We have previously discussed how you can tell if you get shadowbanned on Instagram – a process where Instagram sneakily blocks your posts from view without letting you know anything is wrong. Instagram appears to shadowban when it suspects inappropriate activity or grammers who are trying to game the system for profit.
Unfortunately, shadowbanning also appears to be hit or miss: Confused or innocent brands can get banned without even realizing it, which results in tanking Instagram numbers and a lot of confusion. If it looks like your brand got banned and you aren't sure why, here's a handy checklist to run through before panicking (also, try not to panic).
1. Are Any of Your Hashtags on the No List?
Instagram keeps a list of banned hashtags that you may want to keep track of: Not all of them are obvious, and you may be surprised how many just-slightly-naughty hashtags that Instagram has decided to ban. The list is consistently updated, so it's worth a check if you were recently banned. Also check your hashtag practices in general: If you are using dozens of hashtags on every post or aren't using hashtags correctly, that may be a cause for a ban.
2. Are You Using Bots in Any Way?
Are bots liking your posts, following your account, or are they in any way associated with your Instagram work? Bots automatically like and follow accounts to make them seem like they have more traffic/followers than they really do. Instagram hates bad data like this and will shadowban anyone that looks like they are using bots. If you have ever used a "service" to boost your Instagram numbers (one where you didn't ask too many questions, probably), then this is a likely cause of the ban.
3. Was There a Sudden Burst of Activity?
For example, did you suddenly get a bunch of new followers because of an event or affiliate marketing? Did you start posting more frequently? Did you find a community and now get a lot more social signals on your posts? To Instagram, these activities may look like bots or shady practices, and they can sometimes lead to bans. If this has happened, it's worth a call to Instagram support to see if anything can be done: Instagram doesn't usually respond to complaints about shadowbans, but it's better to try something than nothing. Just don't mention the word "shadowban."
4. Are Any Shared Photos from Users That Have Been Banned?
You may end up sharing photos from a contest, guest blogger, Instagram pod, or other activity. That can lead to some great synergy, but if you are sharing or using images/videos from someone who has been banned or is cheating, that could open up your account for punishment as well.
5. Are You Using Instagram Too Much?
If you are constantly posting photos and videos throughout the day, or taking similar actions? Instagram notices when it looks like you are using your account a little too much: Since Instagram doesn't want its service filled with a lot of fluff or white noise, it built-in warnings when people start doing too much per hour or per day. Keep your Instagram account active, but don't jump on every few minutes to update!
6. You're Ignoring Copyrights
This catches some brands off-guard: If you are using photos that show anything that may be copyrighted, you could be reported for it – which greatly increases the chance of a shadowban. When in doubt, ask for permission, especially when using someone else's photos.
Note: Instagram shadowbans do tend to go away after a couple of weeks, on average. You may be able to speed the process along by taking a break from Instagram and avoiding any overly-ambitious "tricks" in the meantime.