Why Instagram Bans happen to Good Instagram People
Updated: Dec 26, 2019
Avoiding the dreaded Instagram ban – a guide for the ‘Good Instagram People’:
So this issue occurred recently for a client I work with, and I was puzzled… she had followed the limits and guidelines. She was producing AWESOME and regular content, and posting and engaging consistently with a steady upward trend that continued to grow on her account presence, so what was going wrong?
I decided to write this blog post to cover some of the most common reasons why Instagram bans happen to good people, and a few tips on how to safely continue engaging in smart strategies to optimize growth and engagement – and as much as possible avoiding bans.
Top reasons for Instagram bans
- Too many follows and unfollows that occur too quickly for actions to be genuine or that might make Instagram think that it is an automation / bot
- Using hashtags that are flagged as spammy due to overuse
- Buying likes / follows / comments etc (Just Don’t Do It!!)
- Making spammy comments or sending direct messages that have nothing to do with the content of the other user’s post.
- You’ve been commenting or replying the same thing under too many pictures.
- You’ve liked too many pictures within a very short space of time.
Action bans typically last 24-48 hours especially for first time offenders, which can feel painful, but this can increase in case of repeat offenses up to 3 weeks, or even permanent – so not to be taken lightly.
I don’t recommend skating on the edges and trying to push the Instagram algorithms to the limit as any slight change in algorithms to tighten controls, or a behavior flagged as spam that results in your account being temporarily banned has will mean a hit on your content flow and engagement… and an overall pain in the ass to your growth marketing strategy execution, and is simply not worth it.
The main principle to keep in mind is that Instagram is a community, and therefore you must be mindful and behave within it as a positive community contributor.
What this means, is that it’s not just about being active on your own account, but also actively taking the time and effort to spend time each time on the platform to engage with other people’s posts.
A few tips to optimize your Instagram strategy to continue driving your user engagement and follower growth, while safely avoiding the ban:
Tip 1: Show yourself as a positive and active community contributor on Instagram:
As mentioned above, the key is to continue to drive actions that show yourself up as an active and positive contributor within the Instagram community. You are producing already content, which is AWESOME, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s also about the engagement you do to help drive other’s engagement.
- It goes without saying that any engagement on your account – comments on posts should be responded to. A short thank you is nice but also consider variations or an even better – a 'high value’ reply that responds directly to something they said.
- Seek out – using hashtags – other likeminded users and engage with their content.
- Engage every day (or at least every day you are active on Instagram) with at least 2-3 other accounts in a meaningful way – this means not just liking a few of their posts, but actually commenting with a relevant response.
- Be respectful about follow & unfollows – and be mindful about it.
- Engage with your target audience. These are:
1) Users you are already following (liking posts in your feed, commenting, etc), even messaging people who may resonate with you!
2) Users that follow your competition
3) Users that follow relevant hashtags to your niche / topic
Tip 2: Build up your activity levels gradually
One good tip to start with is keep in mind that algorithms do not treat all users equal… there will be some accounts where treatment may be more strict and others more lenient. And this is essentially depending on the level of “risk” your account is deemed to be.
- New accounts that are younger than 3 months may not yet be proven, and thus be treated with more scrutiny.
- Active accounts that have engage heavily with the community (commenting, liking others posts, and responding to comments on your own) tend to have more leniency.
- Number of followers… the more people are following you, this is indication that your account continues to produce quality content. If people keep unfollowing you rapidly, this can be an indicator that content being created is spammy in nature.
How to approach: A good rule of thumb is to build up your activities gradually – don’t go all in and start following 300 people per day, and “liking” every post in your feed. That’ll be an instant spam flag ;-)
When starting out your engagement strategy, start with following only up to 50 people per day (spread it over several hours in the day) – e.g. follow 20, then wait 2 hours, follow an additional 20, then wait, then another 10 later.
Wait at least 3 days before unfollowing accounts that have not followed you back –
1)Go to their profile.
2)Tap their “Following” count.
3)Type your own username. If you appear, they are following you. If it says “No users found” they are not following you.
I know, manual – but Instagram recently banned the use of third party tools that automatically scanned for this… once again to reduce spammy activity.
Tip 3: Avoid too many repetitive actions of any kind
Whether that is making the exact same comment or using the same singular emoji on every reply, mass following people (or unfollowing) over the hourly/daily limits and too quickly, or even liking too many photos too quickly while scrolling through your home feed.
How to approach: build up your activities gradually – especially when starting out.
Tip 4: Keep hashtags relevant and use wisely!
Hashtags will be the key anchor to your Instagram strategy, as well as finding your audience to engage and grow your presence. Think about what you do when you want to search for certain types of content or inspiration – you type in hashtags into the searchbox – your audience will certainly be doing the same.
The upper limit for Instagram hashtags is 30 – best practice states to use up all of these 30 hashtags, especially when starting out - to maximize your reach and exposure.
However, in practice and also to create a more balanced, varied feed – and importantly, avoiding any Instagram algorithm warning bells - it is good to mix it up. This is especially during the “building up” phase described in Tip #2.
The reality is that there may be only so many “niche” hashtags you can hunt out which are relevant to your post (these are ones with <300K posts or less). Losing a few of those high reach hashtags (several million posts) occasionally, won’t have such a negative impact on your reach, given it’s likely they would be buried under the number of posts anyway.
How to approach: Mix it up, use up to the full 30 most times, but you will still be able to get decent reach and a mix of good niche hashtags with 20-25, as much as 30.