When you’re trying to grow a following on Instagram, you use hashtags and engagement to expand your audience and approach. So it can feel more than a little disheartening when it suddenly seems like your content isn’t showing up anywhere. If your posts are receiving fewer likes and comments, or aren’t appearing for certain hashtags, you might be shadowbanned on Instagram.
Shadowbanning is the act of blocking a user’s content on social media sites, in such a way that the user doesn’t know it’s happening. If you’re in shadowban mode on Instagram, your content won’t appear on anyone’s feed unless they already follow you.
From Instagram’s point of view, shadowbanning makes sense. Shadowbanning is Instagram’s tool. It allows this platform to filter out accounts that don’t comply with their terms. Some people use inauthentic measures to expand their Instagram following, like automated bots or hundreds of hashtags irrelevant to their content. If that’s the case, it seems only fair for Instagram to block those accounts, so users can continue receiving genuine and helpful content.
While Instagram doesn’t openly admit to shadowbanning, they released a statement in February that showed the problem users were having with their content not showing up for certain hashtags.
Their statement at least confirms the hashtag dilemma as a real one. However, many speculate that the statement is Instagram’s way of admitting to shadowbanning, without actually admitting it.
It’s important to note that Instagram changes its algorithm often, so those alterations could be the reason you have witnessed a drop in your engagement.
However, there’s a possibility of shadowbanning. It is a real tactic that hides users’ content from the wider Instagram audience. If you’re being shadowbanned, you must take the necessary measures to get your content seen.
Let’s explore how to know if you’re shadowbanned, as well as our tips for getting yourself off the list.
Luckily, there’s an easy trick to figure out your account’s shadowban.
Am I shadowbanned on Instagram?
First, post an image with a hashtag that isn’t popular. Once you’ve posted, ask five people who don’t follow you — or employees — to search the hashtag. If none of them see your post in those results, you’ve likely been shadowbanned.
In case that one or two of your employees can see your post, you might simply be dealing with a drop in engagement. If that’s the case, you can take many steps to fix this. (Check out post from Hubspot Instagram Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for more tips and advice).
If you run this test and believe you’ve been shadowbanned, don’t worry — we have a solution for you.
Why You Got Shadowbanned, and How to Fix It
There are a few potential reasons your account could have been shadowbanned. To ensure this doesn’t happen again, let’s explore some actions you might have taken that led you to be shadowbanned:
You use bots or another automated “Instagram growth” tool.
If you aren’t putting in the hard work yourself, you’re not growing a following authentically. Instagram frowns on this — in their statement above, for example, they encourage users to have a strategy that focuses on connecting with the right audience. Using bots is a spammy tactic, and could result in a shadowban.
You use broken hashtags.
Occasionally, a popular hashtag will become overrun with irrelevant content. When this happens, Instagram can remove the hashtag or limit its use. If you use a broken hashtag, it will prevent your other hashtags from ranking, and could also lead to a blocked account.
Others often report your account.
When users repeatedly report an account, Instagram will assume that your account is posting irrelevant content or violating their terms of service. They might disable your account, or they could shadowban it.
You’ve been posting, commenting, engaging, or following people too quickly.
Instagram places time constraints on how often you can follow, unfollow, like, comment, or post within an hour or day. This makes sense — if you’re following 80 people within an hour, it’s likely a bot doing the work, not you.
These actions might help you grow a following quickly, but they can’t help you connect with the right people, which is why you’re on Instagram in the first place. Additionally, these behaviors likely result in shadowban, which severely restricts your exposure to a new audience.
How to Fix or Prevent an Instagram Shadowban
To get your account back to normal, you’ll want to reverse the damage. Here’s how:
If you use a bot or another automated service, stop using them and delete them immediately.
To make sure that you don’t own the accounts anymore, go to your desktop Instagram and click “Edit Profile”. And then “Authorized Applications”. If you see any of your bot accounts in the list, click “Revoke Access” to remove them completely. Remember, it’s better to have 100 followers who love your brand and purchase your products, than 1,000 followers who never buy from you or interact with your content.
Don’t use hashtags that are already been banned.
Take a look at Preview’s list of banned hashtags for 2018, and try to remove all broken hashtags from your content. Moving forward, be selective and careful with the hashtags you choose. When in doubt, take a look at the hashtag’s page. You know, Instagram will likely post a message which will inform you that the hashtag is no longer in use.
Take a two-day break.
People have reported a full 48-hour break from using their Instagram accounts. Then you can reset the system and get you back on track. It’s worth the temporary social media cleanse anyway, isn’t it?
Follow Instagram’s rules and regulations.
Most importantly, you must be posting helpful, authentic content, and abiding by best practices when growing your audience. It will take longer to do this, but slow and steady wins the race — and doesn’t get shadowbanned — right?