Shadowbans, Engagement, Instagram, Oh My

It’s no secret that social media and search engines consistently change their algorithms.  Things change in the hopes of making the platform easier and more enjoyable to users. While we may not always agree with the algorithm changes, we are stuck with them.

Remember the outrage when Instagram made the switch from photos being displayed in chronological order to what the platform thought you wanted to see? Everyone was upset and confused but we adjusted. So too will you adjust your strategy to fit the new changes.

Now, users have complained about a lack of engagement on their photos. Why is this happening? Algorithm changes!

It is no longer enough to post a photo and walk away. Instagram is now requiring some strategic effort on your part.

Instagram is now completely engagement based. You cannot just throw up a photo and hope the world will see and engage with your brand. Instagram has changed their algorithm to favor those who are active on the platform and have introduced something called a “shadowban.”

Let’s start with the engagement aspect before we talk about the shadowban. Instagram now is requiring users to engage with other accounts in order for their content to be seen. Engagement includes liking photos, commenting on photos and sending direct messages that are valuebased and not a promo. Before you ask, no, this cannot be automated. The new system is purely organic. If you want to be seen, and use Instagram as a lead generating tool, it is imperative you spend some time growing on the platform organically.

People like Gary Vaynerchuk have mentioned that he spends at least 7 hours per day on Instagram. Now, as a small business owner there is no need to spend 7+ hours per day building your Instagram. However, taking 10-15 minutes per day to engage with your target audience is an excellent way to start building relationships.

The one thing to take away from this piece is that social media is about relationships. Just because a relationship is formed online and not via your physical location, that does not mean it should be treated any differently. Start building real, authentic, organic relationships with the people you serve.

Let’s move on to the shadowban. The shadowban started making headlines in April and the conversation hasn’t stopped. A shadowban means that your content becomes non-discoverable. Using hashtags repeatedly or using a list of banned hashtags will end up with your account being shadowbanned. Also, playing the follow and un-follow game will cause a shadowban. Instagram will not notify you of these changes to your account. Instead, look for a drastic decrease in your engagement.

If your account has been hit with a shadowban, lay off the platform for roughly 48 hours.

The shadowban and added emphasis on engagement are all part of Instagram’s new algorithm. Anytime you notice in change in your platform, it’s time to check the platform for some recent announcements.