A couple months back I was plagued by a horrible shadow that lasted weeks on end.
What is a shadow ban?
A shadow ban is when your hashtags on Instagram become un-discoverable. Hashtags are very important in the world of Instagram for engagement. Someone who is under a shadow ban will notice a strong decrease in engagement because the hashtags are no longer to visible to anyone EXCEPT your followers- so that means it is very hard to reach a new audience.
I think shadow bans are Instagram's way to cut out fake/spam accounts and bots so that everyone has a fair chance to grow their following. They have really been strict about their guidelines and it's nothing like it used to be.
Facebook bought out Instagram and has since changed the algorithm measurably. Things are becoming very different on Instagram.
Instagram's response to complaints:
How to know if you've been shadow banned?
I noticed my shadow ban right away when I posted a picture with the same hashtags as I always do and received no likes or any engagement. Every time I would post a picture I would barely receive any likes right away- only from my regular followers. Your pictures will still appear to show up in the hashtags you used if you are checking from YOUR account, so make sure you are checking if your pictures still show up from ANOTHER account. Check hashtags that are not heavily used so your pictures will not get lost in a sea of other hashtags that have a million photos.
How long does a shadow ban last?
Unfortunately, my shadow ban lasted a couple of months. It was truly terrible as someone who was trying to grow my account. I was so frustrated and it nearly killed all engagement on my page. I'm not sure why mine lasted so long but it seems like others who are shadow banned it usually lasts about 24 hours.
Reasons for Shadow Bans
- Bots and automatic following tools
-Posting too many pictures in a day
*****(FOR ALL THOSE WHO DON'T KNOW- Instagram has a limit for how many pictures you can like and how many comments you can make per hour so BE CAREFUL) I have been blocked for 24 hours for just simply commenting on too many pictures
-Using the same hashtags over and over
-Using broken/ overused/ or inappropriate hashtags
What to do if you have been shadow banned?
1. LAY OFF for about 24-72 hours- the longer the better. If you lay off for a couple days, this gives your Instagram the chance to reset and seem as if your account isn't a fake or spam account.
2. Delete all broken or inappropriate hashtags from preview posts. I realized I had some hashtags that may have been considered inappropriate such as "food porn", so I went through and deleted them.
if you have been shadow banned, you should check all of the hashtags before you use them to make sure they are not too overused or broken. If the hashtag is broken, nothing will show up for it.
ALSO do not use the same hashtags over and over- I used to copy paste the same hashtags every time I would post a picture and that could have done it as well. Use relevant hashtags to your picture or account.
3. Report problem to Instagram- send a short message through the app to let Instagram know what is going on.
4. Delete all automatic apps/bots (i've never used anything like this but I can imagine that they exceed activity for the hour pretty easily).
I hope this helps anyone who is at the mercy of a shadow ban. It was a terrible few months for my Instagram and website. My shadow ban was FINALLY lifted. I posted a picture with different hashtags and I got also 100 likes in a minute, which was a huge change from the shadow ban so I knew it had finally been lifted.
I found laying off Instagram for the weekend was the best thing for my account. It is so frustrating, especially when it is your business, but it will eventually be lifted so be patient!!