We are constantly being feed recipes fro Instagram success but there aren’t many who talk about Instagram Mistakes you want to Avoid. I’m going to jump straight in and share some of the biggest fails that I’ve seen so that you can avoid making these mistakes.
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10 Instagram Mistakes You Want to Avoid
1. Posting without a Strategy
The absolute biggest Instagram fail for business is to post without a strategy. If you are just posting to post without knowing your target audience then you are taking it more as a hobby than a business. Each of your posts need to be very strategic, thought through and targeted to your audience. Make sure to add value with each post and make an impact.
You need to know your mission and have a call-to-action. No matter who you are, a small business owner, an influencer or content creator who’s selling products or services your content must be built according to your strategy and around your target audience. Here are 10 Strategies on How to grow on Instagram!
Don’t post meaningless or repetitive photos on the grid. You can share them in Instastories and save them in the highlight section afterwards. Don’t be a selfie addict and suffocate your audience with daily selfies. It can look spamy and followers will loose interest. Even a MUA will try to mix it a bit by adding client’s photos instead of her own face all the time. Posting 2-3 selfies in a row can be a bit too much and lower your engagement rate.
TIP: If you don’t know Instagram algorithm that well and you are just floating without specifically knowing in what direction to swim, hiring a SMM will be a good starting point. A Social Media Manager can help you build a strategy based on your goal and target audience that you can implement right away. A SMM can shed light into the tangled paths of Instagram algorithm and tell you which way to go. I will soon be offering 1-on-1 Instagram consultations so make sure to reach out by e-mail or Instagram DM if you are interested.
2. Low Quality Photos
Instagram is a visual platform! The content you are posting, caption and strategy plan play a big role in growing your page. Posting quality photos doesn’t mean you should study photography. There are so many apps that you can use to improve the quality of your photos. I’m naming just a few: Facetune, Lumyer Snapseed, VSCO, Lightroom and of course Photoshop.
The light is very important as bright and luminous photos will always rank better. Take photos (as much as possible) in natural sunlight or invest in a good ring light or studio lights if your room is too dark. Taking photos in nature is not doable for everyone so try to find ways around it. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to take pictures but remember not to take them in direct sunlight. If you are taking pictures inside try standing in front of a window if it’s a selfie. If you are photographing products make sure to place them as close to the window as possible to have the best natural light.
Make sure to have a clean background and not take a selfie when your bedroom is a mess or photograph yourself in the kitchen with all the dishes lying around. There are videos where a messy background distracts the audience from paying attention to great quality information that’s being said.
Make sure to have clear photos, not blurry and crop them right. Macro photos are also very much appreciated if you want to showcase details.
TIP: If you are beauty influencer try taking photos on a white or bright background that will reflect light onto your products. The light is softer in the afternoon so take advantage of the sun going down especially if you have products with gold, silver or mirror-like type of packaging.
3. Not Engaging
One of the biggest Instagram fails is not engaging with others. If you are going to just throw a post out there and not engage with your audience you are already failing. If you have a business, selling products or services make sure to reply to comments and DMs. Just posting content and never interact with your followers will seem like a monologue. How can you expect results if you don’t reply back in a timely manner?!
Same goes for bloggers, vloggers and any creators. You need to interact and make a dialogue with your followers as well as other creators from your niche. This is super important! How do you expect people to interact with you if you don’t interact with them in the first place? Check other accounts, like their photos, leave meaningful comments and share their posts in your stories.
Instagram knows how much time you spend on the app. It’s like a party where you have to show up and engage with people so they’ll engage back with you. This is how it works, end of story! If you are posting a photo with the most amazing caption but you refuse to engage, your page will look like a magazine. We all know the faith of magazine prints versus online platforms. 🙂
I see accounts with great content who refuse to engage and almost never reply to comments. Some of them, even the small ones, reply once a week when followers already lost interest or shopped products, services and used someone else’s affiliate links.
Instagram knows if you are an active user and will reward you likewise. You have to follow the right strategy and use all the tools so you can spend efficient time on the app and not browse all day without results. Otherwise you may just call it a hobby!
TIP: Before publishing your content make sure to spend 15-20 minutes interacting with other accounts, leave comments and engage. This will make people see your content faster, because it is worth looking at your page after you get involved with them. You will bring more visibility to your page and maximize the chances to be in the top 9 for the hashtags you are using. A strategy that brought me great results was to interact with other accounts 10 minutes before posting my content and 10 minutes afterwards. Try and see which one works best for you!
I’ve got asked how to find relevant accounts in your niche. Here’s just one example:
AngelavanRose is a content creator from my niche who is into luxury makeup and a real “maniac” and collector when it comes to Chanel. When I click on that arrow icon Instagram is putting up suggestions of content creators from the same niche as mine. This is like a suggestion of different creators to follow if I like AngelavanRose.
4. Not Using the right Hashtags
You look at other accounts and use their hashtags without realizing they may not be good for you. If you are a food blogger using the hashtag #food or a beauty influencer using #beauty as much as you think these are relevant for you, they will not get you any visibility. Using the right hashtags for your business and your profile is a powerful tool that must be used accordingly. Even the best makeup brush in the world or chef’s knife won’t make a difference in the hands of someone who doesn’t have any idea how to use it.
Make sure to do a keyword search to find relevant hashtags that will bring you engagement and reach. If your Instagram page has 5k followers, using powerful hashtags with million of views will be useless. Try looking towards those with less searches like 50k.
Through hashtags you can engage with people from your niche and collaborate to grow eachothers platforms. If you are a food blogger it doesn’t mean that anyone who’s posting food is in your niche. That’s totally untrue! Same goes for those who posts makeup and beauty and think are in the same niche. Food, makeup, fashion, travel etc are only categories so it doesn’t mean that you are in the same niche.
While I’m posting about luxury makeup, someone else has a target audience for drugstore brands, U.S. brands, cruelty free, organic products and so on. Same goes for food or any other domain so make sure you engage with the right people.
5. Weak Bio
Another missed opportunity is having a weak Instagram Bio. You should use those 150 characters to tell your audience exactly who you are and what you are focusing on. You don’t want to be vague or even worse, confusing when you put out too much info out there.
From a business perspective you need to be precise and use the Bio as your mission statement and even niche down from a geography perspective. For example using “a beauty lover who’s addicted to all beauty things, loves cats and long walks by the beach” is a vague bio and not audience targeted. You can use something like “U.S. based drugstore makeup blogger who focuses content on the latest beauty releases” or “Food blogger who focuses content on Mediterranean cuisine” which brings more relevance to your audience.
6. Not using Highlights
Everyone has a space for highlights and you should be using it strategically. Highlights should be showcasing what your content and business is all about. If it’s either about you, your products, services, testimonials or whatever you provide must be found in the highlights section.
Every Insta Story can be saved under a category in the Highlights Section. You can create different categories in the Highlights Section where you can share relevant stories.
I like to save relevant stories in Swatches, Reviews, Makeup Looks, My purchases and the latest posts that you see on the blog. This way when someone comes to my Instagram for the first time will have a clear understanding of what my page is about and what type of content I’m providing. Put yourself out there, use all these tools effectively and raise visibility and engagement for your profile.
People don’t always find you through your main platform (blog, website, Youtube channel) so if they land on your Instagram you have to make it very clear what your mission is.
7. Not Using Instagram Stories Properly
If you are posting photos only on the grid your are missing out on the most valuable Instagram feature. Remember what we’ve talked about in my previous post on How to Grow your Instagram? For every photo you post you must have several stories as well. These will last only 24 hours.
Instagram Stories give you the opportunity to post multiple photos and videos to tell a story. By using IG stories you can give us a behind-the-scene glimpse when you are having a photo session, swatching products, editing videos, cooking a recipe or why not traveling and sharing important moments with your audience.
You can post on IG Stories offers, sales or discounts that are happening in real time and use the Swipe Up feature if you have over 10k followers. Here is where you can share some of your activities but be careful what and when you share because social media is not the safest place. For example if you want to share a great restaurant where you are having dinner or a cool place where you are spending your day, make sure to do it after you left the place just to be caution. IG Stories are not always supposed to be in real time.
Another great way to use IG stories and bring visibility towards your account is by sharing posts from other creators. This is an organic strategy to grow your Instagram account and a great way to engage with people or businesses from your niche.
Dayly I’m sharing other accounts on IG stories. There are many ways to do it but the most efficient one that brought me incredible results was to give as much visibility as possible to the creator I’m reposting from.
One trick I love to use is to add the @mention option on top of the creator’s name. This way they will be notified via an automate DM so is more likely they will see it and reply with a thank you note or re-post some of my content later on.
So I make sure to tag them, add a description where I say why I’m recommending their post and even add a Swipe Up link (works only after you reached 10k followers). You have an example of my IG story from AngelavanRose Chanel FW2020 Collection. I choose to add a longer description so I didn’t want to crowd the post by adding music, a GIF or a Poll. I like to customize it differently for each story. 🙂
Of course you can play around and add music, emoji, a pool or questions. You can customize the story as you like so be creative. This is a different instastory where I added music, a swipe up link to CVMakeupLover Youtube video and tagged Seankbeauty for this collaboration.
Don’t have the mentality that you are driving traffic away from your platform if you share other people’s content. You are increasing visibility by making others notice you and follow your example which will lead to more traffic being drawn to your page.
8. Getting Followers the Wrong Away
Sadly there are still people who want to get followers no matter what and use all the wrong tools and methods for that. They want to grow big overnight and think that getting to 100k or 1M is the supreme goal. They couldn’t be more wrong about it. I know accounts with 100k which have a lower engagement rate and visibility than others with 10k. Not to mention they have too few comments or likes for their amount of followers.
One of the oldest and most annoying “strategy” that people use to get followers is the follow-unfollow ordeal. It’s unbelievable how many people still rely on this strategy nowadays. Not only you are getting followers the wrong way, target the wrong audience by following random accounts, but you are also spending time in vain on the app. Remember that Instagram knows how you spend time on the app, how efficient you are and how you interact.
So many people do shady techniques, use bots, are spamy and want to grow big not matter what. Only numbers count to them which is a totally wrong approach. Instagram has evolved so much from what it was 10 years ago. Even companies are not impressed by numbers anymore and they’ll look at other metrics before they decide to collaborate with you.
Do the work and grow organically by using good hashtags, engaging with people, leave meaningful comments and post great valuable content.
9. Being Spamy
One thing that everyone dislikes is someone being spammy. If it’s either by harassing other accounts with your offers, sales or promotions or just constantly insisting on doing collaborations, these are all considered spam. The last thing you want is being flagged as spammy.
This goes for comments as well. Commenting only with emoji can be considered spam as it won’t bring any relevance. So as much as you like using hearths to express appreciation, try putting it into words. I know it’s easy to just drop a smiley face and a hearth but this is not an organic way to play around. Remember quality over quantity. 50 emoji comments are not relevant compared to 10 comments where people are interacting with eachother and create insightful info. Try to engage through your comments and as a results other people will engage back.
10. Posting inconsistently
Just because I share this last, doesn’t mean is less imporant. I know how easy it is to not post for a few days. Life has its own course and posting on Instagram shouldn’t feel like a burden. Lack of inspiration can interfere sometimes so a good strategy to post constantly is to schedule your content.
You can use an Instagram Scheduling Tool to help you stay organized and not miss a day without a post. A popular one is Tailwind which I’m using for Pinterest but works amazing for Instagram as well. It allows you to schedule not only posts but Insta Stories as well. I prefer to schedule content for Pinterest while I take daily care of Instagram.
If you want to grow your Instagram posting daily and constantly is the key. This is how the algorithm works so is not up for discussion. There may be some days where you feel more inspired so use those to create more posts and schedule them for th entire week if you can. I’m on the other side where I always have too much information to share so I’m trying to not to be spamy by sharing some of it on the grid, my blog and Instastories.
TIP: Try taking photos in bulk in a sunny day and edit them so you can have enough content for a few days. Planning your feed in advance is also a great way to keep organized and be consistent. It may not work for everyone though. If you are sharing news or gossip, then of course is important to lay the information out there as soon as possible. But if you have any other type of content then you can schedule in advance.
The first photo in this post is from Unsplashed.com.