There has been a lot of talk lately about the Instagram Shadowban, and how some of your posts might be ‘banned’ from the hashtags you used in your posts.

What is the Instagram Shadowban? Basically it means that certain hashtags you use on your posts could be ‘banned’ on Instagram and affect your account from being shown in the explore area of those specific hashtags. You and your followers would still see your posts, but anyone else would not.

Wait… does that mean, people won’t see my posts? Yes, that could definitely be happening to your Instagram posts, for anyone who is not following you. (Not that this shadow ban appears to be for business accounts, not personal profiles).

I read about the Instagram Shadowban and found a tool to check if your account was banned. I used the tool and it said my account was banned, but when I checked the hashtags, I could see my posts.

I heard from a couple friends and watched a video by Jasmine Star (who is awesome BTW and you can find this video on her Facebook page) and realized that you needed to check your posts from an account other than your own. She also has a great article detailing why she thinks Instagram is doing this new hashtag ban.

Once I checked my account via my personal account I found that there were some hashtags that my posts didn’t show up for, yet some hashtags that I was sure I would be banned from because I use them often, like #socialmedia, I still showed up for.

An article posted on Insider recently, detailing information about the shadowban said it was just a bug on Instagram.

Confused yet? 

I wanted to break this down into an easy to understand post (for myself just as much as for you, because I want to make sure I understand this!) so here are a few questions I had and found answers to.

How do I check if my account has been shadowbanned on Instagram?

If you noticed that lately your Instagram account engagement or number of new followers has drastically dropped, your account could be shadowbanned. Here is a check you can do:

  1. Log out of your Instagram account that you want to check and login with a personal account, or ask a friend to check for you (I recommend doing yourself because it could take a few minutes).
  2. Click on a recent post and click on each hashtag you used to see if your post shows up. Note that if this is a popular hashtag and you posted a day ago or more, that you might need to scroll down quite far.
  3. If your post doesn’t show up for that particular hashtag, you are likely shadowbanned.

When you search a popular hashtag, it could take awhile to scroll down to find your post, so don’t panic if you can’t find it. For example, when I tried searching a post of mine in the podcaster hashtag, I scrolled forever, however when I searched for #thesociallaunch, it was much easier and quicker to find.

What can I do if I think my account has been shadowbanned?

  1. If you use automated services for Instagram, I would highly suggest to stop using them. A popular automated service called Instagress was recently shut down, which could be an indication that services like that are not good to use.
  2. Try switching up your hashtags. Think of 3-4 different hashtag ‘groups’ that make sense to use for your account (1 group could be focused on local hashtags and shopping local, 1 group could be focused specifically on your customers or employees, 1 group could be product or service specific hashtags, etc.) and rotate those hashtags every few days. Also, switch up the order of your hashtag groups so it is clear that you aren’t using an automated service.
  3. If you determine a particular hashtag is causing you issues with your account, go and remove that hashtag from any previous posts.
  4. I read in this article to post your hashtags within your description instead of posting them in the first comment. This is particularly interesting to me because I always post my hashtags in the first comment, in order to try to keep my posts clean looking. I am going to try this and I will share my results!

Why is Instagram doing this hashtag ban?

In my opinion (and this is just an opinion), Instagram is trying to keep posts authentic and reduce the amount of spammy accounts, which is awesome. I also think they want to make sure users are using relevant hashtags that make sense to their post and content, not just using accounts to get more views and followers.

Jasmine Star also mentioned in her article that she thinks it has to do with influencer accounts, since these shadowbans seem to be targeted at business accounts, not personal accounts. This could be true for accounts using a hashtag #ad or #sponsored. When I clicked into these hashtags and then looked at the top posts, I noticed their likes were much lower on their posts using a hashtag #ad versus posts not using that hashtag. Could be a coincidence.

instagram shadow ban hashtags

Have you noticed your Instagram account is getting a lot less engagement? Did you find your account has some banned hashtags? Share with me below!