If you’ve noticed notice a drop in your Instagram engagement recently, you’re not alone.
A few months ago, several Instagram users noticed a large dip in their engagement stats. This included a decline in their account growth as well as their content not showing up under certain hashtags or the Discover section. This time it wasn’t due to the new algorithm Instagram rolled out.
Without knowing this was even something that could happen, the majority of these users were shadowbanned.
What Does It Mean To Be “Shadowbanned?”
You can think of a shadowban as a time-out, likely based on the behavior of the account. Like a time-out, it’s not a permanent ban, you can still go about using your account like normal, but your consequence will consist of a lower priority in the algorithm or even hidden content.
In most shadowban cases, you and your followers can still see all of your posts on your profile, but they may appear further down in their feed. They also won’t be able to see your posts under a certain hashtag or in the Discover section. For some, it’s not a huge deal, but especially for businesses, it can significantly damage your potential reach and growth.
How You Can Tell if You’ve Been Shadowbanned on Instagram
Normally, when you get banned from Instagram or any other platform, you receive a notice stating your account has been reported. With Instagram’s shadowban however, you don’t receive any notifications. You’ll just notice your engagement drop, and drop… and drop.
There are many sites out there that claim they will tell you if you are shadowbanned or not simply by putting in your username. Many social media marketers, myself included, have found that not all of these websites can be trusted nor are they consistent so it’s important not to rely on them
Here’s how you can check:
1.) Make a new post, or check a recent one, using a hashtag that is not popular (this will make it much easier for searching.)
2.) Log into another account, or ask someone to help you. HERE’S THE TRICK: The account that is helping you check, must not be following the account that might be shadowbanned!
3.) Search for the hashtag you used on your image. If your post is there when you search for the hashtag from a different account that doesn’t follow your main one, then you are not banned. If it’s not appearing on the feed, unfortunately, that means you’re shadowbanned.
Why You Might Have Been Shadowbanned on Instagram
If Instagram sees certain behavior as “spammy,” whether it’s violation of the terms or not, they are likely to shadowban you. Here are some of the most common ways a ban could be caused.
Repeatedly Using the Same Hashtags
There are many reasons as to why you should diversify your use of hashtags; this being an important one. Instagram may flag your posts as spam if you post the same ones over and over. It’s okay to use your personal or branded hashtags, but try switching up the generic ones such as #tgif or #womancrushwednesday
Using Banned Hashtags
Instagram has already banned certain hashtags- over 70,000 to be exact. Typically they only ban hashtags that are consistently used in ways that are abusive and/or violate Instagrams Terms Of Service, but some of them may come to you as a surprise like #saltwater or #skype. Check out our big list of banned hashtags.
If you’re ever unsure, you search the actual hashtag and see if it shows up as being banned. If it is banned, you won’t see the ‘most recent’ posts section, you’ll just see a top results section. There will also be a note at the bottom of the page stating the hashtag has been banned.
Using Automated Scheduling Software That Has Direct Access To Your Account
If you’ve ever used a planning app/software for your Instagram, you know that Instagram doesn’t allow it to post for you. Instead, it sends a notification to your phone telling you it’s time to post and sets you up to do so manually. While you may wish content could be posted automatically like on Facebook and other platforms, this is for your own good. It prevents bots and spammy accounts from filling your feed. Unfortunately, some management software companies have found a way around this. This violates Instagram’s policies, and if you are using one, you could easily be banned.
Buying your followers on Instagram is never a good idea. It’s not only a waste of money on “followers” that are either empty or spam accounts, but they can also get you shadowbanned. It is extremely easy for Instagram to detect bots as well as accounts that use them.
You’re Posting and Engaging Over The Limits
Instagram puts limits on your account. The limits are not very limited by any means, but they are there. Instagram only allows you to comment, like, or upload posts as well as follow so many people within a certain time frame. Again, this is to be able to detect and prevent both bots and spam. Like I said, these are fair limits and unless you are using a bot or are overly active on Instagram, you’ll have a hard time hitting these.
The limits include:
- Using more than 30 hashtags per post.
- Posting more than 60 comments per hour on posts that aren’t your own
- Following or unfollowing more than 60 people per hour
- Liking more than 300 posts in an hour
How To Lift a Shadowban On Your Account
If you suspect you’ve been shadowbanned, your first step is to try to identify why. Hopefully, some of the common reasons listed above gave you a good idea as to how this could happen. If your post has a banned hashtag, delete the hashtag for now. If you’re using a bot, you don’t have to- we can help you with that!
Put your hashtags in the caption instead of the comments is a trick that has seemed to work for many people, myself included. Another good practice to life the ban is to let your account cool down a little bit. Refrain from posting for a few days.
It can’t hurt to reach out to Instagram directly. You can easily report the problem within your app, but make sure you mention that your content isn’t showing up in related searches.
We want to hear from you! Have you been shadowbanned? When did you realize it and how did you fix it? Let us know!