Instagram seems deceptively easy, especially when you are just starting out. It seems like all you have to do here is snap a photo, slap some caption on it, insert a few hashtags. Your work here is done, right? Wrong.
While this may be a perfectly sound strategy for posting images of your nieces and nephews, cats, and Friday nights at a bar, it won’t suffice as an effective promotional strategy for your business.
So, I decided to share with you a list of common Instagram marketing mistakes that separate strategic Instagram users from rookies.
If you post, it’ll get the exposure
While it’s true that you need to post to Instagram in order to be discovered (duh!), there is a lot more that goes into promoting your account and acquiring followers.
Don’t rely on someone accidentally stumbling upon your posts; even the best content needs promotion. We now know that “great product doesn’t promote itself.” You do.
Assuming your content is top notch, you still need to be an active part of Instagram community to create visibility for your account and your posts. If you engage with other people’s content in a meaningful way (such as leaving meaningful comments, liking beautiful posts, and following those accounts you truly find interesting), people will return the favor.
Also, don’t forget that hashtags are your best friends when it comes to making your posts discoverable and creating relevant exposure.
Keep the old images
You don’t have to keep your old images if it doesn’t make sense anymore.
For example, you could’ve changed your mind on the style of your profile, the filters, the palette, the mood have changed… maybe you winged your posting a few times when you were starting out and posted low-quality images. Why would you keep it?
Or, perhaps, you hosted a contest a few months ago; and now those posts are pretty useless to your feed. You can leave those up for a week or a month to make sure that the participants have had a chance to go back and find out who the winner is, but after that, feel free to delete it to keep your feed streamlined and polished.
If you have special memories with some of the images on your feed, but know that they don’t quite fit in anymore, screenshot them, save them, or archive them.
You shouldn’t worry about that link in your bio
Oh yes, you do. While you may be really focusing on Instagram at the moment, you still need to think of ways to continue the connection and the conversation with these people. While Insta is a really cool platform, it is just a platform (and it’s not owned by you).
So, think of collecting their emails for future use, or creating a special landing page for Instagram traffic (that you can later retarget).
In any case, I would advise against sending them to a homepage and let them scatter around your website. Be strategic with this link as it is the only organic clickable link. Even if you don’t have anything particular in mind right now, find a way to somehow capture those interested enough to click the link in your bio.
You need to come up with new content all the time
While you do need to post something consistently, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. You can share multiple images from the same series (given that you space them out).
You can always share an older image with a throwback angle. People like stories and they like sharing memories, so a particular older image with a great backstory should do well.
Finally, if you’re feeling particularly stuck, go back through your posts and see which ones performed especially well. You can repost those once in a while for another boost in engagement.
Use the last tactic sporadically though and reshare your best posts every so often. You still should focus on fresh content and not just reposting something older.
You may also want to take older popular posts and recreate them somehow, giving them a new life. You might notice that people respond particularly well to stories or humor or your personal revelations. Uncover those trends and create a post talking about the same topics from a new angle.
Not leveraging content that you know works
This one is probably the biggest Instagram mistake I made for so long! You might have posted something without any huge plans for it, but the piece got traction and noticeable engagement.
So, what do you do? You need to analyze the piece and try to uncover what made this post so likeable. Continue to experiment in that direction with different captions and similar visuals.
Also, think if it makes sense to boost this post to get even more traction and interest. If a particular post worked so well organically, it should do even better with a few dollars behind it.
Finally, another option is to repost this post after some time to see if it catches your audience’s attention again.
Instagram is free
Of course, you can slowly build your following organically. There is still some kind of stigma around companies promoting their content; it’s almost looked down upon, and it’s a huge Instagram marketing mistake. Well, smart marketers understand the need to boost their reach to see real results.
If you do want to see your content get some sort of virality factor, promote it correctly. Make sure that promoted content is high quality and is really relevant to your specific audience. Never promote your stuff just to be seen by anyone. Use highly-targeted strategies that will ensure that your content is seen by the audiences who need to see it.
Think of paid Instagram promotion as a way to put gasoline on a fire, not as a way to push some low-quality nonsense into more feeds. Then, it’s well-justified.
You have to give Instagram your all
While spending all the time, resources, and money may seriously help your exposure on the platform, it is not necessary (and not really possible). You have a business to run, so focus on the long-term interests of your business. If one of those goals is to have a huge following on Instagram, then you clearly need to commit and focus on the platform.
However, making sure you post engaging content on a consistent schedule will suffice to get you started. If you can spend time engaging with other people or invest a small budget into promotion, go for it.
Again, it all comes down to your goals and sensible strategies to get there.
Don’t get personal online
While no one wants to read your rants, complaints, and issues, or see obsessive amounts of cute cat photos, showing your human side is ok. Things like passions, interests, and hobbies are usually pretty safe.
If you’re a sports fan, show your team colors once in a while. If you like to cook, share an amazing recipe you loved. If you’re a photography hobbyist, share a snapshot you took.
This will bring your audience closer to you. You might be surprised on how much engagement you can get on a simple post talking about your interests and hobbies, because passion is what really drives humans.
People want to work with people. If you’re showing your personal side and giving them a glimpse of who you are outside of the company, it will only make you more relatable, and thus, likeable.
Your brand profile is about your brand only
Of course you are on Instagram to promote your brand, but it doesn’t mean you have to be self-centered and self-enclosed.
Make your profile about your audience. Show understanding of their pain points, share tips and knowledge, encourage conversation, and make their day with occasional humorous post or an inspirational image. You might also want to share their success stories.
Get creative and let your brand shine in more ways than one. While it may be very interesting to follow your company’s journey and hear all sorts of stories about it, you will gain your audience’s trust and engagement when you make it relevant for them.
Introverts can’t do Instagram (and social in general)
Instagram seems like a block party all year round with its perfect flatlays, flawless selfies, and dreamy places. It is a bit inundating!
I’m an introvert. I don’t feel particularly comfortable with small talk, especially around new people. However I have a lot of thoughts that I like to share. Do just that. Because social media is virtual, it provides a safe balance of virtual chatter and you can always tune out in the safety of your home.
However, the main point is this – Instagram, as is any other social media platform, is what you make of it. If you find interesting people who share your interests or provide a greater insight into what you’d like to learn, engage with these people. This makes conversations online meaningful; and introverts enjoy meaningful conversations, right? It doesn’t have to be painful, it can be fun and educational.
You can’t reach out to influencers unless you are “big” yourself
While it may seem intimidating at first, influencers are people as well. I have reached out to influencers who were not only so nice to reply to my message, but actually share their email address so that I could get in touch with them in a more meaningful way. How cool is that? While not every single attempt was successful, a very high percentage of them were.
So, if you really want to connect to your favorite author or influencer or artist, just give it a try. They are influencers for a reason – they help people. Ask meaningful questions or start a conversation about a shared interest of yours to show your genuine interest in them. If they don’t reply, don’t take it personally.
Of course, if you’re looking to collaborate with them (so you’re asking them to go to work for you), you have to understand the expectations of a monetary compensation they’re looking for. Also, understand that they don’t have to praise your company or your product if they honestly don’t like it. Have clear expectations for this collaboration, be very clear on what those are, and do not hesitate to reach out.
If influencers “ignored” your message, forget about working with them
The fact is that these influencers get tons of requests and emails every day. Your comment or direct message might get lost in tons of other requests. That’s assuming they only read all of the requests all day long and don’t do anything else.
If you didn’t get a negative reply, give it some time and try again. Follow up; however, don’t be pushy or disrespectful. Show your care and understanding of their busy schedules. Besides, they don’t owe you anything.
However, if you consistently follow up without being pushy, your chances of getting a response increase.
Social media is about being social, so encourage conversation, encourage information exchange and sharing. Because, you know, sharing is caring. Share your ideas, I’d love to hear them.
What are some of the biggest Instagram marketing mistakes you were making? Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation.