What Does Instagram Shadowban Mean?

Instagram shadowban is a kind of mystery. On the one hand, platform users have been increasingly vocal on the subject. On the other, the social network developers have been either surprisingly tight-lipped about it or denied the existence of shadowban altogether.

So what’s all this fuss is about? You see, when you are trying to build your online presence, you largely depend on hashtags and user engagement. These are currently the most important factors to boost your reach. But imagine that one fine day, your content just stops being visible. What if the number of likes and comments for your posts suddenly takes a dramatic nosedive? What if your posts stop showing up under specific hashtags? That, my friends, is what a shadowban looks like.

What is a shadowban on Instagram?

Shadowban is an artificial method to decrease your Instagram reach. Normally, the platform utilizes it to ‘reward’ you for using inauthentic engagement mechanics and other methods of content promotion. Yes, fake followers fall into this category too. Once you get shadowbanned, your content shows up in your follower feeds and nowhere else.

There’s no doubt that from Instagram’s standpoint, this blocking tool is rather useful. After all, it helps to filter out accounts that fail to comply with the platform rules without actually suspending them. Wishing to deliver only safe, quality content to their users, they remove what they think is low-quality or unacceptable content from sight.

Instagram never openly admitted to using shadowban as one of the ways to block content. However, a few years ago they’ve released a rather vague statement in answer to multiple complaints of users who discovered that their content visibility under certain hashtags decreased. While there is nothing in it that says “yes, we use shadowban” directly or otherwise, many users believe that indirectly, it confirmed just that.

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The reasons why Instagram can shadowban you

Here are the most common reasons why you might be shadowbanned by Instagram.

1. You ramp up your numbers by getting fake followers or consistently use auto-promotion services

If you don’t invest a great deal of energy and time in your Instagram promotion, there’s virtually no way you can grow organically. So if you are impatient or just don’t care much about working hard to earn an authentic audience and engagement, it’s understandable why you’d want to use these methods.

And yet, bots can only get you so far. If you aim at a long-term presence on the platform, an authentic audience is what you need.

2. You use ‘wrong’ hashtags

Sometimes, they abuse popular hashtags by mindlessly attaching them to content that has nothing to do with those hashtags. In fact, that happens quite often. And in this case, Instagram removes the hashtags or limits their use. If you add one of these hashtags to your posts, you can make all other hashtags you use with it go into the ‘wrong’ category too. More importantly, there’s a good chance you’ll be shadowbanned. You can easily find a current list of undesirable hashtags online. For example, here.

3. People often report your account

If other users report your account, the platform’s AI might decide that the content you publish is harmful or inappropriate. As a result, your profile can be shadowbanned or even suspended.

4. You’ve exceeded the limits established by the platform

Instagram imposes restrictions on the number of accounts you can follow/unfollow, how many posts you can like or comment on, and how many posts you can publish within an hour or a day. To think of it, it’s quite reasonable. After all, if you follow a hundred people within an hour, it’s likely you utilize a bot that does it for you. Sure, this might help you boost your follower count quite a bit. The problem is they won’t attract your target audience. Besides, it’s a sure way to get shadowbanned.

5. People unfollow you in large numbers

A sudden spike in unfollowers makes shadowban very likely. Instagram AI sees it as a red flag and decides your profile isn’t worth the attention. Keep in mind that this kind of follower exodus often happens after giveaways.

How to know if you are shadowbanned

Luckily, detecting the problem isn’t that difficult. The fastest and easiest way to do this is to use Instagram analytics services like trendHERO. Its Tracking feature monitors your profile performance over time. This means that it will allow you to notice any dynamic changes in metrics as soon as they occur.
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Here are some of the things you should pay special attention to:

  1. Number of likes and comments & engagement rate. They will drop suddenly and significantly.
  2. Decline in reach. This is an important factor. Does everything go as usual and you post with the same consistency and offer the same quality of content but still, your reach continues to drop? This might mean that your content stopped being visible to a wide audience.
  3. Little to no exposure to new audiences. Unfortunately, being shadowbanned means that users who don’t follow or know about you yet will not be able to see your posts when they are searching for content using certain hashtags. To make sure your posts do show up under various hashtags, check a few of your posts from a different account.

All that being said, the fact that you have one of the above going on doesn’t necessarily mean that you have been shadowbanned. It’s important to track your metrics for at least a few days to make absolutely sure there is a consistent abnormal drop in numbers. Tracking by trendHERO helps you do that effortlessly. Besides, it’s a great time-saving option as opposed to manual monitoring.

However, don’t forget to make sure that there are no other reasons for the decline in your numbers.

Shadowban duration

Because Instagram never officially admitted the existence of shadowban, there is no official information on how long a shadowban can last. But as many users have seen from experience, it might last from 2-3 days to 14 days. The responses they normally get from the Instagram support team confirm this.

However, in some cases, shadowban can last for a while. Some Instagrammers report they’ve been shadowbanned for months. There is no evidence that would confirm that it can be permanent.

But no matter how long it lasts, all you have to do is eliminate the reason why you got it in the first place and wait. And keep in mind that the duration of your shadowban depends on more factors than just some rule violations. It might also depend on your account age, your everyday actions on the platform, your follower engagement, the ratio between active and inactive followers, and some others.

How to get unbanned

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If you want to make sure you get rid of that shadowban as soon as possible, simply eliminating that thing that caused it might not be enough. There is a whole set of actions and measures to take:

1. Sometimes, the best action is no action and this is the case. Freeze all activity on your profile for at least a day. Yes, this means that you should basically forget about your Instagram account existence for a day or two.

2. Make sure there are no third-party apps or services that have access to your account. What I mean are various bots and auto-promotion services. To do this, just change your Instagram password. Or just stop using these services altogether. More often than not, they are not doing you any favors anyway.

3. Remove all hashtags under at least 10-20 latest posts you published on your feed. Apart from that, remove all hashtags that have nothing to do with the content you published. Remove all banned hashtags. Again, you can find a list of these online or just check them on the platform. If there are zero posts and/or photos under certain hashtags, they’ve been banned.

4. In case you have the Business version, switch back to Personal.

5. Change your bio description. There’s no need to change it completely (it might actually do harm). Just replace a word or a few words or rephrase a sentence.

6. After you do the great hashtag purge I mentioned above, stop posting for a day or two. This is the case when not updating your profile can be more useful than posting on a schedule. After this, publish a post without any hashtags or geotags.

7. Next, publish a few posts with no hashtags but with a geolocation tag. Check your content visibility under this geotag. If you still can’t see them, continue publishing without any tags at all.

8. As soon as you notice that your content starts showing up under certain hashtags, start posting as per usual. However, be very mindful of the hashtags you use and make sure they are all relevant and not banned by the platform.

NB: do not use the same hashtags you used before. In case they are important for your content promotion (for example, if they are brand hashtags or unique personal hashtags), water them down with new ones. Discover other relevant hashtags, add some of your own. It’s important that you don’t use the same set of hashtags for every piece of content you post. Avoid such using hashtags as #like, #follow, #followme, #instalike, #likes, #Instagram.

9. Of course, one of the obvious things to do would be to contact the platform’s support. However, the chance they will help you is rather small. Shadowban is an automatic action, which means that Instagram moderators don’t dish them out manually. And it lifts automatically too.

Conclusion

Instagram is a social platform where algorithms reign supreme. To make sure your relationship with the platform is mutually beneficial and avoid being shadowbanned, you have to follow the rules. This means that you have to:

  • use only authentic methods of promotion;
  • forget about buying fake followers;
  • make sure you don’t exceed the limits Instagram established for the on-platform actions;
  • stop publishing socially unacceptable content;
  • be very careful when using hashtags;
  • use analytics to monitor your performance;
  • create engaging content.

Sure, you can try and outfox the algorithms; it’s not impossible. But would the risk of losing your account be worth the try?

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