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116 - Instagram Action Blocked Sending DMs

Day 116 - Instagram Action Blocked Sending DMs - how to avoid this and what to do if it happens

Just breaking off SEO briefly today to cover something I was hit again with last week. In Day 38 - Talk To New Likes and Follows I advised people to regularly DM people that like or follow them. Its a great way to build relationships and if you craft a handful of standard responses you can copy and paste these then personalise them for each contact making it much easier to do. It definitely works. At this stage I see 1-2 of every 5 likes that I DM converting to a follower and I get many lovely messages back after my welcome message to new followers which often starts new conversations. 

I also advised this approach in Day 78 - Social Media Giveaway Final Push at the end of running a giveaway. In both I urged caution to avoid being blocked by Instagram but I want to remind you here how to avoid that with it still fresh in my mind from last weeks experience.

What happened to me last week was that instead of checking my Instagram several times a day as I usually do and sending a DM to 2-3 people each time, I wasn't able to check it most of the day having sent a post that was particularly popular. At the end of the day I sent DMs to a number of people very quickly copy and pasting hastely to catch up rather than taking my time and personalising things as I would normally do. About 15 mins in up popped the following message.

Instagram action blocked sending DMs

It couldn't have come at a worse time as we were planning a giveaway here a couple of days later but Instagram had decided because of what I was doing that it was going to block all my DMs. This is the 2nd time I have hit this and I knew exactly why I had hit it - it was my own fault! Some may complain about Instagram and its algorithm and practices but really it was my fault! Instagram puts these things in place for good reasons you just need to understand them and work with them.

Instagram blocked me here because it detected what it thought was spamming activity. Nobody wants to see spam on Instagram. It is a nightmare on email and practices like this from Instagram are a good thing not a bad thing. We just need to understand how they work and work with them not around them. Spammers create an email and then send something to thousands or tens of thousands of people that they have no connection with which in many cases are totally irrelevent in the hope that a very tiny percentage hit the mark and generate a sale. What I was doing was directly talking to a handful of people that have interacted with me in order to try to develop a relationship further with them which many appreciate and do develop that relationship.

In that case why did Instagram block me? Well it is an automation not a real person and it is trained to try to spot patterns of activity that suggest automation at our end rather than real people interacting in a normal way that real people do. It recognised that I sent a handful of messages in very quick succession that I would have been unlikely to be able to type in that amount of time and possibly that were a little too similar for its liking. As soon as it spotted that it chose to block that action and blocked me from sending any further DMs for 24 hours! An inconvience and enough to make me be more careful next time although my research has suggested that these blocks can get longer for repeat offences and ultimately you can be warned by Instagram and have your account closed but you have to be a pretty serious repeat offender to get to that stage and ignore all their warnings!

So what are the rules exactly? Well you will see lots of thoughts on this out there but the truth is nobody really knows apart from Instagram and the reason that Instagram do not publicise it is that once they do people are able to work their automations around it. Keeping it quiet keeps people on their toes and encourages them to act like human beings rather than automated bots which again is a good thing!

So what is considered safe? Well think about how you would interact if you could not copy and paste. An account might come across your radar by a like on your post, a search, a DM etc. You might then visit their profile, view a few posts, like a few posts then send a DM. That all might take 3 or 4 minutes in between DMs so send your DMs 3 or 4 minutes apart and you are less likely to fall fowl of this, even if you have copy and pasted text you reuse and personalise.

Personalise the text. Find the persons name and add it to the DM. Look for something in the account profile or one of their posts and reference it so that DMs are not all the same even though they might be designed for a common task. 

According to my research it looks as though Instagram have tightened the rules a little too. There are suggestions that whilst up to 20 DMs in an hour might have been OK last year with no more than 50-100 in a day on trusted accounts (fewer on new accounts), 10 DMs in an hour are more acceptable this year with little more than 50 a day. That said I got blocked after less than 10 but obviously sent too quickly and Lucy just managed to send 24 here in 30 minutes reconnecting with people who just entered her giveway but with lots of personalisation so it just goes to show nobody really knows and there are several things in play some of which Instagram may even be varying to keep people on their toes.

Moral of the story - behave sensibly and responsibly. Send DMs to people that engage with you as that will help you build relationships and grow followers but do it slowly and carefully so that you don't get caught by this. Personalise things and interact on different levels with each connection. This restriction is there to protect us all!

One more thing - this block can appear not just because of too many DMs. It can be too many likes, too many comments, too many follows, too many unfollows etc. The same thing applies though. It is to stop unscrupulous behaviour. Follow lots of people to get a follow then unfollow them and you will get blocked. Like hundreds of images that you don't actually like but are liking them to get peoples attention and you will get blocked. Just behave like a normal person. Read and study something before you like it, follow people you have studied and want to follow. Unfollow people you no longer want to follow slowly because you are slowly refining your feed not because it was a quick growth idea!

Have you been blocked by Instagram? When was it and how long did it last? Do you know what caused it?

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