instagram, shadowban, social media marketing

Instagram shadowban: what is it and how do I avoid it?

The shadowban. It’s the thing influencers fear most. Some consider it the Boogie Man of social media. Does it exist? How do you know it’s around? What do you do to vanquish this beast?

It’s become a matter of debate for some big influencers, where one side is saying they have been shadowbanned and others arguing that the influencer’s views and follows are going down due to their own actions putting off subscribers.

And there are reasons to be worried. It isn’t just big influencers that can be affected. The shadowban can risk any social media account with a lot of followers, whether that’s a business account, marketing account, etc.

So, what is it? What has got these big influencers so scared? And is there anything you can do to avoid it? And can you do anything once it gets you? We break down the shadowban on Instagram and what you can do about it.

What is shadowbanning?

Instagram is the best example of shadowbanning because it has stricter guidelines than most social media platforms. Its guidance has always tried to keep the platform family-friendly, avoiding nudity, politics, buying followers, and other controversial subjects.

But they are going to act if you are seen repeatedly ignoring this guidance. Without telling you, they will block your content from appearing on your followers’ feeds, Explore, or hashtag pages – unless they already follow you.

This is where the confusion comes in. You could just be going through a dry patch with your content, which simply isn’t getting the engagement it used to, or you could be shadowbanned.

You can test if you are shadowbanned by posting some content with a hashtag that isn’t so common so that you can tell that it’s not hidden by the competition, then ask a few friends or employees who aren’t already following you to search the hashtag and see if your content comes up. If you can’t see your content, chances are you’re shadowbanned.

How to avoid it?

Well, the plain and simple of avoiding a shadowban is to avoid breaching the community guidelines on Instagram. This means we’ll need to take a look at the community guidelines as a starting point.

The biggest breaches in the community guidelines come down to content that depicts violence, graphic or shocking content, sexually suggestive content, misinformation, and spam. This isn’t just applied to the photo or video of your post. Instagram also looks at the hashtags you are promoting and your caption.

Of course, sometimes none of these apply to you and you have no clue why you’re shadowbanned, resulting in more confusion. So, we have a breakdown of probable causes.

  1. Your account is often reported. Unfortunately, there is a lot of reasons this could happen. You have offended a group of people, whether on purpose or accidentally and they are reporting your account to Instagram, which will cause Instagram to assume you are posting content against their guidelines.
  2. You’re using an “Instagram growth tool”. A lot of these spam tools don’t want to use the term “spam”, for obvious reasons. You could be using botted subs and not realize it.
  3. You are using broken hashtags. If your usual hashtags are being overtaken with inappropriate content, Instagram will add it to the banned list and shut down its use. If you have a lot of content on the hashtag, the rest won’t rank as high, and your account can be blocked.
  4. You’re doing too much too fast. If you have a lot of activity like following, unfollowing, liking, commenting, and posting in one day, Instagram will assume you are in fact a bot and shadowban your account.

How to stop it if you have been shadowbanned?

Instagram, as of October 2021, still won’t use shadowban as a term, however, they have admitted to policies in place to restrict content they deem goes against their community guidelines and they have gotten better about being transparent about it. However, you will have to do the heavy lifting. They’re not about to email you an update. Instead, you can go into your settings, click Account, then Account Status to see what state your account is in.

If you find that your content has been restricted, it’s time to look over your profile. You won’t know for sure what’s done it, so instead, you’ll have to go through your profile and scrub clean whatever could be seen to violate the community guidelines. Go through your photos for anything that could be deemed graphic or sexual, check your hashtags for anything unsavory, and comb through your captions for banned keywords. There is a list of banned hashtags for 2021 posted on Markitor. Of course, if you are spamming content, you’ll know for yourself.

From there, put your feet up. Take a 48-hour break from using your accounts so that the system can reset. Think of it as a detox of your account.

If you would like more advice on affiliate marketing, take a look at our blog, or book a free call with a member of our team for a more personalized approach.

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