With more than 25 million business profiles and over 200 million visiting at least one business profile daily, Instagram isn’t the easiest social media channel for brands to master.
It can be frustrating to get the attention of the rather distracted users. However, too many brands are making mistakes that can be easily fixed, which will help their Instagram platform grow. Let’s look at six frequent pitfalls and how to fix them.
1. Lack of engagement
You rush to post without putting much thought into the creative and hope Instagram will do its magic to make it or your brand popular. You offer information and context that cannot be conveyed by the photo.
How to avoid: Don’t post and ghost. Replying to comments on your posts is not enough. Go out of your way to engage with other Instagram users, preferably the ones who have common interests with your brand. Search relevant hashtags in your industry to find relevant posts and comment on them. Your comments should be natural and tailored to spark a conversation. You could ask a question or respond to the caption. Avoid generic comments, such as “nice” or “I love this.”
2. Wrong use of hashtags
Hashtags are an important part of Instagram marketing. They can be a great way to increase your reach to other people in your niche and to get discovered by customers and fans who are interested in your content, products, and services.
However, for hashtags to be effective, you have to use them – and do it correctly. Using too many hashtags can have a damaging effect on your brand on Instagram.
How to avoid: There’s no single formula for success when it comes to hashtag strategy. Track the performance of your hashtags to see which ones resonate more with your audience and lead to increased engagement. Then document those characteristics to help detail your hashtag mix strategy for future posts.
Though hashtags are a great way to get discovered, don’t focus too much on them. Instagram prioritizes great content over hashtags. Use hashtags sparingly with relevancy being the qualifying criteria. Create branded hashtags with a long-term vision with the intent of reaching new audiences and sparking conversations.
Take J Crew, for example. Its #jcrewalways hashtag encourages customers to connect to the brand when they post their outfits and get a chance to be featured on a J Crew profile.
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3. Too much self-promotion
Instagram is meant to be interactive. Too much self-promotion is one of the most anti-interactive things you can do on the platform. It makes you look desperate and boring.
Though you might have tons of great stories to tell about your business, resist the urge to tell them all at once. Seeing five photos in succession in one’s feed coming from a single account is a turnoff for many users.
When was the last time you posted something unusual, snarky, funny, or timely? If you can’t recall, you are probably suffocating your audience with the same boring self-promotional content.
How to avoid: Promoting your brand on Instagram without overly self-promoting calls for a bit of creativity. An engaging post typically evokes an emotion followed by a caption that provokes a reaction.
Let’s take Everlane. It invites its audience to watch its Instagram stories to learn the stories behind the clothing or to ask questions about the clothes.
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4. Too much polished content
Both new and established brands create polished content in a bid to depict their great attention to detail and huge investment of time and skill to come up with the post. Their goal is to communicate that the brand is all about quality.
While this is a noble gesture, this style of content may be counterproductive. For example, when The Guardian analyzed its Instagram data, it discovered that creating polished Instagram videos wasn’t worth the payoff.
How to avoid: People relate better to authentic content. Thus, your brand should focus on sharing more real moments.
Simplicity is key when it comes to the creation of relatable content. A mix of static and video content that depicts people, places, and things packaged in a creative manner make the posts more relatable.
5. Bot-bought followers, ‘likes,’ and comments
It’s getting harder to grow an organic following on Instagram given the platform’s push of paid advertising. It’s tempting to try the seemingly easy way to beat the system and pay bot programs to do the work. For a few dollars, you can get thousands of new followers in a matter of hours. However, desperate moves such as buying “likes,” followers, and comments likely put you further away from achieving your goals.
Though you can get the fake engagement and followers stats, those “people” are dead weight. They will not convert into sales or ever take the buyer journey. What’s the point of having hundreds of thousands of followers who never engage with your content?
How to avoid: The only way to effectively grow your following organically on Instagram is to consistently share great content.
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6. Strategy creation on the blind
Creating Instagram marketing strategies on the blind is as good as having no strategy. It often results in too many strategies at the same time. You attempt everything at the same time and end up with nothing done well.
How to avoid: Have only one strategy with one goal, whether it’s to drive traffic to your website, to create brand awareness, or something else. What will help you stick to your strategy is looking at the right Instagram analytics. (Stop obsessing over the number of followers.) Social media KPIs will help you to tailor or improve your strategy to achieve the intended goal.
Wrap it up
If you play your cards right, you can build a huge and loyal community on Instagram to help you grow your business or brand. To get there, you need genuine engagement from people who are authentically interested in your content and brand. This audience will give you high-quality mentions, which have an equivalent power to word-of-mouth marketing.
By remedying these six Instagram mistakes with a few simple tweaks, your Instagram account can become one of the most valuable assets in your marketing mix.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute