Have you ever wondered why your Instagram engagement has taken a nosedive out of nowhere? You go from getting thousands of likes on your posts to barely breaking 100. Your comments have dried up and your reach has sunk faster than the Titanic.
Chances are, you‘ve been shadowbanned by Instagram.
As a social media geek and avid Instagrammer, I know how frustrating and confusing it can be when this happens. One day you‘re crushing it, the next you‘re banned and buried without any warning.
Well, have no fear my friend! In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain everything you need to know about shadowbans on Instagram so you can detect if you‘ve been victimized and recover.
Here‘s what we‘ll cover:
- What is an Instagram shadowban and how does it work?
- Why do shadowbans happen?
- How to confirm if you‘ve been shadowbanned
- Tips to fix and reverse a shadowban
- Best practices to avoid future shadowbanning
Let‘s get started!
What Exactly is a Shadowban on Instagram?
A shadowban is when Instagram deliberately restricts the visibility and reach of your profile and posts without any notification to you.
It‘s like you‘ve been banned, except Instagram doesn‘t actually suspend or disable your account. You can still post, but your activity is severely limited.
With a shadowban, your posts and profile will be hidden from:
- Hashtag searches
- Instagram‘s "Explore" page
- Geotag pages
- Account recommendation sections
Essentially, Instagram is suppressing your content from being discovered by new people while still allowing your existing followers to see it.
According to Instagram, shadowbanning is meant to be a temporary rather than permanent punishment for accounts that violate their rules and terms of service.
Think of it as a warning shot or slap on the wrist before outright disabling your account. But as many wrongly shadowbanned users will tell you, it feels pretty permanent when your reach and engagement tanks massively.
Why You Might Get Shadowbanned
So why does Instagram shadowban accounts in the first place? Here are some of the most common reasons:
Using Banned or Excessive Hashtags
Hashtags are crucial to discovery on Instagram. But some hashtags are banned entirely because they are associated with policy-violating content.
If you use a banned hashtag, Instagram‘s algorithm may interpret that to mean you post problematic content and shadowban you.
Similarly, if you use an excessive amount of hashtags in your posts, say 40+, Instagram may see that as spammy behavior and suppress your reach. The recommended limit is 30 hashtags per post maximum.
According to a study by Influencer Marketing Hub, accounts that use more than 15 hashtags have a higher chance of being shadowbanned.
Violating Community Guidelines
If your content receives multiple user reports for violating Instagram‘s community guidelines, you risk getting shadowbanned.
This includes things like posting hate speech, nudity, harassment, and bullying. Instagram will shadowban your account as a warning before suspending you entirely if issues persist.
Using Bots or Buying Fake Followers
Getting caught purchasing fake followers or using bots/automation services to boost engagement will often trigger a shadowban. These tactics violate Instagram‘s terms of service.
Instagram wants to promote genuine engagement on the platform, so they crack down on any perceived artificial inflation tactics.
Aggressive Follow/Unfollow or Liking Activity
Aggressively following and then unfollowing tons of accounts in a short time period can get you shadowbanned. This looks like manipulative growth behavior to Instagram.
Mass liking huge amounts of photos from profiles you don‘t engage with can also signal that your activity patterns are inauthentic, prompting restrictions.
How to Confirm You‘ve Been Shadowbanned
Okay, so now you know why shadowbanning happens. But how can you actually detect if your account has been shadowbanned?
Here are some techniques I use to determine if an account has been suppressed:
Look For a Sudden Engagement Drop
Pull up your Instagram analytics and compare your last 10 posts side by side. Calculate the percentage of followers reached and engagement rate for each one.
If you see a dramatic downward trend over recent posts, like engagement dropping 50% or more, that‘s a red flag. Gradual declines are normal, sudden crashes indicate you‘ve likely been shadowbanned.
Check Your Visibility in Hashtags
Post something new using a mix of common and niche hashtags. After some time has passed, search for a couple uncommon hashtags you used.
Switch to a secondary account that isn‘t following your main and look under the "Recent" tab for that hashtag. If your post doesn‘t appear, your account has likely been shadowbanned.
Search for Your Username
From a secondary account not following your main, search for your exact username in Instagram‘s search bar.
If your account doesn‘t show up first in the results, or shows up much farther down, you have likely been shadowbanned.
If you confirm your account has been shadowbanned via these methods, don‘t panic. There are ways to get your account back in Instagram‘s good graces.
How to Fix an Instagram Shadowban
Here are some techniques you can use to recover from and reverse an Instagram shadowban:
Wait It Out
If it‘s your first shadowban offense, simply waiting patiently often resolves it. Most shadowbans lift automatically within a few days to two weeks.
Continue posting consistently, but avoid further policy violations. Remaining active signals to Instagram that you still deserve visibility.
Promote Your Post
Try paying to promote one of your recent posts. Even just $5-10 can do the trick. This shows Instagram you are an engaged user willing to advertise.
Boosting a post often expedites lifting a shadowban, though it still may take a full day or two to take effect.
Adjust Your Hashtag Strategy
Refine your hashtags. Delete any banned or suspicious hashtags you may have used. Only use 30 or less per post moving forward.
Research the best performing hashtags in your niche and rotate through those so you avoid repetitive tags. Relevant, targeted hashtags tend to be safest.
Remove Third-Party Apps
If you linked any automation, bot or follower growth services to your account, delete them immediately. Change your Instagram password so they can‘t reconnect.
Rely only on Instagram‘s native analytics. Bots violate ToS and signal to Instagram you are trying to artificially inflate engagement.
Improve Your Content
Analyze your recent content. What posts perform best and worst? Make your content more engaging and aligned with what your audience responds to.
Ask for feedback in captions. What do your followers want more of? What posts do they ignore? Let their opinions guide your content strategy.
Contact Instagram Support
If your account has been wrongly shadowbanned for an extended period, consider reaching out to Instagram‘s official support channels and kindly explain the situation.
Provide examples of suddenly decreased reach and engagement. They can review your account and lift restrictions if applied unfairly.
Best Practices to Avoid Instagram Shadowbans
They key to avoiding shadowbans is staying within Instagram‘s guidelines. Here are some best practices to keep your account in good standing:
Carefully read Instagram‘s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. Make sure all of your content complies with their policies.
Avoid using banned hashtags. Search hashtags before using them to check if they are restricted.
Limit hashtags to 30 or less per post. Over-tagging looks spammy to Instagram.
Engage authentically. Follow accounts you genuinely like and comment based on post content.
Do not buy fake followers or use automation services. Focus on real, organic growth.
Post high-quality content. Both visually appealing and genuinely useful/entertaining to your audience.
Ask for user feedback. Let your audience guide your content strategy so you stay relevant.
Remain patient. Shadowbans lift naturally. Avoid overly promotional tactics.
No one wants to get shadowbanned, but even innocent accounts sometimes get caught in Instagram‘s overzealous spam filter.
Hopefully this guide better explains shadowbans so you can detect them early and recover quickly when they strike. Stay vigilant, friend!