We dipped into the reader mailbag recently and found that many of you were asking us for help with Instagram. As a result, I decided to put together this step-by-step guide. We extensively covered Twitter in the past, but as social media giants rise and fall, it’s well worth looking at the new behemoth that is Instagram (as well as the problem posed by private profiles). You can keep reading below or click to start at Option 1.
- 1 1. Private Instagram Viewer Tools
- 2 2. View Private Instagram With Archived Or Cached Photos
- 3 3. Send A Follow Request (Or Setup A Burner Profile)
- 4 4. Find Photos On Other Social Media Platforms
- 5 5. FAQs
Unless you’re a marketing professional, you may want to skip over the next 2 paragraphs and head straight to the important stuff: your tutorial for viewing private Instagram profiles.
For small businesses I’ve always believed that platforms like Instagram are amongst the most effective and natural for the collection of data and insights for customer profiling. By viewing a sample of followers, we can rapidly begin to understand the interests, age bracket and preferences of the people with whom our brand is resonating the loudest.
The dilemma, however, is a simple one. Even when someone follows our business page, we cannot see their profile unless we follow back (or its set to public). Instagram started to go mainstream in 2011, but in recent years more and more people have been making the switch to a private profile in their account settings. For that reason, I put together this tutorial to compile some techniques that work so that we can view a private Instagram profile and begin researching our customer base.
1. Private Instagram Viewer Tools
First, we’ll look at the proliferation of online private profile viewer tools and how they work. Some of these apps claim that their viewer software works without a survey step, but my preliminary research suggests that very few of them allow you to view a private Instagram with no survey or so-called ‘human verification’ stage.
This is undoubtedly a frustrating element of using these tools because it adds a time-consuming step to what should be a basic function. Nevertheless, it does provide a solution to those seeking an answer to whether there is indeed a way to view a private Instagram.
While a simple Google search will unearth many of the available tools, I would suggest keeping other strategies in mind since none of these tools can guarantee to generate every locked photo from any given profile. Those private Instagram viewer tools that do work with no survey are in demand and can be difficult to find.
2. View Private Instagram With Archived Or Cached Photos
For a popular profile that has recently been made private, you’ll often find that the existing photos from that page are readily available on the web from other sources. The profile I’m using in this example is still public, but this method would work even if the individual decided to turn their profile private. I’ll illustrate the technique for you step-by-step:
- Go to the Wayback Machine (Archive.org)
- Input the URL of the profile you wish to view
- Select a link from the timeline of archived captures for that profile
- Finally, you’re ready to view your archived images
A variation on this method is to enter the URL to the Wayback Machine with an asterisk appended to it. For example:
The Wayback Machine will then pull up and list all results for this profile, and will also allow you to filter those results to show only files of a typical type (e.g. jpeg).
Of course, if you are concerned that the profile you’ve chosen for your research will go private in the future you can simply download the material while its still public. If you decide this will take too much time, then you might consider using a tool like Archive.is to grab a copy of any web page in its current state. This archived version will then remain available to you (and others) through the Archive.is website.
3. Send A Follow Request (Or Setup A Burner Profile)
We know… we know… you want to know how to view a private Instagram without resorting to sending that individual a follow request. There are many reasons for this: firstly it might risk seeming unprofessional to send a request to a fan of your page, then there’s the simple fact that you may not want the owner of the profile to know that you would like to view their content. We also might want to keep our ‘following:followers’ ratio down to avoid the impression we’re running a ‘like-for-a-like’ style page.
Nevertheless, if the pros of sending a follow request outweigh the cons (and you’re confident the person will accept the request), then it’ll be a worthwhile step to take.
If, on the other hand, you cannot send a request or your request has been declined or ignored then you might want to get more creative with your approach.
Although it might take some extra time, an alternative idea is to set up what’s known as a ‘burner’ profile. Here you’ll register a new Instagram under your name or an alias. Add some content to the profile if you wish and then use this page to send a follow request to the private profile you want to view. Of course, there is always a chance the request will be denied but in many cases, you’ll end up with access to the profile you wanted to see.
4. Find Photos On Other Social Media Platforms
As a last resort after trying the various methods above, you may have to give up on viewing photos through Instagram itself. Luckily, as we all know, Instagram isn’t the only social network around today with hundreds of millions or even billions of users.
The best way to view the person’s photos on say, Facebook, instead of Instagram is to gather as much data as you possibly can from what is still public on their profile.
Even on a locked Instagram, you can still see the user’s handle, name, and byline. If the byline includes a location or place of work/study, then you have a very high chance of identifying the person on Facebook.
Go over to Facebook and search using the person’s name + city or name + place of work and then head across to the ‘People’ tab. If you find a matching profile, you can then generally view at least some of their photos even if you are not friends with them.
Of course, in an ideal scenario, we’d simply bypass the private Instagram’s settings and view the photos immediately. However, this step is a backup plan in case our efforts earlier haven’t allowed us to see a private Instagram profile that we wish to view.
We hope that this step-by-step tutorial helped lead you through how to view a private Instagram. Don’t forget to check out the FAQs section below if we didn’t cover everything you wanted to know just yet…
By now, we should already be viewing those private Instagram photos we require for our research. This section of the tutorial is intended to answer any of the most common questions I’ve received as succinctly as possible (even where they’ve already been answered above).
Can I view private Instagram profiles without following?
Yes, from the techniques described earlier in this article you would want to focus your efforts on trying no. 1,2, or 4. These are best suited to those that cannot or will not try to follow the profile they wish to view.
Most often this will involve using a private Instagram viewer tool but remember to be careful when using these sites and choose a reputable service where possible.
Is it possible to hack a private Instagram?
No. ‘Hack’ is an ambiguous word, of course, but in the most common sense of ‘breaking into’ profiles to reveal their contents then the answer is no. From time to time, bugs emerge on social networks like Instagram and Facebook, but they tend to be patched very quickly. To the best of my knowledge, there are no current bugs or exploits available that could allow you to hack a private profile.
Even if such an exploit did exist it would be wise to remember that it may be dangerous to do anything that is against the Terms Of Service of the company itself. You may end up risking repercussions that don’t merit taking this kind of risk.
How can I see private Instagram photos without an account?
If you don’t have an Instagram account you, can set one up in a very short amount of time and begin following profiles. If for any reason you cannot do this, again, you might want to focus your efforts on no. 1,2, or 4 of the strategies for viewing private profiles discussed above.