You’re getting in the groove of interacting with your potential followers through the only way you know how – namely through liking, commenting, following, or some combination of the three…
When all of a sudden this pops up to completely ruin your jive:
“Whaaaat?!” you shout at your phone.
“But I’m not breaking any rules!”
Despite following Instagram’s TOS to a tee, if you’re actively trying to grow your audience on the platform you’ll likely run into this little problem from time to time.
This problem, otherwise known as an Action Block, Soft Ban, or Instagram Jail, among other names can quickly put a wrench in your engagement strategies that you need in order to grab the attention and attract your ideal followers.
And if this has happened to you, you’ll want to know exactly what you can and should do about it.
But first, let’s get clear on why you were action blocked in the first place.
What Is an Action Block on Instagram, and Why Did I Get One?
Instagram blocks you when they’ve decided you’re performing an action – such as liking, commenting, or following – too much too fast.
Action blocks are basically Instagram’s first mechanism to stop bots and spammers from being too annoying and ruining the whole Instagram experience for everyone else.
And even when you’re NOT a bot or a spammer, it can be pretty easy to trigger the fuse even for a real live authentic human being like you.
This is super easy to do because Instagram does not publicly publish their hourly or daily limits for liking, commenting, or following.
And in fact, the limits for all of these actions differ depending on how old your account is, how large your following, how active you are, your average account engagement, etc.
They also get changed all the time.
A couple of years ago, one could follow up to 200 people an hour. Now, the safe spot is more like 30-40 per hour depending on your account.
But either way, you’ve performed too much of an action or gone too fast, and you’ve been thrown in Instagram jail.
Step 1: Wait 24 Hours Before Performing the Action
When you received the pop-up notification saying you were Action Blocked, you may or may not have been given a specific reason and a time frame.
If you were given a specific time frame for the block, your instructions are pretty easy:
Simply avoid taking the action that triggered the block for the specified time frame.
So if you were following too many people and were told the block would last 24 hours, avoid following anybody until that 24 hours is up.
But Instagram isn’t always so considerate, and you might not know how long you’ve been blocked for.
Most blocks are short, 24 or 48 hours, so your first step is to avoid the offending action (liking, following, or commenting) for a full 24 hours.
I know, I know, this can be hard to deal with – because you want to grow, like yesterday. But patience is key.
Performing the blocked action before your block is up can reset the clock on your time in Insta-jail. Which means you’ll have to wait another 24 hours from the time you re-tested the waters – or maybe even longer.
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Step 2: Wait 48 Hours Before Performing the Action Again
If you’ve been patient and your 24 hours is up, feel free to sloooowly test the waters again with the action you were blocked for.
What do I mean by slowly?
For example, if you were following 60 people per hour and got blocked, you’ll want to start out following again with a smaller number than that.
Maybe you start out with 20 per hour. And if that seems to be working fine after a day or two, ramp it up to 30. Then 40, then 50, etc.
You probably don’t want to go back up to the number and speed you were doing before, because that’ll likely get you action blocked again.
This process is all about feeling out what Instagram has determined as your limits, so you can safely and effectively perform the actions needed to connect with your target audience and grow your account.
But if you go back to performing the action again and you find that you are STILL blocked…
The next step is to wait it out for 48 hours this time. Not another 24 hours more than the 24 you just waited, a full 48 hours from finding out you’re still blocked.
After time is up, the process is the same as described above.
Step 3: Wait One Week, Avoiding All Actions Save for Publishing Content
If after waiting 48 hours while performing zero actions you were banned for, and you STILL find yourself action blocked, I’m afraid you’ve had a spot of bad luck. Or perhaps you’re a frequent repeat offender.
But don’t lose hope!
Though I see short 24 hour and 48 hour bans the most, longer bans do happen especially if you’ve been banned multiple times for the same offense.
So if this has happened to you, the next step is to wait a full week without performing the action.
If you want to be super cautious, try avoiding all actions for this time period. So that means no liking, commenting, or following anyone. Just let it be for a little bit.
Publishing new content shouldn’t hurt, so don’t be afraid to keep creating and publishing content to keep your followers active and engaged.
Again, when the week is up, try slowly adding back the actions into your strategy. Start small and infrequently, and ramp things back up gradually over the next few days until you are engaging again as normal.
Step 4: Contact Instagram to Get Unblocked
Still blocked, even after a week of lying low?
Something is probably up.
Your next and final option besides waiting it out indefinitely, is to contact Instagram support about the issue.
Now I know Instagram has a poor reputation for customer support (they, like Facebook, hardly have “support” at all — you can’t simply give them a call), but I have had students of mine successfully get their Instagram accounts unblocked after reaching out.
Here’s how you do it.
Remember this Action Blocked notification? If you’re still blocked, it should pop up when you try to perform the blocked action:
It might look similar or slightly different for you.
But at the bottom of the message it should say something along the lines of “Tell us if you think we made a mistake”.
Your job now is to tell them so. So depending on what your notification looks like, hit the ‘Tell Us’ button or the ‘Report a Problem’ button.
Follow the prompts that Instagram gives you and submit your case to them.
After that, all there is to do is wait, cross your fingers, pray to the Instagram gods, or whatever does it for you.
I don’t have a precise timeline to give you, but a student of mine was able to get a long standing block fixed in a few days after doing this.
So it DOES work. It can just take time.
What to Do After an Action Block Has Ended to Safely Grow Your Instagram Audience
So you’ve completed some or all of the steps above, and your account is back to normal!
As I mentioned before, when you’re back in action after a block or ban the best thing to do is go slowly.
Because I’m sure the last thing you want to do is trigger another block right away – your victory will be short lived if this happens.
And you have an audience to grow!
Being able to interact with your target audience through liking, commenting, and following is key to attracting their attention, growing your follower base, and converting followers into paying customers and clients.
So to keep your account and your ability to perform actions safe, here a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:
- Start back slow, then slowly ramp things up. Did you get blocked following 50 people per hour? Start off with only 15-20 per hour for a few days. If you don’t run into any problems, slowly taper things up as you go – no big changes all at once.
- Avoid ‘mentioning’ too many people in comments / captions. This can be seen as spam by Instagram if you do too much too often.
- Space out your posting. Unless you’ve just created a new Instagram account, you shouldn’t be posting multiple pieces of content at once. Spread them out across the day or week.
- Don’t use bots or automated programs to perform likes, comments, or follows for you. This goes against the Instagram TOS, and can get your account disabled permanently, not just temporarily blocked. Interacting with your audience personally is the best way to build up the Know, Like, & Trust factors you need if you plan on running a successful and profitable business.
- Find your limits. Have you been blocked a few times leaving 30+ comments per hour, but things are fine at 20? Take note and stay inside of the limits Instagram has set for you. You’ll waste more potential being blocked than you will by doing things slightly slower. Generally, 20-30 follows, and 350 likes per hour is considered safe. Though keep in mind, these things change all the time.
What’s your experience with Instagram action blocks or temporary bans? Did you do anything specific in order to get your account back in the clear? Share your story in the comments below!