Shadow Banned – the new Witch Doctor Story meant to scare you[/title][fusion_text]Witch doctors symbolize the holder of secrets and spells. You didn’t truly understand how their magic worked but you were afraid of them. Stories about their mysteries spread like wildfire and often times not grounded in any proof. Very much like the stories about being “shadowbanned”.
I wanted to get that out of the way. It doesn’t exist. Just like witch doctors no longer exist … shadow banning does not exist either. I’m not clear as to who came up with this concept/phrase but it has all the elements of mystery and fear in the phrase alone. Just hearing it “sounds bad”. But let me assure you it’s completely unfounded.
The only thing Instagram wants you to do is spend more “time on their platform”. The longer you and I use it, the higher the likelihood they can monetize their FREE platform by selling ads. If you and I stopped using Instagram because we were not happy with how it worked, they would eventually go out of business (remember My Space?). Our eyeballs are what they are after. They want our thumbs to stop scrolling. And our attention is their currency (if you don’t know this concept look up Gary Vaynerchuk on YouTube and watch a few of his keynotes).
Quick recap – the phrase “shadow banned” implies that Instagram has somehow limited the exposure of your posts as if to punish you for your activity on their platform.
In reality the only time Instagram ever punishes an account intently – is when you violate their terms of service. Depending on the level of your violation they will temporarily block your actions or in the extreme case shut down your account.
If you have a facebook page connected to your Instagram account you can enable our analytics. If your post has over 1X reach and over 1X impressions then your visibility is not limited. If you don’t have Instagram’s business analytics you can sign up for Iconosquare’s pro reporting system which will provide this same data.
Simply because there are more people and the platform keeps changing.
As more and more people jump on Instagram, the competition for eyeballs and thumbs to stop scrolling go higher. I want to share a few points for you to noodle on below:
By the way – there is a website that “claims to check if you have been shadowbanned”. This website is in the business of page views. It easily capitalized on the “scare” and created this widget which is completely unfounded. I’ve tested it along with other marketers and it’s fake.
Instagram marketing is part of my business. I network with marketing professionals on Linked In, Twitter, Medium, and various other marketing groups. We share the latest discoveries with each other and test features out to see what works, what doesn’t work, and what is false.
Hashtags were designed to group photos together. But if this is your sole strategy in visibility then you’re focusing on the wrong thing.
Understand first WHY people are on Instagram. They are on Instagram to be entertained. To escape. To connect.
Next understand HOW people use Instagram. They scroll through their feed and they look for images that capture their attention to make their thumb stop scrolling.
So the right question to ask yourself is “how do I get your thumb to stop scrolling”.
In this case … your number one priority – is to: Create captivating content.
I spend a lot of time in the Explore Feed. One of the main reasons is I do more “outbound” actions then waiting for “inbound” activity. What this means is that I spend a lot of time looking for new accounts that catch my eye. And there’s a reason why photos make the explore feed. It’s because they stand out.
Ask yourself – would this photo stand out in the Explore Feed? A generalization is the bright, crisp, clean photos will catch someone’s eye. Dark photos don’t do well (there are exceptions – the moody tones from fantastic photographers do well because they know how to add splashes of color that pop from the photo itself).
Instagram is first and foremost a visual platform. If your content doesn’t captivate someone’s attention, no amount of hashtags or comment pods will increase it’s visibility.
The right question to ask yourself then is … “Is this my best photo I can post today? And if it were to be on the Explore Page, would it stand out among all the other photos?”
After you’ve captured someones attention then you need to “establish rapport and a relationship” and start a conversation. Think of your conversations like a game of volleyball. In your captions you put out a question or a thought – it’s like you’re tossing a ball in the air .. with the hope someone steps in to volley that ball (or conversation) back to you.
And they might be doing the same …. so you need to reciprocate and visit other peoples accounts and participate in their conversations.
There are so many things you can do in Instagram so don’t rely on hashtags alone. Publish stories. Reply to stories. Reply to your DMs. Save collections. Look at your collections and click on “Explore more”. Tag people. Like comments. Reply to comments. The more you use Instagram the more you “train” the AI to know what content you like and when you’re giving and interacting with other accounts, those accounts will start to interact more with yours.
Instagram’s culture is to foster and build community. Just a few months ago …. Zuckerburg himself said that this sense of “community” was what they were looking to improve on the Facebook platform. I believe they took this card from Instagram’s playbook.
Instagram tracks EVERYTHING you do. It tracks, what photos you like and comment on. It even tracks if you click on a photo to view it and how long you viewed it (but did not like or comment). It tracks how you search for people, hashtags, accounts, places etc. It tracks your relationships with accounts. And then it attempts to establish a “relevance” score and “goodness score”. How it calculates this is proprietary to Instagram. But it rewards those that are good “community members” which in turn … influences your overall visibility.
There’s a psychology as to why we’re infatuated with our numbers. The notifications of those Likes and Follows are like a dopamine rush to our brain. And when you’re starting to obsess with your numbers you need to take a step back and …. remember how it was like to use Instagram when you first started.
It was fun. You floated around the platform. You found photos you liked. You interacted. You posted. And it was all very “natural”.
And that … is actually what I find to be the best way to use the platform. Remember this is a social platform. Remember it’s supposed to be fun. And remember there’s no such thing as witch doctors and a shadow ban.
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