What You Should Know About Shadow Banning

Kristian Segelken – Social Media Manager

If your business is on Instagram, you might have heard the term “shadow ban” thrown around. There is a great deal of confusion over what the expression means and whether or not shadow banning is actually real. While these are important questions, it’s more important to understand how it affects your social media plan and the type of content you should be posting.

Let’s start with the definition. Shadow banning, sometimes referred to as stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting, is when your content is partially or completely blocked from an online community. For example, if your account has been shadow banned, your posts might not be visible to users on their explore pages.

Instagram has received some backlash from users who claim their content is being censored despite following best social media practices. While this may or may not be true, the goal of shadow banning is not to censor creative material, but to cut back on the number of fake and inappropriate accounts. Instagram will block content from accounts that post too frequently, use too many hashtags or use hashtags that don’t apply to the subject of the post. Accounts that engage in bot following or follow an unusually large number of other accounts will also have a better chance of being shadow banned.

It’s fair to say that the attitude towards shadow banning so far has been mixed. Some feel it’s creating unnecessary censorship while others see it as an incentive to post good content. It goes without saying that you should already be posting to the best of your capabilities, but what exactly does that mean? If you’re worried about being shadow banned, it might be time to sit down and do a quick audit of your business’ social media presence. Here are a few good tips to look out for:

1. Hashtags 

Posting a block of hashtags under your caption doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s best to use 5-10 specific, relevant hashtags to reach your target audience. It will also look much cleaner and take up less space in people’s feed.

2. Following

Who you follow is important. Go through the list of accounts you follow and see if there are any that you can delete. The number of accounts you follow is also important. A page with 300 followers and 3,000 following looks suspicious and will scare off potential new followers. Also, DON’T ENGAGE IN BOT FOLLOWING. But you knew that already.

3. Post frequency

How often your business should post is dependant upon your industry. A restaurant that constantly offers new menu items or holds special promotions or events should post more frequently than a pest control business that rarely changes their service offerings. Consider your industry and post accordingly. 3 times per week is a great place to start.

While there is no concrete way to confirm your page has been shadow banned, there are a few indicators that something might be off. If you notice a sudden and severe decrease in engagement, that should be a red flag. You can also use a personal Instagram account (one that doesn’t follow your business account) to check your hashtags. Simply navigate to your explore page and search the most recent hashtags you’ve used. If your business’ posts aren’t showing up, that could be a sign of shadow banning.

If you would like to know more about best practices for Instagram, take a look at their Community Guidelines. If you would like to know more about social media management services, give us a call or visit our contact page.

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