The middle of July was a difficult time for Instagram. They have managed to provoke anger and criticisms among their users, the online community and social media in general. Why? They decided to block the hashtag #curvy, a hashtag created to celebrate women’s curves and body shape. Instagram claimed that posts with the hashtag violated their rules regarding nudity. Users would be able to continue using the hashtags. After all, who could stop them? But the contents would not appear in the searches, which in practice was tantamount to silencing the said hashtag.

Interestingly, other hashtags of more explicit pornographic content, such as #vaginas, #clítoris or #dildo, and those related to the extreme opposite to #curvy, such as #skinny, remained available in the search results without any problems .

The response was immediate. Hashtags like #curvygirl and #curvee began to proliferate on Instagram and strengthened the protests against the ban. Until a few days later, on July 23, Instagram rectified the situation and #curvy came back to life in the search results.

But is the hashtag #curvy really so offensive that Instagram decided to block it? What scope did the protest have, and how has it evolved? Is it justifiable to forbid something that people want to use, consume and practice? To verify this, I worked with Pirendo to analyze the hashtags #curvy, #curvee, #curvygirl and #skinny on Instagram between July 20 and August 9. And these were the results:

1. Evolution in impressions

Instagram impressions refer to the potential impact a publication can generate. That is, the number of times a publication has potentially been shown in the users’ news feed. As the evolution graph revealed, the end of the block on the hashtag #curvy generated an outstanding peak on July 25th, then dropped significantly and rebounded sporadically in early August. Meanwhile, the alternative hashtag #curvee has had a much more constant and superior impact. #curvygirl remained at a lower profile, and was quite low especially after the “reinstatement” of #curvy. The hashtag #skinny, on the other hand, followed an autonomous pattern, which sometimes exceeded the impact generated by #curvy. In short, the prohibition of the hashtag #curvy did nothing but encourage its use and bolster its impact once it was “allowed” again. But in reality, It was the hashtag #curvee that had a greater and more continuous impact over time. Did Instagram aim for the wrong word?

2. Total comparative impact

We can probably say that they missed the mark on selecting which hashtag to block. Why? During the analysis period, #curvee accumulated more than 28.5 million impressions, compared to 9.5 million gained by #curvy. #Curvygirl, with little more than 872,000 impressions, proved to be quite irrelevant, while #skinny earned more than 5.3 million impressions.

3. Number of issuing users

So, why did Instagram set its sights on #curvy and decided that this was the enemy? Perhaps, because it was based exclusively on the number of users. The volume of users that used #curvy was and is still higher at 14,154 compared to the 2,399 users who used #curvee and the 6,357 users who used #curvygirl. Meanwhile, #skinny, the other thematic endpoint, was used by exactly 16,924 users which was not a threat for Instagram.

4. Scope compared

We now learn that basing the importance of a hashtag on the number of users who use it is an error. In addition to a looking at a hashtag’s impact (impressions), it is convenient to put it in contrast with its reach in order to understand its relevance. In other words, we also need to analyze the number of unique users who have potentially received a publication that included the hashtag.

In the case at hand, #curvee achieved a reach of more than 916,000 users, while #curvy barely reached 140,000. #Curvygirl reached less than 40,000 users. And #skinny, despite being used by a greater number of users, achieved a reduced reach of just over 27,000 users. The numbers seemed to show that the latter was aimed more towards the “self-consumption” of a circle closed of users.

And speaking or reach, it is important that you also consider the reach of your Instagram account and publications. If you’re really serious about growing your Instagram and get on a fast-track path to becoming Instagram famous, you can also check out Simplygram.com (where you can sign up for a free trial of our Instagram growth service to help you find your way).

5. Content of the publications

How strong were the contents that were published with the hashtag #curvy? According to Pirendo, the most quoted hashtags in relation to #curvy were: #curves, #plussize, #fashion, #beautiful, #curvygirl, #selfie and #love. A little suspicious, in my opinion, and rather oriented towards self-affirmation and suggested that the contents were related to the field of fashion. At the opposite extreme, #skinny was mainly associated with the hashtags #fitness, #fit, and #depressed. And among the most quoted hashtags were #depression, #anorexia, #mia, #sad and #suicide. Regardless of the terms of use of any social media network, these terms sincerely made me feel me more fear.

Among other things, in a complete analysis of an Instagram hashtag, it would also be advisable to analyze the type of participatory users, the types of content (photo or video),the  interactions and activity according to day and time, depending on the objective and purpose of the monitoring.

But in our case, from Instagram’s analysis of the most used impressions, reach, users and hashtags, it could be deduced that Instagram made a mistake not only in deciding to veto a hashtag (because it only managed to arouse criticism among Instagram followers), but also in choosing which hashtag to block.

As we dive deeper into Instagram, you’ll soon see that focusing on hashtags or the quality of your photos are good practices, but a great strategy and understanding of the trends could be the difference between stuck at 400 followers and moving past 5,000 followers. If you are interested in soaring way past 5,000 followers and reaching 30,000 followers in under a year, try signing up for a free trial of our Instagram growth service today.

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