Just when I thought I was tackling Instagram and creating a community in my following; it all crumbled. The shadow ban has crept up on a lot of us, and it’s stopped us from gaining exposure, with both likes and followers plummeting. So what is the shadow ban, how do you know it’s effected you, what you can do while you wait it out, and what are the best ways to try and lift it?
What is the Shadowban?
So around the last week of August, I noticed a real shift in my followers and likes. After I posted a new hair look, I was getting from 250-300 likes with around 5.8k followers. Subsequent to this I noticed a dip in around 20-30 followers every day going into September, with my pictures struggling to get 100 likes or more. At first I simply blamed my content, but I’ve been very happy with it of late and as it creeps into Autumn and Halloween season, I’ve been so worried my posts aren’t getting exposure.
Now I know what some of you are thinking… wtf, it’s just Instagram, get over it, right?! But srsly, Instagram is where I have the largest audience, it’s the best place for me to show my passion for beauty and fashion, so it’s super deflating when you spend hours, days creating content and it’s being restricted for no reason. So for those of you that don’t know what a shadow ban is, let me explain.
A shadow ban is essentially a way of Instagram restricting your content- so any hashtags you use will be rendered useless as your images won’t appear on the feeds. Your photos will only be visible to followers, and I’ve found that my latest pics have also been restricted on followers feeds too!
As for the length you could be banned, it really varies- it could be from a couple of hours, up to a month. At the moment I’ve been shadowbanned since 31st August making it almost two weeks now (sob!).
How Do I Know If I’ve Been Shadowbanned?
Hearing about a number of people being banned is a little scary and could make you jump to conclusions, so first find out if you’re actually banned.
- Make a new post and hashtag it using a little known or unpopular hashtag
- Get a friend to unfollow you, or make a fresh account (and don’t follow yourself) then search for the hashtag and look for your picture.
- If you’re shadowbanned, you will see that your post is included in the post count, but won’t visually appear on the hashtag feed. If your post does appear, you aren’t shadowbanned, yipee!
Why Have I Been Shadowbanned?
Instagram has been tightening their algorithm lately, much to our disgust and that means you could have done a number of things wrong that don’t marry up with their terms of service. From using banned hashtags, to using too many hashtags, it’s a little cloudy as to what exactly bans you, but it’s clear they’re blocking a huge amount of people that really don’t deserve it.
I’ve done a ridiculous amount of reading into how to behave, and what could lift the ban, so I wanted to share this with you too!
Ways to Lift the Shadowban
Hold Off From Posting
This is one I’ve seen time and time again. Like a fugitive, you gotta lay low! Haha. Stay off the grid (geddit?) for a few days- I tried this for two days which is measly and didn’t work, so I’d recommend a few days at least.
So let’s talk hashtags. Some have said that deleting hashtags from your recent pictures may help- after all if they don’t work then why bother using them? If you do want to hashtag, then make sure you use a small amount, and make sure each picture has a different collection, this way you look less like a bot. Instagram has claimed there is a hashtag glitch in their system, and they are trying to delete inappropriate ones, which also means hashtags that aren’t inappropriate within themselves but have unsuitable pictures will also be effected. Also leaving hashtags in the caption as oppose to the comments could help- I tried this out and it made a difference! I will be writing a post purely on a hashtag guide next week.
Coming from someone who has contacted Instagram and successfully reported someone pretending to be me, I do think there is a chance they could read your message. You can report a problem in your Instagram settings and write them a message- I would place an emphasis on hashtags not working, or not seeing other’s content on your feed, avoid using the shadowban lingo!
Switch If You’re On a Business Profile
This issue is a contentious one, but I do agree with people’s views after a little research. Facebook is the bane of my life and brings hardly any traffic. It’s business pages are totally geared to those that want to pay for advertising and if I’m honest, I got sucked in at one point, paid for exposure and reaped NONE of the benefit. Instagram works in exactly the same way and at first I was SO pleased to have a business account. A wide variety of analytics and data meant I could tell what my audience loved but guess what? just like Facey-B, you’re signalling that you’re a business and they don’t want you reaping the benefits of a business account without putting any money in.
While nothing is solid, it does make me think that having a business profile might have contributed to my ban, but who knows…
If you want to stay safe and switch back to a personal profile, make sure that you also unlink your Facebook page, as these two go hand-in-hand.
What to Do While You’re Shadowbanned
It’s a tough situation when you realise you’re shadowbanned, but the main thing to do is not to panic. I found out a few days before I went on holiday, and the urge to post about it was too great so I acted like nothing had happened- this in itself was wrong! Here are some things you can do to ride out the storm.
If you’re as addicted to Instagram as I am, chances are you will definitely be spending time on there anyway, even if you are having a break from posting. Go to the explore page and find new people to follow- this is the best way to gain exposure as hashtags can’t be relied upon!
Love on Existing Friends
I emphasised the importance of this in my article about how I grew my account in the first place, but it’s super important to give your current followers all the love. Like, don’t be afraid to comment and a lot of the time, they will reciprocate. Just please be genuine- a single love heart can seem spammy in itself!
Focus on Other Social Accounts
Instagram is GETTING ME DOWN. It’s honestly been my favourite platform since day one, but creating content no-one is going to see made me sick, so I have been focusing on growing on other accounts too, which I totally recommend. Get to know your Twitter followers, spend the time you would use taking Insta pics on updating your blog, pin pretty pics on Pinterest, or record something for your Youtube channel. Distraction is key!
PHEW, that was a long one, but here are my tips to summarise:
- Try to have a break from posting
- DON’T use banned hashtags, delete hashtags from recent posts and research each hashtag you want to use
- Try not to act like a bot haha! i.e using 30 hashtags that are the same on each pic
- Switch to a personal account
- In the meantime, focus on current friends, and grow your account the ultimate organic way- by finding people to follow!
Do you have any tips, or did any of these work/not work for you?
*fingers crossed* but I actually think my ban has been lifted! I’m getting okay likes and more comments, and my followers have gone up in the past day- all by implementing the things above! Let me know if you did these steps and it worked for you, you can follow me on Insta HERE.