What is the ‘shadowban’ on Instagram and how can you overcome it?

Are you finding that recent images on an Instagram account are getting less or no engagement? Does this appear to be a recent but consistent trend? Instagram can often make you feel like you are hidden. But what if I were to tell you that sometimes that’s because you are hidden? Social media is my job and I thought I’d impart a little bit of wisdom where I can for other social media managers, bloggers or just those with an Insta-addiction! Listen up to hear about the ‘shadowban’.


shadowban on instagram


What is the shadowban?

Instagram’s algorithm regularly annoys people. Posts are no longer in chronological order. Engagement is rewarded by highlighting those that you engage with and hiding those that you don’t. The ‘shadowban’, however, is fairly new. Instagram is designed to seek and remove spam from its platform but can sometimes get it wrong, hiding an account that doesn’t deserve to be hidden. The ‘shadowban’ actively hides your posts from people’s feeds – even if they are your followers. Though Instagram has not confirmed this, it would appear to be either a punishment for ‘inappropriate’ behaviour or to test if you recognise the ban and change your ways. So how do you overcome it?


The bad news

Instagram themselves won’t help you. There are very few ways to contact them and your hidden account is not a priority. That’s not even the worst part. The ‘shadowban’ seems to last for 14 days. Yep, that’s right. Your engagement will continue to be low for the whole two weeks that you are hidden.


Continue posting

I know that it can be daunting to talk to a wall on a daily basis for two weeks but remember that the algorithm also punishes you for being inactive. Though it seems like a complete catch 22, the only way to resume in any sort of normal manner once out of the shadowban is to continue posting, even when no one can see your posts. If the ratios bother you after the shadowban, feel free to delete the inactive posts but you do have to continue posting in the meantime!


Increase unique direct engagement

Despite the fact that no one can see your account, you can still remain visible by posting on other people’s accounts. Instagram tries to find spam comments so you must remember not to promote yourself and not to flare up the system using any keywords. These have been estimated to be things like, ‘check out my…’ and so on. Like and engage with other people’s posts but always say something different so that they can see that you aren’t a bot.


Follow fewer people

Bots are trained to follow a lot of people in the hope of attaining follow backs and then they tend to be trained to unfollow accounts to keep their ratio respectable. That means that these are algorithm triggers. Try not to follow lots of people and don’t unfollow anybody during the time that you think you are under the shadowban. Basically, tread on eggshells and do nothing that could trigger Instagram further.


Returning to normal 

When your posts pick up more likes, you can safely assume that the shadowban period has ended. This does not mean, however, that you are completely out of the red. Parts of your Instagram behaviour triggered the system so you should definitely make some changes. These are a few that I would recommend: changing the hashtags that you use on each post, posting them in the comments instead of the direct posts and engaging more with people but with more unique comments than ‘great photo’ etc.


I know it can be frustrating if you are either a small business or managing a small business and explaining a sudden plummet can be difficult but don’t let it knock your confidence on the platform! If anything, you can use it to better your techniques!

If there is anything else you would like to know, social media based, then leave a comment so that I can address your topics! Have you ever been subject to Instagram’s shadowban? How did you overcome it?




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