All You Need to Know About Instagram Shadowban

Al-ameen Abolare

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It has become harder for users to grow on Instagram. Coupled with that, it seems the company is making huge moves to hold back the growth of businesses and individuals online. Or is that just how it seems?

If you’ve been trying to build a brand on Instagram, you probably already know how hard it can be to gain followers and engagement on your posts. The Instagram algorithm is now wired to promote more popular accounts compared to newbies that just moved into the street.

However, this is not due to the fact that the social media company doesn’t want more people on the platform. Instagram, over the years, has been trying to improve it’s security and get rid of false accounts and posts that may mislead people.

One of the many strategies that have been put in place is the Instagram shadowban.

What is Shadowban on Instagram?

A shadow ban occurs when your posts are blocked from certain hashtags. It often occurs as a result of hashtag overuse, or false hashtag usage.

When an account is shadowbanned on a particular hashtag, the user’s posts will not be shown on that hashtag even though it still shows on the user’s feed.

Funny enough, if that user checks the hashtag, he or she may find the post there; just that no one else will see it.

Shadowban is happening more frequently than you can imagine. It is Instagram’s way of telling you that “you better be careful here.”

Does a shadowban really affect my IG engagement?

Let’s step back and understand why we use hashtags.

Hashtags on Instagram are like separate accounts with followers. When these hashtags are included in posts, the posts will show up on the “hashtag account,” so everyone that follows that hashtag can see your post.

The main reason we use hashtags is that they take us beyond our circle of followers into vast circles of audiences. Hashtags have more diverse followers than most individual accounts; so, including them in posts will take you to new grounds.

When your account is shadowbanned on a particular hashtag, it means your posts will no longer show up on that “hashtag account.” In other words, the millions of people that follow that hashtag will not see your post anymore.

This hurts engagement and even brand growth because it means only your followers can see your post and new people may never see them.

When you include certain hashtags in your posts, new people can see them, engage with them, and maybe even follow you. But when you’re shadowbanned on these hashtags, you’re constricted to your own followers.

Why do accounts get shadowbanned?

Shadowbans can happen for a host of reasons. some of the most popular reasons behind shadowbans are:

1. Overuse of a hashtag

When you use a hashtag too frequently on too many posts, instagram flags you as, well, trying to exploit people.

Many accounts fall culprit of this. We often just gather a bunch of hashtags and copy and paste every time we make a post.

2. Using false hashtags

This is another very common reason why accounts get shadowbanned on IG.

You know there are certain hashtags with more followers than others. However, not all these hashtags correspond with your niche.

When you use hashtags that doesn’t relate to what you’re posting (e.g using a #motivationmonday on a post advertising phone wares), Instagram gradually marks you; and after a period of time, you may get shadowbanned.

3. Using too many hashtags

Instagram shadowban is faster on accounts that use too many hashtags. It’s quite sensible that if you want to reach more people outside your immediate circle, you should use as many hashtags as possible. Right?

No. Using too many hashtag can make the Instagram algorithm believe that you are trying to do something funny. Think about it, how possible is it for a single post to be appropriate for up to 12 different topics (hashtags)?

IG has thought about it, and they know it’s near impossible.

How to Know If You’ve Been Shadowbanned

How do you know if you’ve been shadowbanned? It’s not all the time that you will notice a dip in your engagement. So, to uncover whether you’ve been shadowbanned from certain hashtags, do the following.

  • Make a post and include the hashtag you’re suspecting.
  • Afterwards, use another instagram account to check that hashtag.
  • If your post shows up there, then you most likely aren’t shadowbanned.
  • If it doesn’t, then you need to use some of the strategies discussed below to avoid it.

Caution: Do not use the same account that made the post to check the hashtag. If you do, you may find it there even if it has been shadowbanned, but others won’t. You may use your other IG account or that of a friend.

How to Avoid Instagram Shadowban

Instagram shadowban can be stubborn, but it is not invincible. Do the following to avoid being shadowbanned.

1. Do substantial hashtag research

Don’t just pick up hashtags from the trash. Spend some time researching the hashtags that are important to your niche.

There are various online tools for hashtag research. Use these tools to improve your findings. Also, spend some time doing some manual research.

Open up different hashtags in your niche. Which posts have been performing well in these hashtags? What are these posts like? Are they similar to what you do?

Get substantial details about hashatgs to use.

2. Use only matching hashtags

If you’re writing a motivational post on a Monday, use #mondaymotivation. However, if you’re writing a post about your diary products, don’t use #uselections.

The key to surviving the claws of IG is to simply act responsibly. Use hashtags that match your posts and leave others out, no matter how appealing they may seem to you.

In marketing, the key is not to reach more people. The key is to reach your people.

Al-ameen Abolare
3. Avoid hashtag overload

You don’t want to be shooting yourself in the leg by using too many hashtags. The key is to always find where your audience is and try to reach them and them alone.

This can be done in just 3 – 5 hashtags. But if you feel compelled to use more than 5, make sure they relate to your post.

Remember, you can avoid the IG Police by simply acting responsibly.


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