To the chagrin of overly aggressive marketers and other irritating folks, Instagram is making it easier for users to silence individual accounts.
With a new “mute” button, Instagram users can effectively hide posts from particular accounts, without having to officially "unfollow" them.
The popular Facebook unit is positioning the feature as a way for users to further personalize their accounts, but it could spell trouble for marketers and their branded content partners.
“Everyone has to find the line between being a spammer and not being a spammer,” says Ian Wishingrad, founder and creative director at agency BigEyedWish.
For Instagram, the changes are part of a broader effort to keep users happy. In March, for example, it introduced changes to simplify their browsing experience.
Wishingrad calls it a brilliant strategy, and one that more tech companies are embracing.
“They’re following Amazon’s playbook of putting consumers first,” he said. “Now that it’s paying off for Amazon, other companies are following suit.”
“This is also going to give Instagram some very valuable user data,” Wishingrad added.
Now, when Instagram users mute an account, they can still see posts on that account’s profile page, as well as get notified about comments or posts in which they have been tagged.
This is potentially one way for marketers to work around being “muted,” but tagging individual users takes times, and often comes off as invasive and “spammy.”
Complicating matters for marketers, accounts have no way of knowing that they have been muted by users, according to Instagram.
Wishingrad suggests this is by design. “Why would Instagram want to discourage brands from creating content?” he asks.