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If you’re anything like me, the phrase “I’m shadowbanned” keeps you up at night. It’s like a bad dream that keeps recurring. Those sleepless nights are not due to the gravity of the client’s situation, but because of what the likely scenario actually is.
As the world changes, so do algorithms. Platforms push out native content when the data informs them that this is something that needs to be seen by more users. What does that mean for a content creator? Yesterday’s content strategy may not apply to today. As people adapt and grow, their need for different consumable content changes, too.
At my company, Innovo, we’re constantly being asked to reach out to our reps at the respective social media platforms to have clients’ accounts assessed for any potential marks causing lower viewership. In our experience, 9 times out of 10, the content is underperforming due to the content itself.
Of course, there are situations where a client is actually being throttled by Instagram or TikTok due to a violation the creator may or may not have been aware of, but more often than not, the best course of action to overcome the “shadowban scaries” is to pivot your content and keep going. Thanks to the rapid spreading of this mythical scapegoat for low viewership, it’s easy to get convinced that what is happening to you is just that.
Sift through Google for five minutes and you’ll see a mountain of “social media gurus” telling you how to “fix” a shadowban. Let’s break down a couple of ways to refocus your thinking and break past this antiquated and overused excuse.
The zoom out approach
I preach this macro-driven thought process for most things in business. It’s especially relevant in the case of social media. With the advent of TikTok, brands and content creators of all niches worry about the individual video’s success. By focusing on such a micro-target, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in low viewership, low engagement and, ultimately, believe you’re shadowbanned.
If you retrain your mindset to think about the data on a zoomed-out approach, it’s much easier to see the impact of staying relentlessly consistent. Review content and metrics on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis to determine if growth is occurring. Chances are, despite an individual video underperforming, macro growth is still happening. If it’s not, then it’s time to adjust the actual style of content and posting schedule.
Don’t be afraid to pivot
Especially with short-form content avenues such as TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, pivoting is vital to long-term success.
I like to do an exercise when thinking about content where I first create an understanding of my top-of-funnel content bucket. This is something as wide as sports, food, beauty, etc. (Note: If you’re struggling with this, you’re not ready to start creating yet). Then I put two minutes on a timer and write as many sub-content buckets off of that first topic. For example, let’s say I’m a food creator. Things like food reviews, unexpected but great food combinations, home-cooked meals vs. restaurant versions, etc. Those buckets should be a mix of what you’re already creating as well as new ideas.
As one type of content is no longer performing, take slight pivots and adjust the content to stay in the overall broad topic (in this case, cooking), but change the specific content within that. You can also consider keeping similar videos to what you’re currently doing but changing the actual video style, such as switching from text-on-screen to narration or from POV to a selfie video. You can always revert back to your old ways and do a mix of several ideas, but we’ve found not being afraid to pivot is an extremely effective way to continued success with short-form content. Stagnation means death.
Build with intention
As you’re gaining traction and strategizing how you’re going to create and when you’re going to post, it’s important to continue focusing on building with intention. There are tons of companies out there offering mass engagement on social platforms. While that may come off as enticing at first, cutting corners and being inauthentic will eventually damage your brand. We all want followers and higher engagement, but if you’re not focusing on the value-add to consumers and instead focusing on following and unfollowing thousands of accounts a day, you won’t sustain an audience.
Although shadowbanning isn’t as common as people think, the two below ways are the biggest drivers to actually seeing a temporary shadowban:
- Frequent spam-like engaging and following of accounts. Focus on organic and intentional growth. Engage with your audience and with potential consumers through hashtag searching and recommended content. Don’t mass-follow people hoping you get a follow back. This is a great way to receive a temporary decrease in reach.
- Follow the individual platforms’ Community Guidelines. Posting content that is not appropriate for general viewing will result in temporary bans (and can lead to permanent suspensions). These apps will automatically flag these kinds of videos and content moderation staff will then take a closer look at your profile.
In short, don’t post illegal or graphic content and don’t spam people. If you’re being intentional with what you create and how you grow, you likely aren’t shadowbanned and aren’t going to be.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that users are distracted by other content as well as things happening in their everyday lives. Create content with that in mind and instead of trying to compete, carve out a unique differentiator for your accounts. It is your responsibility to build a safe environment for your followers, no one else’s. If you drift from that approach, you may receive an actual shadowban — but remember, in the case of checking all of the boxes, you’re probably not shadowbanned, it might just be time to make a change.