What is an Instagram Shadowban and How do You Avoid It?

Are you a victim of the Instagram shadowban?

Have your Instagram engagement levels started to drop even though you’re following the latest marketing trends? Is your follower count decreasing, while the quality of your content continues to skyrocket? Maybe you simply can’t find your content when you search for a specific hashtag. All of these things are signs that you’rre experiencing an Instagram shadowban.

You don’t necessarily need to be an Insta criminal or scam artist to be caught out by the Instagram shadowban. Something as simple as using the same hashtag on all of your posts could be enough to get you into the doghouse with IG.

Here, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about shadowbanning, and what you can do to avoid it.

What is An Instagram Shadowban?

An Instagram shadowban makes the hashtags on your posts “un-discoverable.” In other words, Instagram takes all the visibility that comes with a strategic hashtag campaign, and eliminates it. This leaves you struggling to gain new Instagram followers for your brand.

While you can continue to use hashtags and publish amazing content, you’ll only show up in the feeds of people who already follow you online. This isn’t much good for people who are relying on Instagram to drive new business or attention to their online presence.

Given how vital your hashtag strategy is for visibility on Instagram, a shadowban can be a huge problem. It means that you have no chance of reaching people who don’t already follow your brand. This may also means your growth begins to stagnate and decline.

So, what causes an Instagram shadowban?

Why Have You Been Hit with an Instagram Shadowban?

Essentially, Instagram created “Shadowban” to deter users from certain kinds of behavior. It punishes companies, individuals and influencers for sharing inappropriate, spammy, or abusive content. However, it’s worth noting that some otherwise innocent activities can also end up getting you shadowbanned.

Here’s what Instagram says about the whole thing:

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Instagram statement

If Instagram’s announcement hasn’t answered the question of “what causes a shadowban?” for you, here are some of the things that we’ve noticed are a problem when you’re marketing or sharing on Instagram:

  • Buying Instagram followers or using bots: If you use automated bots to gather Instagram likes and followers, then you could risk a shadowban. Our advice is to stick to strategies that will give you an authentic community of fans.
  • Using the same hashtags for every post: Using the same hashtags a few times in a row isn’t necessarily a problem, but if you stick to the same tags for months on end, then you can expect Instagram to identify you as a spammer. Ideally, it’s best to keep your hashtags fresh and change things up from time to time to avoid the Instagram shadowban.
  • Sudden changes in activity: If you suddenly start liking a bunch of comments every day, after months of inactivity, then Instagram will wonder what you’re doing. They may even think that you’ve started using a bot, which means instant #Shadowban.
  • Using broken hashtags: It’s essential to ensure that the hashtags you’re using are relevant for your business and available on Instagram. If a tag connects with something unsavory, then it may be “broken” by Insta, which means you shouldn’t be using it. Keep track of what’s going on with your tags.

Have You Been a Victim of the Instagram Shadowban?

One of the most obvious signs that you’re shadowbanned is a sudden reduction in the comments and likes on your images. If your engagement sees a sudden swan dive, then something isn’t right.

To see whether you’ve been shadowbanned, ask a couple of people to unfollow your account on Insta, and search for your image using your latest hashtag. Just remember not to use a hashtag with millions of posts associated with it, like #Instagood. The more competition your tag has, the harder it will be to find your content.

If the people who you ask to check for your content can’t find your image or video, then there’s a chance you’ve already been shadowbanned. If some people still see your content, then you might be experiencing a loss of engagement for many reasons. Solving the problem could be as simple as changing the time you post on Insta.

How to Avoid an Instagram Shadowban

For the central part, it seems as though the Instagram shadowban is used to eliminate spammy or bot-like behavior on everyone’s favorite picture-sharing site. The issue for most companies is that there are also behaviors on Insta that cause a shadowban which might not violate Instagram’s standard terms of use.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of best practices to help you avoid the headache of the shadowban and keep your engagement levels high.

1.     Use the Right Hashtags on Your Posts

With around 1 billion active users, it’s tough for the Instagram team to control everything that people post and share on their feeds. In some cases, a hashtag that starts as something very innocent and wholesome gets banned.

When something untoward happens with a hashtag, Instagram either stops the hashtag from being used entirely or limit the usage. However, if you end up accidentally placing a banned tag in your post, your rep will suffer. It’s important to make sure that you know the nature of a hashtag before posting it.

#loveyourself hashtag

2.     Stay Away from Automated Software

It takes a lot of time and effort to achieve success on Instagram. It’s no wonder that some people try to cheat the system by buying followers or using bots to boost engagement. Unfortunately, while we don’t blame you for wanting a shortcut, you need to be careful. Remember, your chances of an Instagram shadowban go up astronomically when you decide to use automated software and bots.

In recent Instagram algorithm updates, Insta changed their strategy. The channel is now stricter around the bots that automatically grow followers by commenting on and liking posts. Ultimately, if you want to keep your account safe and avoid being shadowbanned, it’s time to make a change. You’re going to need to commit to manually engaging with your audience instead. That, or you can always reach out to Upleap for help.

3.     Stay Consistent with Your Instagram Activity

Sometimes, an Instagram shadowban can happen after something as simple as “liking” too many photos at once. When you’re trying to show Instagram that you’re legit, you need to stick with a consistent strategy. Otherwise, there’s a good chance their algorithm will flag you down as using bots. Ultimately, Instagram expects different people to post different amounts of content each day. This means that if you try to do too much too fast after a surge of productivity, you could end up in trouble.

If all of a sudden, you go from posting one picture a day and liking 10 comments, to liking 100 customers, Instagram is going to wonder what’s going on. Choose a schedule for your posting strategy based on what you know about your target audience. Don’t let your Instagram addiction get the best of you.

4.     Avoid Complaints

Finally, one of the easiest ways to end up getting an Instagram shadowban is for another user to report you. Although a report from a jealous or angry follower isn’t enough for the Instagram team to act against your account, they will pay attention if you’ve violated the channel’s terms of service. If you’ve broken a severe rule, then there’s even a chance that Instagram will decide to fully disable your account.

The simplest way to stop this from happening? Make sure that you understand the Instagram Terms of Service and community guidelines before you even start posting. Follow the rules, and you’ll be able to enjoy a more sustainable Insta account.

Don’t Lose Followers with an Instagram Shadowban

If you want to build and maintain a successful Instagram account, it’s best to follow the rules and be aware of any behaviors that Instagram considers to be problematic. If you’re worried about gaining engagement quickly and sticking to the rules, then the easiest thing you can do is get some help from the professionals.

The team at Upleap is on-hand to boost your Instagram strategy in no-time, and we’ll do it without risking the Instagram shadowban too! Start your free trial today!

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By Rebekah Carter

Hi! I'm Rebekah, a full-time writer specializing in the spaces of digital content, business, social media and tech.

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