Liss’ IG: @sistersofmoon
Hello! Today’s blog comes to you in a combined effort from myself and my friend, Liss of Sisters of the Moon. Both of us have suffered from ignorance in our combined ten or more years on Twitter but have managed to rise from our un-Phoenix like ashes and carry on through ghost bans and now, search bans. If you feel you are having trouble with your Twitter account and not being seen by others with the hashtags you’re using, please read and fingers crossed, you’ll find your way back to the land of the living…
Twitter recently reinstated numerous accounts from the old “ghost banning” aka “shadow ban” craze and made them whole and functioning once again. One of my original business accounts, which I turned into a personal account after realising that, after a year of being ghost banned, my account was dust for business then created a new one… which also became ghost banned three times before I convinced Twitter that I was not a bot nor a bad person spreading hate and destruction or nudity. For a brief moment in Twittersphere we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and it went back to business as usual… but something else was in the works… something a bit more sinister, it seemed. Suddenly, people in our circle started noticing that they were not being seen again. Of course, I would do the old “from:search” as you might have read about in my previous blogs about Twitter doings, but instead of finding my friends in ghost banned purgatory, his or her account would be full and healthy looking by the looks of things. Don’t always judge the book by its cover, because something else was taking place that the likes of me could not see and it wasn’t pretty when Liss found it.
People were being search banned.
I could re-word the following excerpt [which would still count as plagiarism] so instead, I shall post the full paragraph from an article Liss had sent me:
“In simple terms, *Shadow Ban is a way through which Twitter controls the reach of certain users to new audience. We will take a very simple case. When a Twitter user (say X) posts a tweet, it goes to the timeline (TL) of all the users who are following X. When any of the followers of X retweets the tweet, it goes to the TL of his/her followers and so on. For X to reach new audience one of the ways is to tweet with popular hashtags. Including the hashtag in one’s tweet makes the tweet visible to any user who clicks that hashtag. Through Shadow Ban, this reach is restricted. If X is under Shadow Ban, the tweet will virtually be invisible in the list of tweets under a certain hashtag. Even when a follower of X (say Y) retweet X’s tweet, it will sometimes become invisible to Y’s followers and so on. So, the reach of X’s tweets to new audience is restricted.”
This is why, if you have been search banned you are not being seen under [using] hashtags. One other thing – this article is calling this situation *“Shadow Ban” which it is not, it is “Search Ban”. Shadow Banning is another way of saying Ghost Banning, a topic I have written much about. I won’t quibble about the author’s word choice in the above paragraph, just do know that Shadow Ban means you do not get found in search, full stop.
If you are a small business on Twitter you might be joining in what some call “Twitter Hours” or “Shopping Hours” or social media hours. It is for promotion of your business and to meet other business owners as well. In this hour, everyone joining must use a hashtag specified by the host of said hour attached to their tweet or no one will see their tweets. You may have twenty-plus biz owners joining in so the hashtag for that hour is crucial. If you are search banned, no one in the Twitter Hour will see your tweets with that particular hashtag. They may well see you in the general stream or if they visit your profile page but not under the #xyz hour – a hypothetical hashtag there. I believe that it is in Twitter’s thoughts that this kind of “tribal tweeting” should be abolished because it segregates the participants from the mainstream… yes, I realise how harsh that sounds but what Twitter is doing is just as harsh. It is no secret that Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, wants Twitter to go back to the days of just everyone chatting. And, if you’re a business on Twitter, you can advertise… just pay for it! Simplez…not so much! The Indie seller will dry up and blow away because have you seen how much Twitter charges to promote your wares?? That is why you only see the likes of BT and Sky or Sainsbury with promoted listings!
So, what does a poor tweeter do? As Liss and I are collaborating here, it is only fair I let the poor lass have her say as she has done the most research on this subject. I think I have talked quite enough! Liss has researched and found the best advice on what not to do if you want to keep your Twitter account intact. And, reading Twitter’s Policies won’t go amiss, either.
Don’t retweet a great stream of tweets [from one or several different accounts], in one go. Twitter consider this to be “aggressive retweeting”. I don’t know where this leaves shopping hours where retweeting is the name of the game, but as a general rule, pace yourself. A retweet counts as a tweet and there is a daily limit of 2,400 broken down into semi-hourly limits. My advice is don’t get anywhere near that limit.
Don’t retweet the same tweet over and over. Just as an account will get flagged up for persistently sending out the same tweet [see below], so too will your account if you keep retweeting it.
Don’t go on a “marathon” retweeting binge from one account. You may really love one particular tweeter’s tweets but please don’t retweet a load of them in one go! You must put yourself in the mind of a curator. As the curator, you must understand that your follower’s will see the tweets that you retweet, and they may not enjoy a dozen tweets by @xyz as much as you do. There is no rule against retweeting more than one tweet but do put other retweets in between so as not to vex your follower’s or Twitter!
Don’t “repeatedly post identical or nearly identical tweets”. And certainly, don’t send out the same tweet several times over the course of a day. I know it’s difficult if, like me, you sell a small amount of perennial items or perhaps just one service – but you need to re-write your tweets every time you send them out.
Don’t continually send out the same link. Now, this is a tricky one because again, if you’re a small business selling just one service, or a handful of items, you’ve only got a few links available. There used to be the don’t-repeat-a-link-within-24-hours rule, but I suspect that’s too short a period now.
Don’t use too many hashtags. As with all the rules, Twitter is rather vague about how many hashtags constitutes an onslaught, but the general rule of thumb seems to be three and no more. And certainly, never send out just a link and a dozen hashtags. And don’t use the same hashtags on every tweet, vary them a little. [editor’s note: There is nothing more gauche on a tweet than it having thirty hashtags and sparse, if any, information about the item being sold. I have refrained from retweeting these kinds of tweets.]
**Visit your search page on Twitter and see what the trending hashtags for day are and if you can incorporate those into your tweets, it will do you no harm, particularly the use of trending hashtags during holidays.
Don’t automate the bulk of your tweets. It’s fine to automate some but a day’s worth [especially if you’re not interacting and chatting with other accounts during this time], will flag you up as a bot and/or a spammer. I know Twitter owns Tweetdeck but they really don’t want you to use it or any other automation tool, very much. Live tweet whenever possible.
Don’t tweet, retweet and leave the scene. You need to interact with other accounts. Aside from anything else, it stops you being flagged up as a bot. It’s called social media for a reason and Twitter very much wants to bring the platform back to that.
Thank you, Liss, for the best explanation so far of how a Tweeter can stay away from trouble on their account. Yes, Twitter has upped the game in a twisty-turny way since the old ghost/shadow banning days. In the one sense it is enough to drive many people away from the social media platform. However, if you think about it a while you can see how it makes sense. As noted, no one likes seeing a plethora of retweets about something they may or may not have interest in. And nobody wants to retweet and like someone repeatedly without hearing so much as a “thanks” in return. If you’re a business owner tweeting your products, nobody wants to see the same tired tweet[s] saying the exact same thing with the exact same picture and link every day. Remember above all else that you are the curator of your Twitter feed. You must give people following you a fresh dose of information daily. But not only that, you must be in tune with your followers. Engagement is just as important as is putting forth fresh tweets every day. How will they know whether you’re real or not? It is an advantage for the small business owner if you think about it. The corporate businesses paying for the expensive promoted ads are already established. They know you will follow them because you love their product and most of us don’t expect them to follow us back. They also know that they have no time to engage with us personally and that we understand that as well. And, they know when a promoted ad comes through your feed for a new product they are selling, you will probably click on the ad.
We small businesses must be cleverer than that. Make a mini-story about your product, not a bog-standard in-your-face bland assessment of what you’re selling. Make it eye-catching and for people to want to read it. Use facts, history, whatever will work with your product. Also, intersperse your business tweets with human-interest tweets you capture from your news feeds online. Add pertinent hashtags. Tweet daily facts about something you and your followers are interested in. Add in the odd poll that Twitter allows you to make on the fly and get your follower’s opinions about whatever you want to know. Relevancy is everything. But just as important as anything else, connect. Engage in conversations as best you can. So what if two people are speaking to each other about something? I have broken into many a conversation on Twitter and nobody has told me to sling my hook yet. As it happens, we three sometimes have quite a lovely discussion about the topic. Engagement, engagement, engagement.
Liss and I hope we have explained well enough for everyone to understand what is happening to their accounts. And whether through our surmises or from the links we have interspersed throughout this writing we hope you can find the answers you need. And, if you wish to find out if you are search banned, please use this link. It’s free and it’s easy and it’s correct.
Many thanks for reading! Please share via the social media links below if you feel this may help someone you know. We would also love comments and will answer as quickly as possible. You may just have some excellent insights to share, so don’t be shy. Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x
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