How being ‘shadowbanned’ on social media affects your engagement

Having an active social media presence is key for modern marketers. These platforms provide an instant way to connect with an audience, build brand awareness and convey information.

However, some content creators have found themselves at the mercy of mysterious ‘blockings’. Although these bans occur on many platforms, they’ve been most noticeable on Instagram. It goes without saying that if you find yourself in this scenario, it can present a massive obstacle for your marketing team.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the causes, solutions and preventative measures you can take to avoid shadowbans!

What is a ‘shadowban’?

‘Shadowbanning’ is a term coined by online communities for when social media platforms stop (or partially stop) creators’ posts from appearing in public feeds.

As the name suggests, there’s an element of secrecy to the ban. For example, the page having its content suppressed doesn’t receive a warning indicating it’s at risk of being banned, or a notification once the ban is in place.

The aim of shadowbanning is to subtly discourage those participating in prohibited behaviour by impacting their engagement – causing it to drop. Platforms do this so that these users post less frequently, or abandon the platform altogether.  

Causes of shadowbanning

Although Instagram has denied the existence of shadowbans, many regular users report the same unexplained experiences. 

Instagram’s parent company Meta, formally known as Facebook, introduced a remove, reduce, and inform policy in 2016. In an accompanying statement, it outlined how this policy intends to weed out “problematic” posts, such as those spreading false information or abusing site features. 

Some common examples of conduct likely to result in a shadowban are:

  • Spam posting or posting excessively
  • Using too many irrelevant hashtags
  • Buying bots to boost your follower count
  • Using third-party apps
  • Users reporting your content

How does it affect engagement?

Reduced visibility can be disruptive for a variety of reasons. Shadowbanning on Instagram puts content creators in a compromising position as their posts won’t be seen on ‘Discover’ or ‘Explore’ pages.

The shadowban prevents your posts from displaying when scrolling through a hashtag. The content will still show up in followers’ feeds, but it won’t be seen by a wider audience which will significantly impact its visibility. 

Engagement can therefore drop considerably as your carefully-crafted posts go unseen and unliked. Losing online momentum is frustrating at best and, at worst, can have a negative impact on growth.

Lifting existing bans and preventing future ones

There’s no ‘official’ answer to this, but shadowbans are usually short-term, lasting anywhere between 24 hours and two weeks. However, in some cases bans have lasted for several weeks – so, it’s always best to avoid them!

Keeping up to date with community guidelines is essential – Meta even created a new section on its Facebook Community Standards website where you can track monthly policy updates. Cross-check any historical posts that clash with the rules of the platform, and delete them as necessary. 

To further reduce your risk of receiving a ban, remove bot accounts from your follower list. Posts flooded with computer-generated comments will flag your account for moderation and you could face unwanted consequences.

We hope this blog has helped you understand the causes of shadowbanning, and how to avoid them! For more help with any aspect of your digital marketing, contact our friendly team or check out our upcoming events.

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