How I got my Instagram profile back after it was mistakenly memorialized

You know how Brad Paisley sings, “I’m so much cooler online?” Well, for a few weeks of August 2020, I was literally dead on Instagram.

How I got my Instagram profile back after it was mistakenly memorialized — and what I learned from the experience

Back in August of 2020, I posted a cool pic on Instagram of my feet and some candles. I was just being artsy. By the next morning, Instagram had “memorialized” my profile as though I was dead and locked me out.

They hadn’t consulted me first, they didn’t warn me, they hadn’t checked to see that I had just posted 12 hours prior. I was dead to them. Memorializing profiles was a new thing that came with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Which is an appropriate idea for people who are actually dead. But I wasn’t dead!

What would happen when friends and family logged on and saw I was “dead?” What if a prospective freelance client logged on and saw me “dead?” More importantly, how would I get it fixed? The form to report myself as erroneously dead wasn’t working. Instagram/Facebook is a huge company…How would I get a hold of someone there?

I ended up getting in touch with someone by using the form to report the need to memorialize someone. I explained my profile was memorialized with no warning or recourse and their form to report what happened wasn’t working. They had me submit identification to prove I owned the account and fixed it, but it did take weeks to get it all worked out.

Instagram/Facebook ignored my concerns and didn’t answer any of my questions. I was a working journalist in the heat of an election cycle, so was I targeted? No answer. The most I got out of them was a, “Whoops, my bad, send us some proof you exist mmmkay?” (Not their literal response but they were so flippant, it may as well have been).

What I learned from having my Instagram profile unceremoniously memorialized

This was an excellent reminder that I don’t own my social media profiles and that they are run by giant companies that don’t care about little old me as a user. They want to glean my demographic information for advertisements and could care less about me as a person. This was also prior to social media platforms’ crackdown on misinformation.

I repeat: YOU do not OWN your social media profiles! If you learn nothing more from this post, learn that.

I had to question how much time I was spending building an audience on these platforms when it could be taken away from me at any time. Imagine if I had been promoting a product as an influencer when my profile was memorialized and locked. Or, what if I had been in the middle of holding a promotion or contest?

I did one influencer campaign for a skincare product and the people running it only communicated with me through my Instagram. I imagine if I’d been memorialized in the middle of such a campaign, they could have gotten onto my LinkTree and found my email address to get a hold of me. But I also imagine that could have gone very wrong and ruined a business relationship.

I did also worry about being targeted as my profile listed my news organization, so I privatized all my social media profiles more than ever before. I locked them all down and they are still locked down except for the Destiny Architecture Life Coaching & Reiki Facebook page. I decided to spend more time on building the one thing I can backup and take with me where I go — my mailing list.

It’s a cautionary tale I share with others who are working to build a brand via social media. it’s important to see the pitfalls of social media as much as the ways it can help. I’d spent years on Instagram — over a decade — building a following as a radio personality, then as a Reiki Master, and a life coach. As I work to complete my yoga teacher training now, I realize Instagram would be a great platform to share my yoga with the world.

But can I trust social media as a means to build my platform?

No matter how much I may like and enjoy social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok — I will never own those profiles. They can still be locked or shut down at any time. My content can still be shadow banned for whatever stupid reason. (I see people complain about being shadow banned every single time I log into Tik Tok). The algorithm is in control, not me. I think this “user beware” perspective is important to have.

Other pitfalls of placing too many eggs in the social media basket

Posting a link to a new blog post on social certainly always drives traffic to it. While upping my page views and unique visitors to my site is a goal — it’s not the only goal. I don’t want to just drive traffic to my site; I want to drive the right traffic to my site. I want to super-serve my niche to attract the type of clients I really want.

There have been blogs I’ve posted that were epic at driving traffic, like this one, “How To Get Unstuck.”

But for all the people that evergreen subject drives to my site — how many will really get sucked in and become to type of clients I really desire? I really want to find the women who want to do the work, so whether they meet with me as a coach for three sessions or three months, the outcome will be the same. They will really manage to change their lives and become more fulfilled. They will follow-through, they will make the effort, they will make difficult decisions, and really challenge themselves.

No coach wants to work with the person who just reads, “How To Get Unstuck” before moving onto the next shiny object. I want to work with the person who makes the effort to put each point of that blog post into practice. I don’t just write content for clients to read; I write content for clients to do.

This why pulling random eyeballs off social media for page views isn’t what I want to do. I want to serve that niche of women who are really into self-study and self-improvement. Those women are the ones who will sign up for my mailing list as a warm audience. They will let me build trust with them over time as I deliver my content tailored specifically toward them, ultimately becoming that customer who I can — and will — really help.