Week #11 – Instagram Shadow Ban – True or False?
Recently Pierre & I had our first “shadow ban” scare. A friend reached out to us to tell us that our posts were banned on Instagram.
He used a well-known 3rd party tool to test our Instagram account and latest posts. We started the account 2 months ago and have been working hard to great great content, engage with followers, and grow organically. I immediately became concerned and started to test all our posts using this tool.
Below is what I learned:
Shadow Ban in One Sentence – If you’re using hashtags in your Instagram posts, your posts will not show up in the hashtag search results for users who DO NOT FOLLOW you.
Using the tool I found that all of the posts which had hashtags in the COMMENTS were banned. Using the tool I found all of our posts which had hashtags in the CAPTIONS were not banned. I then went on to test a better know account @workweeklunch who has 76k followers. All the posts which I tested were banned because hashtags were in the comments. I started to doubt the accuracy of this 3rd party tool so decided to test even further.
I deleted the hashtags from the comments on a banned post and placed them in the captions instead. I re-tested the post using the 3rd party tool and results came back as SAFE. Again suspicious. Were the results of this test highly based on whether hashtags were in comments or captions? Could Instagram’s shadow ban algorithm be as simple as that?
I do NOT follow @workweeklunch on one of my Instagram accounts. I used this account to manually test if posts were shadow banned. You can find out how to do so here. I tested her most recent post and searched for a hashtag she used in the post. Her post showed up in the results even though the 3rd party tool had marked this post as banned!
I’m not confident in the results of this 3rd party tool after conducting my own mini test. The only way to test if your account has been shadow banned is to do so manually. I’m guilty of placing well-researched hashtags in the comments but that’s about it. I do know that we have had no significant drop in the amount of engagement likes, followers, comments lately. Quite the opposite – we have had an increase in the amount of engagement this month.
I’ll let you come up with your own conclusions.