Social Media is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing channels for driving awareness, engagement, and brand loyalty online.

A platform we’ve seen many businesses moving to in the last couple of years is Instagram, a photo and video-sharing platform that allows users to upload media that can be edited, organized by hashtags and geotagging, then shared publicly or with preapproved followers. This functionality, along with Instagram’s TikTok-like Reels, allows brands to “creatively express their brand story, educate their audience, and get discovered by people who may love their business.”

But before becoming the next big trend on ‘the Gram,’ you need to understand the platform’s rules and community guidelines.

Instagram’s policy is quite simple; to be a part of their community, you must play by their rules. If content creators violate these terms, this can prompt Instagram to delete your content, disable your account, and restrict you in a way the platform deems suitable.

So, let’s talk about what your business should and shouldn’t do on Instagram to help you reach this platform’s full potential.

What Content Are You Allowed to Share on Instagram?

One of the first things Instagram focuses on in its guidelines is the content creators can share on the platform. 

When it comes to content sharing, you should:

  1. Share only content (photos/videos/stories) that you have taken or have the right to share. 
    Anything you post on your profile is your content, and you own it. The main thing to remember here is to post only authentic content taken by you or created by you. 
  2. Post content that is appropriate for a diverse audience. 
    Because of the variety of the audience on Instagram, it is important to share content with good intent. People with children like to share photos/videos of their children, which is allowed on the platform, but Instagram can sometimes remove the images for safety reasons. Pictures regarding breastfeeding and birth/after-birth moments are allowed on Instagram. Health-related content is also allowed, breast cancer awareness, for instance.

You should NOT:

  1. You should not copy, steal or post any content you do not have the right to and isn’t yours. 
    Posting content from another source online (that isn’t yours) or a user on Instagram without proper credit to the original creator is against Instagram’s terms and policies and is generally just lousy internet etiquette. Stealing content can lead to Instagram deleting your posts or possibly deleting your account. For a good reason, Instagram is stringent regarding intellectual property.
  2. Nudity is not allowed on Instagram and violates its community guidelines.
    Even if the content is for artistic expression or creative purposes, it’s best to steer clear. The only exceptions to this rule are product photos with reasonably covered models (think swimsuits) and depictions of antiquities, paintings, or sculptures that are not overtly sexual.

Leda and the Swan. Creator: Nyulassy, Alexander. Circa 1862.

An example would be; Leda and the Swan. Creator: Nyulassy, Alexander. Circa 1862.

Can Businesses do Giveaways on Instagram?

While the goal is to keep the platform spam-free so everyone can freely use it, giveaways are something that Instagram allows businesses to use to promote their products and services in a fun and engaging way. An example would be a business in the UK that promotes natural hair cosmetics for curly hair, called Flora & Curl:

Screenshot Instagram Giveaway

Giveaway Dos:

  1. Users can create giveaways for products, services, and experiences.
  2. Users can use giveaways to encourage others to like, follow, and share content. (Example in the image above).

Giveaway Do Nots:

  1. Instagram prohibits using giveaways if you offer money in the giveaway in exchange for likes, followers, comments, or any other type of engagement. In general, Instagram does not allow users/businesses to offer money.
  2. Users are not allowed to buy likes or followers. It is also not allowed to buy shares or to pay anyone to share your posts. Repetition of any sort, whether comments or content, and frequently contacting users to gather more likes, followers, and shares without consent are strictly forbidden.

Respect Community Members: Build a Community that Celebrates Diversity

Instagram is meant for individuals to express themselves and their creativity through their interests, hobbies, experiences, or businesses. Therefore Instagram takes care that each user helps create and promote a continual positive community.

Given this, you should:

  1. Promote a community of shared ideas, inclusivity, and diversity.
  2. Encourage deeper conversation and idea sharing around topics of importance to communities and society. 

You should NOT:

  1. Use content that is hate related, or contains hate speech. This is not tolerated on Instagram. 
  2. You should not post any content that contains threats or content that specifically targets, demeans, or humiliates individuals.
  3. You should not post any content that uses personal information as a means to blackmail or torment, harass or bother other users.
  4. Any violence or attack that is based on a user’s race, ethnicity, nationality, sex/gender, religion, disabilities, and diseases is not allowed on the platform.
  5. Do not use threats of any kind, including (but not limited to):
    – Threats of harm to the public and personal safety of others;
    – Threats of theft;
    – Threats of vandalism;
    – Threats of financial harm.
  6. Any encouragement for users to take into self-injury can lead to accounts being disabled if it is reported.

Instagram reviews all user reports of threats and determines whether a post is harmful to the user, whether the content should be deleted, or if Instagram should take harsher measures. If an account is suspended, the user will receive this message from the platform:

                                

In addition, Instagram has the right to remove any content that includes victims/survivors of self-injury if other users target them for humor. 

The platform does allow stronger conversation and discussion around people featured in current news-related stories. Discussions and conversations about people whose profession requires them to have large audiences/followers are also allowed.

The only situation Instagram allows hate speech to be shared is if the reason behind it is to challenge or bring it out in the open. 

Abiding by Law: Instagram’s Efforts to Fight Against Criminal Activities

Like many social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t allow users to break the law. Due to that, this part does not include “what you should do” and “what is allowed on the platform.”

  1. Instagram prohibits any praise of terrorism, organized crime, and hate groups.
  2. Offer of sexual services is not allowed on Instagram.
  3. Buying or selling of the following is also banned:
    – Firearms;
    – Alcohol;
    – Tobacco products;
    – Non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs. 
  4. Instagram has the right to remove content that is considered an attempt to trade/co-ordinate selling of non-medical products and donate or gift non-medical products.
  5. Instagram has the right to remove content that is believed to be the admission of personal use of non-medical drugs unless in the context of recovery. 
  6. The sale of live animals and any coordination of selling live animals/endangered species, as well as poaching and selling their parts is strictly prohibited. 
  7. The platform has zero tolerance for any type of sexual content involving minors and threatening to post images of others.
  8. If a user is promoting online gambling, real money games, and online lotteries, it is important to get permission from the platform. 

For any attempt to break the law or circumvent it, Instagram has the right to delete content and the account itself. 

Raising Public Awareness on Instagram 

Newsworthy events are allowed on Instagram. So if a user or business wants to raise awareness for current events, you should stick to the following:

  1. Only use content to raise awareness among the public.
  2. Use a caption to warn about content bringing awareness to violence, content that could be “triggering” for individuals, or content that may not be suited for younger audiences.

Since Instagram has a diverse audience with a large range of age groups, the platform reserves the right to remove content and generally only allows content that is suitable for everyone. 

Some Final Words

Because of the easygoing nature of the platform and the interactiveness of the content types, Instagram can be a really enjoyable and effective way to promote your business. So, don’t be afraid to spend time building and maintaining a presence on Instagram. Just remember to follow the Instagram guidelines at all times to create a safe and pleasant environment for everyone.

Read more on our blog!

Marija Markovic is a Manager of Technical Services at the Will Marlow Agency team. She specializes in the execution of digital marketing projects such as Search, Display, Shopping, Mobile, and Video. In addition to helping clients accomplish their business goals, she is dedicated to helping the team learn, improve and grow so that our agency performs at its best.

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