The world of Instagram can be a tricky environment for businesses, but if navigated correctly it can offer huge benefits. Over 700 million people currently use Instagram, and no matter what your business is, it can benefit from a business account on the platform.
However, Instagram recently changed its algorithm, so it’s especially important to avoid these 8 common mistakes, which could harm your brand identity and engagement.
- Not having a goal.
As you set up your account, the first thing you need to figure out is what the goal of your account is. Are you trying to convert followers to website traffic? Are you aiming to build an audience? Are you hoping to sell a product?
Whatever your goal is, you need to keep it in mind at the outset and analyze how your decisions about the account are working toward that goal. For example, if you want to push traffic to your site, each post should include a call to action that encourages viewers to click on the link in your bio and check out your site.
- Buying followers.
With everyone stressing the importance of follower counts and metrics, it might be tempting to “fake it till you make it” and purchase followers.
Instagram will know you did this. They will take measures to prevent your account from being discovered by new users and limit the exposure of your posts. This will hurt your organic reach, limit the value of those fake followers and ultimately do irreparable damage to your account.
To make things worse, fake followers are the worst kind of followers. They will probably not like or comment on your content, which will make it obvious you bought followers.
Also, they tend to have spammy names such as “___followerz4sale__” or they will post pictures of nude women and share links to pornography sites. Overall, nothing good comes from acquiring fake followers.
- Ignoring metrics.
Too often, people create social media accounts and move forward without a coherent plan, assuming the success will come with time.
Unfortunately, social media is not something that just takes time and dedication; it also requires high-quality performance and attention to detail. One of the easiest ways to track your quality is by continually checking your metrics and seeing what performs best.
For instance, if you notice a specific type of post routinely gets more likes than others, you should focus on figuring out why they perform better and how to continue doing that in the future. Alternatively, if your metrics begin to flatline, it means you are not utilizing enough growth techniques. An Instagram analytics platform, like Owlmetrics, will help you pin point the posts are receive the most engagement.
Your metrics will tell the story of how well your account is performing and what your audience thinks of your brand and content. Pay attention to the metrics and allow them to boost your quality moving forward.
- Being overly promotional.
Similar to television and radio, when advertisements come on, people lose interest. If you treat Instagram like a feed for free advertisements, people will unfollow you.
They are logging on to the platform and following people because they want a curated feed of interesting and engaging content that distracts them. No one wants to be sold something, especially when they’re trying to relax. Take this opportunity to build a relationship with your audience and convey a unique story about you and your brand.
While this may not seem like an action that will directly lead to more sales, if you are able to develop a place in a customer’s life via social media content, there is a greater chance they will purchase from you down the line.
- Over-editing pictures.
Instagram is a photo-sharing platform and so the quality of the interactions depends on the quality of your images. There are plenty of filters and settings you can use to manipulate your images, but if you overuse these tools your images will not look good.
Make sure you first decide what the aesthetic of your account is. Is it slightly faded? Is it crisp and bright? Once you’ve decided on a look, find a way to compose each post perfectly. Never overdo any one quality. If pictures begin to look pixelated or distorted in comparison to the originals, this will result in lower engagement, because the pictures are of lower quality.
- Reposting content.
Content creation can become a drag on Instagram, since finding the right images, editing them and creating the perfect caption is time consuming. However, you should never be tempted to repost content. Whether you want to reuse images from your own account or are taking images from other feeds, reposting is bad.
Going back to the analogy of watching television: reposting content is similar to watching reruns. If the post was incredible and from a long time ago, your followers might be okay with seeing it again, but it’s more likely that they want to see new content.
- Not engaging with followers.
If your followers take the time to comment on your images, you need to take the time to reply to them. Engaging with followers is a huge opportunity to build a relationship with them and demonstrate to other followers that you care about your audience. Instagram is a two-way channel, so you need to make sure you do not ignore those who are commenting on and liking your pictures.
Make sure your replies are not vague comments that could be copied and pasted. Instead, try to demonstrate thoughtfulness. This can be time consuming, but it will result in much more loyal followers.
- Misusing hashtags.
Hashtags are an important part of boosting engagement and organic discovery, since users can search for hashtags they like and browse the pictures. However, Instagram takes note of users who use certain “spammy” hashtags and try to abuse the system. Examples of these include #likeforlife and #followforfollow, which only exist for the purpose of faking engagement.
If you use these hashtags, Instagram will likely shadowban your post, and possibly your entire account. Shadowbans mean your content cannot be discovered organically and will not be promoted on your followers’ feeds. Treat hashtags as a meaningful way to get your content discovered by the right audiences.