I recently starting hearing about Instagram Shadow Banning in some of the Facebook groups that I am a member of. I did not really think anything about it until my most recent Instagram photos got basically NO likes. I did a quick test and realized that my account had been shadow banned on Instagram!
What is Shadow Banning?
This is the term that people are using to describe the issue with Instagram’s hashtags. If your account has been “shadow banned” by Instagram, it means that your photos WILL NOT appear in the hashtag feeds for anyone NOT following you. Seriously. OK, here is an example. Let’s say you post a photo and use the hashtag #makeupmess. If I ALREADY follow your Instagram account and I search the hashtag #makeupmess, then I will see your photo. If I DO NOT follow your Instagram account and I search the hashtag #makeupmess, then I will NOT see your photo.
In my opinion, hashtags are the ONLY way you can reach new people on Instagram and gain followers. So, this presents a huge problem.
How to Check if you are Banned
I logged into my personal Instagram account (which is following my makeup account – @katelovesmakeup1) and searched the hashtag #NaturallyDermstore. I chose this hashtag because it has only been used on a few images. My image showed up in this hashtag feed. Then, I unfollowed my makeup account (@katelovesmakeup1) from my personal account and searched the hashtag #NaturallyDermstore. Sure enough, my photo was gone. This means that I have officially been shadow banned. If you do not have a second Instagram account, just ask a friend to unfollow you and check your hashtags.
Here is my Instagram profile, where you can see my most recent image.
When I follow my makeup account and search the hashtag #naturallydermstore I see this image.
When I am NOT following my makeup account and search the hashtag #naturallydermstore, I do NOT see this image.
How to Fix It
I have seen the following solution floating around on Facebook. I am not sure if it actually works but I did go ahead and perform the first few steps this morning. If I figure out a way to get myself un-banned, then I will definitely let you know.
- Clear your search history on Instagram
- Log out of your account and log back in
- Do not use hashtags for 3 days
Every time Instagram decides to implement something like this or a new algorithm, it makes me so grateful that I started my blog. I have poured so many hours of hard work into my Instagram account and it is scary that it is completely at the mercy of Instagram. So, if you have been considering starting a blog – this is just one more reason that I would recommend relying less on Instagram and more on creating your own blog! Check out my tips of how to start a blog here.
Update: here is Instagram’s official response (courtesy of the Instagram for Business Facebook Group). Instagram is also recommending that users click the gear icon in the top right corner and “Report A Problem”. I have tried this, so we will see if it works.