The Instagram shadowban may be unofficial, but the dread is real. When your Instagram posts are suddenly getting fewer likes and comments, it may be because of what users refer to as an ‘Instagram shadowban’ or ‘shadow banning’.
Instagram has officially stated that shadowban is a broad term people use to conclude why certain content suddenly seems almost invisible – the platform doesn’t acknowledge it as an official action that they’ve made.
Besides explaining Instagram’s official position on shadow banning, this article will provide advice on boosting your overall Instagram reach. As well as, understanding Instagram’s algorithm, and how to address an Instagram shadowban if you suspect it’s happening to you.
What is a shadowban on Instagram?
When users identify that their posts or videos are getting fewer likes, comments, or views than they previously were, they often conclude that Instagram is shadowbanning them.
In other words, a shadowban can appear as a “silencing” or reducing of content visibility. While a shadowban is an unofficial action, the main reasons why users believe that their accounts have been shadowbanned are for violating Instagram rules and community guidelines or posting inappropriate content.
How does Instagram Shadowban work?
Once Instagram allegedly decides to deprioritize certain accounts, posts appear hidden or restricted, however, the owner isn’t notified of the ban or the changes it causes.
According to some users, shadow banning occurs when Instagram filters content that doesn’t comply with the platform’s terms. Profiles tend to only realize that they’ve received a shadowban when they notice that their accounts and content are undiscoverable.
The implications of a shadowban include:
- Less engagement
- Fewer views and likes
- Restricted or removed comments
- Decreased reach
In 2018, Instagram stated that “shadowbanning is not a real thing.” Still, a year later acknowledged that specific posts that are inappropriate for the international community may not appear in the Explore section.
How long does Instagram Shadowban last?
How long do content creators need to recover from a shadowban? Again, since this is not an official term, there’s no concrete timeline to see performance improvements following a shadowban.
According to users, an Instagram shadowban can last from a couple of days to a month, but posting new content, like custom videos and pictures, can help to reverse the shadowban.
How to avoid the Instagram Shadowban in 2023
Since Instagram is now a massive part of most marketing strategies, a shadowban could impact your performance and potentially harm your online presence.
Regardless, there are some points to keep in mind when planning your content. By doing so, You can get ahead of the potential negative impact shadow banning may cause to your brand.
This is especially true if you’re trying to make money on Instagram as a shadowban can severely limit your reach and visibility, hindering your ability to effectively promote your products or services. If your main source of income depends on your Instagram presence, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential consequences of a shadowban and take steps to prevent it.
1) Read and follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines
The key takeaways from Instagram’s Community Guidelines are:
- Share your own photos and videos, or ensure you have the right to share them.
- Post content that is appropriate for a diverse audience. Nudity is not allowed, but there are a few exceptions like breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health-related situations, or an act of protest are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is allowed too.
- Follow the law and avoid supporting crime, hate groups, or sexual services.
- Have meaningful interaction instead of artificially driving likes or followers.
- Be thoughtful of newsworthy events. Content must stay appropriate for everyone.
2) Act like a real person rather than a bot
Copying and pasting the same comment may come across as spammy on Instagram. Also, refrain from suddenly following too many users at once or liking too many posts in a short period.
Meta’s spam policy tells users not to post, share or engage, either manually or automatically, “at very high frequencies.”
Comments and customer support like Amazon’s are a natural way to interact with users.
3) Be consistent with your posting schedule
Posting consistently on Instagram is a key strategy in avoiding the risk of being shadowbanned. By maintaining a regular posting schedule, you signal to Instagram’s algorithm that you’re an active, engaged participant, which can favor your account’s visibility. Consistent activity helps in building a loyal following and maintaining high engagement rates, both of which are positive indicators for Instagram.
A tool like Hopper HQ can help you with exactly that. Strategically Schedule your posts well in advance to keep consistent and not lose quality of content. Essentially, a steady stream of content, coupled with genuine interaction, aligns with Instagram’s goal of fostering a vibrant, interactive community, thereby reducing the likelihood of being shadowbanned.
4) Avoid banned hashtags
Instagram’s banned hashtags change daily. If you want to check if a hashtag is banned, search for it. You’ll know it’s been banned because you’ll get a message that a specific hashtag is hidden following a community report that the content under the hashtag doesn’t follow Community Guidelines. You should check your hashtags before using them.
It will also help to rely on your intuition. If you’re second-guessing the use of a specific hashtag, don’t use it. Instagram’s algorithms may read your hashtag as potentially harmful to the community even if it’s not sensitive.
5) Use a content warning for sensitive posts
Implementing content warnings for sensitive posts on Instagram can significantly mitigate the risk of being shadowbanned, a scenario where the platform restricts the visibility of your content without notification. When you proactively label posts that might contain sensitive material, you align with Instagram’s guidelines to create a safe and respectful online environment.
This practice demonstrates to the platform that you are mindful of your audience’s diverse sensitivities and are committed to contributing positively to the community.
How to remove a shadowban on Instagram
When you’re sure that Instagram has shadowbanned your account, there are some things you can do to reverse it. Users have pointed out that these actions helped them recover from a shadowban.
1) Delete the banned post
Deleting the banned post is one of the easiest ways to get back on track. If the shadowban happened right after you published a particular post, deleting it could be helpful, and your engagement should get back to normal when you put subsequent posts live.
2) Check and delete hashtags from recent posts
Hashtags associated with harmful or violent behaviors, hate speech, threats, or inappropriate content will result in deleted posts, disabling your account, or other restrictions.
3) Stop posting for a few days
Users who took a break from posting on Instagram – including Stories and Reels – say that their accounts recovered from the shadowban after 2-3 days.
4) Revoke permissions from third-party apps
Using third-party apps and automated services may make it look like there is not an actual person behind the content, and the algorithm may flag this as a spammy tactic.
Always double-check the permissions you give to these services that promise to grow your account whether it’s scheduling tools or other integrations.
5) Deactivate and activate your account
Temporarily deactivating your account for a couple of days may fix a shadow ban. Use the deactivate feature, don’t delete your account.
6) Prioritise Reels
Focusing on Reels will help your account return to normal. Reels rather than static in-feed posts are driving a lot of engagement on the platform at the moment – especially among younger audiences – recording and editing short videos with music can help you capitalize on the success of the feature.
7) Reach out to Instagram support
In case you have yet to learn why Instagram is banning or deleting certain content, contact their Help Center for Instagram Business.
Do specific words get you shadowbanned on Instagram?
Some users have reported getting shadowbanned due to using specific words, like sensitive content, politically focused topics, or ambiguous content.
For example, the hashtag #eatingdisorder is a sensitive topic for the community. When searching for this content, Instagram doesn’t display related content unless the user actually wants to explore posts, including that tag.
How to improve Instagram engagement
What can you do to improve your Instagram engagement and start recovering from a shadowban? Here are some best practices that the Content Marketing Institute suggests to increase engagement.
- Include a call to action in every piece of content. Your CTA could be a subtle message like “Send this to a person you care about” or a straightforward suggestion like “Save this post for later”.
- Add a comment with further information. If the caption didn’t give enough detail about the post, add a comment right after posting. Doing this will increase comment volume.
- Post at least once a day. Consistency and frequency are key to staying relevant for your followers. You can determine the best time to post based on data from Instagram analytics tools.
- Cross-promote. Share your Instagram content on Facebook, other social channels, and your website.
- Share useful or entertaining content. You want to keep your followers engaged and give them a reason to save your post in their saved folder. Using Instagram templates will help you ensure that each post is unique, adds value, and looks good.
Even though Instagram’s shadowban is not official, there are still actions you can take and preventative measures you should follow to avoid a shadowban.
Check your analytics constantly and monitor your account daily. Learning how your community behaves will give you the lead in case something like this happens. Also, build the habit of understanding how a product – not just Instagram – works, and keep your knowledge up to date.
Consider trying Hopper HQ for free to stay consistent with posting, keep track of banned hashtags, and stay on top of your analytics.
How does the Instagram algorithm work
As explained by Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, there is not just one algorithm deciding what users get to see. There are algorithms for each part of the app: Feed, Explore, Reels. Each algorithm has its ranking system based on signals and user interactions.
The main difference between the algorithms is the user’s intent. For example, when using the search tab, the intent may be navigating to a specific profile or hashtag rather than looking for trending Reels.
What is the algorithm?
The algorithm – or multiple algorithms – is the AI technology that curates the best content for each user based on their intent. Algorithms enable Instagram to personalize each experience, so the content makes sense to the individual user.
Contrary to popular belief, this technology is only partially computer-based. The algorithm works with AI, but humans are also involved in tweaking the system.
How does Instagram rank feeds and stories?
Instagram explains how they rank and order specific posts and stories that users may like. Essentially, the science behind this decision is based on the following:
- Information about the post
- Information about the person who posted
- The user’s activity
- The user’s history of interacting with someone
Did Instagram shadow-ban me?
As we’ve stated, there’s no official way Instagram can tell you if your account is shadowbanned. However, you can run a quick test to know:
Post an image with a low-key, unpopular hashtag. Once you’ve posted it, ask people who don’t follow you to search for that hashtag. You might have been shadowbanned if no one saw your recent post in their search results.
Another way to know is to monitor your Instagram insights and look for a sudden drop in followers, views, or interactions.
How to report a shadowban on Instagram
If you think there’s a mistake and what you posted doesn’t break any of Instagram’s community guidelines, go to Instagram’s Report a problem section.