Low hashtag impressions are crippling to your engagement and can stem from a few different scenarios. Often times, it’s easy to blame the cause being what’s known as a “Shadowban” on your account in which Instagram limits your content reach by restricting your content’s visibility on the platform. While there is a way to remove a Shadowban, it’s important to figure out whether this is the actual cause of your low hashtag impressions and poor engagement or not.
Before We Get Started
As you know from my previous episode my IGMSecrets account was disabled. I had initially left a link in the description for anyone else that had their account banned as well, but I’ve changed it since then. This is because I started watching various YouTube videos and noticed that a lot of people were offering the same type of links but they were all different URLs. Essentially these different links have different questions for the different scenarios in which your account was banned. That’s probably the link they were given for their specific scenario, and it may not apply to yours. That said, I wouldn’t recommend using their link since it’s likely one that was provided by Instagram for them specifically.
I haven’t really seen most cases where people think they have a Shadowban to actually be one. What’s normally happening is that they just aren’t getting the impressions they would like, but are still getting a very small amount of hashtag impressions overall. However, as a Shadowban is theorized to be a scenario in which you’re not getting any impressions whatsoever, it’s likely you haven’t been Shadowbanned if there’s still a small amount of impressions on your content.
Using Unrelated Hashtags
So with the first scenario let’s say you’re creating posts about a fitness workout and throwing things like #Trump2020 or #Biden2020 on them just because they have a lot of traffic right now and your strategy is to use them to get higher impressions because of their activity. When someone sees a post in their feed because they follow a certain hashtag but the post they’re seeing isn’t related to the relevant content or the point of that specific hashtag they can press on the 3 dots at the top-right of the post and select “Don’t show for this hashtag”….which makes the entire group of tags stop working.
I would like to think you know not to use unrelated hashtags by now, but if you’ve still been using random hashtags that aren’t appropriate for your content, this could be the cause of your issue.
Your Content Is Falling Behind
Likely everyone’s least favorite possibility is that your content isn’t keeping up with what Instagram is expecting to see nowadays and, more specifically, that your content isn’t evolving and progressing over time. It’s very common for people to tell me they’re not getting the amount of hashtags they’re used to getting by posting the same content they always have. Honestly, the fact that you aren’t finding ways to improve your content over time can easily be your issue. You’r a content creator so you should always be trying to raise the bar and striving to release better content to keep your engagement up.
If you’re not seeing the hashtag impressions you’d like, I encourage you to go into a specific post and check each individual hashtag after posting within a few hours, as well as checking again around 6-12 hours after. See if and how you’re ranking on the hashtags you’re using. If you’re not ranking at all or ranking very poorly, I would look at what the top posts are for those hashtags and take notice of the quality of content others are producing. Ask yourself if you’re getting even close to the same level of value that is being packed into other similar kinds of posts.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the video editing, camera effects, etc. I’m talking more about things like if your content is humor-based, are you keeping up with the relate-ability of the top trending memes? Or if you’re a fitness-based account are you putting out the quality and amount of value in your posts as some of the other trending accounts?
So keep in mind that it can be your hashtags that you’re doing wrong. But if you’re using the right hashtags or ones that have trended well for you before, don’t be afraid to place the blame on the content because it never hurts to improve and optimize that area of your posts.
Using Banned or Hidden Hashtags
This last scenario is whenever I see a legitimate Shadowban (as in someone’s account is actually hidden within Instagram) from something they’ve done. With other bans like when your blocked or comment blocked, or when your account is disabled Instagram will send you a notification about it. However, it seems that being Shadowbanned is the only one theorized to be a restriction that Instagram doesn’t notify you of.
There is one way I’ve actually seen people be significantly affected with their hashtag reach, and that’s because you’ve used a banned or hidden hashtag for a long period of time without realizing it. Yet, most of them aren’t, right? Most people aren’t using hashtags that are borderline inappropriate and likely to get banned. You’re likely using a lot of very appropriate hashtags in general. But for some reason one of them just happens to be hidden or banned at the time you use it.
Now, what that does is if you accidentally use one of these, it will make your entire group of tags stop working and will hinder the engagement of your future posts as well. For this, what I like to use is a program called IQ Hashtag. It has a lot of useful features but we’re only going to examine one, and this one by far is the main feature that I would be looking at this software for. The hashtag performance tool it has is also really useful because it will tell you if you were able to rank on thee top posts for any hashtags so you can really track your performance and see if you’re getting a lot of impressions that a tag is coming from. Ultimately this is really useful because that specific data isn’t really available otherwise.
As far as getting a Shadowban lifted, you want to go to Profile Analysis and view the Banned Hashtags. So ones that I’ve used are “Hustler” and “MarketingMasterclass”, both of which I would never have thought were actually banned. So I used these tags almost 2 years ago and I was never going to find these tags by searching through all of my posts and individually remove these. However, what I was able to do was use this app to see which of my posts had used those banned hashtags, and then scroll through my profile and remove them that way. It takes some time to bounce back after a Shadowban, but this method significantly helps your Hashtag impressions come back.
IQ Hashtag is a really useful tool, though unfortunately it’s a paid app. However, it’s only around $12 or $19 per month. You can also do a yearly plan but only for this particular feature alone. You could even use it for a month just to find and remove any posts using banned hashtags and then end your subscription if you wanted, but it’s definitely worth the price because if you don’t have hashtags working for you it’s going to be really hard to grow an organic Instagram following even just from frequent posting.
Additionally, there’s also a free version of the app but it only allows you to see general banned hashtags and not search your account to see which of your posts have used any specifically.
So in short, a Shadowban seems to be complex issue for a lot of people, but it usually comes down to analyzing these different scenarios and seeing which one is the reason for your low hashtag impressions. The first is generally the outlier and the 2nd or 3rd situation is just that your content isn’t getting out there. So if your hashtag impressions seem to be all over the place with high and low engagement, it’s worth analyzing the hashtags you’re using as well as your content quality. Then at the very least you can look into the app to see if there are any banned hashtags you may or may not be using.