Updates to Advanced Listening and Instagram

This article describes additional nuances for collecting data from Instagram using Sprout’s Advanced Listening following the release of Instagram’s new Graph API. We will be moving to the new API on December 11, 2018 and while the new API offers up exciting possibilities in the long term, it places some new restrictions on Listening tools in the near term.

Note that an Instagram Business Profile is required for collecting any Instagram data via Sprout Social. Read our article on Converting and Reconnecting Instagram Business Profiles, if you’re Instagram account isn’t already a Business Profile or if you want to learn how to connect it to Sprout.

Topics Must Include Hashtags

Sprout’s Advanced Listening tool uses several techniques to simplify the Topic building process while adhering to each network’s requirements for collecting data. One such technique was that anytime a customer entered a keyword with no spaces, Sprout would automatically search for the exact phrase and for a hashtag of the keyword. The reason for this is Instagram only allows third-party platforms to search hashtags. For example, if we added “Sprout” in the keyword builder, the platform would automatically collect data not just for “Sprout” but also for “#Sprout”.

Due to recent changes in Instagram’s API, third-party platforms, including Sprout, can no longer automatically append hashtags in the same way. This means Sprout can no longer automatically search Instagram for an exact keyword and its matching hashtag. You now need to include specific hashtags when building a Topic to gather data from Instagram. This also means that you will need to add hashtags to any existing Topics that are targeted at Instagram.

In the example below, keywords like “contest”, “giveaway” and “free shipping” will be used to search other networks while “#content”,“#giveaway”, and “#freeshipping” will be used to search Instagram as well as other networks.

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Additional Guidelines and Limitations

Instagram limits the amount of data applications like Sprout can collect. These limitations include:

  • Tracking limited to 30 hashtags per Business Profile over a rolling 7 day window across all tools. The same hashtag can be used in multiple places, but only 30 unique hashtags can be tracked.
  • No historical data can be collected from Instagram, including the previously available 3 day backfill.
  • Sprout customers must have an Instagram Business Profile attached to their Sprout account in order to track Listening data from Instagram.
  • Anytime an Instagram or Facebook token expires, data collection will stop.
  • Some accounts may see limited engagement on collected posts or see a reduced volume of posts compared to pre-December 11 dates.
  • Demographic data including user-name, age, gender, and location is no longer available for Instagram posts in Advanced Listening.
  • Instagram no longer provides third party apps, like Sprout Social, the time when a post was created. Sprout infers when a post was created based on when we collect it from Instagram; therefore, the timestamp in Sprout maybe be off from what Instagram reports natively.

Preparing for These Changes

If you have more than 30 hashtags being tracked in your account, please identify which 30 hashtags you would like to continue tracking from Instagram. Our team will contact customers who are currently using more than 30 hashtags to gather which ones they want to continue tracking.

Double check your Topics to make sure any keywords you would like to track on Instagram include a hashtag.

Advanced Listening and Instagram FAQs

I am creating a new Topic and do not have any more available hashtags to track. What can I do?

You will still be able to create the topic; unfortunately, we cannot collect any Instagram data until you free up some slots. Keep in mind, w will be collecting all Hashtag data on other networks.

In order to free up more hashtags, you need to do one of the following:

  • Delete or Archive a Topic containing Instagram Hashtags.
  • Remove hashtags from an existing Topic. You’ll need to ensure that the hashtag you removed is not tracked in another Topic. If it is, it will not count as being removed.
  • Remove Instagram as a source for a Topic that contains hashtags.

A hashtag slot takes 7 days to become available again. Sprout automatically starts tracking the hashtag that couldn’t be previously tracked as soon as a slot opens up.

If you still do not see Instagram messages after 7 days of freeing up slots, please reach out to Sprout Support for assistance.

I am creating a new Topic but need to track more Hashtags on Instagram than I have available. What are my options?

You will still be able to create the Topic; unfortunately, we will only collect Instagram data for some of the hashtags. We will collect all data on other networks.

As an example, imagine you are creating a new Topic that requires we track two new Instagram Hashtags, but your account only has one Instagram Hashtag slot available. We’ll begin tracking the first Instagram Hashtag in the query, and we’ll queue up the second one.

This will put your new Topic into a state where partial data is being collected. This will be viewable in the Insights view and within the Listening Home on the Topic tile.

My Topic is collecting partial Instagram data. How do I get all of the data?

In order to collect all target data, you will need to do one of the following:

  • Delete or Archive a Topic containing Instagram Hashtags.
  • Remove hashtags from an existing Topic. Make sure that the hashtag you removed is not also tracked in another Topic. If it is, it will not be completely removed.
  • Remove Instagram as a source for a Topic that contains hashtags.

A hashtag slot takes 7 days to become available again. Sprout automatically starts tracking the hashtag that couldn’t be previously tracked as soon as a slot opens up.

If your Topic continues to collect partial Instagram data after waiting 7 days, please reach out to Sprout Support for assistance.

How do I avoid hitting my Instagram Hashtag limits?

We recommend that you use less than 25 hashtags at any given time. This will afford some freedom to track new hashtags on Instagram at any time. This is critical because Instagram Hashtags continue to count against your limit for 7 days after being removed. 

The count of my used Instagram Hashtags is more than the number of hashtags in my Topics, what gives?

The limit of 30 hashtags is tracked via your Business Profile, if you’re tracking additional Instagram Hashtags in Sprout using a tool like Brand Keywords or in other products outside of Sprout you may be running into your limit.

My Instagram Business Profile authentication expired, what happens now?

If your authentication expires, we won’t be able to collect any more data until you authenticate the profile again.

Looking Forward

We don’t like limiting our customer’s ability to access data that is critical to their business. We are working hard to improve the tools available in Sprout to help you best manage the data that you collect from Instagram. Our roadmap for improving your experience includes:

  • A robust set of features to assist you in managing the number of Instagram Hashtags built into your Topics.
  • A better way to understand your hashtag usage across products in a Hashtag Manager.
  • Next year, we plan on adding Instagram Mention tracking to supplement the data your able to collect from the network.

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