Shadow banning…that doesn’t sound good. When I first heard this term in an Instagram pod I am in, I was dumbfounded. What is this shadow banning, I wondered, and could I possibly be shadow banned? I had been hearing people talk about their engagement going down on their posts and wondered if this shadow banning could be the culprit. Sometimes, I think that in another life, I was a private investigator with as much as I love research. Therefore, I decided to hunker down and dig deep into what this shadow banning really is.
ARE YOUR IMAGES BANNED?
Through this website people are able to check if their images are shadow banned.
Plug in your Instagram handle, or a direct link to your photo and it will tell you right away whether your post has any issues.
This is an older post of mine, where I put my hashtags in a comment after posting. However, this could be wrong, because I did a bit of testing and clicked different hashtags. I scrolled through the photos to find people that I wasn’t following and people still showed up for me who had their hashtags in the comment section, but I think it’s just best to put your hashtags in the caption to avoid any issues. When I updated a photo and put my hashtags into the caption section, then the error was fixed and my post no longer showed that it was shadow banned.
HOW TO FIX YOUR HASHTAGS
The best way to include your hashtags into your caption and have it look all clean and pretty, is all about proper spacing. See my step by step example!
First make sure that when you end a line, that you do not leave a space at the end. If you leave a space then everything will merge together and you won’t get those separate lines that you want. In order to create a new line click the 123 button and then you will see the return button on the right. Click return twice before typing a new line.
I then use a period on each line to create space between my caption and the hashtags. You can really use anything you want on each line, depending on how you like to design your captions and feed. When I save my caption, now everything is spaced properly with my group of hashtags nicely separated from what I want people to read!
WHY THE DECREASE IN ENGAGEMENT
No, your engagement has not gone down (most likely) because you have been shadow banned. It’s because Instagram has shut down so many bot services, such as Instagress which helped a lot of bloggers and businesses with like/comment/follow interactions. People are now having to interact manually and this is why users have seen a drop in engagement. We all have lives and can’t go like and comment on people’s Instagram all day long. Also, if you are using an extremely popular hashtag, then you may not see yourself because Instagram does not show photos in the order that they are posted. Yes this is frustrating, but think of it this way: now your engagement is reflecting how people truly feel about your content. When you get a lot of likes on a photo, it now means that people truly love what you posted and if something isn’t doing so well maybe change up the time of day that you are posting. Try changing up your hashtags here and there as well.
My other suggestion to help with increasing your engagement, is to get into the Style Collective Instagram Pods, engage in the Style Collective groups on the website, and even make groups with other bloggers you know to comment and like each other’s photos. Also, set aside a designated amount of time per day to complete those engagement groups and to engage within the different hashtags that you use. This has increased my engagement by a huge amount on Instagram.
MYTH OR FACT
While some people think there is convincing proof that a shadow ban is real, many believe that it’s just a hashtag error due to updates in Instagram’s algorithm. Now there is even some talk that an Artifical Intelligence system that started through Facebook could even be to blame for so called “Shadow Banning”. This system analyzes whats actually in the photo for people to search vs. using the hashtags that you are putting in. Therefore if the hashtags you are using don’t exactly describe what is in the picture, then your photo won’t show up in where you want people to find it. See this article for more information on this topic. Remember ladies this is all still research and speculation right now.
I hope this post has helped to cure some of your worry about shadow banning and give you a bit more knowledge on the topic. Either way something is off with how the hashtag system works. In the end, Instagram simply doesn’t have the time to select certain bloggers and ban them from hashtags. If they thought you were spam, then your profile would simply be deleted. So, live your life, post your pictures, engage with others and enjoy what you do. Don’t sweat the small stuff.