounts private over the past few months.
It is not particularly obvious why Selena Gomez chose to make her account private. She only kept it in that state for a single day and opted not to explain the reasons for her decisions.
Yet, Selena Gomez is not alone. There has been a trend recently for the owners of popular Instagram accounts to turn them private. This has been particularly so for high profile meme-sharing Instagram accounts.
Why Changing Instagram Accounts to Private Reduces Your Reach
As we all know, Instagram accounts are set to Public by default so anybody can view the photos or videos you post. The majority of us and nearly every business keeps it this way, particularly if they intend to use their account for marketing purposes.
But evidently, some people prefer to have more control over who can see and engage with their posts.
There is a further implication of changing your account to private, however. Your posts will no longer appear in the Search and Explore section. Nor will your posts come up in hashtag searches or a location page, which is not so helpful if you’re conducting an influencer campaign.
But it is important to remember, from an influencer marketing point of view, that making an account private, does not mean that the name disappears entirely from sight.
Why Do the Operators of Popular Instagram Accounts Turn Them Private?
There are a variety of reasons why Instagram account holders turn their accounts private.
One reason is to control the type of people who follow their account. By making their account Private, they are able to “tease” people, potentially increasing their allure.
Those who swear by the practice say that it leads to them getting more followers. They argue that when people receive links from public accounts, they just look at the image that is linked to, and then continue on, without actively becoming a follower of the account. By making them request access, allows people with these big Instagram accounts to increase their followings. Users are sharing content from these accounts with their friends. And in order for their friends to see the content, they need to follow.
Even the top influencers have found the changes caused by the new Instagram algorithm taxing. This is particularly the case with meme accounts. Before the recent Instagram algorithm changes, these accounts gained most of their increased following from appearing on peoples’ Explore pages. However, many have found that going private leads to faster growth now.
Many Top Meme Accounts Now Use the Private Setting
A large number of firms see the value of working with meme accounts, simply because meme accounts are so popular. Meme accounts are particularly useful in influencer marketing campaigns for raising the awareness of brands.
There is another reason why meme account owners tend to set their accounts to private. Memes can often be borderline offensive to people, and by setting an account to private, they are less likely to offend certain individuals.
Reactions to the Change in Instagram Account Settings
While some Instagram influencers, particularly those sharing memes, have their reasons for changing to private, it has not been universally popular with everyday users.
There has been discontent expressed, to the point where some people have suggested boycotting private meme pages. Others consider using Private accounts to be a breach of Instagram etiquette:
Basic Instagram manners: don't send memes from private accounts.
— HaramBae (@SirAzamAlot) July 30, 2018
It does add a layer of complexity to what is usually a simple process. You typically look at a page, like its contents, and then push the Follow button. Now, you have to wait for somebody to accept your follower request before you can browse through their posts. Some people believe that the practice makes accounts appear less spontaneous, trustworthy and genuine.
Popular Instagram Accounts Going Private
The biggest problem with these people changing their account to private is that they close the door to people viewing their content. Their material will never appear on Explore pages or under hashtag searches. Their Instagram Stories will no longer show up to anyone other than their existing followers and it could potentially limit people following their account in the future, especially for influencers.