If you're running a cannabis-themed account or know someone who does, you've probably experienced or heard of Instagram blocking or shadowbanning your account.
Choosing not to follow Instagram's terms of service will get you a ban, and sometimes, a deleted profile because IG will find out. Which means all your hard work has gone to waste.
It's best to minimize flags that can lead to a deleted account or ban and know what to do and not do.
What is a shadowban?
A shadowban is when a site or an app blocks your content from the public but does it in a way that you are not notified.
The only way to truly find out is to investigate, look at things such as; No new followers in a while? Has your engagement dropped? Or you can post an image with an unpopular hashtag, then use a friend's account to look for your image/post. If you don't see it, you're likely shadowbanned.
Here's what you can do if you find yourself shadowbanned:
1. Stop using banned hashtags; go back and delete any old posts with that offending hashtag.
2. Only post natively from your phone.
3. Take a few days off from all Instagram activity.
4. Report your shadowban to Instagram.
5. Try switching from a business account to a personal account.
Instagrams Policy on Marijuana
So here's how you don't get banned. Learn and understand the terms of service regarding marijuana.
Instagram doesn't allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller's state or country. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, or by using the "contact us" tab in Instagram Business Accounts. However, we do allow people to include a website link in their bio information.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Have a good bio
- Add your website to your bio
- Use posts your posts effectively
- Include prices in posts
- Use a lot of "buy" terms
- Use Cannabis or terms you think might trigger something
Instagram's Image Detection
Instagram's image detection is pretty powerful. As you can see in the image above - showing Instagram's image detection - at work on loading.
The 'image may contain' portion is analyzing images for objects and text. And it's very accurate; it's pretty much 100% correct in the screenshots taken. Instagram seems to categorize your pictures with the corresponding meta info.
This, combined with your hashtags, comments and post text, your username, profile bio, makes it extremely easy for Instagram's AI to understand what you're posting.
Add Relevant Information in your Instagram bio.
The bio is one of the major factors of Instagram. Visitors will come to your account by reading the information given in the Bio. So, be careful while writing your bio. Use words like information and education.
Don't make your profile seem like you are selling a product because Cannabis is still illegal in different states and will put you on the fast track to your account being banned.
In addition to this, introduce words like 21+, no minors allowed.
You can also turn your profile to "private." This will keep your posts off of the "explore page," making it less likely that they will be seen by minors or uninterested users who could then potentially flag you; every time a post is flagged, Instagram is notified.
Do Not Sell Products
Again, on the topic of selling products, advertising cannabis products (listing sales, prices, or menus) or selling them directly through the app is absolutely off the table. This same applies to your private messages as well, so make sure to redirect any questions to a private email or your company's website and never discuss sales.
Be proactive - you can also delete all the comments that are related to sales queries. Such as comments like, where can I get this product? How much is the price? Do you sell these products? all is against Instagram policies.
Be Conservative with Hashtags
While hashtags make it easier for new followers to find out about you, it also makes it easier for people to flag your content. Be considerate when choosing them - if using them at all.
If do you choose to hashtag, it is best to use geo and educational tags because the non-canna users who do not want to see cannabis-related posts and the usage of less specific hashtags will help you stay away from people who could report your account as inappropriate.
Avoid Posts of Consumption
That video or photo of someone taking a hit off the bong is a surefire way to get your posts pulled.
Share Articles and Resources
News sources are seldom considered dangerous. Instead of only posting about your business, share articles about the culture and science of Cannabis.
If you do find yourself with a ban or deleted account, follow the company's appeal process, and you can get lucky, and they'll reactivate your account.
If not, try again and be careful. It's frustrating, sure, but unfortunately, you have no say in the matter in the current climate.
Thank you for reading!
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