With more than 1 billion active Instagram users, it becomes tough to grow your online business without having a presence on this social platform. More than 70% of American brands are already on Instagram. With so many users, you can imagine how any common Instagram mistakes you make can be costly and can actually benefit your competition.
In fact, such a vast presence of brands on Instagram doesn’t mean that each of those businesses managed to utilize the service wisely. Many companies still struggle to increase the number of their followers, expand their reach, and eventually drive traffic to their website via Instagram by making various social media mistakes.
Never fear! If you’ve failed previously in your marketing endeavors, it’s not time to give up. Online entrepreneurship is more than just the knowledge of how to create a website for a small business and put your offers online. To establish a successful online company, you need to learn an awful lot of things, including how to promote your website through all available channels (with a heavy emphasis on social media). These types of common Instagram mistakes will be inevitable at the outset; after all, you’re just learning! The goals is to make sure you are learning from any common mistake you might make, and do better in the future.
In this post, we explain how to avoid some actions (or a lack of action) that can ruin your Instagram promotion even before you get it started. There are 7 essential factors which you might consider as “insta secrets” if you’re fully resolved to realize how to treat Instagram in the right way and not make the Instagram mistakes that others continue to make.
The first step to success is to stop doing these common Instagram mistakes!
1. Buying Likes and Followers – One of the Most Common Instagram Mistakes!
You could run into the services offering to purchase thousands of Instagram followers for a pittance. They say that’s the quick and easy way to become an Instagram influencer, but it’s actually a blatant lie.
No matter how many followers you get, they’ll never engage with your content as real people do. Don’t expect any likes and comments from them, because they are bots or fake accounts, rather than actual people. That string of a soulless code only decreases your engagement rates and therefore devalues your account in front of the great and powerful Instagram algorithm.
Moreover, real users will see a bit of mismatch between the numbers of your likes and followers, which can serve as an off-putting factor for them. Instead of becoming an influencer, your credibility as a brand will only get worse.
Growth Tip: Rather than pursuing “fast and cheap” methods of growing your followers, prepare for a long-term struggle. Publish eye-catching content and adhere to the best Instagram marketing practices – which we’ll describe a bit later.
2. Using Extra Popular Hashtags to Promote Your Instagram Posts
The most widely used hashtags on Instagram are #love (used in more than 1.2B posts), #instagood (in more than 730M posts), #photooftheday (in over 490M posts). It’s no prize for guessing that when anybody tags their publication with #love, it will appear to the wide audience only for 1 second.
Extra popular hashtags have a very short lifespan, so they have a little-to-no value for internet marketing. It’s neither possible to lead the list of top publications by a hashtag nor attract your target audience to your profile. This is comparable to short-tail keywords in SEO, as small businesses may only dream of climbing up the Google search by queries like “love”, “Facebook”, or whatever the case may be.
Growth Tip: Use branded and long-tail targeted keywords. For example, if you run a sneaker studio, you might use hashtags like #sneakerfreaker, #sneakeraddict, #sneakergallery, etc. Those hashtags are often followed by the members of the sneakerhead community, making it the best way to get your company noticed in the short-term.
Also, it’s important to customize hashtags according to your content. If your next publication is dedicated to, let’s say, Nike Vapormax sneakers, narrower hashtags like #nikevapormaxplus or #nikevapormaxflyknit will come in handy.
3. Not Adding a Link to Your Website in Bio
This, at first glance, is one of the minor Instagram mistakes, yet it could still cost you the lion’s share of your sales. If you don’t include a link to your website in bio, followers will have nowhere to go after they decided to make some purchases.
Growth Tip: If your link is still missing, stop reading this article and add a link to your profile bio RIGHT NOW. Otherwise, this little detail will slip your mind again.
4. Neglect Instagram Stories and IGTV
Instagram consistently introduces new features. Last year, the service launched IGTV and implemented numerous updates to the renowned Instagram stories.
Long-form videos were unavailable on Instagram for a long time, causing some outrage among its users. IGTV is an Instagram’s alternative to Youtube that addresses the issue. Currently, it allows you to publish videos lasting from 15 seconds to 60 minutes.
On the contrary, Instagram stories are rather short-lived recordings that automatically disappear from the feed after 24 hours. Instagram’s name hints to us that the service was initially meant for “instant” shots made inside the app. But as the service evolves, users try to post more and more quality content on their pages. Quality content creation takes time, so there is no way for it to be instant. Stories became the solution: now people may share moments from their daily lives without cluttering up their targeted, cohesive profiles.
Growth Tip: IGTV is an especially crucial update for brands that gives them opportunities to run full-fledged commercials right in their Instagram account. As for stories, brands can use stories to share their “daily lives,” as well. Pictures of the manufacturing process, live videos involving team members, short-term special offers, polls, and other first-hand things build the personality of your brand, and making it more accessible to your customers.
5. Not Involving Influencers
Influencers on Instagram are bloggers, celebrities, or even other businesses that have already gained a fair portion of popularity. Those users boast a lot of authority among their target audience, as they are able to convince their followers to buy products or services from a particular brand.
If you don’t currently collaborate with influencers, it’s time to establish some connections. Influencer marketing proved itself effective due to its “seamlessness” — users won’t feel being forced to buy anything and will perceive your ad as a genuine recommendation from the famous persona.
Growth Tip: Collaborate only with those influencers who have a direct relation to the industry you operate in. For example, if you run a healthy snack online shop, don’t ask celebrities that constantly post stories from McDonald’s and KFC to advertise your goods. Instead, choose among popular fitness models, diet consultants, eco-activists, and brands from the associated fields like fitness clubs, vegetarian cafes, etc.
6. Running Mis-Targeted Contests
There are tons of “follow us and claim your prize” contests across Instagram. But are they really effective in the long term?
Contests with simple actions required to participate may attract thousands of people in just a few days, but most of them will leave after you announce the winner. Moreover, such contests end up mis-targeting your audience. A vast majority of users join them just to try their luck. They are not really interested in your product–only seeking some freebies to collect.
Growth Tip: To achieve long-term growth, you need to think out a bit more tricky rules for your contests. Using our aforementioned example of a sneaker studio, you can assign your followers to create a look involving their favorite Nike sneakers tagging your brand afterwards in addition to following your page. The winner might be chosen not through a random number generator, but by some sports fashion influencers, celebrities, etc. Only those who truly want to get an extra pair of sneakers will take effort to win this contest.
7. Writing Dull, Long, Sales-y Captions – or Having No Captions at All
Instagram is not all about the pictures. Captions also matter because they are an additional tool to impress your audience and boost sales. Unfortunately, if your caption isn’t catchy enough to grab the reader’s attention, you are not likely to maintain a strong following.
Growth Tip: There are most common Instagram mistakes when it comes to captions:
- Dull copy that lacks call to action. Being a great social media specialist means being a great copywriter, too. You need to provide your followers with up-to-date information and season it with some vibrant expressions to motivate them on action. To hook the reader, try to start your caption with statistics, a controversial question, a riddle, or an example from real life.
- Long and distracting copy. Captions are a must, but Instagram is not your corporate blog. Convey your message in a concise and dynamic manner to win more fans and drive more traffic as the result. According to stats, posts with 80 characters or less have a 88% better engagement rate.
- Sales-y copy. Your publication obviously should include a CTA and a link to your website where it fits well, but the abundance of sales-y buzzwords and obtrusive CTAs kill the fun. Don’t make your customers feel like they are constantly being sold; give them some real facts, instead.
- No caption at all. In such circumstances, you lose the chance to lead another bunch of prospects to your website. If you aren’t sure what to so, review the previous 3 suggestions, and get to writing.
8. Focusing on Quantity, Not Quality
It can be tempting to beef up for Instagram profile with the type of content you see coming from your competitors, or to make it seem as though your brand has been established longer than it has, but if you put too much emphasis on creating bulk in your posts, and you do not spend enough time creating the types of content that are actually relevant to your social media marketing efforts and your brand, you will quickly begin seeing your followers dwindle.
Instead of trying to create a massive amount of posts and build up a brand overnight, take it slow, and focus your attention and energy on building a solid business profile. This means using a solid social media strategy to develop strong followers over time, reaching out to social media influencers who are already operating in your industry, and creating a following from the ground up. With even one strong post each week, you can keep your followers eager to see more from your brand, while engaging more frequently on Instagram stories and IGTV.
Growth Tip: Most people engage far more with stories than they do with Instagram posts, themselves. Make sure your quality is focused primarily on your posts, and the bulk of your quantity is coming from stories and IGTV posts.
9. Making your content WAY too self-promotional
Although you are using this social media platform to dive into digital marketing, no one likes feeling as though they are constantly being sold something. Instead of focusing all of your energy and attention on promoting your products–using every single post to plug a new service, for instance, or using your stories to talk about your products or your brand–let your followers see the other side of your work. Take your followers on a tour of your office/s, share a silly, low-quality photo of the first days of your start-up, or take your Instagram audience along on your morning coffee run. All of these tactics humanize your brand, and help your followers feel as though they are engaging with a person (or a team of people), rather than a faceless, nameless brand.
If you are struggling to create content that isn’t focused entirely on your brand, take a step back and evaluate what you like best about the accounts you follow. Do you like seeing the back end of a company’s work? Do you prefer hearing about employee favorites, or enjoy seeing the process of a product being made, or a service being prepared? Apply anything you identify as something you enjoy in another brand’s marketing strategy to your own, and you are far more likely to see your numbers climb.
Growth Tip: If it feels impossible not to constantly promote your brand, or it feels as though you are wasting time spent not promoting your products, remember this: people follow brands to connect with those brands. Focus on creating content that connects you to your thousands of followers (or even your handful of followers, at the beginning).
10. Not responding to user comments
Comments allow social media posts to go from being static images to being places for connection, engagement, and conversation. When someone comments on an image, or reaches out to you after watching your stories, engage! If you are consistently avoiding posting responses to comments, individuals posting comments with notice, and so will all of your other followers. They will also be unlikely to comment or engage with your social media channel, because they will see that you do not take the time to respond to questions, ideas, or comments.
It may seem trivial, but not responding to user comments is one of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make. Although there is no true mistake-free Instagram marketing strategy, there are several key practices to engage–and several to avoid–and failing to engage with your followers is a huge one.
Growth Tip: If you feel nervous about engaging with customers, and potentially making a misstep, remember to treat your followers as though they are acquaintances just getting to know you, rather than close friends. This can help you maintain appropriate boundaries and keep an appropriate tone, without letting go of communication altogether.
11. Ignoring your Instagram analytics
You must pay attention to analytics. At the outset, they may just seem like trivial numbers, but analytics can help you identify any rookie mistakes you’ve made, can help you track your follower count (and track any significant boosts in numbers), and can identify the posts you’ve created that have garnered the most likes, comments, and shares. Analytics are a key component in your overall social media marketing strategy, because they help you keep track of where you are going wrong–and what you are doing right.
Instagram analytics may seem difficult to read at first, but don’t give up! Analytics can help you identify what content is relevant content for your site, and what types of posts should be removed from your content calendar. Engaging posts are those with strong analytics scores. A list of marketing tips that does not put a strong emphasis on analytics is doing a disservice, as analytics matter a great deal in encouraging genuine engagement and building loyal followers.
So, how many Instagram mistakes from this list have you ever made? Even if you’ve been burned on all fronts, it’s never too late to start over and mend your flaws. And if you bear in mind other examples of the promotional practices that failed, we are waiting for you in the comments to tell us the solution.
Hero Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash
This is a post contributed from one of my marketing partners.