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What Is the Instagram Shadowban and Is It Real?

instagram shadow ban

We’ve had countless brands ask us about the dreaded Instagram shadowban and if it’s real. Let’s clear the air, shall we? Shadowbanning is the filtering or blocking of an account’s visibility without the user knowing. It’s usually brought up when users see a dip in their engagement numbers. Keep in mind that it can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons - so don’t think that because you’re in the clear now it can’t happen to you, too. Read on to learn more about how it happens and most importantly, how to avoid it.

Is it Even Real?

Well, yes and no. Instagram has stated that they aren’t filtering through accounts and deciding who will and won’t appear to potential followers. However, the algorithm is promoting adherence to their policy of growing your following authentically and creating original content. When you think about it, this is a pretty reasonable request for such a popular platform.

So How Exactly Can You Avoid Being Shadowbanned?

1. Don’t use bots or buy followers.

Using follower bots or paying to build your follower base is insincere. And even if you’re not using a bot, don’t follow, unfollow, like, comment or post too much in an hour or a day. This makes Instagram think you’re using a bot. Posting several times a day is fine, but remember: there’s a fine line between posting enough to keep them interested and posting too much that it seems like overkill. If you’re unsure how often your company should post on Instagram, check out this blog.

2. Don’t use hashtags that contain a lot of inappropriate content.

Popular hashtags sometimes get “hijacked” by inappropriate content and may result in your post being flagged as well. This is definitely something to be aware of. Your post may be completely appropriate, but your choice of hashtags may not be, and therefore will cause your entire post to be flagged.

3. Don’t use the same hashtags on every single post, and make them relevant. 

Using the same hashtags isn't just unoriginal, but also shows that you only care about increasing follower count without putting in the work for it. Instead, use hashtags that are relevant to your brand and are often searched by your target audience.

4. Avoid getting reported.

You don’t want Instagram to think you’re violating their terms and conditions. If you avoid getting reported in the first place, you’ll be less likely to worry about getting shadowbanned for suspected inappropriate posting.

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How to Know if You’ve Been Shadowbanned

Think you’ve been shadowbanned? Try this hack to know for sure!

  1. Post a photo with a hashtag that isn’t often used.
  2. Then ask 5 users who don’t follow you to see if they can view your post.
  3. If none of them see it, you’ve been shadowbanned. If a few see it, your engagement is just down.

Helpful Tips

  1. Remember: authentic content that’s engaging is always key to growing your followers.
  2. Make sure you are playing by the rules of the algorithm. Not sure how to do that? Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about how to make the algorithm work in your favor.
  3. Instagram will state when a hashtag is being blocked on the hashtag’s page, so check the hashtags you use frequently to ensure you aren’t using one.

Knowing about shadowbanning and how it comes into play is important not only for yourself, but any influencers you may be working with too. As we’ve mentioned before, authentic content will help boost your engagement and keep you from being shadowbanned. Interested in how influencers can help? Click here to chat with one of our influencer marketing specialists!