Why my Instagram reach plummeted overnight
Let me tell you what happened to me. I received a DM from a random stranger, let's call him 'a dirty old sleaze bag' or 'Rob' for short. It never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to confuse Instagram with Tinder. Anyway, Rob sends me this message, offering to be my sugar daddy and spoil me with his money. Of course he wants nothing in return, he'd be happy to see me shop up a storm on his account. All he wants is some online companionship.
This is nothing new. I get these random messages all the time. Rob was actually quite polite and the language wasn't too graphic. Obviously Rob never received an answer and received a firm 'block' in his online face. I generally have a good laugh about these messages with my online community and often share them in my stories. Now, I am a civil person, so despite the sometimes incredibly inappropriate messages, I always blank out the account name and profile image. And so I did this time too.
Shortly after I posted this story, I received a notification from Instagram that they removed my story as they found it to be against community guidelines. 'Whatever.', I thought. Personally, I figured Rob should be the one being reprimanded, and found the reaction a little over the top, but it didn't really bother me if the story ran or not. So I didn't give it another thought.
Then things started to change. Instagram reach is always up and down. That happens. I was just having a good run however. My previous posts in the weeks prior generally racked up a couple of thousand likes, with a reach of anywhere between 20 and 170k. The moment Instagram removed my stories it was as if all stats and my mojo were reset. Only a handful of my followers got to see my posts. My statistics plummeted. I figured it had something to do with that story. It simply had to, as it happened immediately after.
It was as if my Instagram reset my stats and mojo.
I did my research into shadow bans. 'It takes a week, sometimes two.', they said. 'Check your hashtags.', they said. 'Create engaging content.', they said. 'If all that fails, take a break.', they said.
I reluctantly resigned to the fact that I'd be going nowhere for a week or two, cursing Rob and of course myself for sharing that story in the first place.
It wasn't a shadow ban
But after two weeks nothing had changed. I had great engagement on my posts from my loyal followers (at least from the ones that got to see them), but my posts were hidden for anyone else. Then one of my followers sent me a message and told me that I didn't even came up in search results anymore. That they had to type the full @whisperingbold and only at the 'd' my name would pop up, where normally they'd only need to type 'w' for me to show.
That made me so sad, and I realised that maybe things weren't going to change in a hurry. I try not to whinge on Instagram. Your audience doesn't like that. People resort to social media to be entertained, not to get caught up in other people's misery. But I decided to tell what had happened to me in my stories, and if anyone had any brilliant ideas.
Why did I not know about Instagram account status?
Very soon after I posted my story, one of my Instagram contacts sends me a message and said: 'Did you check your Instagram account status? Perhaps there's something wrong there.' Excuse me? What's my Instagram account status and where do I check this?
So it turns out that account status is a way to find out if you've posted something that goes against community guidelines and if it may lead to your account being taken down. Go to your profile. Tap in the top right, then tap Settings. Tap Account, then tap Account status.
I checked my status, and WTAF! There's my stupid story with stupid Rob's message! I was put on notice as allegedly I had shared something that contained nudity or other inappropriate sexual content.
So Instagram turned off all my privileges and ensured the world was protected against my so-called inappropriate content. Now, you must know, I have an interior decorating account; the nudest thing I show is my dog at my home without a doggy jumper. Even Rob's message I thought was a bit of a stretch to be reprimanded this severely.
Request a review to remove Account Status tag
Instagram kindly suggested to request a review if I disagreed with their decision to remove my content. Did I disagree? Absolutely! I pressed that button as soon as could, and figured it would be weeks (if ever) to hear anything from Instagram again (customer service is not their strong suit, see what happened when I got hacked).
But low and behold, within 2 minutes I received a notification saying they had reviewed my content and had approved it, thanking me for my feedback. And instantly I was back, people could search for me and find me again, and my reach instantly went beyond my follower base. I was elated. But why did I not know about this before?
Quickly checking what my Account status said now, it revealed nothing out of the ordinary:
Now you know about Instagram account status
I am a firm believer that Instagram is big enough for all of us. And your successes won't need to bring anyone else down. So I am telling you this now, in case you ever find yourself in the same position, as I wish someone had told me earlier.
Clearly it's not the same as being hacked, but the end result isn't necessarily all that different when, through no fault of your own, all your Instagram efforts and activities get blocked. I lost many followers over those couple of weeks, without having the chance to rebuild anything. And when you're a content creator by trade, that's pretty much the same as finding yourself suddenly unemployed without any income. I am so grateful for the girl who told me to check my account status. I wish I had known about this weeks earlier.
I take pride in sharing my Instagram knowledge with other people (see my free influencer tools) and feel quite silly for not being aware of Instagram Account Status. However, I know for a fact that many, with me, had no idea about these measures that can be taken by Instagram. I hope that this blog helps others who find themselves in a similar situation in the future. Apart from all the Robs of course. They can get slapped with all the protective measures and worse as far as I'm concerned.