A few months ago, April to be exact, I noticed that my engagement had not only dropped significantly, but my posts weren’t showing up on any of the hash tags I used. I couldn’t quiet figure out why my engagement had decreased, nor what I was doing wrong. I ended up asking my followers if there was an issue with Instagram, or if they too, noticed a difference with their Instagram page. Many stated they had noticed the same exact change that I was experiencing. I began to Google if Instagram was having “technical issues” and found multiple articles surrounding the subject. What struck me the most, was the common term used in the articles that read “Shadow Ban”. I’m thinking “what the heck is shadow ban”?
Social media, including the likes of Instagram are used as tools to help build online communities, find new customers, and create an online presence. For those of you who are new to Instagram and may not know why this is even an issue, Hash tags are used for the purpose of finding accounts related to a user’s interest. Hash tags are used as a “search engine” for users to find your brand. When someone types in #entrepreneurtips it will generate all posts related to “Entrepreneur Tips”.
As a brand, business or entrepreneur, using hash tags in your posts helps to drive traffic to your Instagram page. Whenever I would use hash tags in my posts, for users to find my business, the posts wouldn’t show up at all which meant new customers could not find my business.
What I found was happening to my posts on Instagram is that my posts were “Shadow Banned”. Shadow Ban means that my posts cannot be discovered by potential customers with the hash tags I use. How do you know if you’ve been “Shadow Banned”? Well, if you’re like me, you noticed a decrease in likes, comments and more importantly, your posts didn’t show up when you click on your hash tags.
In May, Baltimore fashion photographer Currie Lee saw her engagement plummet out of the blue.
"I would post something and it would take over five minutes for someone to like something. In the old days, after five minutes, I would have up to 50 likes," she said.
Matt Smith, founder of Later, a leading marketing platform for Instagram, said he's received a steady flood of reports from Later's users and community about recent losses in Instagram engagement — all blaming the mysterious "shadowban."
Is Instagram aware of this issue?
Absolutely! Check out this post that has, “inadvertently” been removed from the social media giant’s Facebook page
Kiki Von Glinow of HuffPost wrote on her Facebook page: If your Instagram content is loaded with repetitive hashtags, especially seemingly banned ones, or you're using automation tools like Instagress (which was recently shut down), or an Instagram scheduler that hacks the Instagram API instead of working within its guidelines, you will suffer very noticeable loss in engagement and reach.
So how you “Beat the Algorithm” at it’s own game?
Pay attention to when your audience is the most active. Is it late at night or early in the morning? You may want to change your posting times to when your audience is online. Getting your posting times right helps drive traffic to your page, and increases engagement, which means, your posts more than likely, appear as a “Top Post” or on the Explore page. Are you using an Instagram Business Profile? With this feature, you can use Insight . Insight helps you get actionable information about which posts perform best, which days of the week and times that are best to post based on your demographic of your followers.
Did you know that the first hour after you post on Instagram is the most critical time for your account? The more “likes” and comments you receive, the more likely your post will appear on the explore page, even as a “Top Post”. One way to promote your post is to cross promote your content using other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Direct followers from the platforms to your Instagram page. This will help you leverage your visibility on Instagram and help drive traffic to your page.
The 30/90 Rule
Hash tags help to increase visibility as well. The right hash tags will help users find your page, thus increasing your engagement. You can use up to 30 hash tags however, make sure they are relevant to your content. If you’re a travel blogger, use all things related to travel, such as #worldtraveler #goingglobal #lifestyleblogger. Change your hash tags every 30 to 90 days. Why? The algorithm often times views the repeated use of hash tags as “abuse” and will essentially block your posts. The best way to find new hash tags is to research what your competitors are doing. What hash tags are they using? How are users responding to their posts? Click on each hash tag to see which ones are in the “Top Post”. Use the hash tags from the posts that appear as “Top Posts”. Create a spread sheet adding up to 30 hash tags related to your industry.
Call to Action
Remember how I talked about engagement earlier? A Call to Action will increase your audience engagement “double tap if you agree”…”tag a hair stylist”. This tactic also helps to move your posts into a higher feed which in turns, puts you on the Explore Page. The algorithm literally reads the engagement on your post, determines if its worthy of moving to a “Top Post” or the Explore page. The more likes and comments, the more likely you’ll gain visibility.
Trending topics on Instagram generate a “buzz”, an ongoing conversation that drives engagement. Create a Meme, regarding a trending topic on Instagram and incorporate that into your content. Ensure that the content is related to both your industry and the topic at hand. For example a Block buster movie or a new album. You can effectively drive traffic from a trending topic to your Instagram page.
I have incorporated all of these tips and watched my follower count increase along with engagement after the “Shadow Ban”. Shadow Ban’s typically last about 24 to 48 hours, some have lasted longer. Keep these tips handy in case you find yourself in the same situation. Remember, don’t panic! Change your strategy! Follow me Instagram: @thecorporateconciergegroup Twitter:@thecorcongroup