We know what you’re thinking. So we’ll get straight to it: What is an API? And why does Instagram have one?
What is API?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. Don’t be intimidated, most people don’t know what API is or what it does. We’ll explain.
API is a non user involvement, barely noticeable software-to-software interface. Put simply, a way for apps or softwares to communicate with Instagram. API is used to pass information, but there’s no live person behind the scenes passing on this information. And we say barely noticeable, because chances of you encountering a form of API and you not recognizing , are very likely.
You’re probably thinking, “What? How?” Here’s an example of an API in use: when you enter credit card information to make an online purchase, the website sends your credit card information through an API to another application, which confirms that the provided information is correct.
Got it? K. Moving on.
What is Instagram’s API?
Now that we have a grasp on API, let’s talk about Instagram’s API. There are a couple ways users interact with Instagram’s API such as tags, hashtags and re-posting to other social platforms.
Other ways industry people use Instagram’s API are for things like auto-posting, commenting, and analytics.
The announcement of Instagram’s change in API, while a surprise for some, was not a total shock. Instagram announced that a change to its API was coming. We personally attribute some of it to the series of scandals surrounding Facebook’s use of private data and public pressure to increase privacy.
Just as a side note, it will be worth your time to listen to the privacy concerns raised during Mark Zuckreberg’s Senate Hearing. It will put into context Instagram and Facebook’s API changes.
In what way is Instagram’s API changing?
Instagram will implement (or take out the old API model and replace it with the new) these changes in three phases. You’ll lose the ability to do the following by the year 2020. Find them below:
OK. Thanks for the information, but how will this affect me?
RIP to Instagram Bots. If you’re using any bots to follow and unfollow accounts for you *Insert Emoji Eyes*, or interact with accounts for you, they will no longer work. And if they do, the bots are likely using hacked version of the Instagram API.
Lower Engagement. You may notice lower engagement, now that bots are gone, but fear not. This will ensure that the engagement is real.
Instagram Likes are Private. “Likes” will be private and only visible to you. No one will be able to tell which posts you’ve liked. You will however be able to see how many likes a person has. Unlike before, you won’t be able to click on the likes and view what users liked the photo. As you can imagine, shopping apps are not too happy about this, seeing as they would keep track of items you were interested in by your “likes”.
Tracking followers through apps will be no more. If you’re using an app to track whether or not someone follows and unfollows you or the rate in which your following is growing, will no longer be available. This includes softwares that determine if someone has a real following or not. Remember the Buying Fake Comments blog where we showed you how to track if someone’s following is fake? You can kiss that software goodbye. This is annoying, especially for people, who work in the influencer marketing realm because determining real and fake followers will be a bit harder.
Searching for User Generated Content will be harder to find. Custom hashtags will be very important in the coming weeks. In the past, brands were able to search for influencers via softwares and track the results of influencer campaigns, this function will no longer be aloud with Instagram’s new API. This was a huge hit for the software People Map, who many influencers and brands relied on to track the return on investment of Instagram campaigns.
How will this affect a business account?
The biggest change is for businesses, medium and large, that need to interact with their audience and analyze the performance of their content strategy. If this sounds like your business, you’ll want to begin to build with the Instagram Graph API as soon as possible to achieve some of those same objectives.
Now this was a lot to sink in. These changes have affected tons of businesses, some we rely heavily on for influencer marketing. But here at Creative Label, we value privacy and believe this is a step in the direction of securing user privacy online. What are your thoughts on Instagram’s new API and the possible reasons for changing it?