With over 700 million active users in the world, the ‘Instagram Shadowban’ conversation is heating up.
For those that are not sure what an Instagram Shadowban is, here is our explanation.
An Instagram Shadowban is where posts using certain hashtags are not showing up in the hashtags feed to anyone except the followers of the account.
The result of this is less engagement for people and businesses that are relying on hashtags to get their message, service or products out to a larger audience. The reasons behind it are a bit more of a mystery!
Instagram users started to notice this happening towards the end of 2016. But it wasn’t until February 2017 that Instagram publicly responded to the issue.
While not admitting that they are selecting what is being seen via hashtags it is clear that something is happening.
And we believe it is one of four things.
- Odd bots. Like all networks, Instagram has bots that work for them that are always clearing out spam as well as inappropriate and abusive accounts. Could some of these wrongly target a post or two of non-spamming accounts?
- Targeted attacks. Spam accounts evolve and find a new way to get on genuine users’ nerves. Could it be that they are now fake ‘reporting’ some people’s posts?
- Shadowban by association. We have all had those random comments about more followers just one-word answers. It could be that if we are not reporting and monitoring those, our accounts could be put under a Shadowban until we get with the program.
- Revenue. This is the theory we would place a bet on. It wouldn’t surprise us that Instagram, like Facebook, is going to start reducing reach in the hope to increase ad revenue.
Frankly until Instagram says anything, who knows. But as the network suggests, your growth strategy should not solely rely on hashtags.
So here are a few ways to reduce your chances of being caught out by an ‘Instagram Shadowban’.
It is well known that using hashtags increases your chance of engagement. A study was undertaken by Trackmaven.com reports that for accounts who have under 1000 follows, they should use no more than 4 – 5 for maximum interactions. But that said, if you stick to the same 4 or 5 in every single post, the chances of getting an Instagram Shadowban is high.
So vary them. Ideally, have about 15 that work for you. Some maybe project, service or day specific, some perhaps niche to your industry or business. Keep a note of the ones you intend to use and work for you then switch them around. But, if one of the hashtags you are using results in a shadowban for your post, it applies the ban across the other hashtags you have used as well.
Don’t use spammy hashtags.
This may seem obvious but using hashtags such as #l4l or #followback are going to increase your chance of an Instagram Shadowban. We do not recommend using these types of hashtags as part of your growth strategy. Why? Because you will not be growing a relevant audience, therefore your engagement will be rubbish, and so no one will see your posts!
Avoid spamming software.
If you use technology that violates Instagram ToS, expect to be caught out, and your reach limited or being shut down. Such technology means auto posting software (not ones that send you a push notification), auto commenting software (which is obvious BTW), and follow/unfollow software.
As for each social media account, consistency is key. If you have surges of activity then do nothing for months, not only does it look bad to your audience, it can result in a shadowban on Instagram as well. Set your reasonable objectives of a number of posts per day, week or month and stick to it! With functions such as the carousel and Instagram stories, there is no need to have huge surges in activities.
Beyond this, there are limits, similar to Twitter, in activities. This is the number of likes and comments before Instagram deems you as a spamming account. Anything over 150 likes, 60 comments and 60 likes in an hour will make you a bot account in Instagram eyes.
Make your content epic!
If your content is good enough, you will not see a noticeable decline in likes or comments.
Monitor and measure.
If you have a dip, and you don’t seem to be coming out of it, take a look and see what is happening with your analytics (only available for business users). Has your peak audience day and time changed? Has your content become stale? Are you using spammy or banned hashtags? Is your audience the right audience? If you have looked at this and can not think of a definitive answer, then look at your competitors. See what they are doing that is working. Or seek some outside expertise that can cast a non-emotive eye over what is going on and give you recommendations.
If you think you may have been a victim of an Instagram Shadowban make sure you are taking the advice above.
If that hasn’t worked there are some ways to get this lifted.
- Take a break. People have said leaving the account alone for a few days has seemed to have worked.
- Check your authorised apps. If you have ever used any third party software to support your Instagram efforts, it may still be linked to your account. Login via a desktop, go to Settings and Remove the applications authorisation completely. Then see what happens.
- Report it to Instagram. They may have an answer for you or can lift the ban if you have got caught up in something unwittingly.
- Switch your account from business back to personal.
Do you think you have been a victim of Instagram’s Shadowban? How did you fix it? We would love to know!
July sees another Independent retailers month come around which was born to give voice to, well, independent retailers. Click to find out more.