Instagram has quickly gone from new shoes and new friends to include new products and new businesses. With over 300 million users, it’s not surprising that companies are flocking in droves to the visual platform. Although mostly welcome on Instagram, nobody wants a feed clogged with corporate images and obnoxious advertisements. To maintain and grow Instagram’s value, brands have to make sure they’re not ruining it for the rest of us by making careless blunders or missing the mark with their images and practices. There’s nothing worse than coming off as clueless when your potential audience is heavily composed of 16–24 year olds.
While we previously explored common Facebook mistakes, Instagram provides its own set of unique features to master. If you’re feeling perplexed by the idea of filters, hashtags, captions, and followers, or are simply looking for ways to boost your current presence, the following list of common mistakes being made by social media managers can help your Insta-efforts reach their full potential, while keeping your credibility up amongst your followers.
No link in account bio
Your profile’s bio is the only place where you can add a clickable link to your website, making it extremely valuable real estate on Instagram. Unfortunately, many companies are still neglecting to do so, missing huge opportunities to build awareness and their customer base.
When people are visiting your Instagram feed and admiring all of the valuable products or services you are showing off, one of the first questions they’ll be asking is “Where can I get this?” Adding a link in your bio is the easiest way to make sure your audience is able to quickly and effortlessly find your website. If you need any further tips on creating your Instagram bio, this guide can help you out.
Not engaging with other users
As with most other social media platforms, Instagram is not a “set it and forget it” type of deal. In order to get the most out of the tool, you must follow other relevant users (find these through hashtag searches, the Discover page, or seeing who your followers are following/liking) and engage with them. Don’t go on liking sprees, but definitely comment on their photos when appropriate.
Likewise, if somebody leaves a comment on one of your photos, take the time to respond. Marketing and branding are all about building relationships, so it makes sense to actually take part in conversations with your Instagram community.
With 91 percent of Instagram posts containing between one and seven hashtags, it’s obvious that they’re powerful. However, like most things in life, this power can easily be used for evil. Hashtag misuse can come in many forms, including but not limited to, overusing hashtags, underusing hashtags, and using irrelevant hashtags. The main function of hashtags are enabling discovery–allowing others to find topics and users of interest thanks to the use of relevant keywords. If you are spamming your posts with too many or irrelevant hashtags, you are devaluing your account and are at the risk of losing credibility. #Just #Don’t #Do #It.
Alternatively, if you have quality content but are failing to include any hashtags at all, you are doing yourself a great disservice and missing out on a solid opportunity to be discovered and engaged. For more on hashtag use and abuse, see here.
Being overly promotional
Just as with any other kind of promotional tool, constantly shoving your business in people’s faces on Instagram is off-putting and a surefire way to quickly alienate your audience. If all that you are posting are images of your own product or logo, your followers are surely going to lose interest. Instead, take a softer approach and try to visually portray the values that your brand or product represent as a whole.
For example, Vancouver consignment shop Hunter and Hare have a beautifully curated Instagram account that features images of local nature shots, the shop owners themselves, and other lifestyle images alongside posts featuring outfits or the products they are selling. With this, they are building a visual representation of their brand’s tone and are able to show how their products happen to fit into and enhance a particular kind of (appealing) lifestyle.
Over posting or under posting
There is an acquired skill in knowing just the right amount of photos to post to Instagram on a daily or weekly basis. While finding this number will depend on your audience, it’s safe to say that either over-posting or under-posting is something to be aware of. As with being overly promotional, posting too often will make your followers feel like they are being spammed and constantly sold to, which isn’t a great way to make friends.
However, when you aren’t posting enough, followers will either think you are lazy and neglecting your account, or, more likely, forget about you. Some tips to make this easier:
Aim to post on a consistent basis, as it’s obvious when you try to balance a week of no posts with a day featuring ten in a row. Using Hootsuite’s Instagram integration for scheduling posts, you can keep track of your posting calendar more easily and ensure you’re posting consistently
Pay attention to how often the popular (quality) accounts you follow are posting to Instagram, and try to follow their lead.
Take interesting “evergreen” photos – images that are not time-sensitive – that you can keep on hand to post if you foresee a gap in your content cycle
In keeping with these guidelines, you can ensure that you are being noticed without being obnoxious – a crucial principle of social media overall.
Using low-quality images
Instagram is a visual tool, so posting unattractive or boring photos won’t do. As Instagram is also primarily a mobile tool, it’s understood that the majority of photos will be taken and uploaded with a cell phone. However, some simple photography principles and the countless editing applications available mean there’s no excuse for lackluster images. Some basic cell phone camera principles to help raise that Insta-game:
Take numerous good photos of the same subject (which means shooting outside of the Instagram app) in order to get one excellent shot. Some camera alternatives for shooting include VSCO Cam and Afterlight.
Follow the light and always aim to take photos in indirect natural daylight if possible, or during the “Golden/Blue hours”. Additionally, be aware of shadows and unintentional reflections that can appear in your images (such as those from your phone) as they distract from your main subject and discount image quality.
Edit your chosen photo tastefully, and try not to overdo it with the filters. Some favourite apps such as VSCO Cam, Snapseed, Priime, and Afterlight all feature vast editing options that can mean the difference between an amateur and professional result.
Find an visual style and stick to it. Consistency in your images allows for an overall cohesion when your feed is viewed as a whole, something that lends you credibility while also being visually pleasing.
Ignoring the numbers
Once you have an established account, it can be tempting to just continue posting blindly. However, to use Instagram to it’s full potential, it’s necessary to pay attention to the numbers. Using some trial and error, you can experiment to find out what days and times provide the best response and engagement (AKA numbers of likes, comments, and new followers). According to this Kissmetrics infographic, the best time on average to post for optimal engagement is Wednesday, but this could be different for your specific audience.
While numbers and statistics aren’t the only way to measure your Instagram success, they can definitely help provide an indication of what you are doing right (or wrong) at any given time.
When done right, Instagram is an incredible way to share your brand’s vision with the world. With these Instagram mistakes in mind, it’s time to turn that Insta-regret into Insta-success.
Guide: Instagram Master Tactics
How-to: Add Instagram to Your Dashboard