If you’ve spent a decent amount of time researching TikTok growth strategies, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded shadowban. Maybe you’re here because you think you’ve been shadowbanned. Or maybe you’re here because you’ve never heard of the term and want to know what it means. For your sake, I pray the last is true.
The truth is, no one actually knows if shadowbans are a real thing. They’re like a TikTok community urban legend. But many people swear they’ve been there. And they’re willing to try just about anything to get out.
In this post, we’ll discuss what a TikTok shadowban is (in theory), and a few strategies to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of one.
At Hire a Writer, we specialize in all things digital marketing. If you’ve been having TikTok troubles, contact us to learn more about how we can help.
The concept of a shadowban is used to explain when a creator’s posts are not being shown to other users.
It’s important to note that a shadowban doesn’t normally refer to one video’s poor performance. What characterizes a shadowban is repeated poor performance or a consistent inability to get into the For You Feed (FYF).
The result of this is unusually low views. Typically, whatever views a shadowbanned user does get on new posts come from either the Friends tab, the Following tab, direct profile visits, or from users browsing videos posted under a specific sound.
If you want to check where your views are coming from, head to the video analysis tab on a particular video. The data under “Traffic sources” should tell you everything you need to know.
This video didn’t perform well on the FYF. Only 18% of viewers saw it there. What’s especially telling is that 32% of viewers watched the video when they were already on the profile.
That doesn’t mean the video was shadowbanned, though. It only means that, for whatever reason, the algorithm decided not to push it to the FYF of more users. Check out my article on how to troubleshoot poor-performing TikToks with analytics to learn more about determining why your videos are underperforming.
Being that TikTok hasn’t formally indicated that shadow banning is a real practice, it’s difficult to offer concrete advice. There is a general consensus on the internet about what may cause the affliction, however. Based on that, here’s my best advice.
The most commonly cited reason for shadowbans is TikTok’s guidelines. TikTok is unique among social media platforms in that its guidelines are more strict than platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
Best practices indicate that you should always follow guidelines as closely as possible. Yes, there are creators out there who routinely disregard guidelines and go viral. But there are also those who have their accounts removed, regardless of how many followers they have.
Here’s a list of some content the algorithm is trained to flag:
Bottom line: users who want to avoid getting shadowbanned should refrain from posting things that violate TikTok’s guidelines.
One common hypothesis for why certain people get shadow banned is that the algorithm has flagged their content as spam. The only way to avoid this is to offer high-quality, valuable content.
We hear a lot of people talking about “valuable” content these days. But what exactly makes content valuable?
In short, valuable content offers something that an audience wants. Valuable TikToks can be:
In their guidelines, TikTok states that unoriginal, low-quality, and QR code content will not be eligible for the FYF.
So, as a general rule, at least 80% of your content should fall into one of the value categories. If you have to post promotional content, keep it to less than 20% of your overall content plan. And, if possible, try to frame them with value in mind as well.
There are no clear guidelines for becoming un-shadowbanned. But there are some strategies with which users have reported success. Here they are:
If you suspect you’ve been shadowbanned, just sit tight. Do some self-reflecting. Are there ways you could improve your content for the humans and the algorithm? Take some time and, who knows, you might just learn something from the experience.
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t figure it out, reach out to the team at Hire a Writer. We’ll run an audit and get back to you with suggestions and solutions that can help you reach your audience on TikTok.
At Hire a Writer, we specialize in all things digital marketing. To read more on content marketing, subscribe to the Hire a Writer blog.
Take a walk through time and around the globe to learn how storytelling shapes humanity.
Humor is an underutilized writing tool.
Writing for an audience who knows their stuff? Learn a few tips for writing success.