As heard from the Instagram Posse, E-mails and comments on articles, we address the FAQs here.
Q. I have a friend that works at Instagram and says the shadow ban is real.
A. If your friend talked about a “ban”, it likely wasn’t the “shadow ban” but what we at the Instagram Posse like to call the “soft ban” or “InstaJAIL” and is something that is talked about in the help center over at Instagram.
Instagram has limits on the amount of actions you can take per hour. The thing is, there are different limits when you are manually using their app vs. using a third party app. The chart to the left shows the limits for third party apps.
One of my accounts was “soft banned” for weeks. After pulling my hair out days on end and freaking out, I found out it wasn’t even a “soft ban” but a limit on something else I had done. We pushed the limits and tested them over 6 months on a few accounts and the lessons learned are outlined in our Instagram Decoded Guides. Some of the strategies in our guides do require multiple actions, though we advise on those soft ban limits.
I don’t think Instagram is one to be “sneaky” and “shadow ban” you to punish you for something that way, nor is Facebook. They don’t have time to play games (especially with the small fish like us in a BIG pool of people) and they are a professional company. Instagram will WARN you, and even give you a notice in the app that you can’t do the particular action for another xx hours.
If Instagram doesn’t like something you are doing and you are seriously abusing their T&Cs , they will come down hard and remove your account or “soft ban” you. And they will communicate that with you. It’s really one or the other, no in between. We have not had one client (of over 2000 clients in the past year) that has had an account removed from Instagram for doing anything we have taught them. There have been a few removed for other reasons, which will be described in an upcoming expansion pack to our guides so you can keep those things in mind while you are building your account.
Q. Has the A/B testing niche groups been organized yet?
A. Yes! The list of groups is located here.
Q. Can they recognize brands and logos in the photos?
Q. How do you think one could figure of if we’re in the shard of users who are in their Lumos testing?
A. Check your hashtags from a different account. Does your photo show up under that hashtag and for all hashtags you used? If no, then you’re the lucky one that gets to start testing how the new changes will work. Start matching your hashtags up against what Lumos is reading in the content of the photo, or tweak the content in the photo to try and get Lumos to read it based on your goal with the messaging of the content of the photo. If it shows up for some but not others and the hashtag falls under the parent category Lumos can read currently, I believe Instagram is testing on that hashtag specifically, not your account.
Q. How will they categorize experience hashtags?
A. This is a good question and we’re still ironing that out. Through months of manual hashtag research, we know that certain hashtags tend to be used together — for example #Easter, #carrot, #bunny under one common parent niche “Holiday”. This contributed to how we have built out our hashtag sheets (coming soon!). It is a TON of manual work, however, to figure it out and you have to go down the “rabbit hole” in the hashtag search on Instagram. For instance, when you type in a hashtags such as “ocean”, across the top they suggest “sand”, “shore”, “oceanview”, “oceanside”, “coast”. Those are the related hashtags to “ocean”. We have a master niche list that lists out parent niches we’ve observed over the past year to help get you started.
There was an article posted by PC World about how Instagram categorizes trends and I believe the same would apply here to how they are categorizing hashtags, such as experiences, under a certain category. For this example image on the left, under #equality they have categorized 116 hashtags, including experience related hashtags. So I’d imagine, that under Ocean, they have categorized multiple subniches, and then even further subniches under those.
So, if you commonly use #flashesofdelight, you will have to backtrack up the rabbit hole on Instagram’s hashtag search to identify the parent category they have it listed under. Then, figure out how to get Lumos to read that category in your photo.
Q. How do you add metadata to your images?
A. When you save the file, give it a unique name with keywords in it. Then load it up to Instagram. This is a great tutorial: http://www.iphonefaq.org/archives/975848
Q. Can Lumos detect well known landmarks.
A. Yes. As of early February 2017.
Q. How does this impact my reach?
A. The more categories Lumos can read, the better your reach will be. If it can’t read any categories, your reach will be limited to those who manually come to your account to look for your content, or the people Instagram decides to show it to in the feed. Which we all know has changed recently so it’s more important than ever to work on the reach too.
Q. Where do we put the keywords?
- Metadata – Talked about above
- Caption – Use the main ones that Lumos is reading that apply to the photo. For instance, if Lumos reads “ocean,” perhaps talk about the “ocean” waves. “I got to thinking recently about the “ocean” waves you go through in life based on xyz recent experience…” or relate to whatever you are wanting to talk about in the caption. (Clearly people standing is not a category).
- Hashtags – Use the parent categories Lumos reads along with your hashtag strategy. Then add relevant hashtags that fall under the parent category as talked about above and as it applied to your hashtag strategy. Our Guide 4 in Instagram Decoded outlines a specific hashtag strategy that still works with this- it’s just a matter of now knowing how to better categorize the hashtags you are picking to use.
Q. Do you have a full list of the current banned hashtags so we know what we definitely can’t use?
A. Yes, it’s here. The list is growing. Last week there were 38,500 banned hashtags, this week there are 51,100!
Q. What is the tool you can read to see which categories Facebook’s vision platform, Lumos, is seeing in the photos?
A. Facebook computer vision tags add-on for CHROME only.
OK, that’s a wrap for now. Feel free to ask additional questions and we’ll get to them as soon as we can (though we will not be addressing one off “can you tell me how I can optimize this photo, please”) types of questions.
The post providing more background information as promised is coming out shortly! The questions were building up so we’re addressing them first. Check for the next post on this all soon!