Noticed a dramatic change in your Instagram analytics? Posts not being shown to new users? It could be that being shadowbanned on Instagram is to blame. Find out if you’ve been shadowbanned, and what to do about it.
If you’ve noticed your Instagram engagement has taken a dive, or that you are no longer reaching new audiences, there may be some dark forces at play.
No, you don’t have to get out your lightsaber. What we’re talking about here is Instagram shadowbanning. And it could be impacting your efforts to grow your account.
Let’s take a look at how to check if you’ve been shadowbanned and what can cause it.
What Is Instagram Shadowbanning? 🙅♀️
When your account has been shadowbanned, it means your posts aren’t discoverable. They’re not being found via hashtags or showing up on explore pages of anyone who doesn’t already follow you. This mainly affects your discoverability via hashtags, as they are one of the key ways that you actually reach new audiences.
When you use hashtags, you’re giving your posts a chance to be seen by a wider audience – an audience who is specifically interested in and searching for the type of content you’re posting.
So, if your posts aren’t showing up in Instagram’s hashtag searches and explore pages, you’re losing out on a big opportunity to reach a new audience and grow your account.
Now, it’s true – there’s been some debate as to whether shadowbanning on Instagram is really a thing. But, just because Instagram themselves don’t use or promote the term, doesn’t mean the phenomenon doesn’t exist.
“While some posts on Instagram may not go against our Community Guidelines, they might not be appropriate for our global community, and we’ll limit those types of posts from being recommended on Explore and hashtag pages. For example, a sexually suggestive post will still appear in Feed if you follow the account that posts it, but this type of content may not appear for the broader community in Explore and hashtag pages.”
The thing they don’t make clear is what type of content will incur this penalty or how to know if it’s happening to you.
How to Check If You’re Shadowbanned on Instagram 🕵️♂️
If you have an Instagram business account, you may be able to use Instagram Insights to glean some information on whether people who aren’t following you are finding and engaging with your posts.
This won’t work for personal accounts, however, and it’s not foolproof.
How do you simply check if you’re shadowbanned on Instagram?
For the simplest and most reliable method of checking whether you’ve been shadowbanned on Instagram, whether you’re a business or not, you can simply see for yourself whether your posts are showing up on hashtag results pages. How do you do this? You’ll need access to an account (or someone with an account) that is not following the account you want to check. Immediately after you post something to Instagram, use this other account to click on the hashtags you used and see if your post appears in the search results for those hashtags.
For more reliable results, try and do this from multiple accounts and on several different posts.
It’s important to check immediately after posting because posts can be bumped off the hashtag pages quickly – especially if the hashtag is a popular one. We recommend using a hashtag that isn’t too popular!
Another way you can predict whether or not a hashtag could lead to you being shadowbanned on Instagram is by looking at the hashtags you plan on using on your posts ahead of time. If that hashtag appears to be banned or restricted, then using it could be a risk. There are a few methods you can use to do this:
There are restricted or banned hashtags out there that you might not expect, such as #alone or #pushups. The best way to manually check if a hashtag is banned is by searching it. If it doesn’t appear and no hashtag exists with that name, then it is likely banned by Instagram:
Restricted or flagged hashtags will still exist but when you click on them, you will only be able to see a handful of posts, rather than a long page of content you can endlessly scroll through. This likely means the hashtag is under review, and that you shouldn’t use it.
Manually checking every single hashtag you plan on using before posting is a time-consuming process. Within our platform, as you discover and search for the hashtags that are the most compatible with your account (and will therefore increase your chances for organic growth), we also have a Banned & Flagged Instagram hashtag checker. Before you export your hashtags for use or add them to a Collection for later, you are able to run a hashtag scan, which will alert you to any banned or flagged hashtags within your selection.
You can also determine whether you’ve been shadowbanned, by looking at your Reach and Impression metrics on Instagram. If you noticed a large drop in the discovery metrics for your posts, it’s likely that you could be shadowbanned. Metrics to look at include:
- Discovery % of new users
- Impressions from Hashtags
- Impressions from Profile
- Impressions from Others
You should compare your results to a time when you are certain you were not shadowbanned in order to understand the change in metrics.
Why You’ve Been Shadowbanned on Instagram & What To Do About It 💪
If you’ve used the method above and found that your posts are not showing up on the hashtag pages, we can assume that you’ve been shadowbanned (sorry).
But don’t worry: we can fix this. The first thing to understand is why shadowbanning happens. From there, we can avoid doing the things that cause shadowbanning on Instagram so that your account can be back to being the on-point, engagement-generating powerhouse it was before.
Let’s take a look at common reasons for Instagram shadowbanning:
- You’re not complying with the community guidelines.
Instagram take their community guidelines seriously, so if you’re in breach of them, there’s a good chance you’ll end up penalised by the platform. The community guidelines can be found here so brush up and be sure to stay within them.
- You’re buying followers or faking engagement.
Say it with us: buying followers on Instagram isn’t worth it. If Instagram catches on that your followers are bots or spammers, they might not take too kindly to your account. Real, organic growth and genuinely engaged followers are what you want, full stop.
- You’re using banned or flagged hashtags.
Certain hashtags have been banned or flagged by Instagram as going against their community guidelines. If you use these hashtags, you’re putting your account in danger by association. New hashtags are getting flagged all the time, so it’s difficult to know for sure which ones to avoid. That’s where Flick’s #1 hashtag tool can help, as it will never suggest banned or flagged hashtags, letting you effortlessly sidestep any that could potentially get you shadowbanned.
- You’re using the same hashtags over and over.
If you’re constantly copying and pasting the same block of hashtags over and over (and over), it could be that Instagram thinks you’re being, well, a little bit spammy. Your hashtag strategy should include a way to use relevant hashtags every time. And since your content probably varies a bit, your hashtags should too.
- You’re over-engaging.
Is there such a thing as being too gung-ho with the old like button? You bet – if you ramp up your liking and commenting to over-enthusiastic levels, Instagram might assess you as being less-than-genuine in your engagements. To avoid being shadowbanned, keep it real and don’t get too trigger-happy with that double-tapping.
How can you fix being shadowbanned on Instagram?✍️
If you want to avoid being shadowbanned on Instagram, or to bounce back from a shadowbanning incident, you really only have to follow a few simple rules.
- The first thing you should do is remove any broken, banned or restricted hashtags, in order to signal to Instagram that you are complying with their guidelines and not posting any content that could be flagged as inappropriate.
- Instagram only allows up to 500 actions a day, and this includes follows, likes, comments and DMs. If you find you are over-engaging, try and cut back, so that your account isn’t raised as promoting spam-like activity.
- Focus on growing organically and posting quality, engaging content.
- Comply with all community guidelines.
- Ensure you have a solid hashtag strategy that takes into account banned hashtags in the future.
- If you believe you have complied with all of the guidelines, and still are shadowbanned, you can report an issue to Instagram by navigating to Settings -> Report a Problem.
Thinking it could be something more than shadowbanning but not sure what? Check out the biggest Instagram myths and other reasons why you’re Instagram isn’t getting the engagement you want here. Want more insights on how you can improve your hashtag strategy? Click the banner below!