You’ve heard the whispers no doubt….is it possible your Instagram account has been shadowbanned too?
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 (no pun intended.) 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 3 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.
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Cheers to your success!
With love & gratitude,
Julie & Jodie
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