“Shadow banning” happens when Instagram thinks you are spamming hashtags. This is likely happening because you use the same hashtags over and over again.
Not long ago, this was common practice amongst businesses looking to grow and be seen by a very specific audience. If this is your objective, it’s only natural that you would use relevant hashtags that your target audience also uses to make sure you appear in front of them.
But because the “Insta-Bot,” as I like to call it, isn’t actually a person and really can’t tell the difference between using a hashtag strategically vs. using a hashtag inappropriately to simply appear in front of as many people as possible — you using hashtags on a regular basis might be red flagged as “spam” which will result in your content being “shadow banned.”
If your content is shadow banned from a hashtag, it is not being seen by anyone searching through that hashtag who isn’t already a follower.
This will make it harder for your content to be found by people who don’t already follow you, which will result in slower growth and/or lower engagement.
Here’s the kicker: You will have no idea if you’re banned or not! Only someone who does not follow you can check for you.
So what do you do?
Mix it up. Avoid using the same hashtags again and again and — better yet — get creative! Explore some new ones. A great resource for exploring new, trending hashtags related to your content and target audience is hashtagify.me
Do you have any other great hashtag resources? Let me know them below!
PS: 15 more resources for optimizing your social media presence right here.