What’s going on makers?! Nathan here with my first blog contribution, and I want to shed some light on this “shadow banning’. It’s a hot topic and I’m sure many of you have heard from several well-known makers in the community on how it may or may not have an impact on you. Ironically enough this “shadow banning” has a silver lining and I would like to share my perspective on the matter. Let’s shed some light on it, shall we?
What exactly is Shadow Banning?
It’s a method of blocking a user within a community they are a part of without them knowing it. The user is still active within the community, but they do not see new content. Also known as “stealth banning”, “ghost banning”, and “comment banning”. Comment banning can hide new comments being made in a forum to a particular user.
Its nothing new to be honest. It’s a common method used in forums on many sites. How Instagram uses it as of now is limited to the tagging system. Users who do not follow you will not be able to see your post in the hashtag section of Instagram or on your actual profile.
Is Shadow Banning a good or bad thing on Instagram?
This can help makers see how healthy their following actually is. Being that your tags will be limited to those who actually follow you, it will show your true engagement. It is more limiting, but the follower to likes ratio was always a fine line and a bit puzzling to be honest. There are many accounts on Instagram that have huge followings, but how many of those followers are actually engaging? It’s a healthy following over the highest number any day in my book.
Cuts out those accounts who use all 30 tags that are usually irrelevant to the content being posted. Not that they were competition, but that’s less you have to deal with when trying to show up for your target audience. We have all seen those posts that have very popular tags but none of the tags have nothing to do with the actual picture. This also means people will be forced to stop using those third party apps that allow them to copy and paste popular tags. This pro is particular to the ‘Tags’ section when in ‘Search’.
Limits the exposure of every user. If exposure is really valuable to your account, this can be bothersome. You will only be limited to users that actually follow you. Users that don’t follow you will eventually, if not already, stop seeing your post based off tags. If you have a business and personal account and post a picture with your business account, and then logout to login into your personal account, then you can go to your business accounts profile and you will not be able to see the photo through the tags by searching. At least not all of them if any. I prove this down below. It’s as if they never posted it. Anyone that follows your account will see it. This is not fixed to just business accounts. I personally did not choose to make my maker account a “business account”.
Proof of actual shadow banning:
There are a few things to point out. I signed into my personal account (which is the first time in over a year. You know I was guessing my password after all this time) and unfollowed my maker account. Still signed into my personal account I typed #LoopnThreads in the Tags section of Search (the one on the left). I then signed out of my personal and signed into my maker account. I typed the same hashtag, #LoopnThreads into the Tags section of Search (screenshots to the right). Did you already notice that some photos show up on the left that don’t show up on the right? Also, I know it’s hard to tell, but the Most Recent numbers are different too. My personal account says 31 vs 20 on my maker account. Now I faithfully use the tag #LoopnThreads on all of my post. So why isn’t every picture that uses that tag showing up? Because I unfollowed my maker account. Through my personal account, only the people I follow that used the same tag I will see.
Instagram's perspective on shadow banning:
With all that said, we have to remember Instagram is owned by Facebook (purchased them in 2012). Not many good things happen once Facebook pokes their greedy noses in it. A similar take was introduced on Facebook a while back for business accounts. They muted post from business accounts and eventually introduced purchasing ads to be seen. Through it all they make money. When it comes to money it’s the famous saying, “it’s just business.”
I do agree with a lot of what Facebook said….I mean what Instagram said. But those methods don’t really apply to the situation. How I totally feel on it would be considered a mixed bag. Even though I had two pros up there compared to the one con, that one con still heavily outweighs the pros. The point of Instagram is to share and be shared among countless people. For people to discover you. How can that be done with a very limiting target audience. The algorithm they implemented earlier was already an issue early on. With someone who posted 2 hours ago showing up first and a post 30 minutes ago showing up at the bottom of the feed possibly never been seen. Engagement did help with that.
So, in the end, what's the real deal? What are we to do with this new concern that we’re calling “shadow banning”? Here's my tip to you:
Continue to engage. Continue to show your shops character and realize you should never put all your eggs in one basket. It'll be interesting to see where this all leads to.
What's your take on shadow banning? Share below or email us your thoughts and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And shadow banning aside, remember to tag your #ourmakerlife photos with us on Instagram so we can continue to see your beautiful and inspirational handmade!
Nathan, OML dream team