Oh, shadowbanning. I’d argue that this is one of the most contentious topics in the social media and influencer spheres. What is shadowbanning, you ask? It’s basically an ambiguous, unconfirmed practice by social media platforms that depreciates or hides content– basically anything from certain hashtags to content agreements.
Some do not think shadowbanning exists because Facebook / Instagram haven’t confirmed it publicly. In my personal and professional experience, it does exist: models having content blacklisted due to a single hashtag, engagement drops with certain tags or captions.
My guess is that there’s two purposes for keeping the shadowban on the down low: 1. By not being able to rely on organic reach through hashtags, you become more likely to pay for Instagram advertising. 2. It’s an efficient way to reduce spam or toxic accounts on Instagram, even at the cost of garden-variety, benevolent accounts. It’s the digital media equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
So what can you do about it? My three best tips:
Keep Your Hashtags 100:
By that I don’t mean use 100 hashtags either! Try to cap your hashtags >30. I prefer sticking around 8-10, with a mix of smaller hashtags and larger ones.
Know which hashtags are banned:
A little known fact about Instagram is that there’s a large list of hashtags that are banned: from innocent terms like #beautyblogger to #kansas. (I’d like to think the latter is to deter the barrage of sunflower photos every summer, but I doubt that’s the case.) But you wouldn’t know this just by tagging #beautyblogger, seeing that there’s 29,000,000 hits in the preview; if you go to the hashtag in Discover it will come up blank.
Think Like A Spammer:
I’m not saying to comment on your friend’s posts asking them to promote your sunglasses company with 7 emojis behind it. I am saying to be mindful while trafficking your Instagram posts or just scrolling through the feed– which hashtags to use (skip spammy ones like #followme) , how many posts you’re liking in an hour, following FTC guidelines on giveaways and promos. In other words, ask yourself “Does this seem spammy?”
The one thing you might miss while assessing your spamminess is which content creation tools you’re using. Instagram knows if you’re using scheduling and/or follow/unfollow tools to manage your feed. That’s also a tipoff to the algorithms that you might be a spammer. The easy solve is to not rely on automated tools for 100% of your content.
Am I being shadowbanned? What do I do?
There’s no exact science. I start to suspect it when I see or hear that engagement from outside accounts, due to your post being found on hashtags or tags, has dropped to near nothing. If you suspect your content is being shadowbanned, try using Triberr’s tester; though not 100% accurate, it’s a quick gut check on your content.
Have you been shadowbanned? Let me know how you prevent this while posting your content.