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Let’s Talk About the Instagram Shadowban

Let's discuss the instagram shadow ban and tips for increasing your instagram engagement on instagram after a instagram shadowban

Let's discuss the instagram shadowban and tips for increasing your instagram engagement on instagram after a instagram shadowban

Instagram made more changes this year and Instagrammers and bloggers and Instagram groups have talked of NOTHING else, but what is being called the Instagram Shadowban. I have been observing, reading and doing my own research and I’ve come to a few conclusions of my own that I want to share. Because there is a LOT of information and misinformation out there and I have a few things I want to point out.


Normally, when you use hashtags on your posts on Instagram, anyone who follows that hashtag should see your post.  Even if they don’t follow you. With an Instagram Shadowban, only you and your current followers will see your post when they search the hashtags that you have used.

Say you use the hashtag #documentyourdays on one of your posts. If you or your followers click on the hashtag, your post shows up under the hashtag.  But for anyone who DOES NOT follow you, your post will not appear under the hashtag.  Basically, you become invisible to anyone who does not follow you. This reduces the reach of your account and basically defeats the purpose of using hashtags strategically to grow your community and reach a new audience.


The first thing people usually notice is a steep drop in their engagement.  But that does not mean that your account has been shadowbanned.  To confirm, find someone who doesn’t follow you and have them to check the hashtag you are using to see if your post shows up. If the post doesn’t show up in the hashtag grids that you have used, there is a big chance you have been shadowbanned.


Based on my research:

1. Using Software that violates Instagram’s Terms of Services

In April of this year, Instagram updated their Terms of Services to reflect how they feel about bots and automated tools.

#18-23 in its Developer’s Policy as of April 2017, Instagram clearly states that NO app or website should like, comments or share automatically on your behalf.



So basically, if you use any kind of Automation software like Instagress on your account, Instagram has figured it out and that could be the cause of your shadowban.

2. Using Banned, Broken or the SAME hashtags over and over again.

Instagram has taken steps to stop the usage of hashtags that are being used that violate their community guidelines.  Usually when Instagram notices, the hashtag is either blocked( non searchable) or the usage of that hashtag is limited.  If you use one of these hashtags, Instagram will ban your entire post and prevent it from being used on any of the hashtags you used for your posts.  To find out if you are using a broken or banned hashtag, click on it and you will notice that there is no top posts sections and you won’t be able to scroll any images.

3. Engaging in Spammy Bot Like Behavior

Instagram has limits on how many photos you can like and comment on and how many accounts you can follow or unfollow at any given time.  Every account is different, but each account has a trigger where Instagram will begin to see you as “abusing” the system.  If you suddenly go on a liking and comment spree or follow 50 accounts and immediately unfollow 50 more, Instagram may think that you are a “bot” and shadowban your account.

What can you do?

Of course, Instagram has not confirmed the use of the instagram shadowban, but they did release this statement on March 1st of this year:

So, based on this, my suggestions are to…

  1. Immediately stop using any third party automation software that post for you, like posts for you, comments on posts for you or follows or unfollows for you. It is against Instagram’s terms of services and it seems to be the main reason for shadowbanning.
  2. Using the same hashtags over and over again on each post, comes across to Instagram as being spammy. The trick is to use hashtags that fit your post that day at that time.  Research hashtags before you use them and keep a running group of hashtags for each type of photo that you post. For instance, I have a group of hashtags for kids, coffee, flowers, Atlanta, and everyday life. That way, I don’t use the same exact hashtags every single photo.  As far as banned and broken hashtags, check out this article from BET with the latest update of banned hashtags.  If you notice you are accidentally using one of these hashtags ( I mean Easter? Really?), remove it from your post and you should see the ban lift.
  3. Stop posting for 48-72 hours. This signals that you are doing a reset and starting over again. Unsubscribe from unauthorized third party apps, research your hashtags to make sure none are banned and come back and manually start to engage with your community again.  It will take time and effort but this will show Instagram that you are following the rules and abiding by their terms of service.


In conclusion

Remember that changes in your engagement is normal as Instagram is constantly changing it’s algorithm. If you are engaging authentically on Instagram and not using bot like behavior or using banned hashtags, you shouldn’t have  to worry about a Instagram shadowban.

While the Shadowban may change the way we use hashtags to grow and find new followers on Instagram in the future,  for now, it is still one of the best ways to help you grow organically.

If you are looking for help building your Instagram authentically, check out my course Instagram Better!




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  • Reply
    robin rue
    May 8, 2017 at 6:12 am

    I read an article yesterday from Instagram denying that there was such a thing. They claimed it was a glitch in their explore tab, but apparently it was fixed a month ago. I don’t know. I am definitely not shadow banned, but my engagement is WAY down.

    • Reply
      May 8, 2017 at 6:28 am

      Exactly. They said it was a glitch in a post in April. But the “glitch” continues for many people. I think it’s a reset and that Instagram may have put a hashtag algorithm in place also.

  • Reply
    Angelic Sinova
    May 8, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Oh my, how did I NOT hear about this Instagram Shadowban? This post has been so eye opening. I enough use similar “blogger hashtags” under all of my photos but I guess I should stop doing that so it doesn’t seem spammy!

  • Reply
    Alli Smith
    May 8, 2017 at 6:34 am

    I didn’t know about the shadowban either. I don’t think it’s a problem for me. I never use 3rd party automation software on Instagram and I’ll make I don’t use the same hashtags repeatedly. Thanks for the info!

  • Reply
    Amber Myers
    May 8, 2017 at 8:29 am

    This is great to keep in mind. I don’t *think* I’ve been shadowbanned so far. At least I hope not. But I keep hearing about it. Now I’ll be paranoid about what hashtags I use.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I’ve read about the shadow ban before and it seemed particularly prevalent with photography business IG accounts. But I guess it’s all across the platform now. My engagement, if you can call it that, hasn’t changed too much. I usually only post a photo a day, as I’m afraid it would seem spammy if I post too many. Good thing there is a slide show function now. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 8, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who hasn’t heard of being shadowbanned. I’m going to have to pay more attention to this now. Thanks for the info!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    I have been hearing more and more about this shadowban, there are so many different opinions out there it is hard to decide what is correct. Your post certainly explains everything and in very easy to understand terms.

  • Reply
    Jaime Nicole
    May 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    This is a little scary. I don’t use third party apps, but sometimes I do like a whole bunch of posts all at once. Eeesh. I will be more careful!

  • Reply
    Paula Bendfeldt
    May 8, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    I had no idea that you could be shadow banned on Instagram. It’s great to know and I will be careful so I don’t get shadow banned. Thanks for the info.

  • Reply
    Annemarie LeBlanc
    May 9, 2017 at 1:20 am

    This sounds interesting. I don’t think that I am shadow banned because I don’t use Instagram that often. Thanks for the information though. I will still check.

  • Reply
    David Elliott
    May 9, 2017 at 2:25 am

    It is a curious concept for things to believe that is the reason. I have heard other reasons as well. I have heard that it might have to do with the fact that you claim to be a business and the business algorithm is different than the personal one. I think there can be all kinds of reasons, and this is just another I have heard. i do believe they are trying to affect changes in instagram and keeping up to date on them is important.

    • Reply
      May 9, 2017 at 5:39 am

      Yes,that’s a good point. I’ve heard that when people switched back from a business account to a personal one, their engagement went up. But not everyone. So many theories but only Instagram truly knows that story!

  • Reply
    Sari Florencio
    May 9, 2017 at 3:28 am

    This is the very first time I learned about the Instagram shadowban. learned a lot form this post. Now I’m so itching to check my Instagram. This is a very informative and eye opening post.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2017 at 5:53 am

    I have noticed a big drop in engagement lately. It is so annoying that IG can do things like this.

  • Reply
    valmg @ Mom Knows It All
    May 9, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I have been seeing discussion on this for two months now, although I haven’t witnesses any change personally. Insta is like every other platform, it changes constantly and we must adapt.

  • Reply
    Chrishelle Ebner
    May 9, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Lots of great info. I had been hearing about shadowban, but really did not understand it. I will definitely be watching my behavior on instagram and my hashtag usage. This is a bit complicated.

  • Reply
    Our Family World
    May 9, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    This is the first time I heard about this Shadowban. I use a lot of hashtags in my Instagram posts and I will have to check on the link you provided in this post. I did notice a decline in audience interaction so this is something I really need to look into.

  • Reply
    Kita Bryant
    May 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Wow I never even thought to check that. Thanks to you I am no longer Shadowbanned!

  • Reply
    Jenn @ EngineerMommy
    May 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I had no idea about this shadowban issue. It’s amazing how quickly the social networks change over time and how it’s important to keep up to date.

  • Reply
    Lisa Heath
    May 10, 2017 at 12:18 am

    I really don’t like how Instagram has been going over the last year, it’s like all the fun of it is gone. It use to be one of my favorite social media channels, but now it’s just lost it’s spark

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