Remember when you were younger and your Mom would come home from work and be randomly mad about something? Then she would start yelling at you and send you to your room while you argued back that you didn’t do anything? Instagram has become my angry Mom.
Without an explanation, Instagram has shadowbanned me. And worse, they won’t tell me how to fix it.
I’ve been put in an Instagram time out, and it’s really hurting my social life.
What is shadowbanning?
According to PetaPixel shadowbanning (also known as stealth banning or ghost banning): “Refers to banning a person’s account without them knowing it. From their perspective, everything seems normal, but nobody else can actually see the photos or comments or videos they’re posting.”
In Instagram’s case a shadowban hides your pictures from hashtag searches, therefore, only people who are already following you can see your posts. As a relatively new account, hashtags are the #1 way to get your content to reach likeminded individuals who can turn into followers. Without them your audience hardly grows simply because you’re not discoverable.
How did I know I was being shadowbanned?
In the past two weeks I noticed a lower than usual amount of engagement on my photos. Most recently I received a mere 45 likes on an epic photo of Sequoia National Park (I usually average 400) and knew something was up. I had heard a bit about shadowbanning, and decided to do some research. Unfortunately, this seemed to be my exact issue. I knew I was being shadowbanned when I started searching hashtags that I used on my photos. When I searched them on my own account I would see my pictures in the search page. However, when I logged into another Instagram account, one that WASN’T following me, my pictures were no where to be found.
I even added some random hashtags to my photos so that I could be sure my photos weren’t just getting lost in the millions of photos that are posted on Instagram. For example, on a recent photo I used the tag #feellikeIshouldbeatthecountryclub. If you’re following me, my photo is the only one that shows up when you search that hashtag. If you’re NOT following me Instagram will show that there’s 1 post using that tag, but when you click to see what it is Instagram shows no posts available. INTERESTING……
If your feeling like something isn’t quiet right with your engagement, I recommend running this quick test to find out if you’ve been banned.
Here’s my question to Instagram?
Why can’t you just be up front about banning? I’m all for removing scammers, but I think your bots are reaching to far.
I understand and agree with Instagram doing it’s job to keep Instagram a safe and un-abussed community, but if you think I’m dong something wrong, why can’t you just tell me? And more importantly, tell me how to fix it. If I’m commenting too much, using too many hashtags, or following too many people: tell me. Tell me where I’m failing so I can correct it before a catastrophe like this. Instead Instagram is hiding behind excuses and calling it an issue with “hashtag searching” [read more], it’s a joke.
As someone who is working extremely hard to build a following it’s disheartening that I have no control over Instagram coming in and wiping away my hard work in just a matter of a few days. I’m not a large account, I’m not a fake account, I’m a real person, with real issues, and I wish Instagram could respond to me with a real answer as to why this is happening. I don’t think any authentic Instagram user is against blocking spam. However, there needs to a system in place when Instagram makes a mistake and mislabels an account.
After reporting the issue, and attempting to contact Instagram multiple times over the last few days, I’ve received no response– of course! I now find myself playing a guessing game, unsure of how to remove the ban and scared that one wrong move is going to make this whole fiasco last longer. I’m willing to play by the rules, but Instagram needs to be more clear on what they are. The past 3 days I quit Instagram cold turkey- I completely logged out and had no engagement with anyone on my page. In that time I lost 70 followers, and have had little activity on my website since I’ve been unable to market on my main traffic driver. Three days isn’t a long time, and I can take the hit, I’m not mad Instagram is punishing me if they feel I deserve punishment, but the question remains: Do I deserve it? Plus, I’ve heard this ban can last months, and I know I can’t survive that. So Instagram, what do I do? If you want Instagram to be a ‘real community’, then be real with me.
Rant Done. Mic Drop.
How to end your Shadowban:
Honestly, none of these methods have been proven to work overnight or even at all. Again, thank you Instagram for refusing to be upfront with us.
1. Log out of your account and go cold turkey for 2-3 days.
– Yes, I know it hurts. Apparently doing this pushes a sort of reset button on your account. I decided to try this method first even though it seems to be the most desperate. I just wanted to get it over with. (DID NOT WORK FOR ME)
2. Change your account from a business profile to a personal account.
– No comment here. My account has always been a personal one.
3. Turn off any bots that are operating on your Instagram.
– I’ll be real, I had a like bot. It used to like 70 pictures an hour. I thought for sure that my ‘like bot’ was what caused my ban. Even though this bot had been recommended to me by many other bloggers who have had no issues with it. Here’s the funny part though: when I went to turn off my bot at the start of this ban I realized that it was already off because I had changed my Instagram password a few days prior and hadn’t reauthorized the bot! Being the bot was already off, I’m not sure if it was involved in the banning??
– I also used the followers+ app that tracks who follow/unfollows you and the engagement on your photos. Seems innocent, but maybe not?
– I don’t use these, but I read that you should also turn off any post schedulers.
GO TO: Edit Profile –> Authorized Applications –> Deauthorize. To remove any bots or apps from your Instagram.
4. HASHTAGS. I think this was my kryptonite.
– Start by deleting hashtags from your recent posts, and in the future…..
– Don’t use all 30 hashtags. Instagram: why do you allow the use of 30 hashtags but then punish me when I use them?
– Don’t use the same hashtags on every post.
– Don’t put the hashtag in the comments.
–Don’t used banned hashtags. You’ll be shocked at what’s on this list.
5. Contact Instagram. Good Luck.
UPDATE: HOW I BROKE THE BAN
My first post after going cold turkey for 3 days was still shadowbanned. It was very defeating. I decided to continue posting normally, following the above engagement guidelines and see what would happen. Nothing seemed to change.
One day I decided to try something crazy. After reading countlessly that business accounts are often shadowbanned, and that switching from a business account back to personal can help remove the ban, I decided to do the exact opposite. I was always a personal account. I wanted to see if going from a personal account to a business account would help lift my ban. The first few days it didn’t seem to help. So, I decided to go back to being a personal account, and when I did……… THE BAN WAS LIFTED! I immediately noticed engagement increasing and ran the shadowban test again and found my newest picture in a hashtag search!
If you have any shadowbanning stories or advice let me know in the comments! And please share this post until Instagram reads it and fixes this problem for everyone!