A Social Situation
Making a mistake on social media can feel akin to walking out of an airport restroom with toilet paper stuck to your shoe.
Both gaffes are inevitable, and there’s a sense of humiliation due to being public venues. However, we are strangers in an airport, but social is an extension of our business and brand.
Same feelings, different stakes.
As a result, the intensity of a heartbeat when being locked out of a social account, or the jarring realization to resume breathing when a notably detrimental stumble occurs on social, can be overwhelming.
When it comes to social, embracing the inevitable will help keep anxiety at bay. Understanding how to avoid and fix social situations should be part of any strategy.
Did you know that beyond the seemingly harsh lockups and lockouts, social networks have intentional glitches to pull in users?
There is a maniacal mindset that glitches can heighten users’ emotional investment, and pull them into larger timesinks on the network. As a result, there are intentional obstacles that heighten perceived stakes, designed to urge users to invest time on a platform.
Remember, a networks’ bread is buttered by the amount of time users spend on it. Whether said time is productive, enjoyable, or stressful is inconsequential to the methods they employ to get and keep you invested.
It is key in any media situation, to be able to understand what is worth fixing, worth leaving, and how to avoid certain pitfalls all together.
Strategies & Solutions
The following insights are based on where you are in your social journey, tips for avoiding issues, and solutions to commonly experienced issues.
These strategies and solutions focus predominantly on Instagram, but offer relevance for all networks.
From the Starting Gate
A few key tips for starting a new account or those with modest followings:
Match your passwords across networks. This has been immensely helpful in minimizing common glitches for both accounts I manage as well as my own. This is relevant if you are connecting to other networks from within Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Folks have found avoiding special character in passwords (such as “!” or “$”) helpful in avoiding common glitches.
Be minimal with the amount of profiles you follow or unfollow at a given time, as excessive activity can trigger your account to be locked up.
Do not follow back ghost accounts. They will draw more ghost followers to you, and your algorithm will be harmed.
Never buy followers. It is commonly considered unethical and deceptive. As a result, it will threaten the integrity of your brand and can flag your account as suspect within the network.
These tips will help avoid having your account locked up, shutdown, or from incurring a shadowban. I will be addressing shadowbans in the final portion of this post, but will next address the important decision as to keeping your profile settings as personal or business.
Personal vs. Business Accounts
The ability to gain a notable following will not be affected by whether your brand’s profile is set as a personal or business account.
As a result, I have advised clients to avoid choosing a business profile for the first year on a network or until there is an established following.
Keeping your profiles set as personal helps prevent common issues. It provides smoothest social sailing, to switch to a business account after being established for some time.
Instagram has been changing dramatically with its Facebookification. In getting aggressive in monetizing Instagram, and with all the recently exposed privacy issues, glitches and lockouts are more common on new as well as business accounts.
The reality of Instagram, and its relevance in your brand strategy, is that personal profiles can go viral and do very well on the network. Choosing your account type simply affects the features you utilize. It is important to keep in mind that there is a trade off with increased features as there are increased vulnerabilities.
Having a business account on Instagram is only required if you are using a scheduler. All the metrics and tracking of Instagram are truly just timesinks into the network. Email button and phone number links that are featured in Instagram business profiles are also not worth the vulnerabilities. Per Owning It, you generally want folks coming to your website to contact you.
The Dreaded Shadowban
Shadowbans on Instagram are real, and in an age of privacy scandals, it is easy to incur a ban. Even for users utilizing non-nefarious means, innocent activity can mistakenly alert networks.
Please note that the following information offers no guarantees as networks are temperamental and prone to consistent change in policy these days. However, I have both experienced and utilized the following insights. They are offered as possible tips and solutions for your strategy.
What is a Shadowban?
A shadowban occurs on Instagram when you have triggered an alert to Facebook based on your liking or following behavior, hashtag usage, commenting, or third party app integration.
A shadowban results after your account is shutdown and needs to be reverified, or after being temporarily locked.
Beyond the time sink and stress of a shadowban, the biggest issue is that your posts will not show in hashtags. Your post will be invisible in any hashtags included within the post or comments.
Some users have reported that their public posts and feed are only visible to those who follow them.
Shadowbans frankly suck because it means your account is “flagged” and limited as a result.
These restrictions tend to last a few weeks to a month. Exhibiting pristine behavior will help the process of having the ban lifted.
Avoid a shadowban by:
Have a personal versus business account for your profile.
Do not use excessive hashtags in your post.
Limit hashtags to four or five within a post, and add hashtags in your post’s comments if you really want to use more.
Limit mass following or unfollowing.
Even with approved platforms, such as Hootsuite, do not do auto-post to Instagram as the behavior mimics bot accounts.
Fix a shadowban by:
Change your business profile to a personal account.
Do not include any hashtags in your posts.
Remove all third party access to your profile. This includes widgets on your site or blog that display your Instagram posts. Disconnect Hootsuite, IFTTT, or any social networks from your profile.
If you use a VPN service, disable it when you go onto Instagram until the ban is lifted.
Avoid logging onto Instagram from a laptop until the ban is lifted.
Once a week, choose a hashtag to include in your post. Remove the hashtag from your post if the shadowban is still in place.