when you’re trying increase followers on instagram, you rely on Explore and Hashtag Pages to grow your audience and reach. So when it seems like your content is nowhere to be seen, it can feel more than a little frustrating.
If you notice that your posts are suddenly getting fewer likes and comments, or are not showing up for certain hashtags or on the Explore page, you could be shadowbanned.
What is Instagram Shadowban?
An Instagram shadowban refers to the act of hiding or restricting a user’s content without informing the user that this is happening. If you’re shadowbanned, your content won’t appear on anyone’s Feed, Explore, or hashtag pages unless they already follow you. This usually happens when a user has violated Instagram’s Community Guidelines – or the content is otherwise deemed inappropriate.
Why does Instagram shadowban?
Shadowbanning allows Instagram to filter out accounts that do not comply with their terms. Some people use unproven methods to increase their Instagram followers, such as buy followers Or using hundreds of hashtags that are irrelevant to their content. If that’s the case, it makes sense that Instagram hides content from those accounts in order to promote only genuine and useful content to users.
While Instagram does not openly acknowledge shadowbanning, they released a statement on their facebook business page Addressed the issue in February 2019 that users were not seeing for some hashtags with their content.
Her statement at least confirms the hashtag dilemma as a real one — but many speculate that the statement is Instagram’s way of acknowledging the shaming without actually acknowledging it.
However, shadowbanning can be a real tactic to hide users’ content from a wider Instagram audience, and if you are being shadowbanned, it’s important that you take the necessary measures to get your content seen.
Let’s take a look at how to know if you’re shadow-banned, as well as our tips for getting off the list.
Has Instagram shadowbanned me?
People with professional accounts can now check to see if their content is being recommended to other users with Instagram’s Account Status feature. From Account Status, you can see if the content you posted has violated Instagram’s recommended guidelines.
Simply navigate to your profile on the app, then Menu > Settings > Account > Account Status. With this feature, you can verify what (if any) is affecting your account and get suggestions on how to fix it.
If you don’t have a professional account, there’s an easy test to find out if your account is shadow-banned.
Am I being stalked on Instagram?
First, post an image with a hashtag that is not used often. (If you use a hashtag that has millions of posts linked to it, it will be hard to tell if the content is banned, or simply hidden by the competition). Once you post, ask five employees or people who don’t follow you to find the hashtag. If none of those results show your post, you may have been shadowbanned.
If only one or two of your employees can see your posts, you may be dealing with a drop in engagement. If this is the case, there are several steps you can take to fix it.
check our Instagram Marketing: The Ultimate Guide For strategic advice on improving your reach and engagement.
While the method above is a simple way to check if you have been shadowbanned, it may not be possible for your business. You may be the sole owner and employee of your small business. In that case, you can’t ask employees to check their hashtag feed and you might not want to ask your customers. Below are other ways you can test whether you have been shadowbanned.
instagram shadowban test
There is no foolproof test to tell if you have been shadowbanned on Instagram. While there are tools that advertise that they can actually do this, these tools are not reliable. Instead, try the steps below.
Check your hashtag pages.
If you visit pages for hashtags you use regularly and see a message that posts are hidden, you may have been shadowbanned for using those hashtags.
Take a look at the message below for the hashtag “mustfollow”. Since users have reported recent posts using this hashtag as not meeting Instagram’s Community Guidelines, Instagram may be hiding your content with this hashtag (even if your content No in contravention of any of the guidelines).
Check out Instagram Insights.
look at instagram insightsIf you notice a sudden and sustained drop in engagement, you may have been shadow banned. One of the best metrics to watch is the percentage of accounts that were not following you back.
Take a look at the difference in “discovery” of the two terms below. This blogger duo went from reaching over 70K accounts, 32% of whom weren’t following them, to reaching a little over 40K, only 4% of whom weren’t already following them. This drop signaled to bloggers that their accounts had been shadowbanned.
If you think you’ve been shadow banned, don’t worry — we have a solution for you.
Why am I a shadowist?
There are a few possible reasons why your account may have been shadowbanned. To make sure this doesn’t happen again, let’s go over some of the actions you took that got you shadowbanned.
1. You use bots or other automated “Instagram growth” tools.
If you are not working hard on yourself, then you are not authentically increasing your followers. Instagram barks at this – in their statement above, for example, they encourage users to build a strategy that focuses on connecting with the right audience. Using bots is a spammy tactic, and can result in a shadowban.
2. You use broken hashtags.
Sometimes, a popular hashtag will be filled with inappropriate content. In that event, Instagram may remove the hashtag or limit its use. If you use a broken hashtag, it will prevent your other hashtags from ranking, and may even result in a blocked account.
3. Your account is frequently reported.
When users repeatedly report an account, Instagram will assume that your account is posting inappropriate content or violating their Terms of Service. They may deactivate your account, or they may shadowban it.
4. You’re posting, commenting, engaging, or following people too quickly.
Instagram has a time limit on how many times you can follow, unfollow, like, comment or post within an hour or day. It makes sense – if you’re following 80 people within an hour, it’s likely a bot is doing the work, not you.
These actions may help you grow a following quickly, but they may not help you connect with the right people, which is why you’re on Instagram in the first place. Additionally, these behaviors can result in a shadowban, which severely restricts your exposure to new audiences.
how to fix instagram shadowban
To get your account back to normal, you’ll want to reverse the damage. This way:
1. If you use a bot or other automated service, stop and remove it immediately.
To make sure the accounts aren’t still linked to you, go to your desktop Instagram and click “Edit Profile” then “Apps & Websites.” If you see any of your bot accounts in the Active tab, click “Remove” to completely remove them from your account.
Remember, it’s better to have 100 followers who love your brand and buy your products than 1,000 followers who never buy from you or interact with your content.
2. Don’t use banned hashtags.
take a look at Kicksta’s list of banned hashtags for 2023, and be sure to remove all broken hashtags from your content. Here are some of the list:
Going forward, be selective and careful with the hashtags you choose, and when in doubt, take a look at the hashtag’s page — Instagram will likely post a message, such as “Recent posts from #summer2023 are currently hidden.” …”, which would indicate you think the hashtag is no longer in use.
3. Use content warnings when applicable.
For sensitive topics, it’s best to be proactive and warn viewers about upsetting content. When you can’t apply Instagram’s new sensitive content feature to your own posts, there is a workaround.
To do this, you’ll need to first create a slideshow post with a warning image so users can decide whether to continue. Start by using the story editing feature. Go to your profile in the app > New post > Story > Create.
Select the image or background you want for the first slide and type your alert message.
Click on Next and save the image. It is now ready to use with your sensitive content. Just make it the first slide of your new post.
4. Take a break for two days.
People have reported that a full 48-hour break from using their Instagram account can reset the system and get you back on track, and it’s worth the temporary social media fix anyway, right?
5. Follow the rules and regulations of Instagram.
Only share content you have created or have permission to share
Do not post content that is false or misleading
Share content that’s suitable for public viewing
Foolproof way to avoid Instagram shadowban
The easiest way to avoid getting shadowbanned on Instagram is by posting helpful, authentic content and following best practices to grow your audience. It will take longer to do so, but slow and steady wins the race – and doesn’t get shadow-banned.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.