Death to Engagement: How to Sidestep Instagram’s Shadowban

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Last Updated: May 26, 2021

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Running a successful Instagram page for your brand means staying up-to-date on all the app’s latest features, glitches and restrictions. At first glance, many Instagram updates seem fairly petty, but it’s often the unseen back-end changes that could either hurt or help your user engagement.

Recently, a shadowban has been implicated within the app to promote organic Instagram growth and filter out some of the bot-driven, “spammy” posts. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a shadowban is a where a user gets blocked from a community like Instagram or Twitter without their knowing.

The Instagram shadowban applies directly to the use of hashtags. With that said, if hashtags are a big part of your Instagram marketing program, pay special attention to avoid falling victim to this detrimental shadowban.

If your company’s posts are suddenly seeing a significant decrease in likes, comments or views, it’s likely related to the shadowban. While you and your followers will be able to see your post under the written hashtags, users who don’t follow you will not. This entirely defeats the purpose of using hashtags for additional exposure altogether.

Since Instagram has become such a prominent marketing tool, many users have abused hashtags with distasteful, “spammy” posts for the mere sake of likes and other “spammy” followers. Keep in mind that Instagram is ran by actual humans who can easily detect this type of bot-like behavior and will likely penalize you for it.

Many speculate that Instagram has designed the algorithm and additional features including the shadowban to encourage companies and prominent users to actually pay for sponsored posts. 

Now, to initiate organic Instagram growth, let’s be sure you abide by the rules and never encounter anything that might interfere with the success of your brand.

While hashtags are strongly encouraged to grow your audience, be sure that they’re neither banned nor inappropriate. Oftentimes, seemingly innocent hashtags become cluttered with crude or irrelevant posts. When this happens, Instagram will essentially block the hashtag making it impossible for any posts to appear.

Please note that even a single broken hashtag amongst several working tags will result in your post not appearing in any of them. The only way to prevent this is to check each hashtag for clean, relevant content prior to posting.

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Additionally, don’t be the cause of a broken hashtag. I’m sure this sounds blatantly obvious for many brands and personal account users, but you’d be surprised at some of the crude content being posted in hopes of building an edgy or comical reputation. Being flagged or reported is a sure way to end up shadow-banned.

Finally, if you have been using software to increase the traffic on your account, be cautious that it isn’t violating Instagram’s ever-changing regulations. Sure, a quick kickstart to get some likes and followers is useful for building a reputable account. However, many of these bots abuse the auto-like and auto-comment function to the point of appearing highly “spammy” and the app will surely reprimand you for it and potentially place you on the shadowban list.

If you’ve suddenly noticed a drastic decrease of engagement on your posts and are unsure if it’s due to a shadowban, ask a friend to unfollow your account (assuming they follow you) and search for your post under your posted hashtags.

Now if you feel that you’ve been following Instagram’s terms of service and have been banned for no reason, your best bet is to contact Instagram directly and refrain from using the app for 3-4 days. Many users who have experienced a shadowban have reported that a brief Insta hiatus has solved their issues entirely.

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