Shadowbanning and Instagram

May 02, 2017 | Industry

There's been lots of talk recently amongst bloggers and industry folk about how engagement seems to be dropping on IG accounts and a vast amount of conspiracy theories ensued. Something that had our eye that affects engagement and that we think would be useful information to our vendors, is 'shadowbanning'.

The term shadowbanned refers to the fact that some people search a hashtag they've used only to find their photo not appear. Where we would usually see our image in chronological order, we are suddenly not seeing it. The accounts that are 'shadowbanned' don't appear in the hashtag feeds unless you FOLLOW them even if they have used the hashtags in their post. So, if you try and find your own photos in a feed using a hashtag, YOU will see them, anyone that FOLLOWS you will see them, but NOT people who do not follow you - which is kind of the whole point, right?

Did you know - according to Facebook (owners of Instagram), only the most popular posts show up under the hashtag and it's constantly changing? Before shadowbanning, we were able to find posts in the 'most recent' section of IG when searching the hashtag, but no more. This is what Instagram algorithm buffs refer to as 'intended functionality'. If you search your bespoke hashtag - for example #fineartfriday - it might show 10 images but say 2,000 posts. It simply gives a preview of these posts which is intended to draw the user to these images and therefore the page. If more pages and users use the hashtag, more content would show but if you have something unique to your page, then limited posts show.

ACTIONS TO TAKE

So, how do we combat shadowbanning? It seems the answer is to continue using a few relevant and powerful hashtags but also to have those posts be highly engaged pretty much immediately by your existing followers. Note that this is exactly the reason why Wedding Sparrow doesn't rely on exactly 30 hashtags in our comments (in fact, we often use 3 or fewer depending on the content) - just a copy and paste of those hashtags does NOT ensure your audience will see that image! Also, making sure we're posting at the 'right' time (using your analytics - try Iconosquare if you are not part o the IG analytics beta test), remembering what is popular with your followers and trying to post more of this type of post, and engaging with fellow industry folks by commenting and liking other images. Inevitably with the ever-changing IG algorithms, we're sure that it won't be long until this all changes...

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