From Reels to new Creator programs to revamping their monetization strategy, Instagram has been doing it all. We know! We’re reeling from all the new updates too…
But in addition to all of these overall brand updates, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on as well that we might not catch if we weren’t holding up our magnifying glasses. Because of the revamping and “clean up” of the entire platform, there’s been a lot of added scrutiny on cannabis Instagram accounts and any cannabis-related terms.
In the most recent update to Instagram’s help center terms, the platform doesn’t allow users to advertise the sale of cannabis and this can mean that the algorithm sometimes targets cannabis keywords as well.
What is Shadowbanning?
So, what is shadowbanning and how can you as a cannabis brand or Instagram user either avoid it or get your Instagram account back if it gets taken down?
A shadowban is when a user’s content is blocked on an online platform, like Instagram, sometimes even without the user’s knowledge. It can hide both your content and your account from hashtags and sometimes your account can even get taken down from any activity relating to cannabis.
Shadowbanning can also completely derail your engagement. Unfortunately, it’ll also block most of your target audience from seeing your content, meaning you can lose potential followers and customers! The worst part of all of this is that you won’t get a warning that you’re being shadowbanned – your content just gets hidden and you might not even be doing something wrong to cause this.
4 Ways to Avoid Getting Shadowbanned or Disabled on Instagram for Cannabis
Long story short: you don’t want your cannabis account to get shadowbanned and you don’t want to get disabled. Here are some general Instagram guidelines you can follow to avoid either from happening:
1. Do not engage in any spam activity.
“Spam activity” can have a wide range of definitions. Here are some things we recommend avoiding:
- Mass following or mass unfollowing
- Unauthorized third-party apps that connect to your accounts, such as those that automatically send out comments, likes, or DMs
- Paying for followers or engagement bots
Instead, try your best to have a consistent and regular schedule for posting and engaging. This way, your activity will be seen as more natural and can be verified as human activity, rather than third-party bot activity, which Instagram does not condone.
2. Follow all of the app’s guidelines.
Instagram’s Community Guidelines are meant to keep the platform a safe space for all its users. This includes adhering to federal law when it comes to cannabis. Instagram says:
“Follow the law…buying or selling illegal or prescription drugs (even if legal in your region) are also not allowed…Remember to always follow the law when offering to sell or buy other regulated goods…”
For cannabis accounts, this means you have to get creative when talking about your deals and promotions for selling cannabis. We recommend avoiding selling language altogether, even in your post graphics. Instagram’s AI can scan for letters and words on static posts, making it a lot harder to find workarounds when posting about your product.
Even if recreational cannabis is allowed on the state level where you are located, Instagram will not allow it and your account will face consequences.
3. Stay updated on what hashtags are being shadowbanned.
If you are trying to find hashtags that are banned, check out this step by step process.
Hashtags are consistently banned on Instagram to avoid users from seeing offensive content. This can include popular hashtags with frequent use like #humpday or #snapchat but it definitely includes many cannabis-related hashtags.
While there is no database of banned hashtags or one particular way that you can locate all of them, we would suggest looking up the individual hashtags you intend to use before adding them to your post.
When you search for your hashtags, you will see a banned notification pop up and make it clear that you should steer clear of that particular hashtag. Alternatively, you might see the message “No results found.”
4. Do not pay for followers!
Instagram’s algorithm has changed over time and in a post-COVID world, one thing is very clear: quality over quantity.
The app now wants to see quality engagement from your audience. Previously, paying for followers was well worth it, and accounts with many followers found great success on Instagram. However, today, it’s all about meaningful engagement and community building.
Now, paying for followers causes Instagram to flag your account, shadowban it, or disable it altogether as it can detect the fake activity. As a result, doing so can be detrimental to your account and your brand. Moreover, these fake followers won’t provide your business with real customers, so quality engagement and organic following are the safest and most beneficial options for your social media accounts.
While you might think that the obvious workaround is to pay for engagement bots, Instagram will still detect the third-party activity on your account. Additionally, real life customers and users can discern your use of bots and avoid your account altogether.
Don’t forget. Social media is about being social and you want to interact with and impress your real life customers – so bots aren’t the way to go. Focus on encouraging quality comments with meaningful content interaction.
5 Steps to Take When Your Cannabis Instagram Account Gets Disabled
So, now you know all of the rules and regulations. What can you actually do if your account gets taken down, you ask? Here are some key things for you to do to get your cannabis account back if it gets disabled.
1. When you first get the disabled message, hit the learn more pop up and go through the steps the Instagram prompts you to fill out.
2. If your post got taken down by Instagram, check out this page on how you can potentially appeal this. Due to COVID, Instagram’s reviewing individual content has slowed down, but they’ve still outlined some steps you can take to try and get it back up.
3. Use this “My Instagram Account Was Deactivated” appeal to get your case submitted for review. You can submit it multiple times, but we recommend waiting at least a period of 24 hours between each submission!
4. If Instagram removed your content due to your cannabis branding copyrights, head over to this Instagram Copyright Appeal.
5. If Instagram says that your account was disabled because of your age, then go to this age verification form!