Visibility and exposure on social media are like a lifeline for many businesses as audience engagement drives sales, brand awareness and marketing reach in the modern market. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are prime places for companies to gain potential customers through profile follows and post ‘likes.’


Throughout 2017, articles and reports, like this Iconosquare piece, surfaced describing recent changes to Instagram’s moderation practices for hashtags and what was referred to as the ‘shadowban.’


What is a shadowban?  It’s when Instagram blocks users from viewing content produced by an account that uses banned hashtags, or the exact same hashtags, repeatedly. Shadowbanning limits what users can view from Instagram feeds, as well as in searches.


Shadowbanning: A Social Media Controversy


The shadowban is a controversial subject from its effects to its very existence. Instagram claims that the shadowban does not, in fact, exist. However, many users and media outlets seem to tell a different story.


According to Hubspot, Instagram released a statement addressing user complaints on its Instagram for Business Facebook account on February 28, 2017. Instagram admitted to experiencing a “hashtag glitch,” as well as to altering algorithms to encourage higher quality content. Some experts, such as Jenn Herman, remain skeptical of whether Instagram performs covert content silencing.


What Does The Social Media Shadowban Do?


Shadowbanning allegedly blocks an account’s content from visibility to the wider Instagram community, while still allowing existing followers to view its content. Violating Instagram’s policies and standards, both stated and unstated, can significantly reduce engagement.

“Shadowbanning” refers to covert methods social media platforms use to screen and hide inappropriate or low-quality content. It may block or limit the visibility of your content to other users.


What Are Social Media Shadowban Indicators?


A steep drop in engagement metrics, such as likes and follows, is the telltale signal an Instagram account has been shadowbanned. To be sure that Instagram’s algorithms are to blame, use Triberr’s Shadowban Tester – available here.


How Does A Shadowban Affect Social Media Users?


Businesses rely on social media engagement to reach out to consumers; getting shadowbanned can quickly cut into a business’ bottom line. According to Hootsuite, 66% of Instagram users seek out new products and purchases on the platform. Losing potentially thousands of content views, even temporarily, by users that do not yet follow you, is a massive risk.


Businesses produce social media content, such as Instagram stories,  for it to be seen. Shadowbanning makes it difficult for stories and traditional posts to be viewed, and for profiles to be followed, posing a tremendous negative impact for companies that mismanage hashtags and content.


How Can Businesses Avoid A Social Media Shadowban?


Shadowbanning is something your business needs to avoid at all costs. To ensure your company is not at risk:


  • Assemble an extensive list of hashtags you can regularly rotate between (All Hashtags is an excellent source tool)
  • Vary your hashtags regularly, but not in a predictable pattern
  • Only use hashtags relevant to the content topic of your post
  • Read and always follow Instagram’s guidelines
  • Do not use bots to post or comment on content
  • Do not use banned hashtags or post inappropriate content


For a list of banned hashtags, see Social Insider’s post here!


Social media content creators and the businesses they serve face significant risks since the introduction of shadowbanning.

How Can A Social Media Shadowban Be Removed?


If you fear your company has been hit with a shadowban on Instagram, Yr Charisma’s recent blog recommends following the same practices for avoiding it. Supposedly, good behavior should eventually reverse the ban. Engagement should slowly but surely increase until the ban is completely lifted. Since Instagram is not open about their practices in regard to shadowbanning, it’s hard to know what the actual probationary period is on a banned account. The best practice is not to engage in behavior that can result in a shadowban in the first place.


How Can Your Business Recover From A Social Media Shadowban?


Whether you’ve been shadowbanned or experienced a dip in engagement for other reasons, you may be wondering how to build up your audience and raise engagement. You can do this by:


  • Creating new Instagram stories regularly
  • Using the maximum number of hashtags – 30 per post
  • Posting content that is relevant and captivating for your audience
  • Using high-quality images and video content


Think of your Instagram feed like a shop front or gallery you want visitors to flood into. Curate content with care and the people will show up! Some of them will even make a purchase after looking around.


Recovering from a social media shadowban can be costly in terms of time and strategy. Act preventatively to keep your business visible on social media platforms like Instagram.


What If The Shadowban Is A Social Media Myth?


There’s sufficient evidence to suggest that Instagram’s algorithms limit visibility on accounts that do not conform to the aforementioned best practices and use the same hashtags repeatedly, or post inappropriate content. The best approach when dealing with the shadowban is prevention; caution is the best policy.


If you need help or advice on drafting or curating quality, relevant Instagram content,  contact Three Girls Media today! We can help!


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