According to Hootsuite, over 1 billion people use Instagram every month. Its usefulness for your brand can’t be argued against. This is backed by the fact that 81% of people use Instagram to help research products and services, and two out of three people say the network helps foster interactions with brands. But doing business on Instagram is risky. Numerous brands have lost everything - including followers they have garnered, after getting banned by Instagram. This makes Instagram banning a serious threat to your business. How can you prevent this from happening? And more importantly, which precautions should you take to not lose everything in case Instagram suddenly bans your account?
The risk of getting banned on Instagram might not apply to everyone, but the risk of losing your Instagram followers is very real for content creators in every industry. If you only focus on building up a following on Instagram, you are simply placing all your eggs in one basket. Losing your account will result in you losing your following, with no means of reaching them ever again because Instagram owns the data. Instagram is in control of your business, as they can always decide to ban your account, which will hurt your brand and business irreversibly. It is also important to consider that Instagram could decrease in popularity and cease to exist, like what happened to Vine or MySpace. In the case that all your followers suddenly decide to go on the next big social media platform and never return, your Instagram followers will be worthless, too. Let’s jump into the different types of Instagram bans, how long Instagram bans last, and how you can prevent your account from getting banned.
Types of Instagram bans
Let’s kick off by discussing the number one threat if you are primarily active on Instagram with your brand; Instagram bans. There are 3 types of bans on Instagram: Action Blocks, Shadow Bans, and permanent bans. Instagram bans are not uncommon for content creators, and all three types of bans will hurt your brand image.
Firstly, Action Blocks, or temporary bans, will disable your account for a limited amount of time. When you’re lucky, this will only be a few hours, but it can also go up to 2 days.
You will get an Action Block for small misdemeanors like mass following or spamming comments.
A Shadow Ban limits your reach significantly and results in reduced engagement. Even though many creators on Instagram publicly complained about their accounts being Shadow Banned, Instagram itself denies the existence of Shadow Bans. Because of this, no one knows for certain how to see when accounts are shadowbanned.
Because it’s such a grey area, we did the research and found out what exactly causes a Shadow Ban, how to test if you have one, and how to prevent and remove it.
Finally, there are permanent bans, which will fully disable your account for an unlimited amount of time. None of these bans are good news for your brand and the relationship with your followers.
How long do Instagram bans last?
The duration of a temporary ban on Instagram usually ranges from a few hours to 48 hours.
Your ban’s duration also depends on the follow-up actions you take. Do you continue to commit the wrong actions? Then the ban may be extended. So, if this is your first temporary ban, you'd better start behaving according to Instagram’s rulebook.
How do you get banned from Instagram?
There are various reasons for Instagram to ban your account, which is usually when you break the rules of the platform. We will discuss the most apparent violations of Instagram’s rules below.
1. Mass Following, Unfollowing, Liking, or Commenting
Instagram punishes those who are trying to quickly grow their account, usually with an Action Block at first. Instagram goes after all accounts that are using mass following, unfollowing, liking, or commenting to grow their account. They will block you if you do this with third-party promotion tools, but also if you do it manually. And while Instagram doesn’t have set limits for this (classic Instagram), you need to pay attention to the following numbers.
- Maximum number of likes per hour: 60;
- Maximum number of comments per hour: 60;
- Maximum number of follows per hour: 60;
- Maximum number of messages per hour: 60.
But if your account is fairly new, the limits are different:
- Maximum number of likes per hour: 30;
- Maximum number of comments per hour: 30;
- Maximum number of follows/unfollows per hour: 30.
2. Buying Followers and Likes
For the same reason named above, buying followers and likes from third-party promotion tools will also result in a ban from Instagram.
3. Buying Someone’s Account
Buying someone else’s account and treating it as your own is also deemed illegal according to Instagram’s rulebook: “When making your account, you agree you will not sell, transfer, license, or assign your account, followers, username, or any account rights.”
4. Duplicate Spam Comments and DMs
Unwanted comments and DMs that are commercial or harassing are also prohibited by Instagram. This is oftentimes sending a duplicate message over and over again.
5. Sexual or Inappropriate Content
Posting sexual or inappropriate content is not allowed by Instagram and can result in a ban on your account.
6. Copyright Infringement
Like sexual or inappropriate content, posting content of which the copyright is owned by someone else, will also result in a ban. Copyright infringement is a grey area for Instagram as they usually only ban accounts after they get reported by the copyright owner.
It’s often thought that if you ask for permission from the creator and post it with credit to them, you are doing it rightfully. However, Instagram does not care if you have asked permission from the copyright holders. If the copyright holders decide to report your post, after all, you will still get banned.
7. Banned Hashtags
According to Instagram’s Guidelines, a good part of hashtags are banned for use within the app, for quite obvious reasons. However, you need to be careful with using hashtags, as using these banned hashtags can result in a ban.
8. User Complaints
Of course, any user complaint about your content will be taken seriously by Instagram and can result in a ban on your account. People can report your content very easily, so you should be careful to not offend anyone with your content. It could easily leave you empty-handed.
Why Instagram bans are a threat to your business
Social media platforms like Instagram are the epicenter of your business, especially when it comes to being discovered by potential new fans. While it is important to build a following and attract new fans, it is becoming more and more challenging to reach your existing audience organically on these platforms year on year.
However, everything you build up on Instagram is not yours to keep. To be a little clearer here, you do not own the data of your followers, Instagram does. So, this means that when Instagram decides to ban you, or when Instagram ceases to exist, you will lose everything you have built.
This is why Instagram bans are a threat to your business, and you should make sure to minimize this risk to make your business more sustainable.
The risk of placing all your eggs in one basket
As previously mentioned, if you only focus on building up a following on Instagram, you are simply placing all your eggs in one basket.
What we mean by this is that a lot of things that are out of your power can happen to your account, and therewith your following and your business.
Instagram has been facing a lot of criticism from content creators in recent years because of how the Instagram algorithm works, as they’re making it more and more difficult for creators to reach their fans organically via Instagram. This is yet another example of how much you’re risking just building an audience on one platform when the platform is in control of the data.
Yes, having an engaged following on your Instagram is important, but if for whatever reason, you lose this channel, you lose everything including your fans’ data. It would leave you with no way to reach the audience you’ve built up over time. That is why you need to focus on funneling your audience into other channels that you own (like an email list), so you have control of reaching them regardless of changes in algorithms, bans, or other platform changes. This way, you lower the risk of losing these valuable financial connections.
You can do this by going live on other social media platforms, but these platforms face the same threat that Instagram has. Besides, they will still be the owner of the data from your fans.
So, if your account is lost, you will still have no way of connecting with your fans.
There are, however, many ways to build up your own database of fans. You can collect email addresses or phone numbers and OWN that data, so you will always have a way of reaching your fans. This way, you defend yourself from changes on social media platforms like Instagram, which could simply ban your account because a group of people felt the need to report your content.
How to prevent losing all your followers
So, how can you minimize this threat and achieve a more sustainable business model? By gathering data from your fans like email addresses or phone numbers, you put yourself in control of reaching them. If you got banned from Instagram, the algorithm changes again, or everybody goes to a different social media platform, at least you’ll still have all the fan data. This way, you have means of reaching the audience you’ve built up. Your own Fangage platform is the perfect place to collect fan data.
Then, you can engage with them directly, making you more prepared for a potential Instagram ban, algorithm change, or broader change (people massively going on another social media platform). The best part about this is that usually, your closest fans would go the extra mile to unlock your exclusive content, leaving you with data, and a way to reach your most valuable fans with announcements.
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