Have you noticed a dramatic change in your Instagram analytics, and you’re not seeing your usual reach? It could be that you’ve received an Instagram shadowban.
When you’re growing an Instagram account, chances are you are dependent on Explore and hashtags. Thus, it can feel quite discouraging to see that your content isn’t showing anywhere suddenly, and your followers start saying they don’t see your posts anymore like they used to, especially if social media is your primary way of promoting content.
Let’s see how you check the best practices to avoid it, test if you have been served with an Instagram shadowban, and how to un-do it.
What does Instagram shadowban mean?
An Instagram shadowban means that your account and content have been restricted without being informed. Instagram bans have always been a threat, though; this one can be pretty tricky as sometimes you might not find out about it for weeks.
This usually occurs when a user violates Instagram’s community guidelines or the content is considered inappropriate. If you’re shadowbanned, your content will barely get shown on anyone’s feed, Explore, or hashtag pages unless they’re already following you.
Instagram doesn’t openly admit to the existence of shadowbans. Though, they released the following statement on their Facebook Business page in February 2019:
As we can see, they’re confirming the hashtag dilemma as a real one. This is an excellent way of admitting that shadowbans exist without actually admitting them.
What causes an Instagram shadowban
While researching the internet, we have found four rumored actions to significantly increase the likelihood of getting an Instagram shadowban.
- Violating Instagram’s Community Guidelines by posting inappropriate content. This includes violence, sexually suggestive content, and misinformation.
- Fake engagements. That includes activities like buying likes and comments, using bots to increase followers, and participating in engagement pods.
- Spam activity. On the one hand, it is considered spam if you use a lot of hashtags on a single post. Even though Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, don’t use more than 5 or 6 on a single post. On the other hand, some users reported being shadowbanned for commenting on too many posts within a short timeframe.
- Usage of hashtags that receives a sudden surge of activity. That includes hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter. Instagram’s Comms team claimed it was an error - their technology detected the surge of activity as spam.
- Usage of banned hashtags. There isn’t an official list of banned hashtags; however, you can find some of the hashtags to avoid.
How to prevent an Instagram shadowban
While scaling up your Instagram account, please consider the steps above. Furthermore, Instagram strategist Alex Tooby published a handy guide about Instagram shadowbans with some takeaways:
- Don’t use bot-like software, as that will easily violate Instagram’s Terms of Service.
- Don’t use banned and broken hashtags. Simple. Also, don’t use more than 5 or 6 on a single post.
- Try to avoid big surges in Instagram activity.
- Avoid spam. This includes copy-pasting the same content in comments or DMs. Also, be careful with how many accounts you’re following and unfollowing in a short time.
- Not to forget, being consistent. Posting at the best times should keep your current followers seeing your content in their feeds and keep new followers coming in.
Instagram shadowban test on your account
One of the first and easiest things to do to test if your account is shadowbanned is to inspect your Instagram analytics. A quick glance at your reach and impressions will provide an answer. If you notice a significant drop in the discovery % of new users metrics for your post, you’re likely shadowbanned.
Furthermore, in Summer 2021, the head of Instagram and former Facebook executive Adam Mosseri wrote that “we haven’t always done enough to explain why we take down content when we do, what is recommendable and what isn’t, and how Instagram works more broadly.”
Later that year, they went on and released the “Account status” tool, which is another way to see if you’re keeping up with Instagram’s Community Guidelines:
How to remove an Instagram shadowban
- Take a break from Instagram.
Believe it or not, laying low and waiting for the ban to be lifted is one of the most efficient ways to get rid of a shadowban. Some people stop using Instagram for a couple of days, maybe even a week. This works like a “reset button” for your account and your content ideas, strategies, etc.
- Delete all hashtags from your recent posts.
If you’re not entirely sure what hashtags you’ve used may be banned, it may be a good idea to delete them all from your recent posts, just in case. As we said before, some of the hashtags are banned, most of them are not; just make sure to audit them before posting, and you should be fine.
- Use hashtags in your caption rather than in the comments, and don’t use too many of them.
If you have done this, like me in the past, you’ve most probably have been shadowbanned at a certain point. People report that when they put hashtags in comments, their post is getting a shadowban remarkably fast, 1-2 hours after posting.
Of course, putting hashtags in the caption will make it bulky; that’s why keep it clean and neat and stick to 5 per post.
- Contact Instagram.
“Report a Problem” to Instagram through the app - the simplest way to contact the company.
A small number of people have been fortunate enough and unbanned after they reported the issue… after contacting them repeatedly for the problem to be fixed.
- Go to the Instagram Settings; “Report a Problem”; “Something isn’t working”.
- Go on Facebook, search for Instagram (App page), and select “Send a Message”.
- Send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last tip here - while contacting Instagram support, don’t mention that you’ve been shadowbanned, but that you’re not getting maximum reach from hashtags on your post.
- Don’t switch to a Business profile if not necessary.
When you switch to a business profile, you say to Instagram that you’re a business. And suddenly, you enter a completely different world of terms, rules, and community guidelines.
- Remove apps that use Autobots.
I can imagine that using an Instagram scheduler that will automatically post your photos to Instagram could be a great manner to save time. But this can lead to ending up on the Instagram shadowban list if this app is not an official Instagram partner. To find out if you have any bot services or unapproved apps linked to your account, proceed to your Instagram settings, tap Security, and then head to “Apps and Websites”. You’ll see here all of the active apps your account is using, any that have expired, and those you’ve removed.
Shadowbans on Instagram can be tricky. And, of course, it makes a huge difference:
The most straightforward way to stay out of trouble is to post helpful, authentic content and follow the best practices while growing your account. This can, of course, take way more time to build your audience. However, it would be one of a much higher quality. Finally, to answer the question "Does Instagram shadowban go away?" - the answer is yes. Users report their shadowban being lifted away in a period of anything between 14 to 30 days. Next to that, follow closely the steps mentioned in the previous point of the article
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