Have you noticed a drop in your engagement on instagram, or perhaps you don’t get as many new followers? Whilst you think you may have been following best practices, you may in fact be victim to a shadowban. In this post, I’ll outline first hand advice and tips on how to avoid getting shadowbanned, as well as how to fix it if you do.
Being shadowbanned on Instagram essentially means that you will not show up in recent pics for hashtags you have used. Which, for a growing account, will mean your reach is limited to only the users already following you. And even then, with the latest algorithm it doesn’t mean you will reach all those followers as posts are no longer displayed in feeds chronologically.
Signs you may have been shadowbanned
If you’re a blogger or a business, I’m sure you can relate to the struggles of trying to grow an engaged audience on social media platforms like Instagram. However, the added issue of being shadowbanned could actually be the reason you’re suffering from lower engagement.
Having been victim to this myself, there are a few tell-tale signs that suggest if you have been in fact shadowbanned. The most obvious is a drop in engagement, I noticed that my likes were mainly affected. In my particular case, I had posted a new image with #OOTD related hashtags. It received around 30+ likes, minimal, when compared to my last image which had around 200+ likes.
I also noticed that I was getting close to no new followers a day. Previously I would get around 5-8 new followers a day (albeit I would also lose at least 3 a day ha!). The lack of new followers wasn’t too concerning, however the drop in likes and comments was frustrating as I had been working so hard to build up these numbers organically.
How to check if you’ve been shadowbanned
First things first, you should check if you have actually been shadowbanned. To do this is quite simple. I’ve outlined the steps for you below:
- Log into an alternate Instagram account and unfollow yourself (use a friends or partner’s account)
- Log back in as yourself
- Upload a new image. Be sure to use at least one hashtag
- Ask the other account to search up one of the hashtags you used (do this straight away)
- You should show up in the first few results for that hashtag
- You can compare side by side, by viewing in your own phone/account and one that is not following you
Unfortunately, if you’re not appearing for the hashtag on the account that isn’t following you, you’re most likely shadowbanned!
What are the causes for getting shadowbanned?
It can be quite disheartening to find that you’ve been subject to this ban. Especially if you have been working hard to improve your photography and organically grow your followers and engagement. In my case, I believe that it was due to my liking and commenting activity. I would usually allocate an hour to catch up with my comment pods and engage with other users. Which meant that my activity was happening in bursts. This bulk of activity was most likely interpreted by Instagram as being ‘spammy’.
Some other sources report that using broken hashtags can also lead to being banned. Hashtags can be broken if too many inappropriate images are being published with it. Also repeatedly using the same hashtags can also increase your risk of being shadowbanned.
Although my activity was genuinely organic, it may have looked suspicious like it was automated or from bots. Whilst I appreciate that Instagram is cracking down on users that are “cheating” on their platform, it’s smaller users like me that are suffering.
So what can you do to lift a shadowban?
After a bit of research and testing it out for myself, I found that the best way to get your shadowban lifted, is to simply stop using Instagram. Take a little break from the platform for around 24-48 hours. I found that actually logging out helped this even more.
And when you do go back to the platform, try to ease off liking and commenting too much and keep your activity minimal for the next few days. You can go back to activity as normal, I would just advise to space out the timing and limit your likes and comments to 3-8 max in an hour every few hours.
If all else fails, why not try reporting your ban to Instagram as a solution. I fear that this might take a bit longer, but still worth a shot!
What about you, have you ever been shadowbanned? Have any tips on how to prevent it?