Everyone is talking about the infamous “shadow ban” right now. I’ve read way more than I’d care to admit and I am pretty convinced that no one really knows the reason why it’s happening or better yet, if it’s actually real. There have been so many speculations and even after all of the research I’ve done, I can find nothing that shows that Instagram has even confirmed that this is in fact something we all need to be worried about. So why are we all so panicked and why are we talking about it so much?
I came across an Instagram account the other day that provided a link to a tool that tells you whether or not you’ve been shadow banned. I quickly clicked on it and after just adding our instagram name, it displayed my latest post with a message under “Sorry, this post is banned :(” And since I never believe anything, I posted a new photo, used the same hashtags I always use and received 140 likes in 11 minutes. So, I’m pretty sure that whatever formula they were using to get their results was anything but accurate, though they do claim their results are 100% accurate. And we are supposed to believe everything we read on the internet, right?!
I figured for the sake of this blog post, I better try it again. So, this morning, I clicked on the link, typed in my IG name and got this:
I then went onto my laptop, made sure I was not logged into any instagram account and searched for one of the hashtags I used – #bossbaby. SURPRISE…. there’s my image. So, no, that image is not banned. And if it’s not banned, why tell people that they are? Do we need any more stress in our lives? I know I sure as heck don’t. I have 3 kids and run way too many businesses. I have enough stress without worrying if my hashtags are toxic.
According to most “experts”, shadow banning means that you won’t show up when someone who isn’t following you does a search for the hashtag(s) you are using (though as we’ve seen above, that may not be totally accurate). They recommend doing things in moderation, such as posting, liking, commenting, following and unfollowing. They recommend not using the same hashtags all of the time. They suggest not using any tool that buys or provides you with followers or likes on your posts. They also suggest not using any type of bot apps that will unfollow, follow, like or comment for you. I personally think that a lot of this is common sense. If you are posting more than a few images at a time (and even using very similar captions and hashtags), it’s definitely going to send red flags. Why wouldn’t Instagram think that you’re a spam account? Just don’t do anything spammy and you should have nothing to worry about. That’s always been my motto in the internet world.
The only thing that Instagram has confirmed is that they are working on things and are perfecting their algorithm. They did this with Facebook as well once upon a time, remember? And this sounds an awful lot like that time that people thought that posting an image on Facebook got them less interaction than just words. So, all of this “shadow banning” talk could just be someone coming up with a new theory which turned into an out of control rumor… and we all know how quickly those can spread. Let’s stop making people go crazy… PLEASE?! We all spend plenty of time on our Instagram accounts. Let’s not spend any more of our day worrying about things that haven’t been confirmed by Instagram themselves.
Instead of worrying about whether or not shadow banning is real or rumor, why not just focus on your content and providing images and information that people will want to see? I know plenty of accounts that don’t even use hashtags and have incredible interaction on their feed!
How can you increase interaction?
- Show love as often as you can to other accounts you love. I personally have been spending the 20 or so minutes while I wait for my kids bus to arrive, to scroll through my Instagram feed, as well as go through the explore to find new accounts and I’ll like and comment on things I love. It’s time I would just be sitting there anyway, so it keeps me busy and helps to keep my interaction up.
- Don’t give up on Interactive DMs! I see people constantly claiming that it’s “fake interaction”. I hate to tell you, but it’s anything but fake! I do most of my small shop shopping because I see sale posts while I’m catching up on my interactive DMs! I’ve also found that the guaranteed 100 or so likes from my interactive DMs, help me with Instagram’s algorithm, causing new followers to find my account more often! And these DMs are not just for reps! My shop accounts have benefited from them as well.
- Work on your captions! While Instagram is about images, you also want to keep your followers interested, so experiment a bit with captions. Try telling a story that goes along with your image. Talk about the small shops, talk about your day, talk about something funny that your little one may have done. You can even ask questions to get people to comment! Then try to keep it simple, just posting your image with a coordinating quote or one sentence. See which one you get more interaction on and do what makes the most sense for your account.
- Use social media to it’s fullest potential. Like me, you probably have friends and family who are more active on other platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat)… and chances are, you are probably on more than one social network yourself. Don’t be afraid to share your Instagram posts on other social networks. You can drive traffic that way. You’d be surprised as to how many people don’t even know you have an Instagram account!
- Figure out when your “peak post time” is. Experiment for a week by posting at different times of the day. Record your results after 24 hours and see when you had the highest interaction. Then try posting only at those times for the next week and see if that boosts your interaction.
While we won’t be sure that shadow banning is fact or rumor, I just choose not to believe everything I read until I can absolutely confirm it with the source. Until then, I encourage you to focus on what you have control over and just have fun. Instagram isn’t the be all end all. Continue to support small shops and connect with other awesome Mamas. Connections are forever and can’t be banned or altered by an algorithm 😉
By the way… if you want to use the tool I was referring to above, just click here. I’d love to hear if you had similar results.