“Shadowban”…it sounds like some covert deep government operation doesn’t it? While it has nothing to do with the government, it is covert, and in my opinion more than a little bit shifty. If you are at all involved with Instagram, particularly if you are a blogger with a business account, than I’m sure the term shadowban sends a chill down your spine…
…Perhaps you’ve heard the term, but paid little attention because like me, you thought “I’ll never get shadowbanned. I’m a well behaved law-abiding Instagram user.” Uhhh, ya. I thought that until I was shadowbanned. Yes friends, through extensive investigation I have ascertained that I have indeed been banished to the nether regions of Instagram.
My first thought when I confirmed it? W.T.F?? What did I do? How did it happen? And how do I fix it? To answer these questions I have done extensive research over the past few days, and I want to share what I’ve learned with you so that you can avoid what could potentially amount to your Instagram becoming D.O.A.
I’m assuming that we all know that in Insta-world the hashtag is king. Hashtags are how potential clients/followers primarily discover us. When you tag your post with a particular term, your post then shows up in that hashtag feed. Unless you have been shadowbanned. Simply stated, a shadowban means that your posts do not show up in any hashtag feed. The only people who can see your posts are those who already follow you. And if you check the hashtag feeds from your own account, your post shows up. See what I mean by shifty? You aren’t notified of said ban and you are led to believe all is well because you still see your posts in the feeds. Adding to the shiftiness, Instagram is not really acknowledging the issue.
There seems to be two schools of
speculation thought on why it’s happening since Instagram is remaining tight-lipped. The less nefarious of the two is simply they have tweaked the algorithm to weed out bots, fake accounts and those who are misusing Instagram and unfortunately, a fair number of innocent users are getting caught up in the algorithm’s net. The second not so nice theory is that since the shadowban seems to be primarily hitting business (as opposed to personal) accounts, Instagram is doing this purposely to drive business accounts into paid posts much like Facebook. Whatever the reason, it’s wreaking havoc in Insta-world.
How do I know if my account has been shadowbanned?
- Your engagement drops WAY down over the course of several posts. Low engagement on a post or two isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, but more than that and you might want to pay attention. Over the course of many days, my engagement (number of likes) dropped around 55% consistently. On every post.
- To verify a shadowban, post a photo with just a few hashtags. Choose unpopular tags with low numbers so it will be easier to find (or not find) your post.
- Here’s the key: check the hashtag feed of the tags that you used from an account that does not follow you. I simply had my daughter unfollow me and then I checked the feeds from her account. Then I double checked using her friend’s account. Lo and behold, while the post was visible from my account it was not from theirs.
OMG…I’m shadowbanned (or I want to avoid being shadowbanned). What do I do?
First, let me state that there is no sure-fire way to get out of shadowban limbo. Again, since Instagram isn’t acknowledging that there even is an issue, there is no way to be certain how to remedy it. Through trial and error and anecdotal evidence the following steps seem to work to varying degrees. If you have been shadowbanned try any and all of the fixes until you find one that works for your particular account. Keep in mind that some shadowbans seem to be lifted within a few days, other a few weeks and I’ve even seen horror stories of a few months.
- Since the ban seems to hashtag-centric it makes sense to start there. First, stop using the same hashtags for every post. That might not be difficult if you post a variety of photos on your account. My photos are all outfit shots of some sort therefore I always use basically the same set of hashtags, it’s difficult to find a variety of tags to use when your account is focused on one subject. Unfortunately the Instagram algorithm finds the use of the same tags repeatedly to be spammy.
- Do not post then immediately fill the first comment with hashtags. I was doing that because it helps the caption to look cleaner, but no more.
- Do not use broken hashtags. A broken hashtag is one that Instagram has shut down typically because unsavory individuals were posting inappropriate shots under that tag. You’ll know a tag is broken if it shows no top posts and only a few recent posts or none it all with a message saying the tag is no more. Now don’t be thinking, ” I don’t use tags like #hotbooty so I’m safe.” Seemingly innocent tags like #Kansas or #Easter are broken/banned. If you use even one broken tag it will nullify every other tag in your post.
- Do not go on a huge spree of any kind…a liking spree, a follow/unfollow spree…the algorithm will think that you’re a bot.
- On the subject of bots, do not use any kind of automation software. Ever. For anything. Even apps that autopost for you are a problem.
- Pods may or may not be an issue. While they have nothing to do with hashtags, the algorithm seems to view pod activity as a way to “game the system”. And that apparently makes the algorithm displeased. Better safe than sorry.
- If your account is “Business”, change it back to “Personal”. Yes, you’ll lose the analytics function, but I would sure as hell rather lose that than be invisible.
- Go dark for 2 to 3 days. That means no Instagram activity at all. For a lot of people this seems to reset the account.
What have I done to be released from shadowban prison?
I know I should have been all scientific and tried one thing at a time to see if it worked. Um ya, I don’t have that kind of patience. So last night I did all of the following:
- As per one of the articles I read, I went back through my recent posts and deleted not only the comment with hashtags, but all hashtags, even in the caption.
- Last night I spent a verrryy long time going through every single post removing #boho which is a broken tag. You can only imagine how many times I used that tag…
- I switched my account back to “Personal”.
- I am no longer participating in any pods.
This morning I did the same check using my daughter’s account that I mentioned above. The post showed in all of the feeds I tagged. I’m not certain that I’m safe though, so I am doing one more test post tomorrow and then I’m off the ‘gram for a few days to try the reset theory. Hopefully all will be well next week…I’ll keep you posted.
**If you know anything that I haven’t posted or you have been shadowbanned, please share in the comments.
There are few things I love more than a good fashion juxtaposition and that’s exactly what I’ve got going on here. You’ve got some professional going on with the white blazer and skinny dress pants and then there’s some rebel with the concert tee and Converse. I told you the other day, a red shoe, even a sneaker makes an outfit a whole lot more fun and these Converse definitely do the trick. The lighting was apparently jacked because they look somewhat pink, but trust me they are screamin’ red.
The tee is from the Elton John concert I saw last year with my boy, and it has quite the story behind it so that makes it even more fun to wear. And the black skinnies were the perfect foundation to build the rest of the outfit on. A blazer, graphic tee and black pants are a super easy outfit formula for days when you don’t have a lot of time.
Pair opposite pieces for an unexpected and fun look.
THE LINK UPS
Check out the weekly link ups I participate in for even more fashion and style ideas…