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If you’re an influencer and you notice that your engagement has suddenly slowed down, there may be a chance that you have been shadowbanned on Instagram. But what is a shadowban anyway? Put simply, shadowbanning refers to the restriction of content and visibility on feeds, explore pages, and hashtags.

Instagram previously denied the existence of shadowbanning, explaining that its algorithm doesn’t guarantee anyone’s appearance on the explore page or under specific hashtags. Regardless, you might still think: “How can I avoid being shadowbanned, and what can I do if I have been?” Read on and find out below. 

What Is an Instagram Shadowban?

Young adult in front of a colored background with tape over mouth

Shadowbans restrict a creator’s content from appearing on the explore page, their followers’ feeds, and in hashtags. Most often, the content creator will not be notified that they have been shadowbanned. Rather, declining reach and engagement can signal that your content has been banned. Typically, you’ll notice a lower audience engagement despite your attraction marketing efforts.

Low profile visibility can cause lower engagement, deterring your profile’s growth. In most cases, shadowbans occur if you’ve violated Instagram’s community guidelines or exploited some features, such as liking and following people excessively.

Are Instagram Shadowbans Needed?

Shadowbans make sense from Instagram’s perspective. Some people use bots to artificially grow their likes and followers, which directly violates Instagram’s terms and conditions.

If you use too many unrelated hashtags, Instagram can also regard this as a way to gain more visibility non-organically. Additionally, using the same hashtags for all of your posts can also be viewed as spam. So from Instagram’s point of view, shadowbans are needed to promote authentic content on their platform and prevent users from taking advantage of their business model.

How to Receive an Instagram Shadowban

Low engagement of your posts and profile may not always be because of shadowbanning. However, if you suspect that you have been shadowbanned, here are some possible reasons:

You Use Broken Hashtags

Close up on mouse hovering over "travel" hashtag

A hashtag can be broken if inappropriate content has been posted using it. If you search for a particular hashtag on the Explore page and see “No hashtags found,” it’s probably broken or temporarily banned. Sometimes the number of search results may still show under the hashtag, so it’s always better to click on it and make sure if it’s broken or not.

A broken hashtag may not be your fault, and you may not notice that a particular hashtag is broken before making a post. Typically, inappropriate content like nudity or hate speech usually leads to hashtag banning, so always check if a hashtag is valid before including it in your caption.

Your Account Is Often Reported

When too many people consistently report your account, it may lead to shadowbanning. Users usually report posts that are either inappropriate or are seen as spam. For example, posting the same image repetitively can be considered spam. As a result, other users on the platform may report your content. You may not be notified that your account has been reported.

You’ve Been Posting, Commenting, Engaging, or Following People Too Quickly

If you post, like, or comment excessively, Instagram might think you’re a bot. The same applies to following and unfollowing people in a short period of time. For instance, following 80 people in an hour might result in a warning restricting you from following pages for some time. However, if you do this consistently over time, it can lead to being shadowbanned on Instagram, for which you won’t get a warning.

Search Hashtags

A little investigation on hashtags may be the best way to spot Instagram shadowbans. First off, you can search for any given hashtag and see what it says when you click on it. For example, if you see a message that says, “Posts Hidden,” it probably means that the hashtag has been abused.

A hashtag search may also help spot Instagram shadowbans if your used hashtags aren’t broken. Try uploading a photo using an unpopular hashtag with a few posts. Then, ask your friends who don’t follow you to search for that hashtag and see if your post appears there. If it doesn’t, then you have most likely been shadowbanned.

Use Tools to Test for a Shadowban

Some apps can help you test your account for shadowbans. Tribber and The Heist are useful tools. These paid apps analyze your account to determine whether you have been shadowbanned. They can also search and identify broken or banned hashtags so you can avoid using them.

Use Instagram Analytics

Young adult checking Instagram analytics on laptop and cellphone

If you have a business account, you can take advantage of the valuable information that Instagram Analytics provides. Your activity is recorded to help you measure your growth strategies. For example, your profile visits and impressions can show your account’s performance over time. If you notice a recent decline in the metrics, it can hint at a possible shadowban.

Best Ways to Avoid an Instagram Shadowban

As you can see, being shadowbanned on Instagram can be due to multiple reasons. Often, it may happen without you realizing it, but there are a few tips to avoid it.

  • Don’t use bots or any third-party apps to boost your engagement. When you use these tools, you give them permission to gather data from your Instagram. If you want help, make sure you only turn to official trusted partners of Instagram.
  • Avoid trusting third-party apps to post content on your behalf. It may reduce your workload but can lead to being shadowbanned. Unauthorized third-party apps are entitled to post content, like posts, and leave comments through your account. These apps may engage in repetitive activity that may be deemed as spam by Instagram.
  • Check your hashtags before posting something and remove the ones that appear to be broken.
  • Write genuine and original comments to avoid being mistaken for a bot.
  • Make sure to read Instagram’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines from time to time to avoid violating their policies.

How to Get Unshadowbanned

Close up on individual reviewing Instagram post

If evidence shows you’ve been Instagram shadowbanned, it doesn’t mean that you’ll stay that way forever. Most users state that a typical shadowban usually lasts for about two weeks. Although there is no surefire way to get un-shadowbanned, we would still like to conclude by mentioning some tips and tricks that might speed up the process. Follow these steps and your profile and engagement might get back on track:

  1. If you use a bot or a third-party unauthorized service, log out and delete it immediately. Go to your “Edit Profile” page, click on “Apps and Websites,” and if you see any bot accounts, click on “Remove.”
  1. Go over your posts, check all your used hashtags, and remove only the broken ones.
  1. If you haven’t been posting anything inappropriate and think that you’ve been reported for the wrong reasons, you may want to let Instagram know about this as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. Instagram has over a billion active users. It doesn’t have the bandwidth to help them all, and so the app simply doesn’t offer direct customer service to anyone.

After doing all of this, deactivate your account and take a small break for a few days. Then, come back and focus on creating original content and be careful not to violate Instagram’s guidelines.

Published by Owen Carter on March 31, 2022

Owen Carter

Owen Carter

Owen is a marketing specialist. He works with advertisers and publishers directly, enhancing their marketing campaigns. Owen understands the importance of having the right tools for the job. He got his start designing and implementing a proprietary platform at a major performance marketing organization. During his free time, Owen enjoys rereading company emails and looking for mistakes.

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