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This is a sponsored post provided by Combin.

Brands relying on Instagram marketing face plenty of challenges on the way to success, but the one challenge they fear like the plague is being banned. No wonder: who would want to spend immense amounts of time and energy on building an engaging profile, only to find all audience and content deleted one day?

The platform has various methods of punishment for violation of Instagram Terms and Rules, from a regular permanent ban to a temporary suspension, or ‘shadow ban’. The latter term has been swirling in social media marketing circles for a few years now. Allegedly, it refers to an Instagram practice of hiding the delinquent accounts’ posts from pages of recommended and tagged posts, without sending a notification about it to the authors.

In other words, Instagram allows these accounts to post and interact and their content is visible for their audience and intended visitors, but all chances to keep the same reach rate, let alone level it up, are terminated. Instagram hasn’t acknowledged or proved the existence of such practice, and just like the infamous activity limits, the shadowban remains a mystery built solely on rumors and marketers’ personal experiences.

In order to protect your Instagram account from being banned, you should keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Avoid bot applications

Instagram has zero tolerance for automated actions and artificially gained followers, likes and comments. Many platform users learned it the hard way during the infamous Instagram purge back in 2014. Earlier in 2017, Instagram clamped down on automation even more, shutting down a popular tool for growing followers, Instagress, and deleting millions of fake accounts.

Driving up the engagement numbers by hundreds and thousands is tempting for influencers and small businesses as it gives that alluring sheen of legitimacy. However, the brands that use this trick get no real deals or customers, and at the end realize it’s useless to be popular only on paper.

Don’t ruin your brand’s credibility by bot farming. Avoid shady applications created for buying followers or a like-for-like and follow-for-follow exchange. Having good engagement numbers for a short period of time is not worth losing the trust of current and potential customers and business associates. It’s also definitely not worth being permanently banned.

Focus on creating engaging visual content, finding and interacting with Instagram users with shared interests, running campaigns, working with influencers. This way of growing your brand on Instagram is definitely not the fastest, but the most productive and safe one for sure. Good things come for those who wait, as the saying goes.

  • Don’t rely on the activity limits figured by other brands

One risky and useless thing that probably every Instagram brand did at some point is googling Instagram activity limits and wholeheartedly relying on the found information. The thing is, Instagram has never revealed any user activity limits and all numbers from those articles come solely from personal experience of the authors and should only be considered a food for thought, not the manual.

Activity limits are individual and depend on such factors as registration date, number of followers, average activity rate, and the like. How big are the chances that the author of another Instagram limits reveal article is in the same situation as you, has the same activity intensity, the same approach to marketing overall? You can follow a stranger’s experience or try to figure out the limits by pushing them on your own, but be wary. Both of these ways easily lead to Instagram detecting that sudden burst of activity as suspicious by the platform, followed by unwanted consequences.

The best way to get around this matter is coming up with an activity strategy of your own. Figure out how many accounts you follow, how many likes and comments you regularly leave, hourly and daily, and slowly work your way up each week.

Another option that doesn’t require spending time on strategy and activity monitoring is interacting through a relatively new to the market organic growing tool called Combin. It works from your IP address and according to your personal activity limits. It puts liking, commenting, following and unfollowing to pending immediately after it stops receiving access to perform the tasks by Instagram, an indicator that hourly or daily activity limits were reached, and that way preventing possible ban or suspension.

Combin also provides the ability to leave multiple comments containing different text in batch – a useful feature for not only brands, but any active Instagram user as repeated comments can not only be noticed by Instagram and considered bot-like behavior, but the accounts you comment may get annoyed as well and report you.

  • Be careful around hashtags

Some hashtags were frequently used for content considered to be inappropriate according to Instagram guidelines and the platform has banned them. A good part of them is quite obvious and expected to be banned because of containing posts that display nudity, gore, or otherwise obscene and provocative content, but many tags are also quite innocent at first sight. You could be using #woman or #bra for your clothing brand, not knowing that it’s not only in vain but puts you at risk of being banned.

Banned hashtags cannot be searched and they make the tagged post invisible even in the search by allowed hashtags you’ve also used in the post.

There is a list of known banned hashtags you should avoid using, but there are many new hashtags that get banned every day. A rule of a thumb is using combination hashtags, like #womanfashion or #womanfashionstyle and bypassing any vague words for hashtags that could mean or be used for inappropriate content.

Don’t use more than a couple of high traffic hashtags as they are overrun with spam and in a big risk of being banned. Moreover, it’s better to use a different set of hashtags that directly relate to the contents of the post – using the same set of hashtags for every post and tagging it with irrelevant keywords is a straight road to the account ban.