The Instagram Shadowban: What to do about it

The Instagram Shadowban: What to do about it

Social Media Marketing

Have you fallen victim to the Instagram shadowban? Maybe you have, and you haven’t even realized it yet!

What is it?

So what is the Instagram shadowban and why has it been making bloggers, influencers, and entrepreneurs pull their hair out for the past several months? No, it’s not a complete ban. Your account won’t be suspended. Instead, the shadowban limits your brand’s visibility in the hashtag search.

**To be clear, Instagram has said that this was an unitentional glitch in the system, not a conscious algorithm adjustment. However, people continue to experience the shadowban so the bug seems to be at least semi-permanent.** 

To check to see if you’ve been affected by the shadowban, do a search for one of the hashtags that you’re using. If you’re not coming up, you *may* have been shadowbanned. Find someone who doesn’t follow your account and ask them to do a search for one of your hashtags to double check to see if your brand is coming up in their search results. If your posts aren’t coming up for them either, you may be affected.

Note: it’s helpful to put up a post with a less commonly used hashtag to make the searching more definitive.

Why? WHY!?

Think of the shadowban as an algorithm limitation. Just as Facebook limits the amount of brand messaging that appears in users’ newsfeeds from Facebook pages, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) also limits the search capabilities for accounts that are over-hashtagging. Or worse, if you’ve violated the Instagram Terms of Use, you’ll get slapped with a shadowban, and that’s a lot harder to fix. It’s Instagram’s way of keeping the platform as authentic and non-spammy as possible.

Of course, it stinks to be shadowbanned because the whole reason that you’re using Instagram for your brand is to extend your visibility. So if you suspect that you’ve been shadowbanned, what can you do?

How To Fix It

First, the good news: if you haven’t been kicked out of Instagram completely, it’s probably fixable.

1. No Bots

Now, let’s get serious. If you’re using any kind of bots, stop. Right now. People don’t like interacting with robots and neither does Instagram. Disable any automation you’ve set up and never look back.

2. Slow it Down

Next, slow down your content. If you’re posting several times a day, pare down your posting frequency to just one or two posts a day. And quit liking a bizillion images. Focus instead on valuable, human engagement. Leave fewer comments on people’s posts, but make them BETTER. Make your comments meaningful and directly related to the content you’re looking at. Ask questions. Be authentic. Show that there’s a real life human behind your account. It may even be a good idea to give your Instagram use a complete rest for 24-48 hours.

Slowing down and changing the way that you’re using Instagram might be enough to show that you’re not a bot or a spammer.

3. Check your Hashtags

Another important tip is to check your hashtag list. Is it always identical? Are you always posting 30 hashtags? Just because you can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram doesn’t mean that you always should. Juggle your list around so that you aren’t always posting exactly identical hashtags, and drop any that aren’t essential to your content.

Check to see if you’ve been using any hashtags that may have been banned. Sometimes there are hashtags with double meanings, and while it may seem innocent to you, the hashtag may have been banned for another reason. You can check by doing a search for your hashtags in the search bar.

Please excuse us as we use this very obviously banned example:

Trial & Error

Once you’ve been through your hashtags and you’ve checked your behaviour, give it a couple of days and hopefully your images will start to be visible in the search again. However, if you find you’re still being limited, you *may* want to consider changing your account from Business to Personal. This isn’t really something I like to suggest, but it might give you better search results.

The Instagram shadowban is something that everyone is keeping an eye on because it’s hard to pin down. It’s not always clear what’s caused it and there aren’t any hard and fast rules to change it. But with a little trial and error, you should be able to improve your search visibility.

If you need help with your Instagram, don’t hesitate to ask!

Read more about the Instagram shadowban:

Todd Foster

As a dedicated Digital Marketing Strategist at Barker Social, I am passionate about helping businesses unlock their full potential online. With a focus on results-driven strategies, I aim to deliver measurable success for our clients.