Normally, when words like “shadowbanned” start going viral, it’s little more than rumors gone wild and very little fact to back them up. Here at the Suite, we rarely hop onto any of these bandwagons before seeing any formal announcements or evidence of some of these things. This way, we know we are passing on only the most accurate information that we can back up, rather than helping the viral spread of rumors and hoaxes. The Instagram shadowban is one such bandwagon that we waited to see more information before jumping on. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the Instagram Shadowbans, so we are going to do our best to dispel many of the myths and rumors to bring you what we do know from Instagram itself. And we will discuss what you can do if you’ve been shadowbanned by Instagram.
First thing’s first, what is the Instagram Shadowban?
Contrary to popular belief, being shadowbanned does not mean that your account gets hidden. Your account and all the photos associated with it are still there and viewable, and all your followers can still see you. There’s no delay or penalty of where you’ll appear on their main feeds.
When a person gets shadowbanned by Instagram, it simply means that their account becomes unsearchable. This means that anyone not already following you cannot find you when they search for something, be it a hashtag or username.
Why is Shadowbanning a big deal?
If you’ve got a private account, then shadowbanning actually isn’t a big deal. In fact, being shadowbanned is a lot like having a private account: only your followers can see and interact with you. This is fine if you’re only using Instagram to interact with your community. But if you’re using Instagram to try to expand your reach or grow your business, then this can hurt as new people won’t be able to find you.
Where shadowbanning hurts the most is in the hashtag feeds. Instagram users view and follow hashtags to find new content from people they aren’t already following, and if your content isn’t showing up in those feeds, that means they’re not seeing you. Without those feeds, your ability to expand your reach or gain new followers gets stunted tremendously.
How do you get Shadowbanned?
The first rule of shadowbanning? No one talks about shadowbanning. At least, no one from Instagram on any official channel. There are several rumors flying around about what causes someone to fall to the Instagram Shadowban, but the truth is, no one knows for certain exactly what will cause a shadowban. Therefore, the best thing we can tell you is that to avoid being shadowbanned by Instagram, be sure to follow their community guidelines. We aren’t going to go into each and every one of them, but here is the biggest one you should be paying attention to:
- Foster meaningful and genuine interactions. Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent.
Many of the items listed here, such as artificially collecting likes, followers, and shares through the use of bots or pods, are events that people believe will lead to a shadowban if you violate them. But there are reports of other things causing shadowbans as well:
- Sudden jumps in engagement (for example, jumping from posting once a month to three times a day). — This is really easy to do, especially when you are still putting together your social media marketing strategy and are just assembling your funnel.
- Posting too many promotional posts, resulting in people reporting your posts.
- Stealing photos and graphics and posting them as your own.
How do you know if you’ve been Shadowbanned?
There is no magic app that will tell you accurately whether or not you’ve been shadowbanned. In fact, every app and “tester” we’ve tried has always come back and told us that we were shadowbanned. This may boil down to the fact that no one really knows exactly how a person might get shadowbanned, and therefore there really is no way to test for it.
But if you want to know whether or not you’ve been shadowbanned, there are two things to look for.
First, a sudden and drastic drop in your engagement that cannot be explained any other way. We’re not talking about a 10-20% drop, we don’t mean going from 100 likes on a photo to 80. We’re talking a drastic drop in engagement, like from 100 likes to 6. And it needs to be sudden — overnight.
Additionally, it needs to be a drop that you can’t explain through any other means: posting at an odd time, forgetting to post your hashtags, posting during a holiday, etc.
You’ll also notice that the only people interacting with you and your posts are your followers — no one new.
Second, if you notice this drastic drop, try this: post a new photo using a specific hashtag — make sure it’s a small enough hashtag that your post won’t get buried too quickly. Then, ask a friend or colleague who isn’t following you to login into Instagram and go to that hashtag. If your post isn’t showing up when they go to view the hashtag, then you’re likely shadowbanned. If all of your friends are already following you, ask one of them to unfollow you for purposes of this test — remember that you will show up to your followers.
Oh no! I’m Shadowbanned!! Now what?
First of all, don’t panic. Being shadowbanned on Instagram is not the end of the world — it’s not even the end of your social media career. Take a deep breath. There are two main steps to take to get Instagram to release the shadowban from you:
- Remove the offending content (if there is any)
- Give Instagram a chance to see that the content is gone.
Because no one knows exactly what might cause a shadowban, all we can do is guess at what the “offending content” might be. If you’ve recently signed up for a service or app that promises to grow your followers, that would probably be a good place to start by revoking access to your account. If you’ve recently joined what’s called an Instagram Pod (a group of Instagram users that form a deal to engage with each other’s content in an effort to game Instagram’s algorithms), get out of it. If you used a questionable hashtag, or if one of the hashtags you’ve used has been taken over by spammers, then edit each of your photos that use that hashtag and take it off. If the hashtag is in the comment (rather than in the post) delete the whole comment and post a new comment with the rest of the hashtags.
Once you’re sure that any apps or hashtags or fake-engagement pods are completely gone from your account, change your password. This is just in case, as some businesses have reported unauthorized use of their accounts that resulted in such bans. So, be sure to verify that the only apps currently connected to your Instagram account have all been authorized by you, then change your password.
Finally, step away from Instagram. Ideally, take about a week off — don’t even log in. But if a week is too hard, try three days. This will give Instagram’s algorithms the chance to forget you, and give your existing posts a chance to clear off all feeds for a bit, essentially resetting your engagement.
Once you’re ready to come back, do so slowly. Sometimes a quick, sudden burst of engagement can lead to red flags for spam, see our note above. Post just a few times a week, then gradually increase to once a day before increasing again to what you will be using as your normal schedule.
And that’s it!!
Once you do all that, it’s just a waiting game. People have reported their Instagram accounts returning to normal in as early as a week, and others have reported it taking close to a month before everything returned to normal.
Getting shadowbanned by Instagram doesn’t have to end your marketing game. Of all the obstacles you might face, it’s one of the easiest to overcome once you know the different ways you may have been flagged.
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