Instagram API changes and what they mean for you
Stop what you’re doing because shit just got real!
We received some serious Social Media news pertaining to Instagram’s APIs. More changes (Surprise, Surprise). Instagram and Facebook are forever keeping us on our toes and the latest change to the APIs is no exception. Originally scheduled for July 31st 2018, Instagram had moved the impending changes forward and developers woke to an unexpected influx of error emails (eeek).
Without warning Instagram shutdown their public API in a bid to protect the data and privacy of users. This blockage to the Public API now means that third party apps will no longer be able to access it as they used to, which will either greatly impact aspects of their business or bring it to a complete standstill. Overnight many of us who use Instagram for business would have noticed that our apps either weren’t operating properly or weren’t operating AT ALL.
WHAT THE HECK IS AN API?
API stands for “application program interface” which, in a nutshell is what allows third-party apps to interact with Instagram. On our App Store there are a TONNE of applications that are designed to talk to Instagram. Whether it is scheduling tools, to track the engagement of Influencers or to see who is “stalking” you (yes, this is a thing).
Depending on the affiliation with Instagram, developers may be exempt from the changes and may have additional access which allows them to carry on as normal. But for non-affiliated Apps – the Public API system was the only access available and it is no longer.
WHY HAS THIS HAPPENED?
Surely we have all seen Mr Mark Zuckerberg headlining our nightly news of late.
To put it simply, rogue third-party apps associated with Facebook, unlawfully used millions of users data causing a major security and privacy breach. This forced Zuckerberg to completely shut down the way third party developers access Facebook. Because of the severity, it now appears he has done the same with sister business, Instagram.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US?
If you are using Third Party apps to retrieve data or connect with certain facets of Instagram, you may have noticed that it is no longer working as normal or not at all. The Graph API is far more restrictive and developers that didn’t have prior permission, will not be able to access this.
ADIOS INSTAGRAM BOTS (YAY) Bots will now be a thing of the past (Praise everything that is good and holy – we are completely sick of the SPAM)! With a priority to combat spam, it is no surprise that automated engagement apps would be guaranteed a front row seat in the hall of Zilch Access.
Over the next few weeks you will more than likely see a drop in your engagement across your Instagram platform BUT know this; The engagement you DO receive will be (wait for it) AUTHENTIC!
On the contrary if you are using automated apps, you will need to do some groundwork and put together an engagement strategy. This will be the PERFECT opportunity to connect and engage with your audience. Yes, it will be more work but you will no longer be than pain in the butt Spammer.
REPORTING (oh no!) Using third party apps to analyse engagement, followers or someone else’s followers will no longer be available. The way you report or provide statistics (in our case, to our clients) may be compromised making it more difficult to retrieve a completely comprehensive list of stats.
INFLUENCERS will also be feeling this wrath. Apps designed to track the authenticity of an influencers audience or engagement will no longer work. This is a major setback for businesses that rely on influencer marketing for their businesses and in turn rely on these apps to ensure they are getting bang for buck.
This may also impact the whole concept of influencer marketing. If there is restrictions of analysis apps, it will make it incredible difficult to differentiate between true Insta-fame and Fake Influencers who paid for 100K followers (not cool you guys). This fact alone could deter businesses from going down the track of marketing this way.
So there you have it; the latest API changes. Will they be reversed? Maybe but for now we have to take the good with the bad.