You May Think You're Shadow Banned, But You're Not

We Talk Social  | Shadow Ban Post

There is a lot of talk about Instagram shadow banning right now... 

This post is not going to go into the details of what shadow banning is. Instead we will look at the "clues" people are reading that lead them to think they are being shadow banned, and why I think they are not being shadow banned.

CLUE #1: An unexplained drop in likes

Most people who think they are being shadow banned arrive at this conclusion when they notice their posts are suddenly getting only a fraction of their prior levels of engagement. I've seen likes drop 50% and even 80%.

CLUE #2: An unexplained drop in *new* Followers

People complaining of being shadow banned have also noticed a major decrease in new Followers.

CLUE #3: An unexplained drop in Followers

We all know (and loathe) the Follow/UnFollow game that many large accounts are playing, but a lot of people who are complaining of being shadow banned feel they are losing Followers faster than their "normal rate" of unfollows. 


Yes, you really are experiencing a large drop in Likes, but it's likely due to poor engagement and and an over-reliance on hashtags rather than shadow banning.

The ones who see the biggest evidence of being shadow banned typically have some of the following traits in common:

  1. A disproportionate number of followers-to-followings. These accounts typically have "waaaaay more" Followers than people they are following back.
  2. Maxing out the Hashtags. These accounts usually use close to 30 hashtags in their posts. (30 hashtags is the maximum allowed by Instagram.)
  3. Hashtags in comments, instead of the caption. There has been a trend for a long time to try to keep your post's caption relative clean with minimal text, but to load the first comment with all of your hashtags.

There are more similarities but these tend to be the most common ones.

You're not being shadow banned, you just have bad engagement.

Think about it... the social platforms are intended to help people connect with friends, family, and to create new friendships. Instead, we are turning the platforms into more of a marketplace. (This is the subject of an entirely different post which I will write soon.)

Here's the problem: "People" don't use hashtags. Marketers do.

The overwhelming majority of hashtag-users are marketers, not "ordinary people".

*Marketers* use hashtags to gain publicity for their accounts. And *marketers* are searching hashtags to find accounts to Like/Follow.  What we are all experiencing is marketers are liking and following accounts of other marketers.

The key to social media success is to connect with ordinary people, not other marketers.

You're probably not being shadow banned. You're probably experiencing the negative effects of not engaging back with your Followers.  Instagram has decreased your reach.  If you are actively engaging with your Followers you will have great reach. If you do not engage with them Instagram is not serving your posts to your own followers.  For example: if you have 10,000 Followers but you're only following 250 accounts Instagram is no longer serving your posts to 10,000 users. In fact, check your Insights. My guess is an account like that will have a reach of less than 2,000.

So, what do you do?

You need a new strategy. I can help, but, again, that's the subject of another post.

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