Are your posts not showing up in the hashtags? And is your engagement dropping and your follower count decreasing? If that’s the case, you might be “shadowbanned”.
Let’s dive right into this mysterious matter!
What is an Instagram Shadowban?
A shadowban on Instagram is a hidden penalty on your account. You don’t get notified that you are shadowbanned. Your posts won’t be shown in the hashtag section and won’t reach the explore page. Your content will only be shown to your followers. You will experience a decrease in your reach and it will be harder for you to gain new followers.
Is the Instagram Shadowban Real?
Yes, it is. Many say that there is no such thing as a “shadowban”. But Instagram can restrict your account for wrong behavior, with or without calling it a shadowban. The term is mainstream and a lot of users on Instagram use it as an excuse for their decline in reach and engagement.
Instagram says that they will restrict accounts that go against the Community Guidelines. They especially state that only followers will be able to see posts of accounts that get restricted. Which means that Instagram won’t shadowban you out of the blue. There will be a reason. You will have to figure out what was wrong to prevent it from happening again.
How to Check if You Are Shadowbanned?
There are two ways for you to find out if your Instagram account has been hit with a shadowban.
But don’t forget that Instagram will only shadowban you for a reason. If you didn’t notice any changes to your account, it doesn’t mean that a shadowban is the reason for your low engagement.
Take a look at your Instagram Insights. A shadowbanned account will show consistently low reach. The bars will form a flat line and won’t show any irregularities.
1. Use a Different Account to Check if You Are Shadowbanned
Find another user or create a new account that is not following your main account. If that user can’t see your post under the hashtag you used, you are shadowbanned. Keep in mind that you might want to use a small hashtag (with a low amount of posts) so your post won’t get buried under millions of other posts.
2. Instagram Shadowban Tester in 2019
This is probably an easier way. You can use a shadowban analyzer tool to check if you are shadowbanned. You just have to enter your Instagram handle and it will check your last ten posts the same way you would do manually. It will simply check if your posts are shown in the used hashtags. But stay frosty here! These are not official tools. Don’t trust them 100%. We would recommend to always ask someone to check the hashtags manually to be on the safe side.
If you are not shadowbanned – congratulations! But if your engagement is still down, you should rethink your strategy and your content. This hashtag guide may be helpful to rework your hashtag strategy.
We even created a list of 10 easy tips to increase your engagement, just in case.
How Long Does an Instagram Shadowban Last?
The Instagram shadowban lasts for 14 days. Many users claim that they have been shadowbanned for several weeks or even months. That can’t be the truth. Always check Instagram’s Insights. Numbers don’t lie. Your insights will match the numbers from the picture above. Two weeks of consistently low reach and after that your account should be back to normal.
Is the Instagram Shadowban Permanent?
No, it is not. The shadowban lasts exactly 14 days. We had the feeling to make this clear since there were so many users worried their accounts would never recover.
How to Remove an Instagram Shadowban?
Instagram shadowbans you for a reason, as we have said. Why would they withdraw the shadowban if they think that you have violated their guidelines?
They won’t. That’s the point. Once you are shadowbanned, you will have to wait for 14 days to get back to normal.
Some Instagrammers claim that they fixed their accounts by promoting their posts (with money). Sadly we didn’t test this with our dummy account. But there is a large number of users who were furious after spending money on promotions without seeing any increase in their reach or engagement. So we advise against it.
Just wait it out and keep interacting with your audience. Don’t stop posting, reduce the number of posts and don’t put out your best content out there during this period.
How to Avoid an Instagram Shadowban?
There are a lot of things you actually have to care about if you don’t want to offend Instagram’s algorithm. Here is a quick list of all the things that can get you shadowbanned. Make sure you avoid all of the following mistakes:
#1 Don‘t Use Banned or Broken Hashtags
If a hashtag is being flooded by spammy or inappropriate content, Instagram will “ban that hashtag”. So, new posts with that hashtag won’t be shown and your account will be flagged by Instagram. This is especially frustrating if totally innocent hashtags are on Instagram’s blacklist, such as #snowstorm.
If you want to know how to check if your hashtag is banned, check the last section of our new hashtag guide.
#2 Don’t Use Bots to Follow, Like and Comment
You have seen them before. Posts with hundreds of likes by users without a profile picture, no posts, and no followers. Yep, these are bots. And they can follow anybody and comment on any posts. Those comments are usually totally unrelated to the post (“looks great”, “nice post”) and are followed by some silly emojis.
Instagram hates these bots. They decrease engagement, are spammy and bring zero value to the community. That’s why Instagram is keen on deleting those accounts. You gain nothing but ghost followers from using these tools.
If you are using an auto-post scheduler, you should make sure that it doesn’t violate Instagram’s terms of service. This practically means that your scheduler must use Instagram’s Business API (only Business Accounts can use those tools). Some useful and safe tools are Buffer and Later.
#3 Don’t Use Too Many Hashtags
You can only use 30 hashtags in a post. Here you can find the official guideline. That doesn’t mean you have to use so many hashtags. But using 30 hashtags in a single post makes you seem spammy. Don’t be that guy.
By the way, it doesn’t matter whether you place the hashtags in the caption or in the comments. But don’t place 30 in the caption and another 30 in the comments. This won’t work because the post will be posted using the first 30 hashtags applied in the caption. This article explains how to use hashtags to grow even faster.
#4 Don’t Overdo it
Instagram has set different limits on different actions within the app. You can only like 350 times per hour. Giving out more likes in one hour will get you flagged by Instagram for spam (one more reason not to use bots).
Don’t follow too many accounts. The limit is set to 7,500 accounts. You will receive a warning: “Error: You can’t follow any more people” if you try to exceed that number. If you really need to follow one more account at that point, you will have to unfollow somebody first.
We have seen many articles saying that a two-day break from Instagram resets your account. Essentially, you should log out and not come back to your favorite app for 48 hours. We can’t confirm this. We actually tested it on a flagged account but there were no changes. Moreover, we don’t think that this would make any change, why would it? The general opinion that a shadowban lasts for two weeks seems to be more popular and supported.
Reporting this issue to Instagram probably will have no effect as well. The reporting system of Instagram is ruled by bots. So, there’s a machine reading your report on the other end. As we can see from the help that hacked users get, don’t expect any actions from Instagram here as well.
Don’t Hurt the Algorithm’s Feelings
Whether there is a shadowban or not, Instagram has the ability to restrict and flag your account. If the almighty algorithm decides that your account is spammy or violates their rules in any other way, your reach will be cut, and you won’t be able to put your great content out there so that everybody can see it. If you follow these tips, you are on the safe side and your engagement can keep growing and growing!
Join our Instagram Marketing Discord server! We’re trying to build an online community focused on the business and marketing side of Instagram. Discord is the perfect place to discuss anything related to Instagram or to just have a chat with other Instagrammers!
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