Contrary to what many think, social networks are not a space of total lack of control. Even if there is no official policy on what is considered as inappropriate content, Instagram and TikTok hide or ban certain accounts. When the social network detects abnormal activity from an account, it has the power to make its content untraceable via hashtags or exploring pages. In more extreme situations the content can be taken down definitively.
The impact of shadow banning is variable, but in all cases it affects the engagement rate of any account concerned by this problem. The content creator sees his number of likes and comments drastically decrease due to the drop in the reach of its posts.This is harmful for the affected influencers, as it disrupts the progression of their accounts, but it is also annoying for their community, which is prevented from accessing the content.
More than ever, users of both digital platforms complain about the loss of visibility of their content. "Mysteriously", certain posts are deprioritized, undiscoverable or even deleted automatically. But is this truly mysterious? The truth is that the content hidden or erased by social networks is not random, we can confirm a few patterns.
One of the main reasons for shadow banning on Instagram is the misuse of hashtags. When Instagram users identify a very popular hashtag, they tend to use it massively, even when the content posted doesn’t match. This widespread use of a hashtag can turn it into a broken hashtag faster than we can imagine. Why? simply because there will be thousands of inappropriate posts linked to that hashtag. Besides, it’s important to distinguish a shadow banned post from an “irrelevant post” among so many others. Using a trendy hashtag exposes the post to competition and makes it harder to get highlighted on the search page.
Another of the main reasons for shadow banning on Instagram is an "overuse" of the digital platform. Instagram identifies immediatly users that have been posting, commenting, contacting or following excessively in a short period of time. This behavior is not allowed by the digital platform and it can cost days or even weeks of shadow banning. Same thing for those who use bots or buy followers to accelerate the increase of their audience. In the blink of an eye, Instagram steps in and restricts these accounts. If that happens, there is barely nothing you can do, but at least you’ll be notified and they will give you an estimate of how long your account will be restricted.
Finally, we come to the most legitimate reason for shadow banning: disrespectful content and reports from other users. There’s not much to say, users must respect norms of good behavior on social networks to avoid being reported and consequently shadow banned.
TikTok is the social network most loved by young people, which requires tighter measures when it comes to offensive and inappropriate content. Community guidelines are quite strict and TikTok punishes all those who violate them. As for Instagram, the penalty is nothing more than shadowbanning and it can take a greater or lesser magnitude.
Since TikTok has pretty accurate filters, sometimes using a word from the “censored words list” is enough to get shadowbanned. Obviously, this list is not totally random, most of the times those words make allusion to something offensive, sexual or illegal. Swear words are not allowed on TikTok and the system may even recognize alternative spellings such as “f*ck” or “a$$”.
In the same logic as the censored words, there are contents considered unsuitable for the digital platform. TikTok's main commitment is to ensure that the network remains a safe and inclusive space. This means that any video promoting hate speeches, violence, fake nudes, drugs or nudity is likely to be removed or heavily invisibilized. In fact, TikTok is the most reactive digital platform when it comes to taking down disrespectful content.
We now come to the main reason why users can get shadowbanned on TikTok: the spammer behavior. It can be quite tempting to follow a bunch of accounts at once, in hopes of getting some followers back. However, TikTok’s algorithm may consider you as a robot and restrict your account. The same can happen if you like and comment on too many posts in the same day. It may seem a good strategy to increase your account's visibility, but you are likely to be shadowbanned in some way.
Now that we've seen what causes shadowbanning on digital platforms, let's get to what really interests you: how to avoid it? Even when you're sure your content is harmless, it is important to prevent your account from shadowbanning measures if you want to ensure growth and engagement… Let's see how it works!
First things first, build a strong community. Working side by side with other influencers is the key to boost your account and legitimize your content. The more your account is mentioned by other users, the more you will be recognized as a good content creator. And good content creators are hard to tear down. That said, take this precious advice: collabs, collabs and more collabs! Planning collabs with other influencers will help you consolidate your added value and increase your reach at the same time. It’s magical!
Another golden tip is to switch to a pro account. Knowing your community and analyzing the reach of each post is crucial to avoid shadow banning. There are a few pro features that allow you to evaluate your posts performance and identify what kind of content is not working for you. Keeping an eye on this analytics can be life changing!
Finally, the most important advice: watch your content! Keep your photos and videos free from offensive or choking content and do your best to promote a healthy environment within the digital platforms. Always avoid swearing and clean your comments to make sure there is no lack of respect linked to your content.
To put it in a nutshell, shadowbanning is real but there are a few ways to avoid it. Get yourself surrounded by a strong community and follow the user guidelines (available on the terms & conditions of both digital platforms). Keep in mind that social media is fun, but you must use it wisely!
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