Just when we thought Instagram had thrown enough curve balls our way in the last 12 months, along comes shadow banning. If you aren’t sure what shadow banning is, let me give you a quick run down. Shadow banning is basically when your photos don't show up in public hashtag searches. Your photos will be visible under hashtag searches to you and your followers, but anyone who doesn't follow you won't be able to find them. As you can imagine that forms a pretty big problem for people with smaller followings since hashtags are the primary way we get exposure.
Instagram has decided it would be too nice to share exactly HOW you get shadow banned but it is pretty easy to guess. In my professional opinion, shadowbans are based on your actions. The more “spammy” they are, the more likely you are to be banned.
When I say ‘spammy’ I mean everything from bots, to abusing Instagram’s daily and hourly limits. On top of this, it is widely believed that Instagram has flagged ‘spammy’ hashtags. Sometimes a hashtag as innocent as #beautyblogger can become overrun with inappropriate content such as nudity, spam or racially insensitive images. When this happens and Instagram takes notice, they either remove the hashtag completely or limit it’s usage. It seems that when you use one of these hashtags on your photo it can effectively “break” the rest of your hashtags and cause you to not rank for ANY of them.
Now, if you seem to have found yourself shadowbanned, here is how to fix it;
1. Quit with the bots. I get the appeal of bots, I truly do. But believe me when I say they aren’t doing your account any good in the long run. Once you’ve deleted and logged out of any and all automation services, you need to check and see if any of them are still attached to your Instagram account. Do this by logging into instagram.com via desktop. Navigate to your feed by clicking the man icon in the top right, then click ‘Edit Your Profile’. From here click ‘Authorized Applications’ on the left and check for anything suspicious, or anything you don’t recognize. For anything you don’t recognize or aren’t certain are safe to use, revoke their access by clicking the big blue “Revoke Access” button.
2. Sort out your hashtag game. Go through all of the hashtags you use, one by one and make sure that none of them are limited by Instagram. If they have been limited you will either see nothing at all (the entire tag has been removed), or you’ll see just one page of images followed by a notice that states the tag has been hidden due to abuse. If you find any tags that fall into this category remove them from your hashtag set and make note of not using them in the future. Lastly, if you did find you were using a broken hashtag, go back through your old posts and remove the hashtag from those posts by either editing your caption and deleting the tag, or deleting the comment that contains your hashtags.
3. Take a break – have a Kit Kat. This a last resort, but sometimes you just need to chill out for 48 hours and let your account reset. Once you have completed the above steps, set your alarm for two days time and avoid any engagement with your account. Break from posting, engaging or even logging in. After two days you can begin engaging with your audience again. But remember, it must be manual! Yes it will take more time and effort but manually engaging with people on Instagram is your best bet to staying clear of an Instagram Shadowban and it will also help you build relationships with your audience and potential customers.
4. Give it a shot. My last tip is not proven, and isn’t talked about by many others in the industry, but I am almost certain it would do the trick. Switch back from a Business Account to a Personal Account. My theory lies behind the idea that Instagram is owned by Facebook and Facebook is known for limiting reach and engagement in order to force you into purchasing ads. It is pretty safe to assume that they may be clumping “business owners” into the shadowban club because we’re more likely to need the engagement. By switching back to a personal account you could potentially pull yourself away from their tricky ways.