What To Do If You've Been Shadowbanned on Instagram

Shadowban has quickly become the boogeyman being buzzed about amongst social media influencers and entrepreneurs – we don’t know exactly what it looks like, we don’t know where it’s lurking, and we assume it’s coming for us around the next corner. While the name itself is quite dramatic, don’t let this idea trip you up or distract you from using Instagram to rock your biz. If anything, it’s weeding out spam accounts to make our user experience better. We can’t hate on that, right?

What to do if you've been Shadowbanned

Before I go too deep, I have a confession.

Last week, the week before a major business announcement (the prerelease for my online course), I was shadowbanned. 

I was not using third party apps or engaging in pods. I was, however, obsessively editing and re-editing my photo captions (I get excited, ok?) and – most importantly – getting a little lazy about my hashtags. 

Guess what? I survived. It forced me to reset my thinking and do a deep dive of all the info I could find, as well as have chats with a few experts.

Now, I want to share all this goodness with you and demystify the *cue horror film music* shadowban.

What a shadowban is

Having a shadowban on your account doesn’t mean your kicked off the app, it simply means your images won’t show up in hashtag feeds of anyone who doesn’t follow you. This makes it harder to grow your following and majorly decreases your engagement.

How to know if you've been shadowbanned

Post a picture using a hashtag without a huge following and ask a friend to un-follow you and check the hashtag feed. If your post shows up, you’re all good. If not, there’s a chance you’ve been banned.

What to do if you are

First, take a deep breath. I promise, it will be okay. I recommend taking 48 hrs off the banned account – no comments, no likes, no follows, no messages, no posts, no nothin’. Cold turkey, my friend. 

Once you’ve made it through your two days, be really intentional with your posts, hashtags and activity. Here are a few best practices to make sure you aren’t banned again.

Free 5 day Instagram Growth Challenge

Go from overwhelmed and unheard to on fire and engaged.

Spam sucks – we'd never send it to you. Powered by ConvertKit

How to avoid it

In short, don’t act like a bot. Specifically…

  • Don’t mindlessly like every photo in your feed

  • Don’t copy and paste the same comment on multiple photos

  • Don’t follow too many people at once

  • Don’t use third party apps that act on your behalf

  • Avoid editing photo captions after you’ve posted

  • Avoid going over 200 likes, 60 comments and 60 follows/unfollows per hour

  • Don’t reuse the same hashtags over and over

  • Don’t use banned or restricted hashtags (click here for a full list)*

A few more that I’m testing out are putting the hashtags in the caption rather than the comments and using 7-12 highly relevant hashtags rather than a list of 30. I’ll check back in and let you know if those make a difference, as well. 

Have you been shadowbanned? What are your thoughts on the hysteria? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Chris Emmer

Graphic Designer / Branding and Social Media Strategist / Yoga + Meditation Guide / Your New BFF.

West Michigan based, small business + wellness obsessed.