WHAT IS A SHADOWBAN?
HOW TO DETECT A SHADOWBAN
THE BEST INDICATORS OF SHADOWBAN ARE:
If your engagement has decreased significantly, despite consistency in your content and strategy.
The majority of your engagement is from people who already follow you, even though you are using and engaging in hashtags.
HOW DO PEOPLE GET SHADOWBANNED?
Using bots or other spammy virtual services that operate your account on your behalf.
This includes purchasing likes/followers, or automated services that follow/like/leave comments on your behalf. This is an obvious one. It is against Instagram policy, and in my opinion, rightly warrants a Shadowban.
Leaving too many comments, likes, follows, or unfollows in a short period of time.
Even if you are not using a bot – this is possible to induce manually. “Too many” and “short period” are both relative terms – the limit is different for every individual account and based on many factors, so search Google or Pinterest for guidelines.
Using the same hashtags repeatedly in every post.
For many businesses and influencers, we desire to reach a target audience, and use some of the same hashtags in many, if not all, of our posts. Think: #fashionblogger, #travelblogger, #ootd, etc.In addition, it is important to note that not all hashtags have to be the same every time. It can be triggered just by using the same few consistently, even if you mix up the rest.
Using banned hashtags in your photos.
Some hashtags have been banned by Instagram for being inappropriate. Some of these are obvious (#porn), but it can happen to any innocent hashtag, if Instagram thinks that too many people using it post “abusive” photos.Indicators of this are when the only posts under a hashtag are the Top Posts, or if Instagram specifically shows a message notifying you.
Bottom Line: check hashtags before you use them, even if they’re seemingly innocent. If you’re unsure, Google it. GOOGLE IS GREAT.
Members of Comment/Like Pods may also be targeted, if they use the DM in-app for their group chat.
Despite whether your pod is 100 strangers, or a few close accounts that you genuinely like, this could possibly trigger a Shadowban. It is said that Instagram is cracking down on these, as well (Source).
WHY INSTAGRAM IS SHADOWBANNING
Instagram is owned by Facebook.
Facebook is a business.
Facebook’s biggest customers, are other businesses.
If our original, tried + tested marketing strategies still worked (hashtags, engagement, etc.), then we would have no reason to buy their ads.
Not buying ads, means Facebook not generating as much revenue.
Facebook’s solution? Coerce businesses into buying ads by targeting our accounts, and making the “old ways” less effective… But subtly, so (most of us) don’t notice.
HOW TO LIFT THE BAN
Switch your profile from Business to Personal, and immediately unlink Instagram from your business Facebook Page (Source).
This is a dead giveaway to the corporation that you’re using IG for more than just personal reasons. If you are not a business profile, make sure not to switch to one in the future.
Delete hashtags from old posts (Source).
Edit the caption, or delete them from the comments.I am unclear on whether consistently using your own personal hashtag will make a difference (for example, #OnlyWearDresses), but if you don’t want to delete it initially, yet notice that you’ve tried everything and it’s not helping, give it a shot.
An idea to continue branding in this way without causing “red flags” is to switch your personal tags up into categories.
Examples: #OWD_fashion, #OWD_food, #OWD_travel)
Unlink your account from EVERY external app (Source), aside from ones specifically offered by IG, like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
This may include follow/unfollow apps, or apps that schedule posts on your behalf. For now, I will continue to use my following app to monitor, but will not unfollow someone from within the app. I will switch back to Instagram to do so from my own account.
Stop using bots/spam services IMMEDIATELY (Source).
(i.e. automated comments or likes from your account, follows/unfollows, buying followers, buying likes, etc.)I hope you don’t do this to begin with, but if you are, now is the time to cancel them and change your password.
Take a 2-3 day break from posting, commenting, or even logging in to the Instagram app (Source).
I know this may seem difficult or counterintuitive, but a very short break likely won’t have too big of an impact on your account (especially if nobody new is seeing it, anyway). What will have an impact, is a Shadowban.
Change your password, and edit your profile info (Source).
Do so even the slightest bit, by switching the profile photo or changing a few words in your bio.
If you are part of a comment/like pod, in which the group is through Instagram DM, move your pod’s group message to a different app (Source).
There is a rumor going around that this also is being cracked down on, so better be safe than sorry. (And yes, Instagram has ways of monitoring this.)
Report the problem to Instagram directly, either through email, or the “Report a Problem” feature within the app (Source).
Avoid using terms like “Shadowban”in your request – just state your posts are not showing up in the hashtags you are using and that non-followers are unable to view your profile (Source).
EXAMPLE HASHTAG STRATEGY:
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags. DO NOT USE ALL 30 (Source).
Use fewer, which will raise less flags to Instagram. Also, I’m adding to be very careful of how many feature profiles you tag in the photo itself, and to not use the same ones each time.
Use different hashtags on every photo.
Try not to repeat the same hashtag twice in one week, to be safe.
If you save general hashtags in your notes for ease to copy + paste, have 7 sets: one for each day of the week.
Part of the reason I believe that this happened to me was because in every post, I repeated certain blogger and city tags (either D.C. or Paris, depending).It is okay to use tags for these types of things – it is how we reach our target audience. However, for the future, use less of them, vary them, and split them up. This is a good idea to do regardless, so that you are reaching an even wider audience of people.
Use more targeted hashtags, by tagging something relevant only to the specific photo.
An example would be, if my outfit is Zara, to tag #ZaraStyle. It’s used less than some of the broader ones (#Style), and therefore, it will stay towards the top longer.Make sure you research the hashtag before posting though – if too few people use it, it could be just as ineffective as if too many people use it.
As stated above, if you use a personal hashtag for branding (#OnlyWearDresses), try to switch the hashtag up into a few easily searchable categories.
Do not have too many, or it defeats the purpose.
Examples: #OWD_fashion, #OWD_Paris, #OWD_travel
Start placing your hashtags in the caption, instead of putting them separately in the comments (Source).
I know, this is aesthetically hideous, but it is highly suggested by other sites who have tested it. You’ll now be using fewer than 30 hashtags, so it won’t look as bad. Use dots to try and separate them to the bottom, so they are out of the way.
Find me on Instagram: @OnlyWearDresses
Sources + Additional Info: