If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in your engagement on Instagram, it might not be just a coincidence. If your posts suddenly stop appearing in hashtags, you started loosing Instagram followers or if the number of new followers or likes on your posts has dropped, you might be Shadowbanned on Instagram. This topic has been gaining popularity lately as it affects more bloggers and popular Instagram accounts.
In this article, we’ll go over more about what an Instagram Shadowban is and the steps you can take to avoid having one applied to your account. If you’ve put in the hard work to gain followers and engagement on Instagram, the last thing you want is to run afoul of their algorithm and wind up losing all of that hard work because of something you’ve done that could have easily been avoided.
What is an Instagram Shadowban?
A Shadowban is a common way of blocking a user’s visibility to others from an online community or forum in a way that they don’t even realise that they’ve been banned. The term has been around for a while now, and other sites have been quick to adopt this method of banning users. Twitter has been doing this for troublesome users on its platform by giving a ‘time-out’ to users who post abusive tweets that wind up in a filter they’ve designed. Instagram has taken a similar but slightly different approach.
Instagram Shadowbans hide your posts from users who are not already following you. This is a massive negative for you as an account holder because of your ability to grow and gain more followers is a crucial part of engagement on Instagram. The Shadowban will prevent your posts from appearing in the hashtag searches for the hashtags you use on your posts for people who do not already follow you.
If you’ve been smart about posting and using hashtags you know that this can decimate your engagement and prevent your account from growing. It removes all incentives for being strategic about how you post, and without new followers, you will only see your engagement stagnate and decline over time. If you are a business or brand on Instagram, this decline may have a real-world dollar amount for you, and this could adversely affect your business and your bottom line.
Because you don’t want to end up in a situation where all your effort for posing means nothing, you’ll want to avoid breaking the Instagram rules and ending up with a dreaded Shadowban.
What causes an Instagram Shadowban?
Instagram’s guidelines for not being Shadowbanned seem pretty straightforward. They emphasise that being ‘spammy’ is the most effective way for an account to earn this distinction and receive a shadowban. They might also administer bans to users who post inappropriate content or are abusive on the platform.
One downside to the way Instagram has decided to enforce this new strategy is that users who use the same hashtag over and over again may receive a ban. This means that if you have a daily post about fitness in the morning, you might want to avoid using the same fitness hashtags each day and thus run afoul of the Instagram guidelines for being delisted, or Shadowbanned from hashtag searches.
This may seem unfair. After all, if you have active engagement and a healthy follower count you have probably made hashtags a core part of your Instagram strategy. Instagram is encouraging users on the platform, however, to focus more on the content they produce and less on the hashtags they use to help that content appear in searches.
One might assume that the Shadowban Instagram has decided to implement should only apply to accounts which use the platform in obviously spammy ways like using more than a certain amount of hashtags per post, buying followers, or using bots to post or engage with posts on Instagram automatically. But this does not seem to be the case. Instagram appears to be applying the Shadowban to accounts who do not behave in any other abusive behaviour, besides posting using the same hashtag multiple times.
One reason for doing this may be to make organic growth more difficult and thus encourage paid ad strategies on the platform. If your posts do not get to appear in search, you might be inclined to try and purchase ads to help grow your account. Primarily if you already engage in these kinds of campaigns on other platforms. Instagram is after all a growing service that is owned by Facebook, so it would make sense that encouraging more advertising on the platform would be a motivation to get users to move beyond exclusively organic growth strategies.
How to see if you are Shadowbanned on Instagram?
As of right now, Instagram does not offer a way to test whether or not your account is Shadowbanned. Instagram has not yet even referred to this type of ban as a shadowban, instead referring to the changes as ‘improvements to the platform’. But you still would like to know whether or not you are affected by these changes.
An easy way to do this if you have access to another account is to unfollow the account in question and search to see whether or not you appear in the hashtags you include in your posts. If your posts appear just fine, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if they don’t, you might be Shadowbanned.
You can also use a third party service like Instagram Shadowban Tester to see whether or not your account is Shadowbanned. These work by allowing you to enter your username on the site and it will check whether or not your posts appear in search based on the hashtags your post contains. Checking manually like this is the only way to see whether or not your account has been Shadowbanned on Instagram. You will want to check if you have a seen a sudden or sharp drop in engagement on your recent posts.
Can you remove an Instagram Shadowban?
At the moment it does appear to be possible to remove an Instagram Shadowban. If you notice a drop in engagement and you appear to be Shadowbanned after manually checking your account you can take some tips to try and get your account unbanned. Now, these steps are not a guarantee, and because Instagram does not provide many details on the ‘ban’ itself, or how to get your account included back in search this process will be different for everyone.
First, you will want to lay off posting after you have noticed you do not appear in search. Delete all the hashtags you have used on your recent posts and keep in mind in the future you will want to avoid using too many hashtags. This may have been what has gotten your account into trouble.
Contact Instagram support and let them know you have seen your account disappear from search. Do not say that you have been ‘Shadowbanned’ as they do not use this term and it may make you seem like a clever spammer who is just wanting to resume activities on their site. Just let them know you are not appearing in hashtag searches, and be polite. Some users have said that saying your account was ‘hacked’ might help, but this approach will route you to a different support team and is disingenuous, so it would be best to avoid using this tactic to try and get your account back to appearing in search.
If you have not already switched to an Instagram business account, you’ll want to avoid switching for now. Even after you get your posts back appearing in search. It would be smart to wait and see how future posts land. Also, if you are having trouble getting your business account to appear in hashtag searches again, you might try switching back to a personal Instagram profile.
Because there is not a set method or list of steps to follow to rectify this situation if you find your account has disappeared from search you will need to conduct some trial and error to get your account back in good standing. Keep in mind, if you have engaged in using bots or other third party services these are almost certainly the reason for your ban. Instagram does not like these, and they are best avoided. You also want to make sure you aren’t posting any kind of content that Instagram finds inappropriate or using hashtags that have been banned, or might run afoul of the Instagram community guidelines. If you have not engaged in any negative behaviour on Instagram but still find yourself in this situation, you might be an unfortunate victim of the new platform changes on Instagram and will need to work hard to try and get your posts back in search.
Steps you can take to avoid an Instagram Shadowban
You can do a few things with your future posts to ensure that you don’t wind up being one of the unlucky users who has their posts disappear from search.
Don’t use banned hashtags in your posts. Instagram will sometimes ban hashtags that contain inappropriate content. If you use one of these hashtags, you may find that your account has been removed from the search for all of the other hashtags you have used as well! It might be difficult to avoid using a hashtag that Instagram deems not being fit for the platform because there seems to be some ambiguity. However, if you ensure that you are not using any inappropriate hashtags, you should be in the clear. It would be wise to stick to hashtags that don’t have much ambiguity just in case.
Avoid posting in surges and ramping up your activity on the platform all at once. It may seem tempting to get all of your posts and posting energy out in one day, but this could signal to Instagram’s algorithm that you might be a spammer, so it’s best to avoid this type of activity. You’ll also want to try and avoid posting in such a way that will get you reported by other Instagram users. Getting reported is an easy way to receive a ban.
Another way to stay in good standing is to avoid using any third-party software that violates Instagram’s terms of service. Instagram has recently made it’s algorithm tougher on bots and using software like this is an excellent way to run afoul of their terms of service. Because of the algorithm improvements, it is likely that if you use any automation software on Instagram, they know about it, and you will be shadowbanned. Third-party software like this may also end up getting your account banned so it would be wise to evaluate any service you might like to use and make sure they abide by the Instagram terms of service before you start using them. This will likely be an area that Instagram will continue to crack down on in the future.
Instagram is getting more severe with how they enforce their terms of service and community standards on their platform. They have publicly stated that they want people to focus less on just using hashtags and more on posting content. If you’ve been following the standard strategies for growth on Instagram, you may want to re-evaluate precisely how Instagram may receive your plan as they update their algorithms and policies.
If you want to avoid receiving a Shadowban, the best thing to do is to try and prevent being spammy as best as possible. Be vigilant and keep a regular check on the health of your account and make sure you’re keeping up with Instagram’s suggested guidelines. Most importantly though, keep providing your audience with the great content they know and love from your account!