On March 15th, I went onto your app, posted an image, did my normal scrolling, and then closed out.
*5 minutes later
I went back onto your app to then experience that one of my worst nightmares had just become real life.
“Error. Your account has been disabled for violating our terms…”
In this moment, my mind raced and I began asking myself a million questions. “What did I do wrong?”, “What does this actually mean?”, “Is my Instagram account gone forever?”, “What do you mean violating your terms!? I’m an excellent Instagram user.”
With my heart in my stomach, I followed the steps to “Learn More” about how I could “maybe” restore my account. This brought me to a small contact form that I filled out as quickly as humanly possible (thinking my attentiveness would somehow resolve this issue faster) to then sit there not knowing what would happen next.
I was filled with so many emotions: fear, disappointment, sadness, and confusion. You disabled my account without warning, without a specific reason, without a way to truly know if you’d ever respond back to me or if I’d ever see my Instagram account again.
You nonchalantly took away one of my biggest marketing tools for my business without hesitation and for no reason, and because of that my business, which then effects my livelihood, was impacted. And because of your poor customer service, communication skills, and subpar forms, I didn’t know for how long or why this was all happening in the first place.
And do you want to know a fun fact? In just 8 hours of disabling my account, these three things happened…
- Wedding vendors thought I quit my business.
- Local florists went on your app to look up my account, you told them it didn’t exist, and they assumed I no longer owned a photography business.
- I lost the chance to gain followers, who could have potentially become clients.
- I couldn’t post about a proposal I photographed that day, and when their family and friends asked for my Instagram handle, I couldn’t give it to them.
- A potential bride lost trust in my business.
- A bride asked for my business card, mentioned how excited she was that I had an Instagram, and then I had to tell her that Instagram disabled it… You should have seen her face.
This was just hours of not having an Instagram account, imagine what days would look like.
Instagram, you could have permanently crippled my business, and I have one thing to say to all this… What you did is NOT okay.
Your platform is the most popular app to date. It is used by millions of people all over the world and for many different reasons: fashion, travel, business, photography, life, puppies, food, places, venues, flowers, etc.. And for me, it’s used to showcase my travels, my personal life, and my business. Instagram is a place that allows me to express myself, showcase my couples love stories, and instill trust into the couples that are looking to hire me or have hired me.
Your platform allows my couples to find me, follow me, and most importantly trust me and my photography services. And in a blink of an eye, you made years of memories disappear, years of HARD, time consuming work, content, and planning- go away. You did this, and you didn’t even think twice about it. You almost set my business back YEARS, and, yet, to you, I am just a number.
Well, Instagram, something needs to change because I am not a number. Something needs to change because you are effecting people’s lives, businesses, and dreams by disabling accounts like mine. Something needs to change because what you did to me shouldn’t happen to anyone else.
Your app builds relationships, boosts businesses, creates connections, and taking that away, forcing people to start from scratch, erasing years of photos, content, and work, is not okay. The worst part? You do this without recognition of knowing what you did. You do this without allowing users to plead their case. You do this with a snap of a finger, but we are the ones who have to pay the cost.
So here are 5 ways YOU can improve:
- Implement Warnings
- Warnings help users know what they are doing wrong in the first place. Disabling accounts without warning and sending an automated, non descriptive Error Message is unhelpful to users and unhelpful to YOU, Instagram.
- We as users should be allowed to rectify our wrongs before being disabled. This helps us become better users and then in return makes Instagram a better place. Win, win.
- Better Customer Service
- Generic emails are confusing and discouraging in every way. Your strategy for disabling users is lazy and then when users, like myself, want to try and make everything right, we get sent to a contact form (that is almost impossible to find) that lists 4 questions. (More on that in the next bullet point!)
- For being a top rated app, in an emergency situation, I should be able to talk to someone directly. (Phone or email, but not an automated message that sends me to an Help Page that contains no beneficial information.)
- More Detailed Contact Form
- Like mentioned above, users are sent to a contact form to try and get back their disabled accounts. This contact form contains 4 questions. 1 of those questions actually allowing you to state your case about why disabling your account was a mistake…
- After you complete the very small contact form, you are left with a whole lot of nothing. No follow up email, not even an automated one that the form was received. Your users are left with nothing.
- Implement an Emergency Call System
- This might be pushing it because I get it. Instagram has millions of users, BUT, a single, small, uninformative contact form isn’t enough.
- Implementing an emergency call system or online chat box that allows you to speak to a REAL person in REAL time will help users tremendously. And again, this helps YOU. This allows you to tell users what they are doing wrong in the first place and how they can improve as an Instagram user.
- State a More Specific WHY
- Okay, so you reactivate a users account. Wahoo! Deep breathes all around. BUT, you don’t give a single reason to WHY the user was disabled in the first place. You mention that terms were violated… WELL, tell your users which one and give advice on what they should do instead or not do at all.
- AND, if a user emails back specially asking to why their account got disabled, give them a solid answer. Do NOT send them to your unhelpful help page because it is just that- unhelpful.
Overall, something, anything would be better than what you are doing right now. For being the fastest growing and most popular app, you should want to do better. So BE better.
Because in a world where there is an Instagram, I and many others need you to do just that.