The Instagram Shadowban: What it is + How to Get Rid of it

Shadow banning: the hot topic across Instagram that has bloggers buzzing with questions and confusion. "Am I shadowbanned?" "How do I know if I'm shadowbanned?" "No one is seeing my posts -- HELP!" Well, I'm here to put some of your questions to rest and share some of the tips I have learned about shadow banning. Hopefully it will help!

In case you don't know what shadow banning is, let's start with a definition. Shadow banning occurs when Instagram blocks your post from coming up under the hashtags you've selected because Instagram has reason to believe that you are spamming and/or not complying with Instagram's terms. Although Instagram continuously comes out with statements that shadow banning does not exist and that there is simply an "app glitch", the blogger community isn't convinced. The uproar concerning shadow banning is understandable. Hashtags are one of the easiest ways for non-followers to see your posts while searching on their explore tab. If you are shadowbanned, it's very likely that only your followers will see your posts, and therefore you might feel like you've hit a rut on Instagram.

This happened to me shortly after I gained 10,000 Instagram followers (See how I gained 10K Instagram followers in four months here). Once I reached 10K, I found myself stuck. I wasn't gaining any new followers and my engagement reached an all time low on Instagram, even though my blog was doing better than ever. It just didn't make sense! At first I didn't really think much of it, I gained my first 10K followers pretty quickly, maybe no one else wanted to see my posts. Then I started to hear about shadow banning. After checking out my hashtags on Instagram's explore page after posting a picture, I realized that my photo was not there! I was determined to get out of my Instagram rut, so I started talking to all the bloggers in my Instagram pods (You can learn more about support pods here), and spent HOURS online to find a solution, only to come up with nothing.

It seems as though no one knows what to do. Well, I'm here to tell you!

Here are five easy steps to avoid becoming shadowbanned, and how to get rid of it if you already are!

1) First things first, are you actually shadowbanned? 
The easiest way to find out if your account is shadowbanned is by either creating another account or having a friend's help. After posting a photo, check every single hashtag and make sure that your post is coming up under "recent posts". If your post isn't coming up on the hashtags, or only coming up for select ones, then your account is definitely shadowbanned!

2) Change ALL your hashtags
Most bloggers that I see on Instagram use the same hashtags on every post. If you are a mommy blogger, you're likely to use #mommyblogger and #momswithcameras. If you have a fashion niche, you're likely to use something like #streetstyle and #fashionista. STOP RIGHT NOW! Using the same hashtags on every post is how you (probably) got shadowbanned in the first place. Start using different hashtags on every post. If you have favorite hashtags, try to limit them to once a week or even less. I stopped being shadowbanned when I quit using the same hashtags as everyone else and started using hashtags that explain what is in my photo. Plus, it did wonders for my engagement! Instagram is starting to realize what is in your photos, and to reduce spam, is not allowing your #ig_motherhood photo of your flat lay or you lying on the beach. Although it's a lot of work to use different hashtags every time, the next step is going to make it a lot easier!

Make sure that your hashtags are specifically related to your photo, not just your genera. 

For this post I used 10 hashtags. One was specific to the brand I was working for, one was specific to fashion bloggers (I have never used before), and the rest were random hashtags that fit the photo. In case you're wondering, you can find out more information about the Ivory Floral Cross Front Dress here.)

For this post I used 10 hashtags. One was specific to the brand I was working for, one was specific to fashion bloggers (I have never used before), and the rest were random hashtags that fit the photo. In case you're wondering, you can find out more information about the Ivory Floral Cross Front Dress here.)

3) Use LESS hashtags
Say whaaat? If you read my 10K post, then you'll know that I wrote about the importance of using Instagram's 30-hashtags-per-post limit to using hashtags. I didn't know any better at the time, but it got me shadow banned! I have found that my magic hashtag number is 8-10 hashtags per post. Although it's not a lot of hashtags, I'm able to be picky about which ones I use and I normally get on "top posts" for every hashtag, which is definitely more beneficial than being on 30 "recent posts".

Quality over quantity! Choose hashtags that are specific to your photo. 

4) Stop using bots to get followers... just don't.
So many people have come to me saying that they are shadowbanned, and when I ask them if they use a bot, 9/10 times they will say yes. That's because Instagram knows that you're using them! And so Instagram assumes that you're spamming (which... you are. lol). Instagram has already made a large effort to stop their community from using bots, which is why they recently shut down many the major bots like Instagress. If you violate Instagram's terms, you are going to get shadowbanned, and probably have your account suspended (Instagram might give you a little time out) at some point. If you feel like you need to use a bot (which I do not condone) at least only have it running during normal human hours. Nothing is organic about a page liking, following, and commenting 24 hours a day for weeks on end.

Gain followers organically and see your account go back to normal! 

5) Check for broken or abused hashtags.
I do not have experience with this personally, but many people swear by becoming shadowbanned through constantly using hashtags that Instagram doesn't allow. You will be surprised what random hashtags are considered "abused" by Instagram. To make sure you are not using these hashtags, constantly click on the ones that you use to see if they are normal! Some examples of "broken" hashtags are #women and #blondes.

Checking all of your hashtags before using them might be time consuming, but may be worth it.

I hope this post helps you to avoid getting shadowbanned, or helps those who already are! Comment below any tips you have found to help show up better on hashtags!