If you’re as active as I am on Instagram and rely heavily on the engagement, then you may have heard of the infamous shadow ban that’s been plaguing accounts for weeks. So many bloggers and accounts have been affected by this ban and it has significantly dropped the amount of likes and comments they receive on their posts.
So what is a shadow ban?
The Instagram Shadow Ban is Instagram hides your photos from hashtags, making them undiscoverable by people who do not follow you. Your current followers will not be affected and they will be able to see your content on their newsfeed and in the hashtags you use without a problem.
This has angered so many people in the Instagram community because it defeats the entire purpose of using hashtags to grow your following. If you can’t use hashtags to reach people who are not following you, how will you ever grow your account or business? Instagram has not given any direct answers on why this is happening, but they do admit it is a hashtag glitch.
When someone who doesn’t follow you searches for those same tags you used, your photo will not show up in the search results. It is as if your photos are “banned” from certain hashtags. Everything looks normal to you, but if you have another personal Instagram account that doesn’t follow the one you suspect is being shadow banned, try searching for your tags and seeing for yourself. You can also have a friend unfollow your account and search for you in the tags.
If they can’t find your posts in the hashtag, then you are shadow banned. Another good way of checking if you’re affected by the ban is using this Instagram Shadow Ban Checker. Type in your username or the link to a specific post to check if it is banned.
This is what is looks like if your account is not affected by the ban:
Please keep in mind that this Shadow Ban Tester is not 100% reliable or accurate. I recommend having a friend search for your posts in the tags to get a more accurate answer on if you are really banned.
If you are finding yourself a victim of the Instagram Shadow Ban, don’t fret! There are a few ways on how you can protect your account that I’ve personally used myself to lift the ban on my account.
How To Protect Your Account
Stop using automated apps and software that violate Instagram’s Terms of Service
Instagram has been cracking down on those violating their Terms of Service to get rid of spammy accounts. Those who use apps and bots to increase their following and engagement are being directly affected by this shadow ban. This includes programs like Instagress. Scheduling apps that actually post for you also can get you banned and violate their Terms of Service.
Apps that simply remind you when to post, but you still have to manually post them are okay to use! It will only get you banned if the app actually posts for you.
Stop using broken or banned hashtags on your posts
This is one I have personally used on my account and it has made all the difference. There are certain tags on Instagram that are broken or banned. This means that if you go to this tag, you might see some tops posts on the page but you will also see a message that shows the tag is banned because it does not meet Instagram’s community guidelines. A good example of a banned tag is #beautyblogger.
I went back through my posts and made sure to delete all banned hashtags and ones that had more than 500,000 posts in it. I kept about 3-5 hashtags maximum on each post as well. I believe this definitely helped me remove the ban on my account.
Try to avoid sudden surges in your activity
There are certain limits Instagram places on its users like how many photos you can like or comment per hour. Keep your activity to a normal amount that you usually do. If you go on a random follow or like spree, this might trigger Instagram to place a shadow on your account because it may come across as spammy.
Don’t spam others or post content that can get you reported
If you do something that gets you reported by another user on Instagram and Instagram confirms that you violated their Terms of Service, you might just get yourself shadowbanned or worse — have your account disabled. So be extremely careful with what you post!
Take 2-3 days off Instagram
I highly recommend taking a short break from Instagram. I found this very difficult to do because I did not want to lose followers for being inactive. But it was worth it and definitely contributed to having the ban removed from my account. You can take a break from posting, but I personally did not even log into the account for the 2-3 day break. It’s up to you how you want to take your break and how long to take it, but it did work for me to not log into it for a while.
Change from a business account to a personal one
I actually did this one a while back before the shadow ban was on my account. I found that my engagement was much higher when I had a personal account so I decided to make the switch back to personal from business a couple of months ago. This will also help remove the shadow ban from your account because Instagram wants businesses to pay for ads. The ban might force some businesses to buy ads to increase their engagement, so just switch over to personal and it might just help remove the ban.
The only downside was losing the Insights for my account, but that’s alright for me as of right now!
Change up the hashtags you use and use fewer ones
Last but not least, change up your hashtags! If you’re constantly using the same 30 hashtags on every post you will find yourself on the shadow ban list for sure. Alternate your hashtags and be wise on the ones you choose to use. Avoid using huge tags where your posts can get buried in seconds. Test out different tags and then use the tool above to check if you’re still banned afterward.
Hashtags are one of the biggest ways Instagrammers have used to boost their engagement and increase their following, so it is a shame that this shadow ban has come about. If you follow the tips above, you should be able to find yourself on Instagram’s good side and your engagement should increase again over time.
Instagram does not seem like it will be fixing this hashtag issue any time soon, but if you clean up the tags on your account you should be able to get your account back to normal in no time.