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How to Check If You’re Shadowbanned on Instagram (And What Could Cause it)
Julia Cohen
Julia Cohen
Posted Fri Oct 25 2019
In Instagram Hashtags, Instagram Marketing

Is your engagement dropping? It could be that the dark forces of Instagram shadowbanning are to blame. Find out if you’ve been shadowbanned, and what to do about it.

If you’re noticed your Instagram engagement has taken a dive, there may be some dark forces at play.

No, you don’t have to get out your lightsaber. What we’re talking about here is Instagram shadowbanning. And it could be sabotaging your efforts to grow your account.

Let’s take a look at how to check if you’re been shadowbanned and what can cause it to happen (so you can avoid it, obviously!)

But first…

What Is Instagram Shadowbanning? 🙅‍♀️

When your account has been shadowbanned, it means your posts aren’t discoverable. They’re not being found via hashtags or showing up for anyone who doesn’t already follow you.

And let’s not forget that using hashtags is one of the key ways to grow your Instagram account. 

When you use hashtags, you’re giving your posts a chance to be seen by a wider audience – an audience who is specifically interested in and searching for the type of content you’re posting.

So if your posts aren’t showing up in Instagram’s hashtag searches and “explore” pages, you’re losing out on a big opportunity to reach a new audience and grow your account.

Now, it’s true – there’s been some debate as to whether shadowbanning on Instagram is really a thing. But, just because Instagram themselves don’t use or promote the term, doesn’t mean the phenomenon doesn’t exist.

You only have to read Instagram’s help pages to know this:

“While some posts on Instagram may not go against our Community Guidelines, they might not be appropriate for our global community, and we’ll limit those types of posts from being recommended on Explore and hashtag pages. For example, a sexually suggestive post will still appear in Feed if you follow the account that posts it, but this type of content may not appear for the broader community in Explore and hashtag pages.”

The thing they don’t make clear is what type of content will incur this penalty or how to know if its happening to you.

How to Check If You’re Shadowbanned on Instagram 🕵️‍♂️

If you have an Instagram business account, you may be able to use Instagram Insights to glean some information on whether people who aren’t following you are finding and engaging with your posts.

This won’t work for personal accounts, however, and it’s not foolproof.

So for the simplest and most reliable method of checking whether you’ve been shadowbanned on Instagram, whether you’re a business or not, you can simply see for yourself whether your posts are showing up on hashtag results pages.

How do you do this? You’ll need access to an account (or someone with an account) that is not following the account you want to check. Immediately after you post something to Instagram, use this other account to click on the hashtags you used and see if your post appears in the search results for those hashtags.

For more reliable results, try and do this from multiple accounts and on several different posts.

It’s important to check immediately after posting because posts can be bumped off the hashtag pages quickly – especially if the hashtag is a popular one.

Why You’ve Been Shadowbanned & What To Do About It 💪

If you’ve used the method above and found that your posts are not showing up in the hashtag pages, we can assume that you’ve been shadowbanned (sorry).

But don’t worry: we can fix this. The first thing to understand is why shadowbanning happens. From there, we can avoid doing the things that cause shadowbanning on Instagram so that your account can be back to being the on-point, engagement-generating powerhouse it was before.

Let’s take a look at common reasons for Instagram shadowbanning:

  1. You’re not complying with the community guidelines.
    Instagram take their community guidelines seriously, so if you’re in breach of them, there’s a good chance you’ll end up penalised by the platform. The community guidelines can be found here so brush up and be sure to stay within them.
  2. You’re buying followers or faking engagement.
    Say it with us: buying followers on Instagram isn’t worth it. If Instagram catches on that your followers are bots or spammers, they might not take too kindly to your account. Real, organic growth and genuinely engaged followers are what you want, full stop.
  3. You’re using banned or flagged hashtags.
    Certain hashtags have been banned or flagged by Instagram as going against their community guidelines. If you use these hashtags, you’re putting your account in danger by association. New hashtags are getting flagged all the time, so it’s difficult to know for sure which ones to avoid. That’s where Flick’s #1 hashtag tool can help, as it will never suggest banned or flagged hashtags, letting you effortlessly sidestep any that could potentially get you shadowbanned.
  4. You’re using the same hashtags over and over.
    If you’re constantly copying and pasting the same block of hashtags over and over (and over), it could be that Instagram thinks you’re being, well, a little bit spammy. Your hashtag strategy should include a way to use relevant hashtags every time. And since your content probably varies a bit, your hashtags should too.
  5. You’re over-engaging.
    Is there such a thing as being too gung-ho with the old like button? You bet – if you ramp up your liking and commenting to over-enthusiastic levels, Instagram might assess you as being less-than-genuine in your engagements. To avoid being shadowbanned, keep it real and don’t get too trigger happy with that double-tapping.

So what’s the bottom line here? ✍️

If you want to avoid being shadowbanned on Instagram, or to bounce back from a shadowbanning incident, you really only have to follow a few simple rules.

Focus on growing organically and on posting quality, engaging content. Comply with the community guidelines. And have a solid hashtag strategy so you’re always using the right hashtags and not those that are banned or flagged.

Do that, and Instagram will welcome you back with open arms.