How to Beat the Instagram Shadow Ban

The elusive Shadow Ban.

For any blogger or digital marketer, those two words send a serious chill down your spine. And for those of us who happen to do double duty as blogger/social media maven (me!), those two words can spell lost engagement and lost sleep.

There are many bloggers out there who do not believe in the Shadow Ban — but chances are, it’s affecting you, your feed, and your business. It’s a real thing!

I’ve already shared 5 simple tricks to boost your Instagram following, but with social media evolving, it’s important you continue to stay updated on its updates and potential setbacks.

Here’s the real deal with the Shadow Ban (and how to beat it!)

What is the Shadow Ban?

The infamous “Shadow Ban” (we’ll call it SB from now on) is a drop in engagement, usually because of a fault in hashtag searches.  An example: you post a photo under the hashtag “#flashesofdelight”. Your followers can see your photo, but when you search “#flashesofdelight” on Instagram, your photo doesn’t show up.

The SB is Instagram’s simple way of hiding what it thinks is spam  — and often, users who are not at all spammers at left wondering what the heck happened to that beautiful photo and all of its potential likes.

Why does the Shadow Ban happen?

We don’t know. And neither does Instagram. It’s likely a negative effect of the new algorithm (a whole other post for another time) and a repeated use of the same hashtags in the same order. Because of the set of repeated hashtags, Instagram thinks your post is spam.

Instagram’s solution to the SB is to “stop relying so heavily on tags.” But for small to medium-sized Instagram accounts, hashtags are the main source of new traffic and engagement.

How do I beat the Shadow Ban?

People are writing entire books about the algorithms social networks now use (and how tricky they can be for small and medium-sized businesses,) but the short answer is to create good content. Easier said than done, right?


You want to experiment with your photos, and find out what works for your audience — what do they like? What adds value to their lives? Instagram is all about telling a story through photography and a caption: use this to your advantage. Focus on telling a story that people can connect with. Authentic content sells.

A more practical, proven way to beat the ban? Vary your hashtags. Do not use the exact same hashtags in the same order on every post. Switch up the order of your go-to tags. Use tags that are unique to the particular parameters in the photo (Focalmark is a great app for this!) And if you consistently post the same kinds of content, find new hashtags via other accounts with similar audiences.

Got any other ideas about growing your authentic engagement? Questions for me? Comment below!


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These are platforms and tools I use on a daily basis — I could not run my business (or life!) without them, and hope you find them as useful as I do!

Buffer: Makes social media scheduling an absolute breeze, and with built-in analytics tools, it will be your new best friend. Click here to try it for free.

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