The average engagement rate for business accounts on Instagram is 0.83 percent.

How does your business stack up? Are you happy with your current engagement rate, or have you noticed a decline recently?

It’s easy to feel confused or even panicked when you see a drop in engagement. This is especially true if your business gets a lot of customers from Instagram.

There are lots of reasons why Instagram users might experience decreased engagement. However, most people’s initial reaction is to blame the infamous Instagram shadowban.

What is shadowbanning? Is it a myth or a real issue? What should you do if you are shadowbanned?  Read on for answers to these and other pressing questions.

What Does It Mean to be Shadowbanned?

The term “shadowbanning” describes a situation in which an Instagram user’s content is blocked by the platform. This makes it harder for potential followers to discover them.

Is Shadowbanning a Myth or Reality?

According to people who work for Instagram, shadowbanning is a myth.

When conducting a Q&A, Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri said “shadowbanning is not a thing.” He added that no one is guaranteed a place on Instagram’s Explore Page and that “sometimes you’ll get lucky, sometimes you won’t.”

What Does This Mean for My Content?

Shadowbanning might not be “a thing.” However, just because it’s not a real practice, that doesn’t mean your business is not experiencing a real drop in Instagram engagement.

Even if Instagram is not intentionally punishing you or preventing people from viewing your posts, you may still see a drop in engagement because of algorithm changes.

In a blog post published last year, Mosseri shed light on “The Algorithm” to help Instagram users gain a deeper understanding of how the platform works.

According to Mosseri, Instagram uses a “variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes” to determine what people do and don’t see when using the app. He added that the app ranks content based on people’s previous actions.

Some key ranking factors include:

  • Information about the post, such as the number of people who have liked it, when it was posted, how long it is — in the case of videos — the location attached to it, etc.
  • Information about who posted it, such as how many times someone has interacted with them in the last few weeks.
  • The user’s activity and what they might be interested in based on how many posts they’ve liked.
  • The user’s history of interacting with someone and how interested they are in seeing that person’s posts.

About the shadowbanning myth, Mosseri also noted that most people look at less than half of their Instagram feed. Because of this, there’s no guarantee that an account will consistently see the same level of engagement across the board.

How to Get Your Engagement Back

You probably can’t blame shadowbanning for your lack of engagement. However, you’re also not beholden to some unknown force that’s blocking your content.

You can take back your engagement by making some changes to your current Instagram practices. Here are some effective tips you can start implementing today:

Share Quality Content

The first step is to start focusing more on the quality of the content that you share.

Instagram feeds that feature aesthetically pleasing images and videos almost always see better engagement than those with low-quality content. To level up your content, you might need to invest in a better camera, hire a videographer, or just be more intentional about the photos you take and how you edit them.

Some other steps you can take to improve content quality include:

Mix It Up

When you post a type of photo or video that performs well on Instagram, you might be tempted to continue posting the same thing over and over again. If you do this too much, though, your audience might get bored.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try different types of photos or videos.

Write Better Captions

Your photo or video is what draws people in initially, but you can keep their attention with a well-written caption.

Share a quote, ask a question, or tell a story. Remember, too, that you don’t have to max out your character limit — sometimes, less is more.

Don’t Forget About Stories

One way to generate more engagement on the content you share on your Instagram feed is to be more active on your Instagram Stories.

Use Stories to share behind-the-scenes footage or talk about your products or services. You can also use this feature to let people know when you’ve posted something on your Feed and encourage them to go engage with it.

Engage with Your Followers

If you want people to engage with you, you need to engage with them. If someone leaves a comment on your post, respond genuinely.

Don’t just “like” the comment. Answer their question or let them know that you appreciate their engagement.

The same goes for people who tag your brand in their Feed posts or Stories. If you’re responsive, they’ll be more likely to continue engaging.

Get to Know Your Audience

Take some time to learn about your Instagram audience, too.

Conduct polls on your Stories to find out what kind of content they like best or ask them to comment on your posts and share something about themselves. You can also look at your account analytics to learn about the average age, gender, etc. of the people who follow you and engage with your posts.

Write Clear Calls-to-Action

When writing your Instagram captions, be sure to ask yourself what you want your followers to do after they read the post.

In other words, what is your call to action? Maybe you want them to like the post, leave a comment, tag a friend, or share your post on their Stories.

When you end the caption with a clear call to action, you invite people to engage with your business in a meaningful way. This leads to more visibility for your brand and helps you get your content in front of more potential customers.

Use the Right Hashtags

Adding hashtags is a great way to boost the visibility of your Instagram content.

When you add the right hashtags to your post, you increase the likelihood that people who are interested in brands like yours will be able to find your content. Brands that add hashtags to their posts also see 12.6 percent more engagement than Instagram accounts that don’t.

Not sure what hashtags to use? These tips can help you choose the best ones:

Follow Industry Influencers

You can learn a lot about Instagram by following people who make their living by posting on the platform.

Look for influencers who are relevant to your industry. For example, if you sell supplements, you might want to research health and fitness influencers. Then, take note of the hashtags they use on their posts.

Monitor Trending Hashtags

Pay attention to the hashtags that are trending on Instagram, too. Not all of them will make sense to add to your posts, of course. However, you might notice that something relevant is trending and include it in your caption to generate more interest.

Make Your Hashtags Relevant

Speaking of relevance, make sure you’re not using irrelevant hashtags to try and get people to look at or comment on your posts.

If your hashtags aren’t relevant, people might be annoyed that they were directed to your post. You might also end up accidentally promoting something that doesn’t align with your brand’s values.

Be Wary of Hashtag Length

If you rely too much on single-word hashtags, you might have a hard time getting your content to show up in searches. This is especially true when it comes to popular hashtags like “Health” or “Love.”

At the same time, be wary of using hashtags that are very long. You might not get the kind of engagement you’re hoping for because they’re too specific or hard to read.

Use Location Geotagging

The final fix for your lower engagement rates is to tag your location on your posts.

When you tag your location on Instagram, you are checking in at a specific place, such as a brick-and-mortar business, a popular city, a local park, etc.

This makes your content visible to those who are searching for content related to that location. It has also been shown to boost engagement by a whopping 79 percent!

Need More Help with Instagram Engagement?

Shadowbanning might not be as pervasive on Instagram as some people would have you think. However, the Instagram algorithms are very real, and you need to know how to work with them to ensure people see your brand’s posts consistently.

In addition to following the tips listed above, you may need to recruit a professional to boost your business account’s engagement and see ongoing results.

At Socialistics, we offer a variety of social media marketing services to help you level up your content, connect with your target audience, and build your business. Get in touch today to learn more.