Have you seen a sudden decline in engagement on Instagram? If so, you are not the only one, as a large number of Instagram users, including ourselves, have experienced a drop in engagement over recent weeks and months. The reason for this? Well, many people are referring to the issue as a “shadowban”, although Instagram themselves have yet to fully comment on the reduced level of engagement that many people have been experiencing.
Despite this, we know a number of things at this moment in time. Firstly, Instagram has been focusing on reducing the number of “bots” and online services that automatically post, like and comment for you. Of course, this is a positive because nobody likes the high volume of spam and fake accounts that are currently running around on social media at the moment, so well done to Instagram for this. However, the negative of this is that Instagram are seemingly penalising the accounts that these spam bots are liking; meaning that genuine users of the social media platform are being unfairly punished at the same time.
How is this happening?
Well, from what we know so far, penalised accounts are having their content removed from hashtag categorisation. This means that these accounts will not be able to increase their visibility on Instagram through hashtags, hence your reach and engagement is instantly hit.
How do we know this issue is taking place?
Our own posts on Instagram, which tended to receive 50+ likes, now only receive between 3-8 likes because our posts are no longer showing for the hashtags that we are including with them.
The best way to test is to unfollow a page and then search for a specific hashtag that the page regularly uses – we recommend choosing a very specific tag if possible – and then see if the post from that particular page is appearing within the results. If not, it is highly likely to have become a victim of the “Shadowban”. However, if this is the case then you don’t need to worry, as it is isn’t a permanent issue as long as you follow these simple steps:
- Stop Using Bots – There is a slim chance that you are one of the Instagram users that makes use of bots but, if you are, now is the time to stop using them completely and disconnect your account from the software that you were using.
- Use Different Hashtags – It could be that you always use the same hashtags within every post, which has then resulted in Instagram choosing to no longer showing your posts within a user search. So, instead, we would recommend that you start to use different tags instead. Keeping your posts as fresh as possible is always important, and potentially even more so now, therefore we recommend that a select from a range of different tags that you are happy to use and rotate them on a daily basis. That way you are mixing things up more frequently than before, putting you in a stronger position. The best way to choose tags that haven’t been banned by Instagram is to analyse which have a “Top Posts” section and which don’t. If they don’t, it is most likely be because they have been banned by Instagram.
- Don’t Mass Follow, Like or Comment – If you opt to like hundreds of accounts at a time, or even like/comment on a batch of posts within a short period of time, it is likely to result in Instagram penalising your account, so stop it immediately. You’ll see the benefits of this in the long-term.
- Don’t Post for a While – If none of the above fix the issues you are experiencing then it might be worth coming off Instagram for a few days. This has worked for certain users, although others saw their “Shadowban” lifted up to 3 weeks, so just see how it goes.
Of course, Instagram is owned by Facebook and, as I’m sure you are already aware, Facebook’s algorithms received a major update over recent years leading to posts from business accounts no longer reaching 100% of their followers. In fact, at the time, certain businesses were saying that their posts were now only hitting 20% of their followers, resulting in huge reductions in engagement and visibility.
Why did this happen?
Simple. Facebook wanted businesses to start paying for their posts to reach a wider audience, therefore by shrinking the volume of users that their posts were organically reaching, Facebook was forcing businesses to use their paid boosted post feature, and we certainly wouldn’t put past Instagram following in Facebook’s footsteps.