Turns out, hashtags can be your worst enemy. Since the launch of our Engagement Pro program, we’ve had a chance to look deep into our users’ analytics and what we found was shocking and common amongst almost every person that purchased this service.

Their posts were being blocked because of their misuse of hashtags. For real, only ONE person that purchased wasn’t blocked. ONE. So, this felt like a must to share because at this rate it’s likely effecting nearly every person reading this.

You can put your gram to the test here - https://triberr.com/instagram-shadowban-tester

We know the whole shadow banning thing has been controversial, but we’re here to tell you it’s real and it’s a total engagement killer. Most of the time when we checked, it wasn’t just one hashtag, it was all of them grouped together. Essentially the entire post wasn’t being shown across Insta and this pattern continued for many of their posts.

Here’s the bigger picture: if Insta is banning your content from being seen on hashtag searches, that means it’s not showing up anywhere because they’ve already marked you as potential spam. So, the “shadowban” is the least of your problems if it’s effecting you.

We went over this in detail in one of our latest posts “Instagram Rules of Engagement… Literally”. But since it’s clear no one actually took this seriously, we’re here to, as they say, beat a dead horse, so no one continues to make these mistakes.

Here’s WHY these posts were being blocked:

  1. TOO MANY - Instagram allows up to thirty-something hashtags, so it’s fair to assume that it would be safe to add that many. WRONG. Almost every person that included over 15 hashtags was completely banned. Like, every single hashtag was banned, not just one.

  2. Hashtags that were banned were placed in the comments. I’ll admit, when we researched for “Instagram Rules of Engagement… Literally” I didn’t think this mattered. I was wrong, it’s clear there is something that Instagram doesn’t favor about leaving a loaded hashtag comment. Tags entered into the body of the post were not blocked most of the time.

Posts that were NOT blocked had this in common:

  1. Hashtags were in the body of the post

  2. Hashtags were VERY specific to the content, not necessarily trending (1million+ tags)

  3. Tags were between 5 - 10 max

How to choose the right tag:

We discovered something very interesting when we dug into this and we tried a few techniques that made a huge difference. First, you have to remember that aside from allowing your post to show up in a hashtag, it also helps Instagram distribute your content accordingly. So, if you create very specific hashtags you’ll have your content viewed by users that have taken interest in similar content, which should increase your engagement.

Here’s what we mean by specific:

Pretend you’re a 5 year old playing “I Spy” and literally write out what you see. I like to think in Pinterest terms, like what would I have to type in the search bar to find this photo. Also, try to name the brand in the hashtag. We found that increased engagement quite a bit. Most of the blocked tags were generalizations like “#womenempowerment / #momblogger / #naturalhealth / #bossbabe / #travelblogger” etc. I’ll admit, they are great hashtags but they are very broad. Again, Pinterest brain, if I typed in “travelblogger” could that lead me to this photo? Maybe, in a endless pool of travel-like photos, but probably not. Here’s an example:



#sunset #desert #denim #sunhat #denimlook #levis #urbandoutfitters #nordstrom #offtheshoulder #arizona #bucketbag #blondehair

We made up the brands, location and retailers for the example… make it SPECIFIC to your photo.

GOOD LUCK!!! Any feedback you have that we can share with the community would be a great help. We love hearing from you!