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Social Media Monday: Are you Shadowbanned?

Have you been noticing a drop in your Instagram engagement lately? If so, you’re not the only one.  We’ve been hearing a lot from concerned users about a drop in followers, likes, comments, and overall engagement, and there’s a good chance you’ve just encountered the Instagram Shadowban.

What is a Shadowban?

A shadowban is a temporary block placed on users in response to that user breaking one of the site’s terms of service.[1]  Unlike a normal ban, you can still post and interact with your followers like you normally would.  This is because in this specific case of this type of ban, your followers can still see your posts but they may appear further down in the newsfeed. Plus, your content won’t appear in the Discover section of Instagram or in hashtag searches which severely decreases your reach.[1]

In most cases, you won’t receive any notification.  Because of a recent push to encourage users to play by the rules, namely posting engaging, relevant and interesting content that receives genuine engagement from the community, it’s very likely they don’t want users to know.[2]

 

 

Instagram’s official response posted as a statement regarding hashtag issues on the site.

 

How do I know if I’ve been Shadowbanned?

With recent changes, it can be difficult to tell whether you’re falling short of the platform’s new algorithm or shadowbanned.  A good indicator is seeing consistent losses in follower growth and engagement.  Some pages may even see a drop of 50% or more according to Instagram Expert Alex Tooby.[3]  While a portion of that drop is likely from a number of other changes, it’s a good red flag to pay attention to.

The best way to find out if this has happened to your account is to post an image, then search a hashtag you used in the post.  You should see your post under the “Most Recent” section.   If you can see it here, you’re in the clear.

 

Recent Shadowbanned Image Shadowbanned search results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why were you Shadowbanned?

Using banned hashtags

Instagram actually banned an entire list of hashtags that over time. Using them even once can land you in hot water. When in doubt, search a hashtag before you use it and avoid it if you see this message.

 

Shadowbanned Screenshot

 

Using the same hashtags too often

Especially if you use generic hashtags such as #TBT, #Instapic, or #happy, you may be flagged by the site as spam.[3]  Try searching your brands to see which hashtags are relevant to what you’re posting about!

 

Your software violates the Terms of Service

Did you know that up to 40% of comments on brand posts can be spam?[4] To avoid filling the platform with spammy posts and comments, Instagram cracked down on automatic bots that have been used to give followers more likes, comments, and engagement.  Software that posts for you rather than sending you a notification is also in violation and can also get your account Shadowbanned.

 

What can you do now?

The first step is to figure out why you were banned in the first place and then fix it. Take some time to go back through your hashtags. See if you’ve been using anything banned and delete any posts that contain them. Next, check your programs and make sure they’re in line with the Terms of Service.  After you’ve checked your account, don’t post for 48-72 hours.[2]  This will give your account time to pass the ban and you can try again!

 

 

Resources:

1 Why Am I Shadowbanned on Instagram and What Can I Do About It?
https://www.agorapulse.com/blog/shadowbanned-instagram

The Instagram Shadowban: What is it and Why is it Happening?
http://blog.iconosquare.com/the-instagram-shadowban/

Are You The Victim of an Instagram Shadowban?
http://alextooby.com/instagram-shadowban/

“At Least 40% of Comments on Brand Instagram Posts are Fake”
http://blog.iconosquare.com/fake-comments-on-instagram/

 

 

Have you been Shadowbanned by Instagram? Tell us your tips for avoiding the issue in the comments below!

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Tayler Glenn

Tayler Glenn