Instagram semi-private profile?

Instagram view of stats inside the app
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NB: This is a side project and in no way related to the official Instagram. I did this case study to share my observations.


So first of, if you lived under a rock for the past 10 years, here’s about Instagram:

Instagram is a free photo and video sharing app available on Apple iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. People can upload photos or videos to our service and share them with their followers or with a select group of friends. They can also view, comment, and like posts shared by their friends on Instagram.

A few analytics from Instagram

  1. As of June 2018, Instagram has reached the 1 billion monthly active user
  2. Instagram statistics show that an average Instagram post contains as many as 10.7 hashtags
  3. 71% of the billion monthly active users on the Instagram app are under the age of 35
  4. Instagram users’ spent an average of 53 minutes per day on the platform

The problem

For personal accounts on Instagram, currently, you can have a public profile or a private profile. If you decide to put your profile private, you can’t be discovered. Your hashtags can go out the window since it won’t show in the trending hashtags or even if you search for a specific hashtag. Your hard thought content will only be seen by approved followers! Some users are OK with that.

For business/creator account it’s not possible to have a private account. Having said that, there’s a trend of brands switching to private accounts to create that sense of exclusivity or even attracting more followers. If your account is public, users can see all your posts and might not feel the need to follow you.

BUT what if you still want to be discovered but don’t want to attract the wrong target market or even worst “fake followers”. You want to have the right connections with the right users.

For some of us, it might be hard to attract the right audience unless you are a celebrity or can afford big budgeted marketing campaigns.

It might become a problem for Instagram if many businesses want to switch to private profiles. Privacy matters now. Business/creator profiles give you more insights, data about your audience and give you more customizations.

The solution

Have a semi-private account. Let me elaborate:
Users can switch to have a semi-private account. By doing so, the owner of the semi-private profile can select from 6 posts that are shown in the profile. It could be an option of manually selecting 6 posts from your profile or always show the latest 6 posts. Those posts can be discoverable and be in the hashtags feed, assuming that the user will use hashtags. Nevertheless, when someone lands on a semi-private profile they can see a preview of what that account as to offer. Manually selecting posts won’t “refresh” the discoverable aspect of it, since it won’t be your latest posts, but you can select the best 6 posts to showcase according to the user.



Instagram semi-private profile

View of a semi-private profile

You can see a mention about viewing a sneek peek of the profile and after the 6 posts to follow the account.

Instagram semi-private profile mine

Turn ON semi-private

Steps to turn ON semi-private on your personal account.

Instagram creator profile

Turn ON semi-private

Steps to turn ON semi-private on your creator account.

Instagram semi-private select 6 posts

Select posts manually

Steps to select posts manually when you turn ON semi-private profile.


There’s seems to be a trend from businesses to switch from public profiles to private profiles, but to be able to achieve that, you need to switch from business/creator profile to personal profile.

With a semi-private account, users can get a glimpse of a profile and Facebook/Instagram can still push ads to those accounts. So there’s still a way to monetize.

The next steps for Instagram could be testing to see if 6 posts or 3 posts are enough to show in the semi-private profile. Get surveys out to big business/creator accounts that switched to a private profile, find out why, and get more insights.

What do you think about a semi-private account?

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