August 10, 2017 | By: Kristen Linero

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Have You Been Instagram Shadowbanned?

Everything you need to know about the Instagram shadowban.

Have you been doing everything you possibly can to make sure that your Instagram post gets the most impressions and it just seems to be going nowhere? Or maybe you’ve been killing it on Instagram and recently noticed a sudden decline in engagements, even though you’re still posting similar content.

If these symptoms sound like symptoms affecting your social media marketing, you might have recently become a victim of the Instagram shadowban monster.

Shadowban is the act of blocking a user from a social media community in a way where it’s easily recognizable to the user that they have been banned. Although this act has been around since 2006, it’s recently gone mainstream with the social networks, especially with Twitter and Instagram.

How does shadowban affect your Instagram?

It’s important to know that when dealing with Instagram, your shadowban doesn’t apply to your entire account level. If you are affected by it, it would solely affect the posts that you make.

Having your Instagram posts shadowbanned means that your posts will not show up in search results for hashtags you’ve applied. Furthermore, the only people who may see your posts will be the people you are already connected with, thus making the use of hashtags on your posts completely irrelevant for growing your Instagram community.

Why is Instagram putting a shadowban on posts?

It’s no surprise that when Facebook bought Instagram, they would ultimately implement (what I like to call) their “algorithm-happy” strategy within a matter of time. According to Instagram, it appears they want to promote a constant flow of creative content and eliminate potential spam.

However, there are multiple theories from various social media professionals, including trying to target and limit influencer accounts.

instagram tips

How can you tell if your posts have been shadowbanned?

It can be hard to tell from Instagram itself if your content is being banned. One method is to have a friend unfriend you and then look up whichever hashtag you’re targeting and see if your content shows up.

An easier way to do this is by using this awesome shadowban detector tool we found online which claims to be 100% confident in the accuracy of the results.

This is what happened when we used the tool with our own Instagram account.

instagram shadownban test

Help! I’ve been banned. What should I do?

First, relax. It’s not as uncommon as it may seem and the good news is, with the right social media strategy in place you can redeem yourself by following these tips.

Stop abusing hashtags.

Have you ever looked up certain hashtags in search of something, but kept finding completely irrelevant content? It’s a special kind of frustrating feeling, and Instagram doesn’t like frustrated users.

In addition, using the same hashtags repeatedly on each post for months is a big no-no. Even if you are posting similar content, you should be rotating your hashtag usage, so each of your posts are unique in searchable terms.

Also, it’s also important to make sure that you are never using hashtags that have been banned from Instagram. Be pre-warned; there are several hashtags that you might be surprised to learn are banned, like #adulting, #thought, and #TGIF. Many of these banned hashtags are NSFW, otherwise known as not-safe-for-work.

Emily Cain, spokeswoman from Instagram, said the following regarding this matter,

 “While our goal is to preserve hashtags on the platform, the safety of our community is our number one priority, so we will take steps to limit the spread of violating content and hashtags that are being abused by making them unsearchable.”

Be human. Act like a human.

Instagram has been particularly harsh on automation tools and bots. Many people and influencers were using bots to automate actions such as following and liking posts from accounts at all hours of the day so that they didn’t have to do it manually.

Many of these services have recently been forced to be shut down by Instagram in efforts to continue to promote real authentic engagements.

Even if you are not using bots, and automation tools for your Instagram account, you might be acting similarly without even realizing it. Are you following 100’s of people at a time? Are you commenting using single generic words like “Nice!” Or “I love this!” Believe it or not, you’re being “bot-like”.

Similarly, there are plenty of third-party automation apps today in the app stores. Anytime that you log your account into a third-party app to give it permission to do something, you’re using a bot and probably breaking Instagram’s Terms of Use, which states the following:

“You must not access Instagram’s private API by means other than those permitted by Instagram. Use of Instagram’s API is subject to a separate set of terms.”

According to Instagram’s API Terms, Instagram bots violate the following terms:

  • Don’t store or cache Instagram login credentials.
  • Don’t use the Instagram API to simply display User Content, import or backup content, or manage Instagram relationships, without our prior permission.
  • Ensure your comments are uniquely tailored for each person. Don’t post unauthorized commercial communication or spam on Instagram.
  • Don’t enable a business to take more than one action on Instagram at a time.
  • Add something unique to the community. Don’t use the Instagram APIs to replicate or attempt to replace the functionality or essential user experiences of Instagram.com or any of Instagram’s apps.

Switch your page to a personal account.

Although it’s awesome having that big contact button on your Instagram page, we already know that Instagram and Facebook love to give business pages the shortest crayon in the box.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Instagram is intentionally luring people to switch to business accounts with post analytics and a big pretty contact button in exchange for reducing organic reach unless businesses start investing in ads to reach keywords.

The Take-Away

Even though our dependence on technology is increasing each year, one thing seems to be a common denominator in all aspects of marketing. We are moving out of the B2C and B2B business, and into the H2H business, otherwise known as Human to Human.

Humanizing the social media strategy for your business can be extremely time-consuming which is one of the main reasons why bots were created in the first place. Spending the extra time or working with a social media marketing agency to help humanize your marking efforts is the best practice for ensuring trust in your customers, and providing great long-lasting results.

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About Kristen Linero

Kristen Linero graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor's degree in Advertising Communications and a minor in Marketing. She is passionate about staying on top of this ever evolving industry by attending various social media marketing events each year. Kristen is in charge of Social Media Management and Reputation Management for both national and local based clients at MARION.