What NOT To Do On Instagram

What NOT To Do On Instagram

In all of my posts about Instagram, I spend a lot of time explaining what you should do to see success. Whether it’s Instagram best practices or tips and shortcuts, there are a lot of ways to use Instagram effectively. However, there are a lot of things you might be doing which will actually hinder your success.

Here are the 14 things NOT to do on Instagram:

Don’t use an awkward username on Instagram

Don't use an awkward username on Instagram

Unfortunately, the search function within Instagram isn’t as powerful as other sites. If you make your username (and even your “real” name) hard to find, people won’t be able to find and follow you. Instead, use the same username as your Twitter handle and make your name something easy to recognize, whether it’s your real name or your business name.

Don’t set your profile to private

Unless you are using Instagram solely for personal reasons and don’t want to network, do NOT set your account to Private. Instead, set your account to Public so that new followers can see what you post and what you’re about. You will gain followers much more quickly if they can see your content and don’t have to wait for approval.

Don’t be a lurker

Instagram is all about interaction and sharing posts. Unless you’re brand new to the platform, don’t lurk in the shadows. Instead, post regularly and like/comment on others’ posts as frequently as possible. Be engaging and you’ll create better relationships with other Instagram users.

Don’t post without a caption

Don't post without a caption

No matter how awesome your image is, it needs a caption. Posts with captions get higher levels of engagement and they allow you to interact with your audience. Tell people what the photo is, share a quote, ask a question. Whatever it is, find something relevant to include on your posts.

For more advice, check out this post on Instagram captions.

Don’t overuse or misuse hashtags

Hashtags are extremely important on Instagram and should be used on every post to increase reach. However, using more than 7-10 hashtags is overkill. Choose 5-7 relevant  hashtags to include in your caption. Don’t use popular hashtags like #tagforlikes or #onedirection or #love if they have absolutely nothing to do with your post. Using inappropriate hashtags to show up in popular searches won’t help you reach new followers – you’ll actually end up alienating possible followers. Here’s more of my advice on where to put your Instagram hashtags.

Don’t ignore your followers’ comments

When people take the time to comment on your posts or ask questions, do not ignore them! Make sure you check your notifications regularly to stay on top of comments. Then respond (using their @username to notify them) and thank them or answer their question. When used regularly, comments will significantly impact your relationship with your audience.

Don’t steal other Instagram users’ content

Just because you like someone else’s photo doesn’t mean you can post it as your own. If you want to utilize user generated content (UGC) in your strategy, have users tag you or use hashtags on their posts. When reposting, always, always, always provide proper attribution. There are some third-party apps which will allow you to repost another user’s post to your account while giving proper attribution to the original user.

Don’t use images from Google searches

Instagram is a place to share your own content, not share generic Google search result images. If you want to share a motivational quote, put the quote on top of one of your own images. This isn’t Facebook so use your own images and get creative! If you’re stuck, check out my advice on which types of content perform best on Instagram.

Don’t overdo the selfies

Don't overdo the selfies

I get it, we all love a good selfie. But one good selfie is enough. Unless you’re Kim Kardashian – nope, not even then – you don’t need a selfie a day. And definitely not multiple selfies a day! Want to show off your outfit, show off your outfit. Want to show off your vacation spot, show off the scenery. If you’re using Instagram to grow your business, a bunch of selfies won’t help you.

Don’t crowd your posts back-to-back

If you have multiple images to share, don’t post them one after the other on Instagram. Instead, space them out once every half hour or hour. Not only will this not crowd your followers’ feeds but you’ll get more engagement on each post if they’re not redundant. Speaking of redundancy, you don’t have to share 5 photos of the same thing. Pick one or two of the best images and share only those.

Don’t auto share every Instagram post to Facebook and Twitter

While I recommend sharing the occasional post to Facebook and Twitter, you don’t want to share every post to your other sites. If you’re always sharing every post on other sites, why would someone follow you on Instagram? Instead, share one photo and encourage your fans to come see the rest of the images on Instagram.

Don’t follow everyone that follows you

Just because someone followed you doesn’t mean you have to follow them. Of course, if you find their content interesting or in line with what you want to see, follow them! Reciprocity is great. But don’t feel obligated to follow everyone. If your Instagram feed is filled with images and content that you don’t actually enjoy, you’ll be less likely to use it.

Don’t follow someone only to unfollow them later to grow your fan base

If you’re only looking to grow followers by following someone and then later unfollowing them, you’re just plain rude. This is not what Instagram is about. Follow people you are actually interested in and begin to form a relationship with people. Your fan base will grow organically from there.

Don’t buy Instagram followers

I’m surprised we still have to say this, but do not buy Instagram followers! They won’t serve you in any way. In fact, they’ll actually ruin your chances of reaching the popular page and they won’t actually like or comment on your posts. Take the time to really connect with real people to grow your Instagram followers.

So there you have it. All of the things I recommend you don’t do on Instagram in order to be successful with your Instagram marketing!

Looking for more Instagram advice? Check out these posts:

Hero photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

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Jenn Herman
Jenn Herman

Jenn Herman is an expert on Instagram. Jenn is a social media strategist and Instagram advocate who writes a blog focused on understanding trends in social media management and how to use Instagram for business. Her goal is to see you succeed with social media marketing in order to boost your business. Jenn provides consulting and training for small to medium sized businesses that need to structure their social media strategies and goals.

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  1. Hi Jen my 12 yr old girl got hacked it seems like its a class mate as they new info about her class room. She enjoys networking but Im not sure how she can doge the nastys is there really easy programs they use to just keep hacking PLEASE help as I want her to have fun. Concerned mum xx

  2. Hi Jenn!
    Great article!
    I’ve seen people and brands do all of these. Not good…
    Also, a few years when I firs started out, I committed these. But, you live and you learn!
    Thanks for a good read!:)

  3. This was diffenantly helpful. What if Instagram stops you from following others for a couples, what then? This has happened 2 times.

  4. Nowadays, it is quite hard to find someone who does not have any social media account. Lots of platforms are available which could be used by people. One among such platforms is the Instagram. It is the popular social media platform which is gaining popularity among people with its special features. The Instagram users are increasing day by day. There are various special types of Instagram accounts which are private and could not be viewed by others. Private Instagram profiles are great in number. Most times people are in search for ways how to view private Instagram.

  5. Hi thanks for good advice!i always like and comment and put captions with my photos … But I have been blocked 3 times recently for 24 hrs each timewith a message that says I am using the same comments… I have Never used them before! Could it be using too many emojis?(funny faces etc)this happens when I am uploading a photo I try to comment. Thank you!

  6. Great points! Most I was already aware of, but as a fairly new “Instagrammer” I want to make sure I’m staying away from these “do nots!” The other day, someone actually posted a comment for me to buy followers, why in the world would anyone feel the need to buy followers?!? If your content isn’t getting the amount of followers you want, then post better content. Thanks!

  7. Jenn, great points! What’s your Instagram URL so I can check it out. Thanks, Brandon.

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