instagram shadowban sparkle society
Back in the spring of 2017, news started swirling around the interwebs about the big, bad Instagram shadowban. People were all kinds of upset when they realized they had been posting photos, using hashtags and their images weren’t showing up in the hashtag bunch. As the Sparkle community knows, one of the coolest things about Instagram is that you can use hashtags to easily grow your audience. So, this whole shadow ban thing kind of messes with that organic growth amazingness. But, here’s the thing… Instagram wants you to use their platform. They don’t want you to hate them, they just want you to play by their rules.

sometimes we get all bent out of shape…
forgetting that we are playing in their sandbox.

Here’s the thing my little sparkle, if you are using best practices and following IG’s terms of use, then you will be JUST FINE! The main way to survive most Instagram crises is to play by their rules.

So… what is this whole Instagram shadowban anyway?

You’ve heard people talking, but are like, “what”?!?!?  Let me explain….

Shadow banning is like your shadow… it’s kind of there, but not really. Normally, when you post a photo using hashtags, your peeps can all see that post. In addition, anyone who is searching under one of the hashtags you’ve used, can also find your post. This is how new people discover you! BUT, if you are under the shadowban, your posts will still be seen in hashtag searches but only by you and your followers. Those who don’t follow you will NOT see your posts in the hashtag hub. This makes getting new followers through hashtags pretty difficult, which is why the entire interwebs was outraged when all of this biz started.


So… how do you avoid the dreaded shadowban? I thought you’d never ask my little sparkle!


1. Always Follow IG’s terms of use

Like seriously, just follow the rules! The biggest issue I see with most well-intentioned Instagrammers, are people who use third-party posting apps… without checking to be sure they’re approved Instagram partners!  Up until February 2018, it was against Instagram’s terms of use to use a third-party app to post for you.  Sure, their were apps that would do it for you… but you ran the risk of getting your account shut down.

Needless to say, business owners rejoiced when Insta announced that we could use Instagram Partner apps to schedule AND post into our accounts.  Now you can plan your grid, deliver great content AND spend time with your family {instead of constantly fretting about your grid}!  My fave programs to use are:

• Tailwind – this is a program mainly for managing your Pinterest account, but they’ve also integrated with Instagram!  This link will get you a $30 credit in your account and 100 free Pins…. plus Insta scheduling!

• Planoly – focusing exclusively on Instagram, you can visualize your grid and rearrange until it’s aesthetically pleasing!

• Hootsuite – I’ve used Hootsuite for years to manage my social media.  You can watch all your Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, specific hashtags and more!  If you want a robust program that can do it all – this is the one!

But here’s the deal sweet friend, any third-party program that claims to be able to post for you AND isn’t an approved Instagram partner, is in violation of IG’s terms of use!!!  Using one of those apps will get you shadowbanned with a quickness. For the love of all things pink and glittery, PLEASE do not mess with this. Just be sure to post with an approved vendor OR share your stuff all by your sparkly little self, mmmm kay?

2.  Don’t use any banned hashtags

Yeah, those are a thing. Obviously, you don’t want to use anything inappropriate or that violates Instagram’s terms of community, like pornography or violence, but I am going to go ahead and assume that this is not an issue for my lovely sparkles. However, there are a couple of other hashtags you can’t use, that may be surprising.  You can’t use #Instagram or #photography. If you do, you will negate all of your other hashtags, and could eventually be shadowbanned. Why? Well, technically, anyone on the platform could use #Instagram, and since all posts require a photo of some sort, everyone could technically #photography too! There are plenty of others out there too.

Want to know if a hashtag is banned?

Do a quick search on IG. If a large number of people are using the hashtag, it will have a grid of the 9 most popular photos under that hashtag at the top. If there are thousands of uses for that hashtag, but no grid at the top, then you are probably looking at a banned hashtag. Additionally, sometimes IG will tell you that a hashtag has been banned because it is in violation of their community terms. So, do some research, my friend!

3.  Don’t use spammy technology or techniques.

If you are crash-tagging,  you’ll get shadow banned. What’s crash tagging? Well, it’s  when someone posts a photo of Under Armour gear, then hashtags Nike to prey on Nike’s audience. They are in essence using a hashtag that isn’t theirs to use, so they will have a likelihood of being reported by the community… leading to shadowbanned status!


Don’t tag a bunch of people who don’t know you. This happens to me all of the time. People will post an advertisement or giveaway and tag me, even if they don’t know me. The purpose of this is obviously to get my attention, and then maybe grab some of my follower’s attention. But, here’s what’s up… that is a real quick way to get yourself reported, and is again, in violation of IG’s terms.  Listen sparkles, DO NOT tag someone unless they are aware of you tagging them or it is a genuine post, not a promotion.

And.. on a quick little side note… if everything you post is promotional, then you risk being reported by another community member and being shadowbanned. So, don’t be all sleazy and salesly and promotional all the time, k?

fauxbot sparkle society4.  Don’t be a faux-bot.

If you’re going to get in trouble this is probably the issue!  You’ve gotta stop being a faux-bot!  Disclaimer – this is a fancy little term I made up.  While it’s cute {if I do say so myself}, it’s NOT an industry term… so be mindful of that before you throw it into an online convo!  LOL!

This is probably the most likely issue for those doing the right thing, A faux-bot is a real, sparkly person that Instagram mistakes for a bot. How does that happen? Well… there’s a few different ways this can get you in trouble. First, if you are putting the same comment on lots of posts, then IG will think you are a bot and shadowban you. When commenting on posts, be genuine, keep things original and don’t be all bot-like!

Second, if you are in IG pods, post something, immediately share it to all 30 of your pods, then get a gagillion likes and comments in seconds, that comes across as a little fishy to IG. Which, as you guessed could lead to your banning! Want to avoid this mess? Share your posts to a couple of pods, then a few hours later, share to some others.

Third… you give out lots of likes and follow lots of new accounts in a short amount of time. If you like 20 or 30 posts by people you don’t follow, then go and follow 10 new accounts, IG is going to think you are a bot and give you the big ole’ ban.


what have we learned here my sparkly unicorn? if it might make you look like a bot, don’t do it! say no to the faux!


Well, there you have it… the skinny on the shadowban and how to avoid it!

Want to hear a little more about this whole mess? I originally heard about this whole mess while on vacation in Disney… and this princess was NOT having it!  LOL!  Want my little rant on why we’ve all gotta stop freaking out and do what we know is right and honorable for our businesses!  You can watch it right here!  Enjoy!

Ready to learn more about best practices in social media? Let me show you to always shine bright on social, while playing by the rules and keeping things real!   Grab this FREE social media mini-course and I’ll show you my top social media tips & tricks {increase your engagement, design a fab Instagram bio & save money on Facebook}!  Grab your free ticket and get started today!

cyrissa sparkle society


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