Especially if you run a small business Instagram account, by now you’ve heard of “shadow banning” on Instagram. If you randomly lost a bunch of followers, your engagement dramatically dropped, or you can’t see your posts in hashtag results, you might wonder if you’re shadow banned by Instagram.
So, why do accounts become shadow banned? How do you keep from being shadow banned? What causes shadow banning? And why won’t Instagram cop to the fact that it does this?
Even though, at this point, we all know that shadow banning is real, Instagram states that it does not engage in shadow banning. What does this mean for you?
Let’s get down to business and chat about shadow banning and what you can do to avoid it.
What is Shadow Banning?
If your content is being ‘blocked’ and you haven’t been officially notified that’s happening, that’s shadow banning.
Some users believe that if your account is shadow banned, your content won’t show up anywhere, except for those users that are already followers of your account.
Clearly, this drastically reduces your reach on Instagram. Your engagement numbers are going to go down. You might lose followers. Needless to say, if you’re a business owner, this can negatively impact your business.
Reading Between the Lines
Getting straight to the point, while Instagram head Adam Mosseri might not use the phrase “shadow ban”, this doesn’t mean what users mean by shadow banning doesn’t happen. In fact, Instagram for Business has posted content referencing what might cause you to be shadow banned (without ever using the term).
Instagram has also posted about hashtag functionality and stated that not all content will be post under that hashtag. Mosseri has commented several times with general verbiage about “interest”, “spam”, and “abuse”. So while Instagram doesn’t place a definition on it the way users do, shadow banning does happen.
Here’s Why Shadow Banning Happens
There are a few standard reasons your account may have been shadow banned:
- You use Instagram pods
- Your account is reported multiple times
- You exceed Instagram’s daily or hourly limits
- You use bots or platforms that violate Instagram’s terms of service
- Your account receives big surges of activity that indicate activity that violates Instagram’s conditions
A lot of people don’t know it, but there’s a limit to how many “actions” you can take on Instagram each day. This is further broken down by an hourly limit and includes the number of accounts you follow/unfollow, the number of posts you like, and the number of comments you post, among other things.
How Do You Know?
If you haven’t noticed any of the warning signs listed above, and you’re consistently active on Instagram, you probably haven’t been shadow banned. If you have, how do you know if your account has been shadow banned?
The only tried-and-true way to check a possible shadow ban is to create a new post and use your favorite or regular hashtags in the caption and/or the first comment. Next, ask someone you trust to temporarily unfollow you. Search for the hashtags and see if your post appears in the results. If your post doesn’t show up anywhere, you might be shadow banned.
How to Avoid a Shadow Ban
The debate about whether or not Instagram – or Instagram’s ever-changing algorithms – actively engages in shadow banning will rage on no matter what I say in this post. So, if you do believe Instagram shadow bans or that some version of it exists, what can you do to avoid it? Here are some best practices for being on Instagram (or any social media platform, for that matter):
- DON’T. BUY. FOLLOWERS.
- Follow Instagram’s community guidelines
- Refrain from harassing or spam-ing other Instagram users
- Don’t use bots or or third party services that aren’t official Instagram partners
- Avoid playing the follow/unfollow game
- Don’t “spam” the same group of hashtags on all your posts
- Don’t used banned hashtags (I don’t think anyone reading this would but, you know, just in case I do hafta tell ya.)
To the Point
Even though Instagram won’t acknowledge shadow banning as business practice, the actions that comprise this term for users are happening. Unfortunately, a lot of innocent users have also been the victim of it. Being shadow banned is frustrating and can be harmful to you if you use Instagram as part of a larger income-generating strategy. You want to avoid it!
Keep your Instagram account intact with the best practices in this blog post and you won’t be shadow banned!