12 Common Instagram Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)
Yesterday's best practices may be today's Instagram marketing mistakes. Here's how to avoid making the most common mistakes on social.
In the world of social media, marketers know that change is one of the only things they can count on. From algorithms and APIs to features and best posting times, last year’s best practices might be this year’s faux pas. So how can you avoid making Instagram marketing mistakes?
Have no fear; we’ve got your back. We’ve put together a list of the 12 most common Instagram marketing mistakes in 2022, so you know what not to do on Instagram.
Adidas Women keeps it fairly light on hashtags, averaging 3 or less per post. They strike a good balance between branded hashtags (#adidasbystellamccartney) and searchable hashtags (#workout, #style) that signal the topic of the post and help it gain reach.
3. Not being social
Social media isn’t a one-way broadcast — it’s a conversation. But unfortunately, one of the most common social media mistakes in business is forgetting about the “social” part.
As a marketer, you should spend as much time interacting as you do creating and publishing content. And don’t just talk to your followers: Joining a conversation with other brands is a great way to facilitate engagement.
Every comment, question, mention, and DM is an opportunity to build loyalty and create a positive brand experience with your audience.
Netflix is one brand that I follow more for its social media strategy rather than the product. Sure, their content is funny and I love The Umbrella Academy as much as the next person, but the real gold is in the comments.
In this post, you can see Netflix replying to commenters in their cheeky, relatable brand voice that matches the tone of the comments. And their audience loves it!
4. Posting without a strategy
Many businesses know that they should be active on social media, but don’t stop to think about why.
Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Are you looking to become the most-known brand in your category? Make sales directly through your Instagram Shop?
It’s hard to achieve success via Instagram marketing if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.
Pick one goal to start, and create a strategic plan to get there. That way you’ll have something to guide every decision and a way to measure the impact of your work.
5. Not using the newest features
Although the Instagram algorithm is always changing, adopting the platform’s newestfeatures has always seemed to be a successful tactic.
Marketers that move fast can benefit from better engagement, faster growth, and further reach. They’re even more likely to be featured on the Explore page.
Leave it to beauty brands to figure out how to use Instagram’s features to their fullest. Glow Recipe has embraced multiple formats, from IGTV to guides and now to Reels. I particularly love how they use both videos and Reels to share tutorials and teach relevant skills to their audience.
6. Not using tracked links for attribution
Do you use Instagram to drive traffic to your website or app? If so, are you tracking each link click that comes from Instagram?
Social media managers are constantly being asked to prove the ROI of platforms like Instagram. If you include links via Instagram Stories, Reels, Shops, or your bio, make sure you can prove they’re working.
Each link you post should have tracking parameters attached. That way, you can credit business results back to your Instagram marketing efforts.
Tip: Hootsuite Composer makes it easy to generate links with UTM parameters. This video shows a step-by-step walkthrough:
7. Posting landscape content
Honestly, this is one of the most surprising mistakes that I still see marketers making.
If the goal of your Instagram content (be it photos or videos) is to capture attention and stop users mid-scroll, you should only be posting vertical content. Let me explain why.
92.1% of internet usage happens on mobile phones. That means you want your content to take up as much vertical real estate as possible in order to engage users. A landscape (horizontal) photo or video takes up half the space that a vertical one does!
Ok, so not all marketers are blessed with the content gold that is the Philadelphia Flyer’s mascot, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them.
Gritty does a great job of participating in pop culture trends — but only in a way that delivers the humor that Gritty is known for. If it doesn’t make sense for their brand, they don’t participate at all.
9. Not experimenting with your strategy
The only thing worse than not having an Instagram strategy is having an outdated strategy.
Given Instagram’s pace of change, all “best practices” should be taken with a grain of salt. What works for other brands may not work for your brand and audience.
Experimenting is the only way to know what truly works for your brand. You should always be testing:
Number and types of hashtags
Content themes and pillars
Although it’s not an exact science, I generally recommend testing one variable for at least 5 posts (or 2-3 weeks, whichever gives more data) before making a conclusion.
10. Posting overly produced or perfected visuals
When brands first started using Instagram, users expected to see beautiful, high-quality photos in their feed.
These days, we know more about social media and comparison culture’s impact on our mental health. Many Instagram users are now moving towards less curated and polished feeds.
This is actually great news for marketers. You don’t have to spend loads of time and money on fancy productions to create content for Instagram. Overly produced visuals don’t look authentic and stand out (for the wrong reasons) in the feed.
Instead, embrace using your phone camera to capture in-the-moment content and skip the photo filters.
Candy brand Behave has fully embraced the Gen Z aesthetic of messy visuals and contrasting colors. They post a mix of UGC, memes, and some professionally-shot photos, but they’re styled in a way that wouldn’t stand out in an Instagram feed as looking too much like an ad.
11. Not optimizing for searchability
Thanks to a 2021 blog post from Instagram, we now know a lot more about how search results are served and how brands can improve their search rankings.
In the same way that you optimize your website content for SEO, your Instagram bio, captions, and alt text can also be optimized. This means crafting your social copy to include words that will match what someone searching for your type of content would use.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a fitness influencer used to grow from 0 to 600,000+ followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
This example from Spotify checks all the necessary accessibility boxes. The hashtags are written in Camel Case, and the video has subtitles to accompany the audio.
In general, Spotify posts a lot of video content in various formats and consistently includes a mix of text-based graphics and captions. These conscious choices make Spotify’s videos accessible to all viewers.
And there you have it: 12 common marketing mistakes that you will no longer make on your Instagram.
Of course, the rules of social media are always changing, so you shouldn’t be afraid to try different things. As long as you learn from what works and what doesn’t. Good luck!
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