Social Media

The Myth of the Shadow Ban

By Ali Ryan on September 25, 2023

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The Algorithm. The Shadow Ban. Why do these all sound so ominous? Well, because they can actually have a significant and unfavourable effect on your social media accounts if you don’t play your cards right and pay attention to what to ‘feed’ the algorithm; refer back to when we chatted about what a beast it can be.

But in the social world, where selfies meet hashtags, and Instagram reigns supreme as the platform of visual storytelling, it is a realm where images speak louder than words, and every like and share feels like a virtual pat on the back. However, lurking beneath the vibrant façade is a phenomenon known as the ‘Shadow Ban.’ It’s like a ghostly whisper in the digital realm, and today, I’m here to unveil its mysteries, debunk its myths, and learn how to conquer it. Oh yes, it’s a battle of us versus social again!

Well, what is an Instagram Shadow Ban?

At the heart of it, a Shadow Ban is a measure taken by the platform to restrict the visibility of a user’s content. It’s as if your posts are trapped in the shadows, concealed from the broader Instagram community. It can also happen seemingly out of nowhere, where enters the frustration.

Imagine pouring your heart and soul into creating captivating content, only to have it buried beneath the digital shadows. A Shadow Ban can harm your engagement levels, making it challenging to grow your audience and establish your brand.

Before I dive deeper, let’s address some common myths:

Myth #1: The Shadow Ban is a Conspiracy Against You

Some believe that Instagram selectively targets users for the ban. In reality, it’s often triggered by algorithmic actions rather than deliberate intent. No one at Instagram is trying to fight with you, I promise.

Myth #2: Using Hashtags Feeds the Shadows

While hashtag abuse can be a factor, it’s not the sole reason for a Shadow Ban. The ban can also result from aggressive automation, spammy behaviour, or the use of prohibited content. Pay close attention to the words you’re using as a whole, as a stronger Instagram strategy, versus worrying about using hashtags and keywords as a whole. You need to be doing this, but you need to be smart about it.

To conquer the Shadow Ban, one must first understand Instagram and its algorithms. Something you’ll hear me and other experts say often is that your strategy needs to be constantly evolving and adapting to platform changes and best practices. This is NOT linear or consistent. The social landscape changes, at the longest, daily.

My top three tips are:

  • Be mindful of your (key)words and what you say in your captions and content
  • Ditch automation wherever you can. Instagram frowns upon automated actions, no matter what enhancement tools say. Engage genuinely with your audience, and avoid bots or scripts that mimic human behaviour. And as usual, DO NOT buy your followers!
  • Focus on creating high-quality content that resonates with your audience. Authenticity is the key to success!

As we navigate the social landscape and its quirks, it’s essential to approach the Shadow Ban with both seriousness and a relaxed approach. After all, social media is meant to be enjoyable, not a constant battle to do the most.

While no one is entirely immune to a Shadow Ban, following Instagram’s guidelines and best practices can significantly reduce your chances of falling victim to it. The Shadow Ban is really just Instagram’s way of gently reminding you to play by the rules.

If you find yourself in the midst of the shadows, reach out to Instagram’s support team and explain your situation. Once you’re back ‘in the light’, post high-quality content consistently, engage with your audience, and use hashtags/keywords responsibly. It’s a gradual process, but the shadows will eventually flee the scene.

The Shadow Ban is a digital enigma that, with patience and adherence to best practices, can be conquered. Remember, even in the virtual world, shadows come and go, but your light will shine through. So, go forth, share your visual stories, and tackle social fearlessly.

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