Have you heard of the term ‘shadowbanning?’ Influencers talk about it a lot, but what is it exactly?
A shadowban is when you notice your posts are not reaching as many followers as they used to, even though they've been uploaded and have received engagement. This typically happens when the algorithm wants to push that user to the bottom of the social feeds.
This also manifests as a celebrity’s posts not showing up for some time, only to find out that they have posted newer content to their page—it’s just invisible on your timeline.
Shadowbanning is a little-known way for Instagram to tell some influencers that they do not want them as part of their community. Here we explore five reasons this might be the case, and how businesses and creators can avoid it:
Why Instagram may hate influencers
1. Influencers make better ads
Instagram is in the business of displaying sponsored posts to targeted groups of people. If the users believe it's valuable enough, they can purchase the product or service from there.
Frankly, this works! Understanding Instagram's paid ads is important to drive great engagements and conversions. If you know how to hack them, you can make more sales on the platform.
However, influencer marketing does the most. People who already like the influencer will be more likely to engage with these sponsored posts, making it an impressive approach. We also think these creators are trustworthy, which is why we purchase the products and services they promote.
In contrast, we scroll past sponsored ads when we see them on Instagram. We don’t purposely avoid looking at them; it’s more like there’s some voice in our head telling us they’re uninteresting and so we quickly move on to something else.
Nowadays, a lot of brands hire influential people to promote their products because they understand the value of influencer marketing. Businesses realize this strategy may be worth more than Instagram Ads, as more and more are using influencers to provide their products with a higher ROI.
Influencers make ads that are interesting to consumers. Most influencers make clever and entertaining posts, so they can easily include a product in their videos with an exciting element.
Most people don’t like Instagram Ads, but the campaigns handled by influencers work wonders. Of course, IG doesn't like this.
2. Instagram need to grow their revenue
If businesses keep pouring more of their money into influencer marketing, it’ll take away Instagram's ability to scale and make money through advertising.
So many influencers exist, and they're all posting sponsored content. This is problematic because businesses would rather sponsor an influencer than pay directly for advertising on Instagram.
It appears influencer marketing is a threat to the revenue of Instagram. Frankly, if you were Instagram, you would be pissed too.
Alas, Instagram may have to learn how to work with influencers if they keep growing at the rate they are.
3. Influencers are charging more
Instagram ad campaigns are generally affordable while influencers charge a lot more to make one post.
On average, an Instagram ad costs around 2 to 6 dollars. Cristiano Ronaldo is the most expensive and most followed Instagram influencer. He earns $450,000-$750,000 from a single post.
People trust Ronaldo and follow his every move. If he promotes your business on his social media, you'll be reaching many people who will do whatever he says. And if Ronaldo makes 10 sponsored posts in a week, that’s A LOT of money!
Of course, there are many influencers less famous than Ronaldo. Businesses often find local, lesser-known influencers for a fraction of the cost. Often, these are still more expensive than Instagram Ads.
4. Influencers offer better engagement
No matter if it’s a sponsored post or one of their random posts, people are going to interact with the content because people enjoy influencers' pages. More so, a lot of users want the attention of an influencer or two.
Does this make sense? Absolutely not. Still, does it mean well for businesses? Definitely!
It helps with a better ranking on search engines, which means more people see posts about the business and find it interesting enough to buy.
5. Instagram cannot pull that much audience
Even though Instagram is offering a lot of great new advertising features, it might not generate the same reach as an influencer.
You can't compare the popularity and reach of a comedian or musician’s post to that of a branded advertisement. Influencers do things better and this is not ideal for Instagram.
Influencers create engaging content that attracts viewers and appeals to a broad audience. This is the kind of following businesses are looking for when promoting their brand and products.
What leads to an Instagram account being shadowbanned?
Instagram hating on influencers aside, it’s unclear how the social network determines what account they restrict. However, some actions may result in significant penalties.
- Things such as posting too many hashtags or excessive commenting happen sometimes, but they’re not appreciated. If you ever get shadowbanned for this, it would be best to keep your activity to a minimum for now. The platform banned some users for following too many people in an hour.
- If your account has been violating Community Guidelines or you have posted inappropriate content, you may end up with a shadowban. Shadowbans are not limited to posts of misinformation, sexually suggestive content, or violence.
- It can be tempting to post using banned hashtags, but you should avoid it. Instagram has never released a list of hashtags that are considered a no-go but for now, it’s best to do some independent research on banned hashtags to stay away from.
- Hashtags are a useful marketing tool, but remember that an overly popular hashtag may cause your account to be shadowbanned. One example of this was in June 2020 when #BlackLivesMatter received sudden attention; information later came from Instagram that this activity was spam.
- Unfortunately, some people have resorted to dishonest tactics, such as paying for likes, using bots to increase followers, and/or participating in engagement pods. This might lead to your Instagram account being shadowbanned.
How to prevent an Instagram shadowban
I hope the points mentioned above are helpful. As a start, remember that you should avoid using hashtags that have been banned or which may break the rules.
Also, be aware of sudden changes in activity. Instagram limits your activity to stop bots and spam. If you follow too many accounts or like too many posts, they may block you.
Avoid behaviors like using a copy-and-paste DM or comment. Don’t start following-then-unfollowing multiple accounts either.
To prevent your account from being shut down, avoid using bots and tools that violate the terms and guidelines.
(Of course, Stormlikes is an Instagram-approved app, so your account is safe if you leverage our Instagram likes platform. Click here to claim 10 free likes.)
How to fix an Instagram shadowban
It seems you have been shadowbanned on Instagram. You've followed the rules but your engagement has dropped and your posts are not reaching people anymore.
There's no way to know why an account might be under a shadowban. The best thing to do is, follow Instagram's rules and practices so that your post has the best chance of being seen by others.
1. Double-check third-party apps
You’ve probably let these auto-bots have access to your Instagram account because social media management software allows you to do some amazing things like collecting performance data, planning posts, and posting comments and likes for you.
While these third-party apps can make your Instagram experience more enjoyable, installing them can have negative effects. Be sure to consider the risks of getting shadowbanned.
Well, if you remove these apps, you'll have to work more on Instagram—but it will ensure your following is real and engaged.
To do this, log in to your Instagram account via a desktop device. And from the profile page, click the icon to access your account settings.
Go to the Authorized Applications section under Settings to see which third-party apps have permission to access your account and review which ones to remove (maybe all).
If you want to avoid being shadowbanned, make sure that there's no way outside sources can access your IG account. You may just get rid of all applications that seem unsafe.
2. Remove banned hashtags
You need to use hashtags if you want your posts to be found by non-followers and this is usually how to get these people’s attention.
Still, some hashtags have been permanently or temporarily banned. This is often because the #tag has gotten a lot of inappropriate content over time. Avoid these tags if you don't want to break any rules.
While an Instagram shadowban disables you to rank for any hashtag, you may still want to employ fresh, relevant tags.
So, social media influencers should avoid the use of banned #tags and find the best ones to get more followers. Learn more about what hashtag monitoring software you should use.
3. Are you following the rules of Instagram?
It's important to understand the community guidelines, terms and conditions, and how to best use Instagram.
Instagram takes steps to advise its users on the kinds of content that are allowed on the app by posting publicly displayed reminders.
The terms and conditions can seem too long to read, but it’s important to follow them to avoid being put on the shadowban list. By not following these rules, your account could even be terminated!
4. Take a break from the platform
Some people say that deleting Instagram off of your phone for a couple of days can solve the shadowban.
When you log back in, start engaging with the content you’re truly interested in. Add thoughtful comments to things you like instead of the same message on everything.
The idea is to lie low and avoid triggering any spam filters. Hopefully, the shadowban will soon be removed from your account.
And while you’re away from Instagram, you can try to determine if another social media platform is better for the nature of your business.
5. Go ‘personal’
Users have been worrying about the Instagram shadowban but it seems this only affects business profiles. One way to remove your account from the blacklist is to switch your profile from business or creator to personal.
Instagram offers lots of benefits for creators and businesses, such as tracking your content performance and viewing your analytics. But if you want to lift a shadowban, simply changing back to a normal account should do the job.
There’s no unique solution for the Instagram shadowban. You should experiment with different methods but first switch your profile to personal, then wait for a few days to see if this will help you get out of the blacklist.
6. Report directly to Instagram
If you've poked around through this checklist and still your Instagram posts aren’t appearing on more social feeds, it may be time to consult Instagram itself.
Here's how to report an Instagram shadowban:
- Open the app, go to Settings and find the Help tab, then click Report a Problem.
- Describe a visibility issue under the Something Isn’t Working menu.
- Please follow the Instagram guidelines by leaving a short and highly descriptive message.
- Open the app, go to Settings and find the Help tab, then click Report a Problem.
When will Instagram lift your shadowban?
There isn’t a fixed time frame that applies to every Instagram shadowban. They usually last for 2-3 weeks, but this could be different for your account. Some people have reported having their accounts banned for up to a month.
We recommend not worrying too much about an Instagram shadowban and just enjoying the app as you normally would. And when it finally gets lifted, try to steer clear of another ban by using the app more responsibly.
Now, it seems like some changes are happening with Instagram that will allow influencers to work with them on a level playing field. The shadowbanning and beefing need to be put in the past so we can focus on working together.
It's not yet known how this truce is going to work and how long it'll last, but we are hopeful. That being said, if you're an influencer, Instagram may not like you and now you know why.
This doesn’t mean you should stop what you’re doing, though. Just become an amazing creator and gather as many real followers as you can, while pushing a trustworthy brand.
While you were probably shadowbanned for any of the reasons above, remember that the ban could happen for other reasons as well. You may have violated some of the site’s rules.
One thing to remember: you need a strategic plan to succeed in influencer marketing—either as a creator or business. And don’t forget to play by the rules.