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There are many reasons why your account could be banned on. Luckily, there are a few easy fixes like removing abused hashtags and avoiding all forms of automation that will help you to get yourself off the list.
Avoid using banned hashtags
Hashtags allow you to send an impactful message and expand your reach outside your followers. They make it easier for users to find information on a certain topic and make your content easily discoverable. Some hashtags, however, are limited by Instagram and not in use any longer. That is because some people use otherwise innocent hashtags like #beautyblogger to promote inappropriate content that is either sexually suggestive or racially insensitive.
Hashtags that are banned include #besties, #customers, #gloves, #like, #skype and #workflow. Posts that use banned hashtags will be hidden and can get your account shadowbanned, thus inhibiting your ability to reach outside your network.
In some cases, the ban is permanent. If you are already in the shadowban club, you need to delete all abused and broken hashtags from your posts. You cannot edit hashtags in your comments and will have to delete the entire comment for which you might have been hit by a shadowban. Go through your posts to see whether you have been using repetitive or irrelevant hashtags and modify generic ones like #happy, #alone and #love. Make sure you use unique ones. You can change #alone to #aloneathome, for example. As a rule, you should only use hashtags that are relevant and descriptive to your content.
Stop using bots
Fake accounts and Instagram bots are meant to increase engagement by stimulating user activity. Yet, users that employ bots risk incurring both account suspension and ad fraud penalties. Fake engagement is also a reason to get shadowbanned. If you are one of those using automation services to get quick results and save time, you should stop doing it. When you follow and unfollow the same person 10 times in just two days, they will likely notice and get you reported. Likewise, if you are using a bot to comment on your behalf, you are spamming your followers and are in violation of Instagram’s community standards.
Automating posts and comments is always a bad idea, like posting a train emoji on a heartbreaking story. Not all automation tools are spammy, for example those that help you to discover hashtags that can boost your visibility. But unsolicited bulk messaging is the very definition of spam. If you are using bots to grow your following, you should stop doing it immediately. There is no real engagement, and autobots cannot really replace human interaction. Log out of and delete all automation services and think of other ways to gain followers, views, and likes. Such are, for instance, running Instagram ads, delegating social media tasks to team members, and hiring a virtual assistant.
Related: 15 Ways to Optimize Your Instagram Profile
Follow Instagram’s rules
If you have been hit by a shadowban, go through your posts and make sure they are appropriate for diverse audiences. Instagram claims to be a bias-free platform that embraces diversity and is safe for seniors, adult and children as well as users of all races, religions, beliefs and attitudes. In an effort to keep the platform safe for all users, Instagram joined Reddit, Pinterest and Facebook in banning white nationalist groups, anti-vaccination content, self-harm images and terrorist video streams. Additionally, posting inappropriate content such as hate speech, violence and graphic sexual content is the fastest way to get banned from Instagram.
Avoid posting and commenting too quickly
To begin with, your followers may start to get content fatigued if you are posting too much. Posting relevant and interesting content is important, but you may get unfollowed if you fill everyone’s feeds with spam. Following, posting and commenting too quickly and too much is also a quick way to land your Instagram account on the shadowban list. Such behaviors will result in a sudden drop in visibility and will restrict your exposure to new audiences.
Related: Why You Actually Should Share Your Instagram Post on Your Instagram Story
Say no to fake engagement
Instagram engagement pods are groups of users who bond together in forums and chats to trade follows, likes and comments. The number of users can vary from just 50 to more than 1,000 participants. They also have different rules, such as the type of content you post or the number of followers that you have before you join.
The problem with engagement pods is that they are against Instagram’s rules on inauthentic activity. That is why they are banned and you can get shadowbanned for joining a pod. Some groups are also filled with unsafe, inappropriate and spammy content, which puts you at risk of being hacked. Fake comments and likes also make it more difficult to figure out what your target audience really likes.
Report the problem to Instagram
When all else fails, reporting the problem to Instagram is worth a shot. You can contact support via their online Help Center, by phone or via your Instagram app. While their support is known to be hard to get in contact with, reporting is a last resort if you’ve exhausted all other options to get your content seen.
Safe ways to increase engagement
There are plenty of good ways to increase engagement and brand awareness without risking your Instagram account. Using unique and relevant hashtags is one of the best ways to reach wider audiences. You also want to give visitors something to interact with, such as contests and giveaways. Popular contests that you can offer to visitors are scavenger hunts, stories, trivia and photo caption contests. Running a trivia contest, for instance, can be a great way to increase brand visibility and get new followers. You can ask questions about your brand or products and services such as:
Company X is associated with what products?
Who is the founder of company X?
What is company X’s most popular product?
When asking visitors to participate in a contest, you should offer a prize that outweighs the time and effort to enter the contest. Depending on your niche, this can be a gift card, free room upgrade, spa gift certificate, dinner for two or beach day package. Whatever the prize you choose to offer, make sure it is useful, unique and relevant. Prizes that offer value motivate people to participate and draw attention to your brand. The prize you offer must attract your target audience and it must showcase your product or service. It’s an incentive and an advertisement.
Shadowbanning is here to stay — with a twist
Shadowbanning targets vaguely inappropriate or borderline content, fake engagement and the use of automation services. It is a cross-platform moderation technique used by Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to prevent accounts from appearing in search. Users can still post, like and comment other people’s posts, but their content will no longer appear on anyone’s feed. And they may not even know they have been shadowbanned.
Social media giants like Twitter and Facebook have been re-examining their moderation algorithms to offer more transparency. Twitter’s pilot program Birdwatch, for example, enables users to annotate misleading comments and vote on other users’ submissions. The problem with user-driven moderation systems like this is, however, that they run the risk of devolving into mob rule. On the bright side, efforts to increase transparency will give users more insight into what they’ve done wrong and why their accounts have been flagged.
Related: 3 Organic Instagram Marketing Strategies That Will Help You Thrive During the Pandemic