Have you ever been in a situation where you posted something on Instagram, only to notice that your content’s engagement is much lower than your other posts? If you answered “yes,” the platform might have shadowbanned your account.
A shadowban means that Instagram hasn’t suspended your profile, but it won’t show your posts to as many users as before. You can reverse the ban, but avoiding one altogether is a much better strategy.
You can do several things to avoid getting shadowbanned on Instagram—eight of which we’ll discuss below.
1. Leave Instagram Engagement Pods
Engagement pods are group chats where users share their posts as soon as they publish them. The idea is that everyone in the group likes and comments on each other’s content, which tells Instagram that people are engaging with what you shared.
In theory, people engaging with your posts means that Instagram should push your work in front of more people. The reality, however, is much different; you cannot outsmart an algorithm that has had over a decade to mature.
Every Instagram like you give and receive should be genuine. Engagement pods usually die off pretty quickly, too, so the benefits of staying in one are few and far between.
2. Block All Instagram Bots That Follow You
Instagram bots are annoying, and you’ve probably had at least a few follow you during your time on the platform. And while their existence isn’t your fault, having fake accounts follow you is one of many factors that can lead to a shadowban.
Bots are sometimes tricky to identify, but you can usually spot a few surefire signs that a fake account follows you. These include:
- A feed with dozens of photos, mainly of the “person” and published in the last few months.
- A newly-created account with inappropriate content on its feed or in its bio.
- A seemingly fake username, such as “[name]1234567”.
If you suspect that a bot has followed you, block it as soon as possible.
3. Don’t Buy Instagram Followers
Regardless of whether it should or shouldn’t, having a lot of Instagram followers often brings a lot of clout with it. So, it’s unsurprising that many people feel like buying followers is a quick way to increase their status on the platform.
However, Instagram can tell if you’ve bought followers—and you’ll probably get penalized with less reach on your posts.
Buying Instagram followers is a waste of money and can cause more harm than good. Users will find it questionable if many people follow your profile, but you only get a few likes and comments on each post. As such, you’ll probably lose a lot of users’ trust.
Instead of purchasing followers, focus on building a connection with your existing audience. Over time, your follower count will grow more sustainably.
4. Follow People on Instagram Responsibly
One of the best ways to get your name in front of more eyeballs is to follow users that share similar interests with you. However, you should beware of tactics like following lots of accounts in a short time span.
Following many accounts in a short period is the hallmark of behavior that a spam account would do, and you risk Instagram treating your profile as such. Unfollowing users soon after connecting with them will also probably work against you; even if you’re not shadowbanned, you’ll needlessly alienate many people.
Instead of following lots of accounts at once, only connect with users whose content you genuinely like—and do so without worrying about whether they’ll follow you back or not.
You’ll find plenty of Instagram-related apps on the App Store and Google Play, many of which you can connect with your account. Doing so might help you work more efficiently, but you could also risk getting hit with a shadowban.
If you use an app that complies with Instagram’s guidelines, you shouldn’t have an issue. However, many third-party apps do not do this—meaning that you might get punished for connecting your account with them.
Try to stick with official partnered apps if you can. You can use other tools to help you if you’re unable to find a compliant app; for example, you can create Reels with Adobe Premiere Pro and publish them after transferring them to your smartphone.
6. Focus on Sharing Valuable Content With Your Instagram Followers
Most content related to growing on Instagram will tell you to publish consistently. Doing so can help your account’s followership grow, but only if you offer genuine value that makes you worth following.
If you post every day without much meaning, you’re going to lose followers. Moreover, Instagram might feel like you’re spamming users and shadowban you.
The best way to grow on Instagram is often to not think about it. Use the platform as a spillover of the cool work you do elsewhere, and focus on sharing stuff that resonates with your audience. One good post per week is better than five mediocre ones.
During Instagram’s early days, adding 30 hashtags to a post was an excellent way to see rapid growth. But while you can still use that many tags, they don’t work like they used to.
Today, hashtags on Instagram work more like keywords on Google. Only use tags that are strictly relevant to your post; sharing irrelevant (or too many) hashtags might look like spam to the algorithm, potentially resulting in a shadowban.
You also need to think carefully about the hashtags you use; some of those banned are pretty surprising. Examples include #italiano and #snowstorm.
8. Stop Tagging Repost Pages in Your Instagram Posts
You don’t need a large social media following to succeed, but building awareness can help. People have tagged repost accounts ever since Instagram’s early days, but doing so doesn’t work as well as it used to.
Minus a few exceptions, repost accounts aren’t as effective as they once were. And again, tagging multiple profiles can seem like spam—which could lead to a shadowban.
Instead of tagging every repost page you can find, limit your selection to the best. For example, you can tag Canada’s tourism board and Air Canada if you visit said country—along with the local tourist board if you see a specific region.
You Can Do Plenty of Things to Avoid an Instagram Shadowban
Getting a shadowban on Instagram is infuriating and can halt your growth, but you can avoid one by genuinely using the platform. Steer clear of anything that might constitute spam, and remember that you can’t outsmart a robot with millions of dollars behind it.
Offering users a good experience on Instagram and producing valuable content will get your name in front of more people; focus on those and ignore “growth hacks.”
10 Tricks to Get More Real Instagram Followers
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