One of the worst scenarios for a client that relies on social media for their business’ success is to suddenly realise that their Instagram account has been suspended with no previous warning. Not longer ago than this very week, we managed to retrieve a suspended Instagram account, and here’s how we did it.
The first step is to be patient
For our most anxious friends out there: retrieving a suspended account is not a matter of minutes or even hours. It usually takes several days or even weeks, depending on which infraction has the aforementioned account incurred into.
It’s worth mentioning that the following steps are only useful if the suspended account has not incurred into any of the practises that Instagram considers to be harmful, specially the most severe ones: spam, harassment, foul language, comments or following floods…
If you’ve incurred a minor fault, there shouldn’t be a reason to worry. It is most probable that Instagram will restore your account as soon as you identify as a user, and send a written request to get it back.
Step two to retrieve your suspended account: notify Instagram that the suspension was erroneous
Once you’ve gathered your patience, the bureaucratic bit starts. Instagram’s help is not excessively specific, and it comes in handy to know beforehand the shortcuts that lead to useful information.
If you have a suspended account, this is the form you have to fill to take your request to Instagram. If it doesn’t work for any reason (sometimes it doesn’t), you should try again a few hours later or try to submit it from a different device until you succeed.
If after a reasonable amount of time you can’t get it done, it’s time to try the sideways. For instance, the form to report identity theft (an option that you shouldn’t dismiss altogether, for Instagram does suspend accounts that have endured too many failed login attempts). There’s also contact through Facebook.
At this point we must say that it is advisable to have the Instagram account linked to a Facebook account, specially for sensible or business accounts. In doing so, it is easier to claim an account back from one platform to another. In a similar manner, it is also advisable, but not essential, not to have more than two accounts linked together, to avoid any sort of inconvenience during the retrieval process.
Step three: wait for the verification email (and keep a notepad around)
Yes, you’ve read correctly: a notepad. A few days after sending in the form, keep checking your inbox, (as well as the spam inbox). The most likely outcome is that Instagram will send you back an email, asking that you take a picture of a handwritten code they’ll provide in said email in order to verify your identity.
Instagram will request a clear-cut picture of yourself, holding a notepad with the code written on it, as well as your name, and the name of your Instagram account. We know, we know, it sounds like a joke. But it is actually one of the many methods (and the most frequent one, according to our experience) that Instagram uses to make sure that you are not a bot, but the actual owner of the account.
Good news is, as soon as you complete this bizarre exchange, the process to get your account back speeds up quite a bit.
Last step to get your suspended Instagram account back: check and check again, it’s only a matter of time
Once you’ve submitted your verification picture, it’s only a matter of time (usually a day or two) until Instagram gives you your account back. Try to login twice or thrice a day, through both Instagram and Facebook.
It is quite common for Instagram to restore your account but not give you access to it for a few hours. Some users will be able to see your account and some won’t because of server caches, but it will be back up and running sooner rather than later.
The particular suspension that we’ve been dealing with has happened upon the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. These days, both Instagram and Facebook acknowledge to be understaffed, hence the delay on all of these otherwise quick processes.
(Not so) happily ever after
We are proud to say that our record is fairly spotless, but there has been one occasion where we didn’t get the happy outcome we expected. In this case, the account’s owner committed negligence by engaging -unknowingly- on a phishing scheme. The user gave away their password, and a bot took over the account.
Said bot erased all the content on the account and replaced it with its own, until the pertinent report was made through the help form, and Instagram suspended the account.
In this particular case, because there was evidence of negligence on the owner’s end, Instagram didn’t take responsibility and the account lost most of its feed, except for the most recently published posts.
But not even under those circumstances did the account lose its followers’ list, the most important asset for an Instagram account.
A somewhat opaque retrieval process that, most times, ends up well
Nevertheless, we saw fit to share our experience due to the lack of documentation and the scarceness of answers from the social media platform.
We hope this little tale will be of use to you, if you ever navigate the messy process of getting back an account of such a powerful communication tools as Instagram and Facebook are. And, were you ever to find yourselves needing the help of this online marketing consultant office, don’t hesitate to contact us and explain your problem.
The suspension of accounts can often be random, which is why we advise our clients to not centralize their communication channels too much. And, if that is the case and you only have one way of communicating to your clients, that way might as well be your website. That way the management and integrity of your communication systems will always be 100% on your hands.