Breaking Social Media: My Big Fat Instagram Mistake

These days any well purposed business knows that a strong social media strategy is hugely important. Whether you pin, post, or tweet, getting social is what many call a “growth hack”.

Few do it well. In fact the majority of businesses haven’t a clue what they are doing. We’re all just out there doing our thing trying to figure out what sticks. Building a following is tougher than it looks and while the whole “follow, unfollow” shenanigans might actually sucker in a couple followers, they’re never going to be quality followers (brand ambassadors, potential customers, or actual interested human beings).

At Brandcouver we’ve been trying our darndest to reach people with our information and advice on all frequencies. Posting these blogs, interacting and putting ourselves out there is a big part of it. Growth is slow, but sure.

But then one day it wasn’t.

There is a an ominous force out there with the power to shadow ban. It sounds scary. Actually, it sounds like the sequel to Peter Pan. That’s probably how he met Wendy in the first place. Shadow banning will put your social media into a coma so deep no Disney prince(cess) will wake it.

When you are shadow banned you might not realize it at first. Suddenly your engagement might tank and you might think it’s just an off day. Maybe your latest content does not have the same grip factor it normally does. So you post again a day later only to find that your likes are a fraction of what is normal.

No longer are you receiving new followers or even those spammy “Great Media!” comments you’re normally so annoyed by. Meanwhile, your follower count is starting to dwindle. Inexplicably, the account is hardly effective at reaching anyone. This is a case of shadow ban.

Your content is now deemed explicit or unsavoury by the powers that be (Instagram or users reporting you). This is the part where you hope I’m going to tell you how to fix it—there is no fix. I haven’t found it. The best solution so far is wait. Delete whatever posts that may have triggered it and give it “10 days”.

This happened to Brandcouver on Instagram. Over months of consistent posting, we could depend on upwards of 100 Likes and 5-10 new followers per post. Now, we are lucky to receive 10 likes from those that already follow the account (and that number is dropping too).

We must have had to do something pretty darn nasty for this to happen. Our content is more clean cut than a plate of sliced apples.

Well guess what? We didn’t do anything nasty at all. We can only pinpoint it to one post that kiboshed our Instagram mojo and pushed it into a downward spiral.

In the past month Instagram unleashed some new features. One of those features is carousel posts. This is the ability to now save up to 10 images per post that can be cycled through. Not quite an Instagram story, but a useful little feature to tell mini-stories in.

The second feature is their sensitive content filter. Rather than suddenly being bombarded by an image you’d rather not see, Instagram blurs them and allows users to choose to look at them. A nifty feature that helps protect everyone from the weirdos (when it works correctly).

One ordinary day we decided to wish Vancouver a happy Friday for a great send-off into the weekend. Bold move you say. Pushing the envelope a little we decided to combine the two new features of Instagram.

Image number 1 of the carousel looked a little like this:

Blurred image saying "This photo contains sensitive content which some people may find extremely interesting."
‍We mimicked Instagram’s sensitive content filter with a subtle twist in the language.

And image number 2 of the carousel looked like this:

Image of a Storm Trooper with text reading "We Like You. You're Quite a Trooper."
‍The “sensitive” content we hid.

The post was surprisingly very poorly received. It seemed like it was barely even received. We figured on a Friday during the 3pm lull we’d get a lot more action. We received 10 likes and called the entire experiment a dud. Sometimes that happens in social media.

But from then on, all of our posts have been flops. We’ve since removed the images from our account in hopes the Instagram Gods will again love us (and they may if we are lucky).

We learned a very important message, well two of them, really. One, never rely on the dark side, and two these platforms owe you nothing. Every social media platform you have been on, are on, or will be on only care about the integrity and success of the platform itself.

It may be Easter Monday, but dare I say, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Regardless of potential shadow bans, these platforms are all just businesses. Businesses go under unexpectedly every day and if your entire strategy is reliant on one, you’re destined to go down the tube too (doubly so if you’re on YouTube).

Maintaining your own platform and your own website is the surest way to have control over your business’ destiny. Also, stay away from stormtrooper images. Seriously.

April 17, 2017
Posted on 
Author photo in a circle
Kyle Lincoln

Kyle is a logo crafter, avid reader, and writer. His experience expands across a wide spectrum of clients such as Nandos, Shaw Business, and Destination Canada. Growing up, it didn’t take him long to go from doodles to design. Kyle’s previous work in identities for conferences and events left him longing for something more enduring. He’s got a vested interest in helping businesses thrive and an eye for brand incongruences. In Vancouver he can be found scoping out his client’s location and/or the nearest gelateria and is always up to discuss your project or favourite flavour.

These days any well purposed business knows that a strong social media strategy is hugely important. Whether you pin, post, or tweet, getting social is what many call a “growth hack”.

Few do it well. In fact the majority of businesses haven’t a clue what they are doing. We’re all just out there doing our thing trying to figure out what sticks. Building a following is tougher than it looks and while the whole “follow, unfollow” shenanigans might actually sucker in a couple followers, they’re never going to be quality followers (brand ambassadors, potential customers, or actual interested human beings).

At Brandcouver we’ve been trying our darndest to reach people with our information and advice on all frequencies. Posting these blogs, interacting and putting ourselves out there is a big part of it. Growth is slow, but sure.

But then one day it wasn’t.

There is a an ominous force out there with the power to shadow ban. It sounds scary. Actually, it sounds like the sequel to Peter Pan. That’s probably how he met Wendy in the first place. Shadow banning will put your social media into a coma so deep no Disney prince(cess) will wake it.

When you are shadow banned you might not realize it at first. Suddenly your engagement might tank and you might think it’s just an off day. Maybe your latest content does not have the same grip factor it normally does. So you post again a day later only to find that your likes are a fraction of what is normal.

No longer are you receiving new followers or even those spammy “Great Media!” comments you’re normally so annoyed by. Meanwhile, your follower count is starting to dwindle. Inexplicably, the account is hardly effective at reaching anyone. This is a case of shadow ban.

Your content is now deemed explicit or unsavoury by the powers that be (Instagram or users reporting you). This is the part where you hope I’m going to tell you how to fix it—there is no fix. I haven’t found it. The best solution so far is wait. Delete whatever posts that may have triggered it and give it “10 days”.

This happened to Brandcouver on Instagram. Over months of consistent posting, we could depend on upwards of 100 Likes and 5-10 new followers per post. Now, we are lucky to receive 10 likes from those that already follow the account (and that number is dropping too).

We must have had to do something pretty darn nasty for this to happen. Our content is more clean cut than a plate of sliced apples.

Well guess what? We didn’t do anything nasty at all. We can only pinpoint it to one post that kiboshed our Instagram mojo and pushed it into a downward spiral.

In the past month Instagram unleashed some new features. One of those features is carousel posts. This is the ability to now save up to 10 images per post that can be cycled through. Not quite an Instagram story, but a useful little feature to tell mini-stories in.

The second feature is their sensitive content filter. Rather than suddenly being bombarded by an image you’d rather not see, Instagram blurs them and allows users to choose to look at them. A nifty feature that helps protect everyone from the weirdos (when it works correctly).

One ordinary day we decided to wish Vancouver a happy Friday for a great send-off into the weekend. Bold move you say. Pushing the envelope a little we decided to combine the two new features of Instagram.

Image number 1 of the carousel looked a little like this:

Blurred image saying "This photo contains sensitive content which some people may find extremely interesting."
‍We mimicked Instagram’s sensitive content filter with a subtle twist in the language.

And image number 2 of the carousel looked like this:

Image of a Storm Trooper with text reading "We Like You. You're Quite a Trooper."
‍The “sensitive” content we hid.

The post was surprisingly very poorly received. It seemed like it was barely even received. We figured on a Friday during the 3pm lull we’d get a lot more action. We received 10 likes and called the entire experiment a dud. Sometimes that happens in social media.

But from then on, all of our posts have been flops. We’ve since removed the images from our account in hopes the Instagram Gods will again love us (and they may if we are lucky).

We learned a very important message, well two of them, really. One, never rely on the dark side, and two these platforms owe you nothing. Every social media platform you have been on, are on, or will be on only care about the integrity and success of the platform itself.

It may be Easter Monday, but dare I say, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Regardless of potential shadow bans, these platforms are all just businesses. Businesses go under unexpectedly every day and if your entire strategy is reliant on one, you’re destined to go down the tube too (doubly so if you’re on YouTube).

Maintaining your own platform and your own website is the surest way to have control over your business’ destiny. Also, stay away from stormtrooper images. Seriously.

April 17, 2017
Posted on 
Author photo in a circle
Kyle Lincoln

Kyle is a logo crafter, avid reader, and writer. His experience expands across a wide spectrum of clients such as Nandos, Shaw Business, and Destination Canada. Growing up, it didn’t take him long to go from doodles to design. Kyle’s previous work in identities for conferences and events left him longing for something more enduring. He’s got a vested interest in helping businesses thrive and an eye for brand incongruences. In Vancouver he can be found scoping out his client’s location and/or the nearest gelateria and is always up to discuss your project or favourite flavour.

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