For many businesses, social media plays a huge role in their marketing activity, helping them raise brand awareness with new audiences and engage new customers.
However, if your business is struggling to maintain consistent growth – or seeing a decline – you may be suffering from a bad case of shadowban.
In the very simplest terms, it means that your content is no longer showing up to followers, non-followers or on the Explore page (if you’re using Instagram).
That means your impressions, reach and engagement all decline, often quite suddenly.
The reason it’s called a ‘shadow’ ban is because it’s not obvious to the account holder. The account still exists, and they’re still able to post content, but no one sees it. That’s also why the ban is known as a ‘ghost ban’ or ‘stealth ban’.
Most social media channels insist that it’s not (as outlined below), but the truth is, it may exist under a different name.
Let us say, upfront, that Instagram vehemently denies the existence of the shadowban. Instagram users and influencers beg to differ, suggesting there’s no other explanation for the decline in reach and engagement.
Instagram does, however, say that it reserves the right to block posts sharing inappropriate content or accounts that violate its community guidelines:
We want Instagram to continue to be an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression. Help us foster this community. Post only your own photos and videos and always follow the law. Respect everyone on Instagram, don’t spam people or post nudity.Instagram Community Guidelines
If you accidentally break the rules – or moderately infringe upon them – you may find that your content doesn’t appear to non-followers.
There’s no clear indication of how long it lasts. Consensus suggests that it’s two weeks, but others claim that it lasts a lot longer.
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While it’s not officially ‘a thing’, Twitter has indicated that content and posts may be downgraded if its algorithm thinks your content is spammy.
You can read the full account here, but basically, Twitter looks at what you post, how you post and the accounts that you interact with.
If, from those factors, the algorithm determines that your post may be spam, your content will be downgraded, thus getting fewer views and fewer engagements.
Again, there are community guidelines to follow on LinkedIn. Again, spam is frowned upon, so any posts deemed suspect may be hidden from news feeds. Again, it’s not an outright ‘shadowban’ but a downgrading of content.
One of the ways to tell is to look at your reach and engagement rates on any channel. If you’re used to getting high volumes of impressions, likes, clicks, comments and replies and these sharply declined, you may be a victim of a shadowban.
Then consider any behavioural changes that might have resulted in red flags. For instance, different types of content or low performing content.
Other factors to consider include: