Today, I was having a stellar day posting content to Instagram and yet I was surprised to see the engagement was extremely low. I was barely making 50 likes on a photo I normally would get 200+ on and I was losing followers. Others have been discussing this trend as well and while we love to blame the IG Algorithm, that isn’t exactly the issue but rather hiding the true reasons we are struggling to build our follower counts and get people engaged.
I read an amazing post by @nikkiinwanderland — click here to read her detailed post on what’s been happening! She talks about why we keep losing followers and other important information you will want to know.
After reading her post I was introduced to the concept of “Shadowbanning.” I had never heard that term before even though it’s been around for years. I did a search for what that meant and how it affected my Instagram account and guess what I found out??
I was shadowbanned!
Everything suddenly began making sense once I discovered this and I’m going to tell you how I found out and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore.
How I Found Out
Nikki’s blog post discussed one way to find out if you are shadowbanned and that is where I started. What you do is go to a friend’s account and have them “unfollow” you. Then go to your profile and click on the hashtags you are currently using and look for your photos. If you don’t see your photos then most likely you have been shadowbanned. The confusing part of this was that I could find SOME of my photos but not all of my photos. Which led me to wonder if I was truly shadowbanned or not.
After doing more research I found a website (it’s completely safe to use) called the “Instagram Shadowban Tester” and it allows you to look up based on your username or specific post link if you’ve been banned or not. The image I used for this post came from that website directly. While the tester isn’t always 100% accurate it definitely helps you get more specific answers. Take a minute and head over there to test out your account…
Are You Shadowbanned and what does it mean?
A shadowban means that only the people who follow you will find your pictures when searching through hashtags. This is not good news if you are trying to find new accounts or hoping that new followers will find yours.
If you just discovered your posts are being shadowbanned I have some tips I have found that will help you resolve the issue. According to an article, I read on Later.com the issue is usually resolved within 2-3 weeks (which seems like forever, I know!) but the good news is we can turn this around. The good news I have found from my research and personal experience is that it doesn’t appear your entire account falls under the “shadowban.” Rather specific posts are targeted and your account as a whole may still be found through other content you have previously posted. For example, when I looked for my most recent post in the hashtags I had used I couldn’t find it, but I did find the post I had made hours before that one.
So here are my 7 Tips to preventing your account from facing an IG Shadowban or how to get out of one…
Tip #1: Change Your Hashtags
As you can see from the picture above I had a group of hashtags I use regularly. The only different one I had added specific to that post was #owlcrate. I have never used that before or if I have very seldomly and somehow I’m still banned on that. In an effort to prevent spam accounts and inappropriate conduct Instagram seems to consider an account using the same hashtags over and over again as possible abuse or spam. Using different hashtags and creating new ones may help you get out of the shadowban and have your account viewed by new people again.
Tip #2: Remove the Business Profile
Awhile back Instagram allowed us to switch our profiles from “personal” to “business.” We could connect our IG accounts to our business Facebook page and viola, suddenly we had a fancy “contact” button and title under our name. I thought it was really great at first because I didn’t have to waste bio space by adding my email address. Although this hasn’t been proven to work just yet, some people have claimed that going back to a “personal” account helps get them off the shadowban and more exposure. The logic behind this is due to Instagram and Facebook encouraging businesses to use “paid ads.”
Tip #3: Don’t Use Bots!!
I think we all know the dangers of using automated bots for various reasons. For example, you can have bots add comments for you, add or subtract followers, like photos for you…etc Instagram has always been very specific that this is not allowed. They want to create an authentic and real environment and this helps even the playing field for all of us. If you have signed in to a bot before or even an app that may conduct business like this…sign out and revoke access to the application.
To revoke access and check to see which apps are accessing your account follow these steps.
1. Log on to Instagram through a desktop computer (yes, this is key otherwise you won’t see the setting needed).
2. Go to your profile page
3. Click on “Edit Profile”
4. To the left, you will see “Authorized Applications” click on that.
Once you are there you can go through the list and remove any applications that you no longer wish to allow access to. I honestly didn’t know this was there and found apps that I wasn’t aware I had ever used before.
Tip #4: Limit Your Activity
Doesn’t this tip seem counterintuitive? However, Instagram places limits on how much you can do within an hour. According to my research after your first 3 months of IG you have a bit more range when it comes to how many photos you can like and/or comment on. The article from Later.com encourages users to keep their activity around 150/200 likes, 60 comments, and 60 follows/unfollows per hour. If you go beyond this you risk IG thinking you are using a bot or have a spam account.
Tip #5: Don’t Put Hashtags in Your Comments
According to an article on Preview when users put hashtags in their comment field they found that they were shadowbanned 1-2 hours later. Let’s be honest, it looks a lot cleaner to have your hashtags in the comments area but you can still make it work in the caption field. The article on Preview suggests using 5 (or more) full stops and/or bullet points after your caption to then list your hashtags. Also, make sure to limit how many you use. Instagram does restrict you to 30 hashtags per post, but since we need to keep them fresh and new, don’t go overboard.
Tip #6: Take A Break
This is probably the hardest tip to follow out of all of them because it means staying away from the Bookstagram community we love so much. However, if you’ve followed the other tips the next step is to log off the app and stay off for 24-48 hours. Others have discovered the lack of activity and engagement resets your account and as you post new content it should appear as usual. However, you will still want to follow the above tips to ensure this does not happen again.
Tip #7: Contact Instagram
While I haven’t found anyone getting a solid response from Instagram, it has been widely advised that we reach out to them regarding this issue. They had posted a statement on their Facebook page back in February stating they were aware of a hashtag glitch but no further information was provided and their details were vague at best. Letting them know that their actions are causing users of their application to be disappointed will hopefully bring positive change in the future. *hopefully*
The best way to reach them is to use the app itself while you are logged in. Using the “Report a Problem” feature on IG makes it easy to communicate with them and get the message across effectively. I’ll walk you through how to get there and then we’ll talk about what you say….
1. Go to “Settings” on Instagram
2. Select “Report a Problem”
3: Select “Something isn’t working.”
Once you are there you can inform IG that you noticed your post wasn’t showing up under specific hashtags. When I contacted them I stated I was told my posts weren’t showing up under hashtags I commonly used and would appreciate if they could explain why this was happening. Remember, do not mention anything about being shadowbanned in your message. That will not get a response from IG. Also, do not mention anything about being “hacked” as that issue goes to a separate support department that can’t help with this issue. I kept my message vague but direct and this seems to be the best advice on the internet thus far.
If you prefer you can email IG directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tip #8: Don’t Freak Out!
This is advice I’m having to give myself as I sit here writing this blog post at 1am. No one likes to be banned or blocked from anything, especially when we aren’t doing something malicious. The good news is that it’s temporary and we can fix it. Not only that, we are now learning Instagram’s secrets and if we can master the new algorithm and hashtag issues we will be well on our way to success. The important thing is that we continue to support each other. If you know of someone who has been shadowbanned, give them a shout out on your IG story and help get them some love or simply provide tips to help get them back on track.
If you find that you’ve been shadowbanned, COMMENT BELOW with your IG username or send me a DM. I will be happy to give you a shout out on my story.
I hope this helps you all out and I will update this post once I see if it’s been successful for me. So keep checking back. Sending you all heaps of love!! <3
Another great article on steps to getting your shadowban lifted: Kristin Brause “How I Got Rid of My Instagram Shadowban and Why You Can’t Rely on Hashtags Anymore.”