Changes to Instagram Getting the Best of You? Shadowban, just like the algorithm, is nothing to obsess over, but if you’ve been tracking your engagement levels pretty closely, surely you’ve seen a bit of a change. Just like anything else that stands in your way, you’ll need a set of strategies that will navigate you around these stormy seas to get your Instagram account stabilized and organically growing once again.

First off, let’s be clear about why Shadowban exists and the behavior it is meant to cultivate. On a positive note, one of its goals is to eliminate bots from growing your account. As a business person, this is excellent news for you, because this takes this harmful option off the table so you don’t go ruining your analytics and bring people to your Instagram who will never become a customer of yours. It also levels the playing field for you with those competitors out there who have solely used this method to grow their following.

But it isn’t all sunshine and roses, unfortunately.

Shadowban has also forced additional steps to be made that you and I have to take to ensure your posts don’t get shadowbanned, making it harder for even your most ardent followers from seeing your posts. Why is this happening? It’s all about the dolla bills, y’all. It’s a simple “pay for play” equation for Instagram. They’re in business to make money, just like any other corporation with a board and shareholders to which they need to answer. The harder it is to get your posts seen by doing the activities in which you are normally accustomed, the more likely you are to promote your posts and possibly even posts ads on Instagram.

Here are 4 things you can do immediately to play nice with Shadowban:

1. Drop the Bot

Companies like Instagress have vanished without a trace. Think that’s an accident? Not so much. Instagram has been making a play at taking these companies out one by one and Instagress is only the beginning. If you’re using a bot to automate any of your outbound engagement activites, beware. Look into hiring a college student or family member to like and comment on your target audience’s Instagram accounts instead just to keep you free and clear.

2. Get a Hashtag Library

Shadowban doesn’t like you using the same hashtags for every single post. If you do this, you’re playing with fire. Depending on the activity that’s happening in your photo, use hashtags that are specific to that activity rather than having them all be specific to your business. Rotate your hashtags regularly to keep Shadowban on its toes. You’ll want to invest in a multi-topic hashtag library that has blocks of hashtags you can simply copy and paste. Our company, Lunch Money Creative, has put one together of over 750 highly-vetted hashtags in over 30 different subject areas that will keep you relevant in your audience’s feeds. Sign up to get your free "mini" hashtag library consisting of 150 hashtags in 10 different subject areas.

3. Consider Turning Your Business IG Back to a Personal IG

Nobody told you this when Instagram first created the business Instagram option and gave you those lovely stats, but if you now have a business account, you have a bright, shiny target on your back to get shadowbanned. They know businesses have more money to invest in promoted and advertised posts, so make sure your hashtag “game” is on point and to rotate those hashtags on every post if you have a business account.

4. Engage With Other Accounts Regularly

Instagram, in general, loves when you interact with other accounts. It’s a way to show them that there’s actually a human being on the other end of the account and that you are positively contributing to the platform. They want to encourage this behavior and cultivate as much of it as possible, so by engaging regularly, you will naturally become less of a target of Shadowban and have most, if not all, of your posts seen by your audience.

Written by Ryan Carmody

Ryan is a resourceful brand strategist that has advised hundreds of companies in a multitude of industries. He brings his vast array of skill sets and experience to Instagram, where he’s able to bridge his passion for storytelling and help businesses share their unique value propositions visually.



Yes, auto-pilot. You read that right. But before you get too excited about some “magic bullet” plan that will make your Instagram manage and grow itself, let’s take a step back. What I’m about to give you is a plan, a well thought-out plan that will require one thing from you: effort. Yes, in the beginning, it will be a healthy amount of effort on your part, but once you master this process I’m about to reveal, Instagram should no longer feel foreign to you. In fact, instead of it being a necessary evil, perhaps you might become quite fond of the platform. 

So now, allow me to explain myself...

Anything that is ever worth doing is worth doing right, wouldn’t you say? I should probably preface this topic with a little background on my experience. It’s taken me over a year to become acquainted with the patterns, trends and strategies that actually work on Instagram. The most notable pattern I discovered is when you’ve properly planned your content at least two weeks in advance, social media is a cinch. No, really, I was amazed. 

Managing your social media can make you feel like you’re always pushed back on your heels, fighting for every step, every follower. It’s as if someone handed you some digitally-charged sticks and said “Make a fire.” I felt that way when I built an Emoji Keyboard app a couple years back and created my social media channels to promote it. I was that guy who used hashtags on Facebook (Side note: Don’t do that. Hashtags won’t help you one lick on Facebook). I also thought it would be less work if I pushed out the exact same content each day to all of my social channels. Well, it definitely was less work, but did it get me anywhere by taking those types of shortcuts? Not so much. Ah, you live and learn.

Okay, I’m sure you get the point. Let’s cut to the chase and get you set up for success on Instagram: 

1. Understand Your Product or Service

First, you need a product or service to promote. Whether you’re selling Etsy goods or promoting your lifestyle blog, really try and understand the end customer or reader. Why should they go to you for these things over anybody else? Don’t be shy about it. Now’s the time to put your best foot forward, otherwise you may resent the tremendous efforts you’ll be putting into your business, including with Instagram and, honestly, it just won’t be worth it in the end.

2. Photos, Photos, Photos

You don’t have to be a professional photographer, just be consistent. What I mean is, when you put your photos side by side, do they adhere to a similar style or do they feel like they’re all over the place? What you’re going to need is roughly 100 photos with different product placement, locations, etc. These 100 shots will allow you to fill an editorial calendar for an entire month on Instagram. The truth is, you’ll only be using 30 of these, you’re best 30, so it’s okay if shots are nearly identical to one another. Just shoot away!

You’ll be posting once per day, including weekends. I recommend blocking out one Sunday per month to go out and shoot your content on your smart phone. These days, just about everyone has some basic knowledge of how to edit photos with apps on your phone, so schedule the second half of your shoot day to edit photos and make them look sharp. We recommend A Color Story as a choice, user-friendly photo-editing app on the App Store. Remember, it’s only one day a month you’ll be shooting, so think out what would be fun to shoot and make a “shot list.” That way, you won’t forget what you need to capture. Simple planning like this goes a long way, believe me.

3. Lay It All Out

Once you have your edited photos, make sure to back them up in two separate locations, for example, on your phone and computer. You’re going to want to see which photos look good next to one another when they’re posting in Instagram. I recommend a free platform like Planoly, which allows you to drag and drop your photos into a “practice feed” to see how they look side-by-side. Once you have your desired arrangement, take a screenshot of it and save your progress. The post at the very bottom will become your first post of the month.

Once you see which photos go out on which days, open a word processor of your choosing and write a list of numbers for each day of the month. Then, look at your photos and begin writing captions for them. Try not to think about this part of the process too much. If it’s not coming easy, grab some water and come back to it. The best advice I can give you here is think about what moved you to take the photo in the first place. Why did this photo make your Top 30 cut? How does it relate to your product or service? Give it one or two short sentences tops, no more than that. This gets much easier to do after one or two months of doing this, I promise.

4. Hashtags are an Instagram Account's Best Friend

Hashtags are a source of much confusion for a lot of people, and it’s understandable. For me, they were strange to look at when I first saw them. Is this some secret social media code I’m supposed to crack? In the end, I’ve learned to love hashtags and embrace them, because they can literally be the keys to your target audience kingdom...or put you so far back in the recesses of Instagram purgatory that no one will even know you exist. It sounds dramatic, but that’s because it the truth. Hashtags are a big deal. Might as well master them as best you can.

You’ll want to target about 5-10 hashtags to use to begin. Research hashtags that are relevant to your industry on Google. The idea is to find hashtags that have anywhere between 10k-100k posts. Search the hashtags on the Instagram app. You’ll see how many people have used those particular hashtags. This will help your post get in front of a fairly niche group of people you’d ideally like to target. An overused hashtag in the millions like #fashion will make it so your post will likely go unseen whereas one that has barely been used, like one with 100 posts will likely go unseen, as well. Get the idea? Use these 5-10 hashtags with all of your monthly posts. Make sure to put them in as a first “comment” to the post and not within your caption. You can add more hashtags later, but this is a good “rule of thumb,” especially for beginners. Another fantastic resource for researching hashtags and other related Instagram items is PeopleMap.co. It is 100% worth spending the $20/month to utilize this service and all that it offers, for reals.

5. Schedule Out Your Posts

Once you have your 30 edited photos and the corresponding captions and hashtags, you’re ready to schedule out your posts. There are programs that will literally post to your Instagram as far in advance as you like. With Instagram, there aren’t as many options as platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but there are some highly reliable ones. I recommend Schedugr.am. It’s about $20 per month, but absolutely worth the time and hassle this software will save you in getting your posts out to the world. It’s very user-friendly, just follow the instructions and then CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made your way through the gauntlet of having a pre-planned Instagram account and are amongst members of a very exclusive club who want to receive the infinite gifts Instagram will bestow upon them. Kudos to you.

6. Wash, Rinse & Repeat

Simply use this process month-to-month for the best results and to receive maximum exposure to your Instagram account. As you can see it’s simple, but not necessarily easy. Sound like a little bit too much work for you? At Lunch Money, we’re always here to help! Just email me at ryan@lunchmoneycreative.com and inquire about our monthly Community Management service. It encapsulates everything I just went through above.

Thanks for reading!

Written by Ryan Carmody

Ryan is a resourceful brand strategist that has advised hundreds of companies in a multitude of industries. He brings his vast array of skill sets and experience to Instagram, where he’s able to bridge his passion for storytelling and help businesses share their unique value propositions visually.



Bad habits form without us ever realizing it. It isn’t until we get that elbow in the gut from a family member, friend or even a total stranger that we might want to check ourselves. With Instagram, these bad habits run rampant like kids at recess, screaming and running around like they’ve been penned up for decades. There is no shame on Instagram. Not even a little bit.  

Here are the 9 things you need get control of on Instagram like five minutes ago:

1. Buying Likes & Followers

I’m sorry, but you’re not fooling anybody. When you have 12k followers but are only averaging 35 likes per post, you have a serious credibility problem. There are many ways to spot an account that clearly pays straight up for some “Insta love,” making your decision more transparent than ever. For example, no one that posts a once-per-week selfie is going to have 10k followers. Stop it. Seriously, this is killing any possible success you hope to have with your personal or business account. You might as well delete your account and start over, because your analytics are toast for good. If you want to be taken seriously, if you want legitimacy on Instagram, then create good content, post it consistently and be patient with your growth. It’s the only way you can achieve your goals. There are no shortcuts, so please stop looking for them.

2. Not Posting Everyday

This is probably this single most difficult thing for people to do, and it’s understandable. Typically, there’s worry that you don’t have enough “worthy” content to be posted everyday. There’s worry that this would be too much work to put together or that you need to hire a professional photographer. I’m here to tell you that solving this problem is simpler than you may think. It just requires a little planning on your part. Spend a Saturday or Sunday out with your smartphone and shoot, shoot, shoot! It’s not 35mm film we’re talking about here. Whatever your brand is, find a style that your aiming for and be consistent with it. I’ll get more into this in future blog posts, but an editorial calendar will be your best companion to get you posting everyday. The rewards are unparalleled in the sense that you will see a sharp rise in your organic growth and engagement. Instagrammers love accounts that are reliable posters and will stick to you like glue if you give them what they want, so why not give it to them?

3. Inconsistent Photography

As an Instagram Strategist, I literally wade through tens of thousands of Instagram accounts every month. You see trends of things, people copying other people, the infamous ice cream cone being held out in front of a brick wall like a million times, that sort of thing. One major problem many people run into is having your feed look like ten different people are contributing to it, hence, ten different styles and looks going on. If you’re a business and have the means to hire a content creator, I highly recommend this investment. Great content is the cream that always rises to the top. But if that isn’t in your budget, get some pointers online about taking great photos. Youtube is always an amazing resource with teaching things like this. You’re aiming for one simple style that you feel best represents you. Just remember K.I.S.S. - Keep It Super Simple.

4. Not Liking and Commenting on Other Instagram Accounts

Engaging with other accounts is what single-handedly will set you apart from 98% of other Instagram accounts. This immediately draws eyeballs right back to your feed for people to like and comment on your content. They may even decide to follow you, which is the strongest feedback mechanism you have to determine if your content is up to par. That being said, this is the thing you tackle once everything else has been addressed. For example, if you don’t have your photography in order quite yet and the last post you made was last month, there would be no reason for you to make an effort for other people to see your old post. Instagrammers crave the most recent content available. This engagement will boost your following into the thousands if it’s done consistently. This will ultimately give you the coveted status of “Instagram Influencer” and set you up nicely to partner up with other Influencers and brands that fit your mold. And there is a lot of money to be made once you make it to this point, believe me.

5. Not Having a Link in Bio

If you’re putting all of this time and effort into building an Instagram, you better have an end game and have a goal for what you’d like to get out of it. If you have a website, your URL needs to be in your Instagram profile. You think that’s an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this. If you don’t have a website, at minimum, you should have an email address in your profile to receive business inquiries. People have to be able to get a hold of you, so make it easy for them. Forcing potential clients or customers to direct message you in Instagram is tacky and most people don’t even check those. Help create the path to least resistance, okay?

6. Not Having an Overall Strategy

This goes back to having a purpose for your account. Your Instagram account should be deliberate and have a specific reason for its existence, even if it’s just a hobby for now. If you structure it properly from the beginning and make good choices, it could be something much bigger than you ever imagined. Seriously, there are tons of Influencers that make anywhere from $500-$3,000 just for a single post! Not a bad way to make a living, just sayin’. If you’re not sure where to begin, team up with someone like us, or other Instagram Strategists to get the most out of your efforts and resources.

7. Not Utilizing Hashtags Properly

Hashtags were meant to create small niche communities of a variety of different interests. It’s a way to categorize your post in a nice little compartment, or compartments, for people to find easily. The more specific, the better. It’s also an unbelievably easy way to find your target customer. You just have to know where to look and you could have ten new customers by the end of the day, I’m not even kidding. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger, using the hashtag #fashion is a “nothing burger” for you. There have already been 280 million instances where #fashion has been used, so you’ll easily get lost in the mix. But if your based out of San Francisco, using something like #sfstyle might get you much closer to potential customers in the Bay Area. It’s much more focused and specific and only been used 58 thousand times, so much less competition.  

8. Not Having a Strong Voice in Your Captions

The caption is the second biggest opportunity for you to express yourself, aside from the image your posting, which is the first. Please never leave this blank (and please don’t put more than two hashtags here. They all belong in the first comment of the post.). One or two sentences is all you really need. It can directly describe what we’re seeing in the image, it can be a quote, it can be anything you want it to be, really. Just say something, but don’t be weird about it. The more abstract posts are usually glossed over. Unless you know the more abstract crowd is your target audience, then you can be weird.

9. Not Knowing Your Target Audience

Again, this goes back to our discussion about hashtags. It isn’t hard to find your target audience. If you sell baby apparel, just start playing with searching for baby-related hashtags on Instagram. Also, Google the best hashtags for babies. It’s the micro-targeting that can get tricky and time-consuming. An Instagram Strategist would be able to help you find these niche communities on Instagram that will more than likely help you convert more customers by having a micro-targeted approach. That’s definitely worth the investment to get the right kind of attention towards your business.

If you have questions regarding your Instagram account and think a Instagram Strategist can help you, feel free to email me at ryan@lunchmoneycreative.com. I usually get back to inquiries within 24 hours. We’d be happy to assist you in any way we can.

Written by Ryan Carmody

Ryan is a resourceful brand strategist that has advised hundreds of companies in a multitude of industries. He brings his vast array of skill sets and experience to Instagram, where he’s able to bridge his passion for storytelling and help businesses share their unique value propositions visually.



This is the single, most important question we need to answer for our clients everyday. For business owners, Instagram can be like that weird, zany aunt lurking in the corner at a family reunion that your mom wants you to go talk to for a minute. They know they’d really prefer not to engage in conversation with her, but probably should to be polite. I’m here to implore you to go talk to her, because what you don’t know is she has a big, fat birthday check in her pocket with your name on it trying to make up for the last decade of birthdays she’s missed of yours! 

All you have to do is go talk to her and you get the check. 

Instagram is an amazing visual storytelling platform that can be an amazing tool in your digital marketing strategy. We are no longer in the days of social media where your business needs to have a presence across all platforms. Now, you just have to get one of them right to be effective for you. Although I’d admit that Instagram isn’t necessarily a good fit for every business, it is certainly appropriate for the larger majority of them. 

To be successful on Instagram, it requires one important thing: consistency. If you can post at a regular frequency, it’s amazing how simple it can be to grow your account. The problem is, most people don’t have the time to keep up with the consistency. At Lunch Money, we take care of addressing that consistency on behalf of our clients with our Community Management service by creating an editorial calendar of your content, writing captions and hashtags and posting for them on Instagram everyday.

There is something so simple you can do starting today to grow your business - it’s not the e-blasts, or the Facebook ads or the cold calls, it’s ol’ Aunt Instagram. Sure, she might wear odd, clunky jewelry, smudged glasses and clothes that smell like cats, but she’s got one hell of a story to tell you. Oh, and let’s not forget about that check she’s been waiting to give you. Go over there and give her a hug and a smile. It’s not nearly as hard as you think it will be. 

Written by Ryan Carmody

Ryan is a resourceful brand strategist that has advised hundreds of companies in a multitude of industries. He brings his vast array of skill sets and experience to Instagram, where he’s able to bridge his passion for storytelling and help businesses share their unique value propositions visually.