The design twins reveal the truth behind shadowbans: have you been shadowbanned?
Shadowbanned on Instagram? Get all the details on broken hashtags, latest crackdowns and how to avoid it hurting your IG account!
Instagram is taking back its platform. This is nothing new. Ever since the algorithm changes began showing up over a year ago we’ve know that Instagram was taking back control. And it seems as soon as we forget that IG is in charge they shake things up again if only to remind us!
This time they really mean business, and they are taking prisoners. With the recent take down of a large IG automation company making news this week, we see IG really putting their plans into action. For those of us who base our accounts on pure authenticity and high-quality content this is all good news. Right? Well, before we start celebrating there are some cautionary tales. Even if you are not buying fake likes and followers you aren’t necessarily safe. Even if you think you are on the “straight and narrow” you can still be caught in the net of Instagram’s banning.
The new round of tactics is affecting many people, possibly even you. We are all aware of IG suspension. But did you know that not complying with IG regulations or behaving in any way that could be viewed as spammy can put a black mark against your feed and cause a ban to be placed? This is called a shadowban. Shaddowbanning is a “soft” ban placed on people who use certain banned or broken hashtags or engage in any activity deemed inappropriate by Instagram.
What is a “Shadowban?”
A Shadowban is Instagram’s attempt at filtering out accounts that aren’t complying with their terms. The Shadowban renders the account practically invisible and inhibits ability to reach new people. In other terms, your images will no longer appear in the hashtags you’ve used which can result in a huge hit on your engagement. Your photos can still be seen by your current followers, but to anyone else, they don’t exist. That means that it becomes very hard to grow.
In an effort to stop all forms of artificial growth and inappropriate use Instagram is cracking down across the board. One of their techniques is monitoring hashtags. Some hashtags are very obvious, others not so much.
Here is a current list:
#IG #ilovemyinstagram #lean #like #popular #popularpage #asia #balenciaga #brain #carving #costumes #desk #direct #dm #easter #happythanksgiving #instamood #italiano #kansas #kickoff #master #newyears #newyearsday #skype #snap #snapchat #valentinesday #woman #womancrushwednesday #women #workflow #wtf
This list is obviously always in flux, so if you want to be safe you should make a point of checking your hashtags before you use them. If results come up empty or the page just has a few images and a message along the lines of “this tag has been interrupted due to inappropriate use” then delete this from your repertoire and steer clear.
For a COMPLETE LIST OF SOFT BANNED AND COMPLETELY BANNED HASHTAGS GO HERE (warning: some words may be offensive)
If you have been shadowbanned or you think you have here are some suggested strategies to get the ban “lifted.”
- Do not copy and paste the exact same hashtag list every post
- Refrain from posting for a few days to act as a “reset” to your account
- Do not follow/unfollow
- Identify and remove flagged hashtags
- Switch from a business account back to a personal account
- Do not use bots and automated services of any kind
How To Avoid Being Shadowbanned
To avoid ever being banned by Instagram refrain from any activity that could possibly be interpreted as spam-like. Knowing that Instagram means serious business should be enough to keep us all on the straight an narrow. When in doubt err on the side of caution, which in Instagram’s language err on the side of AUTHENTIC.
Even if you haven’t been officially shadowbanned, yet, abiding by the above practices will help ensure you avoid such a fate in the future. Protect your account by familiarizing yourself with the “community guidelines” so you aren’t caught in the trap of being banned by IG. We also suggest you further educate yourself by reading the “platform policy”
What Else Might Cause You to Be Shadowbanned?
- Did you know that IG has hourly and daily limits to activity? It may sound surprising, but when you think about it, it makes sense. In an effort to catch bots and artificial growth activity Instagram has placed limits. Depending on the age of your account, your limits may be slightly different but in most cases you shouldn’t exceed 150 likes, 60 comments or 60 follows/unfollows per hour. If you do, you will receive a stop message on your device. It is not clear what this does to your account but should be avoided as a precaution.
- Avoid any “growth hacks” and adhere to all community guidelines. This is not the time to be taking advantage of loopholes or breaking rules. For example, there is a “growth hack” going around that suggests adding 30 hashtags to a comment, then editing your caption and adding an additional 30 there. This leaves you with 60 tags when normally you’re only allowed to use 30. Yes, this does appear to work (however the reported uptick in engagement isn’t that much) but really, this is NOT the time to be doing anything “tricky!” If you follow the rules set out by Instagram you really have no reason to be shadowbanned.
- Jodie and I have learned the hard way. Do not add a comment to your post with 20-30 hashtags. IG has cracked down on this behavior and will block this now every time. Live and learn.
How Do I Know if I Have Been Shadowbanned?
Just because your engagement isn’t as good as it once was or your growth rate has slowed does not automatically mean you’ve been hit with an Instagram Shadowban. It is just one possible explanation. There are so many factors involved and Instagram leaves a lot in the shadows. Knowing that Instagram is continually increasing it’s strictness our best advice is to comply now before things get worse.
If you have a burning desire to know whether or not you’ve been shadowbanned you can test to see. Find a minimum of three people who do not follow you to check a couple small hashtags (something that isn’t too hard to search and isn’t updated too fast) and look and see if your post appears. If they don’t see your post, you’ve been shadowbanned. Remember, people who follow you can see you. It’s the rest of the world that can’t search for you therefore limiting your growth and outward reach.
To check your account, your latest post, or any single post you want head to this Shadowban Check site HERE.
It almost doesn’t matter whether you’ve been shadowbanned or not. Follow the advice, stick to the rules, and your future on IG will be brighter regardless of the past.
So, What Does Instagram Want?
Instagram is making it abundantly clear!
- Create a strong, unique visual brand.
- Be a storyteller.
- Quality over quantity.
Instagram wants you to focus on targeting the right audience, not just any audience! This is done not by using hashtags or gaming with artificial “growth strategies,” but by creating high quality content and proactively engaging with your audience in authentic ways.
Here’s a key point that I have learned from all this and something I want to make sure you take away:
Up until now the only solid evidence we had that an account was being “busted” and “punished” for breaking Instagram guidelines was outright suspension. Turns out there is a much more surreptitious penalty system in place, and it is called Shadowbanning. If you think you’ve been “getting away” with activity that isn’t on the up and up, think again. And even if you haven’t done anything outright against the rules you may have inadvertently broken some “rules” because Instagram is changing them every day. Have you used the hashtag “Easter?” I mean who knew?
This is Instagram’s Game
By now we know one thing for sure: It is a waste of time to complain about changes on Instagram. The one constant on this platform is change. So we either roll with things and play by their rules or suffer the consequences. As in life, those who adapt will prosper. The environment of constant evolution on Instagram is a parallel for life, especially life in this increasingly fast-evolving 21st century. To stay on the cutting edge means you need to keep updated and informed. The last thing you want to do is waste time lamenting about “the good old days.” Embrace today and reap all the rewards. Remember, this is Instagram’s game. If we want to play their game, we either play by their rules or we lose. It’s as simple as that.
To stay updated with all the latest make sure you to subscribe to our blog. We will keep you informed of all the latest to make the most of your IG Journey.
Cheers to your success!
With love & gratitude,
Julie & Jodie
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For more info on the Instagram Shadowban, read Later Media’s article, “Is the Instagram Shadowban Killing Your Engagement? Here’s How to Fix It.”
Mary Ann says
Thank you J & J!! This is amazing!! Keep the information coming!! I was shadowbanned from using the hashtag easter multiple times. Grrrrr….I layed low a bit, and removed all easter hashtags. Things seem to be running better. Keeping a watchful eye on things. Thank you both for all the VALUABLE information!!! Xoxo
I think shadow-banning extends beyond Instagram… most probably it is a wide and old practice.
You are probably right. Thanks for visiting your blog and sharing your ideas. Best wishes, Julie & Jodie
Another excellent post! Thank you for all the insightful information.
Thank you for all the information. I was wondering if you knew anything about a sudden influx of followers, only to discover many of them have zero post and few followers. Are these fake accounts? And should we be blocking them? Thanks, Patti
Jill Stephenson says
Thank you Julie and Jodie!
Happy Sunday! Have a blessed day and week ahead????????❤️
Cindy Richter says
Oh My Golly! I’m new at IG and had no clue. I’ve read EVERYTHING you’ve put out and am so thankful. Quick question. I do not think I’ve been shadowbanned but, should I go back and remove the Easter hashtag from a couple of my pictures to be safe or is it to late? Thanks again for being the Queens of IG. Love you both!
Good Morning Cindy, We are so glad to hear you’ve been benefiting from all our posts! Hip Hip Hooray! In answer to your question YES, remove them for sure. It is important to find the hashtags and remove them completely from your feed. It is not too late. If they are in a comment simply remove the comment. If they are in your post you can edit the post or delete it. Thanks again for your sweet support. We hope you continue to enjoy our blog. With gratitude, Julie & Jodie
Thanks ladies for keeping us informed. I’m so glad I came by today to read your post it really opened my eyes to some things.
Dear Patty, That makes us so happy to hear! Thank you for always taking the time to give us kind feedback. It is always appreciated. With love, Julie & Jodie
Thank you so much for sharing all these tips and tricks. I’m new and feeling overwhelmed, and this info helps!
Carlina, You are so welcome. Well, you’ve come to the right place if you are new. Keep reading…we’ve got lots here to help. And you can always DM either of us if you have a specific question. We remember what it was like when we were new, believe it or not 🙂 Also, feel free to join us on our IG Facebook group where you will learn things and can ask questions to us and the group. It is a place for positivity and support (but not advertising of any kind). You are welcome to join us. It’s called “The party is on Instagram”. Wishing you all the best and WELCOME! XO ~ Julie & Jodie
Seems like they don’t want you to use any holiday hashtags. Do you know why.? Very informative as usual. I want to grow my IG account but gosh, it seems a little harsh. I’m having a hard time deciding because I’m a private person. Either way, all of your posts have been very helpful
Cathy, Thank you for reading our blog and leaving your feedback. IG can feel harsh. First and foremost it is a company and they will do whatever they feel the need to do to protect and promote the success of their company. Of in our own corner of this IG world we sometimes can forget “who’s in charge”. In regard to holiday hashtags here’s the scoop:
IG does not have a specific ban against holidays, but they seem to have been targeted by either robots or by abusive groups more than once. Therefore, in the future, before using any hashtags it would be wise to check to see if they have a ban against them. This is especially true when using very large, more generic tags, like a holiday. We are safer using our small, specific home decor community tags, but you just never know.
Hope that helps answer your question. With blessings, Julie & Jodie
You girls rock as always. I heard you should also not comment with only emojis or with the same comment to everyone. And question (although I may just ask you on IG ????) I went and erased all my Easter hashtags but do I need to do Valentine’s Day too or just avoid on new posts? Of course I have all the holiday hashtags ????
Amy, Thank you for your awesome feedback. I know I answered this on IG, but I’ll answer it again. IG does not have a specific ban against holidays, but they seem to have been targeted by either robots or by abusive groups more than once. Therefore, in the future, before using any hashtags it would be wise to check to see if they have a ban against them. This is especially true when using very large, more generic tags, like a holiday. We are safer using our small, specific home decor community tags, but you just never know. Regarding commenting with only emojis, using one-two word generic replies, or using the same reply repetitively all can signal to IG that you might be a robot or signal spam-like behavior. You want to avoid anything that can be duplicated by a machine…that’s a good rule of thumb. Thanks for you friendship and continued support, Sweetie! XO ~ Julie & Jodie
Soo much useful Information thank you both for all you do much much appreciated. I really enjoy both of you, your stories your photos your awesome information. Your cuteness and vitality
Susan, How sweet of you! We so appreciate your kind feedback. And we are thrilled that you made it to our blog and found this post helpful. We’ve got lots more valuable information regarding Instagram…a veritable library of information. So we hope you will continue to read and enjoy and benefit from our many posts. Thank you again for your kind support. Blessings, Julie & Jodie
Wow! Thank you for sharing this. I wondered how this all worked. Do I need to go back on previous posts… for example, #Easter and remove the hashtag just in case or just start fresh from here on out ?
Hi Jodi, We are so happy you found this post helpful. You need to go to past posts to remove all broken hashtags. This will aid in having the ban lifted. It worked for Jodie right away when she removed her her couple broken tags. Every account is a unique situation but if you have nothing else held by IG against your account theoretically this should remove the ban. We hope you will continue to look to us to help you make the most of your IG journey and to inspire you along the way. Good luck, Julie & Jodie
Thank you so much Julie & Jodie! I had read a.m bit into shadow banning but this article really summed it up nicely!
Xo Brittany @stayathomedecor
Hi Brittany, I’m so glad this was helpful for you. I did my best…trying always to be thorough while at the same time not losing my audience 🙂 It’s a fine line haha! We love seeing you here on our blog and hope you continue to enjoy. Hoping to see you again soon, XO ~ Julie & Jodie
Designs By Laila says
Wonderful info, thank you so much girls for sharing!! xo
Dear Julie & Jodie
Thank you so much for this wealth of information! ???? You ladies are not only so talented and inspiring but just the sweetest too.
I’m still learning what to do and “Not” to do in this IG community.
I do have a question….
Why all the sudden I will get 12 new new followers then and hour later 10 took me right back off? ???? I seem to be having a hard time gaining followers compared to others that have thousands?
Thank you so much,
Cindy, Thank you so much for your kind reply! You just made our day! In answer to your question: Apparently there are many people working the artificial growth strategy called “follow/unfollow”. It’s ridiculous. I don’t understand it at all, seems so silly. Just ignore it. It’s not personal…people are randomly targeted. Just focus on creating quality, authentic interaction and try to not pay any attention. If you follow all our tips you will, over time, eventually get there. Try to focus also on enjoying the journey, and of course quality photos are KEY. Blessings along your journey, Julie & Jodie
Lots of great information about instagram. Love your pictures that you two share on instagram.
Janice, Welcome to our blog! We are so glad you made it here! Thank you for the kind words. And love to hear that you enjoy our IG photos. We do put a lot of time and effort into them…but it really is a labor of love 🙂 Hope you return often and continue to enjoy all we have to share. Blessings, Julie & Jodie
Angelina @ Peonies & Orange Blossoms says
this has been so helpful! I had a suspicion about an hour ago that I may have been shadowbanned and I went to the confirmation website and sure enough I was right! My post yesterday was the one! So I’m going to go through all your tips now! Thanks for writing this up for us! Angelina (@LePetit_Macaron)
Angelina, We are sorry to hear it has affected you as well. Without information we could all be “banned” and not even know what it is we are doing wrong! As soon as we started to figure this thing out we couldn’t share it fast enough. We knew people needed to know. And it’s way to much to explain on an IG post. Anyway, so happy we could help. We hope you will continue to enjoy our blog. We will continue to keep you informed of changes as they arise. Blessings, Julie & Jodie
Thank you for this article! I have a question that I have not been able to find anywhere on the internet. Can you be shadowbanned if you don’t use hashtags? As in your pictures aren’t showing on the explore page, etc. I know the majority of articles have been about other users not being able to see their photos because of using specific hashtags. My engagement has dropped significantly and I can’t figure out what the cause is so I’m wondering if this ban applys to users who don’t hashtag.
Rachael, Have you read “The New Algorithm” blog post of ours? It’s the follow-up article we wrote that addresses the topic and the discussion that the ban may not have been actually happening…just another shift in the algorithm. This article will answer the questions you have better than I can here. Good luck! Blessings, Julie & Jodie
I was shadowbanned last week and have been so frustrated as I am getting 3 or 4 views from my hashtags on my posts. A friend shared that y’all had a great blog about it…I’m so glad to have read this! I just deleted all the hashtags from post when it started, and I’m about to look through my more recent posts to remove any possibly “bad” hashtags. And I think I’ll take a couple days off from insta to hopefully reset. Thank you so much! Alieta
Oh we are so sorry to hear that hun! We are so glad you found this post and your friend directed you here! Sounds like a plan. We believe in you!
Lots of love,
Jodie & Julie