Pros & Cons of The New 'Mute' Feature on Instagram

Instagram have finally launched a ‘Mute’ feature and we’re overjoyed! No longer do you have to subject yourself to endless photos of your sister’s cat or co-worker’s breakfast; with a tap of a finger you can mute their photos from your feed. This is a big news for anyone who wants to have more control over what they see on Instagram, but what does it mean for brands and influencers?

What is the ‘Mute’ feature?

The ‘Mute’ functionality has been on many an Instagrammer’s wish-list for some time now. If you use Instagram professionally, you might not want to scroll through photos shared by family and friends but you can’t unfollow them for fear of causing offence. ‘Mute’ is the answer to this problem, allowing users to hide photographs and stories from particular people that they follow.

Twitter has had a similar functionality for some time now and Facebook gives you the option to snooze friend’s posts or even unfollow them while remaining friends. It is little wonder that Instagram has taken a while to catch up, as the platform wants to show you as much content as possible, but the reactions to the news so far have been overwhelmingly positive.

Not everyone is able to mute just yet; the feature is being rolled out steadily over the next couple of weeks. Once you have the functionality, all that you have to do is tap the three little dots on the right of an image, select ‘Mute’, then select if you want to mute the user’s posts or both their posts and stories. They won’t know that you have muted them and you’ll be able to reverse the mute at any time. You’ll still see their direct messages, get notifications if they tag you, and be able to browse their profile at any time.

But what does this mean for those who make a living off their Instagram?

Influencers need to follow lots of brands, tourist boards and agencies that they have either worked with in the past or would like to work with at some point in the future. It’s important to maintain the connections and build on relationships – but you might not want your feed flooded with branded content. With the new function to mute, you could curate your feed so that you only see photos from people and brands that you are currently interested in.

This works the same way for brands. It’s now possible to follow all of the influencers that you have worked with in the past or would like to work with going forward, but you can easily mute the feeds of those who aren’t currently relevant to you. You can still visit their profile pages and check out their most recent posts, but you don’t have to view their photos in your feed.

The ability to mute benefits anyone who wants to personalise their feed and create a more curated version of what Instagram shows them. You might notice someone’s photographs constantly clogging up your feed or be sick of a certain Instagrammer’s stories always showing up when you aren’t that interested in them – you can now mute these profiles but continue to interact with them as and when you want.

Are there any negatives?

As most people will still check out the profiles of those that they have muted, just in their own time and not when Instagram’s algorithms decide to present it to them, the ‘Mute’ function doesn’t seem to have any obvious negatives. The only danger is that, on an app where engagement is key, you want as many people as possible to be viewing your content. If your followers mute you, they won’t see your content as often and your engagement could suffer.

The best way to try to avoid this is by adhering to Instagram best practices and by always sharing your best content. The most obvious reason for muting someone is if you feel like they are bombarding your feed, so limit your posting to just once or twice a day. Likewise, ensure that you are consistently sharing high quality images that fit in with your particular aesthetic. Your followers are there because they like what you usually post – if you suddenly share a blurry selfie or a photo that stands out from your usual images, these could be reasons to be muted.

If your engagement suddenly plummets as this feature rolls out, it could be that your followers are muting you. If you think this could be the case, try enticing them back by interacting with their content and by posting high quality images. As muting is still a new feature, it’s hard to see how people may use it, but there’s a chance that some users could mute all but their favourite profile to create a curated feed that only shows them their favourite accounts. If you suspect that you are being muted, don’t be disheartened, just step up your game and continue to share your very best content.

Words by Emma Lavelle.

Image by @belleandbunty.