How Shadowbanning Can Ruin Your Social Media Strategy (and How to Avoid It)

- 5 minute read

Have you ever found your post reach or engagement suddenly slowing to a crawl? While keeping up the same posting and content strategies, all of a sudden, your likes deplete, as does your referral traffic.

It’s a disheartening position to be in, leading to many brands second-guessing their approaches to social media marketing. Shadowbanning is a social media phenomenon that causes engagement metrics to tank over time, with no immediate reasoning or explanation given.

Maybe you’re experiencing a shadowban right now, or have just recently crawled back from one. Whatever your situation, we’ll explain everything you need to know about shadowbans, to help you fight back and protect your hard-earned place on the internet spotlight.

What is Shadowbanning?

On social media, a shadowban is a hidden defect that gets applied to profiles on an algorithmic level. The process is pretty clear: algorithms work in accordance with direction given by social platforms in order to tailor the experience on each platform as desired. Some may promote posts that receive high engagement within the first hour of being posted, while others may boost posts that have longer view durations or more likes. In this context, a shadowban is a form of penalty wherein the algorithm intentionally excludes otherwise successful posts from receiving further attention.

Although it may appear as silent or non-existent, shadowbanning is evidenced through a decline of post engagement metrics: likes, comments, replies, re-tweets, reposts, shares, views, etc.

How Long Does a Shadowban Last?

As different platforms have varying levels of policy when it comes to shadowbanning, it’s hard to give a definitive answer as to how long a shadowban will last. Some are only applied for 24 hours, while others can go as long as a week.

Ultimately, the length of a shadowban usually correlates with the cause of it. The more severe rule breaks carry heftier bans, while more subtle breaks have the shortest.

Why Am I Shadowbanned?

Speaking of causes, let’s look at a few of the most common. For more specifics, we advise reviewing your platform’s own terms and conditions.

Promotion of Violence

Promoting hatred or violence on a social media platform is sure to either earn a shadow or full ban. Every current, popular social platform will have a strict policy on violence, with accounts seen to promote it being blacklisted from appearing in discovery pages, so as to not cause offence to new users.

Illegal Activity

Social platforms come down very heavily on illegal activity. Whether it’s the promotion of pirated media or selling of illegal substances, every platform will have measures in place to ensure that accounts which promote illegal undertakings are restricted.

Bot-Like Activity

There are thousands, if not millions of bot accounts on social media. These accounts are sold in bulk on the depths of the internet and used to inflate follower counts and like numbers in order to gamify the algorithms and soar above others. Thankfully, social platforms have become heavily adept to identifying bots, with a few indicators revolving around the posts they make, follower counts, and login locations. If you post like a bot, nobody will see it.

How to Tell If You’re Shadowbanned

Thankfully, a couple social platforms have introduced measures to check if a shadowban is in place:

Instagram

Checking a shadowban on Instagram is as easy as navigating to your account settings menu. On a professional account, simply navigate to:

Profile > Menu > Settings > Account > Account Status

Then, Instagram will give you a quick update with your accounts guidelines status. If everything is good, you’ll see a message like “You haven’t posted anything that is affecting your account status”.

Twitter

While Twitter itself doesn’t provide an account status overview, it does enable its users to check for the presence of a shadowban.

First, log out of your account and open an incognito window in your browser. Then, open Twitter and search for your username. If no results are displayed; you’re shadowbanned.

How to Avoid a Shadowban

If you keep running into shadowbans, here’s a guide on reverting them:

Re-visit Your Tone of Voice

Posting like a bot is never a good idea for social media. Writing repetitively and not conveying any recognisable brand tone of voice is sure to raise internal alarms on the platforms you post on. Specifically, accounts that post Tweets or captions on a very formulaic manner may come across as being completely automated, making the profile seem like a bot and not a human.

Try re-inventing your approach to tone of voice. If your dull, corporate tone doesn’t suit your style, it might be time to freshen things up with a more approachable technique.

Refresh Your Content Pipeline

Just as how your robotic posts are getting flagged, content that is repetitive in its nature is another way of causing bot detectors to initiate. If your content on social media is worded almost identically, has no variation or depth, and uses the same words and phrases over and over, platforms are much more likely to determine that your account is spammy and inauthentic.

Avoid Spam

Speaking of spam; don’t do it! We appreciate that you want to get your products and services seen by as many people as possible, but there comes a point where brands verge beyond promotional activity and turn in to more of a nuisance. Constantly posting about an upcoming sale or product release (or the dreaded giveaway spam) will cause alarm bells to go off on your account.

Post Varied Material

To truly make your account feel more authentic, try mixing up the variety of content you post day-to-day. This not only makes your account feel less robotic, but can even result in higher follower retention rates. Provided everything you post is still interesting, entertaining, or a mixture of the two, you’ll be on to a winner.

Curate Your Hashtags

Did you know that Instagram has a list of “banned” hashtags? It’s true – in a bid to wave away bots and spam accounts, Instagram has taken a sample of the most bot-like hashtags used across posts, and collated them into a list of banned hashtags. It sounds otherworldly, but it is true.

The beauty industry has unfortunately come under fire from these efforts, with hashtags like #beautyblogger being the main one that’s affected. So, if you’re wondering how to avoid shadowbanning on Instagram – review your hashtags.

Monitor and Emulate Other Brands

They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right? Monitoring the type of content that your peers post is one way of benchmarking your performance. Do you post similar things? If so, how are they received? What lessons can you learn from brands with higher (or more engaged) followers than you? Take these learnings, spot the gaps, and fill them.

Need a New Social Strategy? Get in Touch

While social media marketing may seem like a continuation of your other content marketing activities, it certainly deserves its own strategy and implementation approach. Algorithms change, as do consumer interests, so if you’re not adapting; you’re behind.

Start levelling up your approach to social media with the experts at Foundation. Whether it’s learning more about what you should post to having a full social media audit, we’ll be sure to tell you where the opportunities are. Contact us to learn more, today.

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