Written by Ana Gotter

July 25, 2017 at 12:00 am

Why Am I Shadowbanned on Instagram and What Can I Do About It?

Have you noticed any drops in your Instagram engagement in the last few months? If so, you aren’t alone.

Starting several months ago, a number of profiles started seeing big dips in the engagement on their Instagram content. While some brands experienced this originally when Instagram’s feed algorithm was introduced, this was something a little different. Some profiles were actively seeing declines in the growth of their follower count, or their content not showing up in Instagram’s Discover section.

Some of these users could have been shadowbanned without even realizing that this is something that could even happen.

Woah. Shadowbanned?
 

What Does “Shadowbanned Mean?”

Shadowbans are a little bit like a time-out for users (particularly business profiles, in this context) that are placed because of certain behaviors the account makes. This often includes violating terms of service.

In a shadowban, the user isn’t technically banned, so they can still use the platform like they normally would and engage with other users, but their content may be kept hidden or given a lower priority in the algorithm.

In most cases, the platform will not tell you that you’ve been shadowbanned; it’s like they don’t actually want you to know.

In the specific case of an Instagram shadowban, your followers can still see your posts, but they may appear further down in the newsfeed. Your content also won’t appear in the Discover section of Instagram or in hashtag searches. This significantly damages your potential reach, leading to drops in engagement and the declining follower count.

How Can You Tell if You’ve Been Shadowbanned on Instagram

If you’re seeking consistent decreases in engagement and follower growth, you should consider the option that you’ve been shadowbanned.

There are sites out there that claim to have the ability to tell you whether or not your account is shadowbanned on Instagram. From my experience, and talking to other industry experts, these sites are not reliable at all.

The best way to check is to search for a hashtag after you’ve uploaded a post containing it. If you can find your content (it won’t be in “Top content” but “Most Recent”), then you’re in the clear.

Instagram shadowban

 

Why You Might Have Been Shadowbanned on Instagram

Behavior that Instagram deems to be spam-like—even if it’s not a technical violation of terms of service, which they could actually ban you for— seems to be the most common cause of being slapped with an Instagram shadowban.

Some of the most common ways you can get your account shadowbanned (or actually banned) include:

Using Banned Hashtags

Did you know that Instagram has banned certain hashtags? Typically they only ban hashtags that are consistently used in ways that are abusive and/or violate Instagram’s terms of service. Using a banned hashtag even once can land you in hot water.

Some banned hashtags are not even a little bit shocking, like #weedstagram and #sparklingnudes (seriously…. they had to ban that one), but others are a little more surprising, like #valentinesday and #skype. Check out all the banned hashtags here.

why did I get shadowbanned on Instagram

When in doubt, search for the actual hashtag before using it and see if it shows up as being banned. If it does, you’ll only see a top results section and no “most recent’ posts, along with a note at the bottom of the page that the hashtag has been hidden.

Repeatedly Using the Same Hashtags 

Instagram may flag your posts as spam if you do this. This is yet another good reason to diversify your hashtag usage; while you can always use your branded hashtag, switch up the generic ones like “#TBT” and “#instagood.”

Using Direct-Access Automated Scheduling Software

Some social management software has found a way to circumvent Instagram’s own technology and automatically posts content directly to Instagram. This violates Instagram’s policies. This does not include Agorapulse, which sends you a notification so you can publish it manually and abides by the terms of service.
how to tell if I'm shadowbanned on Instagram

Buying Followers

Buying Instagram followers is a bad idea for a lot of reasons; not only do you waste money on “followers” that are typically nothing more than bots, but they can sink your engagement rates and the practice could potentially get you shadowbanned. Technology is sophisticated and it’s shockingly easy for Instagram to detect bots – and the brands who use them.

am I shadowbanned on Instagram?

You’re Exceeding Instagram Posting Limits

Did you know that Instagram had posting limits for your account? I’ll be honest, I didn’t until I was researching this post. You can only like, comment on, and upload so many posts (and follow so many people) within a given time frame.

Now these limits are really high. You’ll have a hard time hitting them unless you’re using some sort of bot (and see above 2 sections on this), or you’re really active on Instagram. These limits include:

  • Following or unfollowing no more than 60 people in an hour
  • Liking no more than 150 posts in an hour (you can get to 300,  but it’s best to keep it at 150)
  • Placing no more than 30 hashtags on a single post
  • Posting no more than 60 comments per hour on others’ posts

How to Come Back from a Shadowban

If you think you’ve been shadowbanned on Instagram, the first step is to figure out why.

Take a look at the common reasons this can happen, and see if you may have accidentally partaken in any of them. If you have, make some changes as soon as possible. Delete the post with the banned hashtag; you can repost it with new hashtags once you do. Get rid of software that isn’t compliant with Instagram’s terms of services (and sign-up for Agorapulse instead!)

Instagram management tool Agorapulse

It doesn’t hurt to give your account some cooling-off time; stop all activity for 48-72 hours as soon as possible before you come back and resume your marketing.

Check the apps you’ve allowed to connect to your Instagram’s API and make sure there isn’t anything there that could be hurting you. You can do this by clicking on the cog where you’ll also log out, and choose “Authorized Apps.”

Shadowbanned on Instagram

You can also contact Instagram directly and report the problem. Make sure you mention that your content isn’t showing up in searches, and not just that your engagement is dropping.

Final Thoughts

If you want to keep your Instagram account and its engagement growing, it’s best to avoid any behaviors that Instagram find problematic. Not only will this keep your account in working order, most of the terms of service are really set up to benefit most brands; no user wants to see content that feels like spam, either, which is largely what the shadowbanning seeks to prevent from taking hold on the platform.

What do you think? Have you ever been shadowbanned on Instagram, or any other social media site? How did you realize you were shadowbanned? How did you fix it? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think
Why was I shadowbanned on Instagram?

Ana Gotter

December 14, 2017

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Ana Gotter

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Ana Gotter

Ana Gotter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant specializing in social media and content marketing, though she writes on a variety of other niches and subjects. She can be contacted at anagotter.com.

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