Are you one post away from a shadowban on Instagram?

Social media marketing isn’t easy.

You’d think that with all this technology at our disposal, everything would be automated. You’d think that businesses would be able to enter a few phrases into a chatbot, flip a switch and watch the engagement happen all on its own, as if at the hands of an automated (but organic-looking!) fairy.

The truth is, businesses can do all of that.

It’s just an awful idea.

When it comes to social media, there’s no “organic-looking.” It’s either truly organic or customers hate it. Believe it or not, nobody actually believes that those “great content!” comments on WordPress blogs or “🔥🔥🔥pic!” notes from strangers on your Instagram photos are legit. Seriously, nobody. If you have automated commenting set up on your Instagram account, stop that!

Similarly, nobody is surprised when it’s revealed that celebrities have been purchasing fake followers to appear more popular.

And yet, it keeps happening.

It should be no surprise, then, that companies like Instagram are starting to take a harder line on such practices.

Case in point: the Instagram shadowban.

Shadowbanning is the act of Instagram hiding a person’s online activity from others — restricting that person’s effects on the Internet without actually banning him or her altogether. Suppose someone were to post a photo online that’s against Instagram’s terms of use. One option would be for Instagram to remove the photo. Another would be for Instagram to hide that photo from everyone but the person who posted it. That’s shadowbanning.

There are a few activities on Instagram that could get you shadowbanned. Two of the most important:

  • Buying followers, likes or comments. This is against the Instagram Community Guidelines, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Instagram would limit this activity as much as it’s able. Don’t do this. It’s shady, and it’s a bad look for your business. If you are a small service business in Bellingham, WA, there isn’t much value to you having 10,000 followers if a large portion of them are fake. Consumers will figure out your followers aren’t real, which is bad for PR.
  • Overusing hashtags. According to the Community Guidelines, it’s frowned upon to post repetitive content. Here’s the exact wording: “Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent.” Could repetitive hashtags really get you banned? According to Iconosquare, it’s possible.

What’s the solution? Good content that people enjoy seeing and real people — not automation bots — managing your social media accounts. Honestly, there’s no other way to do social media right, in our opinion.

Instagram is a visual platform, so posts should consist of beautiful photos and/or well-crafted visuals. They should have a clear focus, invoking a certain mood in viewers or calling attention to a certain fact. Then, when real people respond to those visuals in positive ways by liking and commenting, real people – representatives of your business – should continue the conversation. Customers who engage with your brand on Instagram deserve more than a response that says “Thanks!” or “Great stuff!”

For help, consider giving our Bellingham marketing and social media specialists a call. We’d be happy to discuss how we use real people not robots to manage social media accounts on behalf of Whatcom County companies.


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