6 Strategies to Avoid the Notorious Instagram Shadow Ban

Instagram Shadow BanA few weeks ago I wrote about the controversial ‘glitch’ (or algorithm update) that’s pestering Instagram users everywhere –the Shadow ban.

It’s hard to build your authority and reach out to new markets online if your marketing efforts are crippled by an update.

So now I’ll write about the different strategies Instagrammers use to avoid the Instagram shadow ban.

Escape Instagram Shadow Ban

1. Stop Using Apps that Automate Instagram Activity

Any app, website, or bot that automates posting, liking, commenting, and following is prohibited on Instagram. The social platform’s Developer’s Policy statement is clear on this. The restrictions are stated from points 18 to 23, and they’re pretty straightforward.

Instagram DeveloperPolicy

If you think you can get away with using these shady apps, you’re sorely mistaken. Instagram can easily track suspicious behavior, including fake accounts and follow-unfollow activities. Bots and automated posting apps also have recognizable patterns that can trigger a shadow ban.

Instagram shutdown third-party app Instagress last April to prove their resolve in shutting down suspicious activity and fake popularity. Instagress was a popular service where people could pay in exchange for followers and likes.

Why are they discouraging the use of third-party apps?

Instagram, like Facebook, is in the advertising business now. They now have ‘business accounts,’ which allows users to pay in exchange for getting more views and publishing ads. They want you to pay them, not a third-party app.

Also, any app or bot that artificially drives up followers and likes ruins the reputation of legitimate influencers on the platform, which in turn ruins Instagram’s reputation as a good social media network for connecting with businesses and consumers.

2. Check Your Hashtags

Innocent sounding hashtags have been banned and blocked because other users are abusing them. Hashtags like #Asia, #date, #shower, #beauty, #snapchat, and a whole lot more have been run over with racist posts, nudity, and other inappropriate images.

So check your hashtag list for banned hashtags and try to find new ones instead. Check this list for a compilation of banned hashtags.

Also, using these hashtags on any of your pictures means they won’t be searchable using the banned hashtags. What’s worse, your image won’t be searchable even on the legitimate hashtags because one wrong hashtag affects all the hashtags used in your image.

Of course, more hashtags are getting banned everyday so it’s still possible to get banned because you accidentally used the wrong one.

Avoid the Instagram Shadow ban with these hashtag tricks:

  • Use combined-word hashtags such as:
    • #healthyslowcookrecipes
    • #throwbackthursday
    • #TravelResponsibly
  • Be specific and avoid vague hashtags that could be construed to mean something else. If possible, use branded or location-specific hashtags:
    • #LegalMarketingPodcast
    • #TravelCebu
  • Mix and match
    • Don’t use the same set of hashtags again and again. I get it, you want your pictures to appear on the hashtags most popular for your niche. But like keywords, I’m sure you can easily find similar hashtags to spice things up.
  • Use only hashtags related to the image you’re posting.
  • Avoid using too many high-traffic hashtags, as many of them are either already blocked or overrun with spam.

3. Don’t Follow to Unfollow

I’ve read about a lot of mom and fashion bloggers complain about this. One day they log-in to their accounts to find two new follows, so to build a relationship, they follow the user back. Next day, the same user unfollows them.

You might think it’s rude and such a waste of time. People don’t do it on Facebook and LinkedIn, right? But a lot of Instagrammers gunning for more followers do it.

Read this article if you want to learn how to increase your Instagram engagement rate naturally.

4. Obey the Usage Restrictions

Instagram, like other social media platforms, has usage and activity limits to prevent artificial engagement, spamming, and perhaps overloading the network.

The usage limits are a bit confusing because there are no one set of restrictions. Instead, the limits depend on a couple of factors, such as but not limited to:

  • Number of followers
  • Age of your account
  • Ratio of active and inactive followers: having more inactive followers suggests you paid for them.
  • Overall engagement rate

There is, however, a universal follow limit of 7500. Anyone who tries to follow more than 7500 users, regardless of their engagement rate and followers will receive a warning that they can’t follow any more people. But if you’ve already followed more than 7500 people before they implemented the restriction, that’s okay. You just can’t follow any more users until you hit the set limit.

On the flipside, there’s no limit with the followers you get according to Instagram user’s reports. To curb fake followers and engagement, many users report getting suspended after 20 follows or unfollows.

Just keep in mind that in general, the usage limits of new accounts are smaller compared to more tenured accounts that Instagram already ‘trusts.’

Users who exceed the usage limit will get a warning message that warns them to stop using the app for a set period of time.

5. Switch to a Personal Account

According to reports, it looks like business accounts are affected more compared to personal accounts. Again, that’s probably because Instagram wants them to use the platform’s own promotional services and not a third-party’s.

6. Delete Censored and Blocked Hashtags from Old Posts

You can still get shadow banned if some of your old image uploads contains hashtags that were just blocked or censored by Instagram.

Sift through all your posts and delete the banned hashtags by editing your post’s caption or deleting the comment.

The Wild West of Instagram

You have to remember that Instagram didn’t confirm the existence of a shadow ban. But it’s definitely happening according to many users’ complaints. Because of that, all the tips here are also based on other user’s experience so I can’t guarantee they will work for you like it did for them.

If you were a victim of the Instagram shadow ban, and successfully lifted your ban, please share what you did in the comments.

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