Sunday, 9 April 2017

Lifestyle | How To Grow You Audience Even When Instagram Is Shadow Banning


Hello Lovelies! I'll start this post off with a lil disclaimer. I am by no means an Instagram expert, I'm just a bit of an Instagram addict who uses the platform everyday. My love of Instagram, the photo aspect, not so much the company started last Summer and since then I've gained about 1,000 followers, averaging 100 a month so my account is very much growing despite that pesky algorithm (yay!). So in today's post I wanted to talk about shadow banning, and how I'm still growing my account even in these dark times...


What is Shadow Banning?

So first up let's talk about what shadow banning is if you missed the memo. Simply put it's something Instagram does to ban your posts on hashtags from people that don't follow you. So effectively Instagram is making you invisible, but problem is that they don't even tell you, hence the shadow part. Obviously this is a pretty devastating measure from Instagram, and can really impact on how you reach new potential followers for your account.

Why are people shadow banned?

In general what we know is that you're likely to be shadow banned for 'spammy' behaviour. But the problem is that as Instagram isn't communicating with users, we don't really know what this 'spam' is. The general consensus however seems to be that if you use Instagram hashtags too repetitively then chances are you'll eventually get shadow banned because Instagram sees this as 'spam.' So it's best to switch up your hashtags every now and then to avoid the dreaded shadow ban. But unfortunately accounts that we wouldn't even consider as spam are being shadow banned, and it isn't really clear if this is intentional or Instagram's part or by mistake.

Instagram's Statement



Instagram's statement is not surprisingly a little ambiguous, and honestly it's really unclear whether or not this is completely intentional on Instagram's part. Their advice to focus on your business on the whole rather than relying on hashtags suggests that Instagram is veering away from its hashtag culture. Maybe it's the cynic in me but personally I've started to think this is entirely intentional. Think about it, to make money Instagram want more and more brands to use their own advertising so its in their interest to make it harder for brands, bloggers and creatives to naturally get that exposure. There's also a general consensus that Instagram might be purposely penalising #ad posts, because they'd rather brands use their own advertising system, not advertise with bloggers, influencers etc... So Instagram is definitely being more than a bit shady...

So keeping that in mind, what are the best ways to grow your audience without relying on hashtags?


  • Post consistently. Instagram on the whole seems to favour those who post regularly, rather than sporadically. This doesn't mean you have to post every day, but rather than dropping all your photos at once (however tempting), try to spread them out evenly over a period of time. Even better try and post at the same time every day as your followers will come to expect your posts, and so if the pesky algorithm isn't showing them, they'll go looking!
  • Engage, engage and engage. In my experience my account grows the most when I interact with other users on Instagram. At the beginning of last year I hardly ever commented on or liked photos, but now I do it all the time. Just don't be spammy and leave genuine comments as emojis or 'Inspiring shot' are unlikely to get you noticed. 
  • Don't follow for follow then unfollow. Trust me if you do this people will know who you are and chances are it will make them resent you quite a lot. Also this is a hard way to grow a genuinely engaged follow, as many people will press that follow back button and never really notice your posts. This actually looks pretty bad on the whole, as it's better to have lots of people engaging and a low following then lots of followers and hardly any engagement at all. 
  • Work for the regram. Every blogger loves to coin this phrase but it's very true. Regrams are one of the most effective ways of growing your account. I once got regrammed by Lush Kitchen and had a surge of over 100 followers! So always tag the appropriate brands in your photos, and niche accounts like @doortraits (for pretty doors) or even @handsinframe (for photos with your hands in the frame!). Trust me there is a ridiculous amount of niche accounts around the place. 
  • Share the love. Over the past few days there's been a really lovely surge in shares for shares on Instagram and people just generally sharing their favourite accounts. Sure this might not help grow yours, but it's lovely helping others get noticed. 
That's it for today's post. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that everyone seems to be struggling at the moment on Instagram so if your boss flatlays aren't doing so well it's no doubt Instagram's fault. At this rate they should probably change their slogan to 'It's not you, it's me.' *Rolls eyes* Have a great week lovelies and thanks for reading!

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10 comments

  1. This was super helpful so thank you! I've just officially started Instagram so it came at a great time x

    www.natalieleanne.com

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    1. Yay that's good, hopefully it gave you some good tips! Thanks for the comment too lovely! x

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  2. Thanks so much for writing this! I've never heard of shadow banning but I'm definitely gonna keep an eye on my hashtags now. And I'm gonna try to be better at engaging too (insert that flex emoji here haha!). x

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

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    1. Haha that's good! Yeah just try and switch them up every now and then and you should (hopefully) be fine! x

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  3. Great post, lovely! Thought I was onto something with Instagram this week, but I'm losing followers again, and I definitely think it's because I haven't had much time to engage with others over the last few days. Instagram is so hard to grow! x

    Martha Jane | www.marthajaneedwards.com

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    1. Well there's definitely also an aspect of fake followers too, follow for follow or people who use bots so don't get too disheartened if your following keeps fluctuating. Best thing to do is engage, post regularly and you should be fine (your photos are amazing!). Thanks for taking the time to comment Martha :) x

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  4. This was really interesting - I had no idea about shadow banning. Instagram is my favourite platform but it's changed so much recently, I did prefer it when it just showed the photos chronologically but despite the changes I still love it! x

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    1. I do still love it because I love being creative with photos, it just annoys me so much recently with all these unfair changes! Thank you for the comment Lily! x

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  5. This was such a helpful post, V! I had heard of shadow banning, but didn't really understand what it meant. I still do love Instagram, though it takes some extra effort to be noticed as a small account.

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  6. I had no idea instagram was even doing this, so really handy post! xx

    sophiejc.blogspot.co.uk

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Thanks for your comments, I love reading them and will be sure to visit your blog soon :) have a lovely day!

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