Oh, Instagram–love it or hate it, you just can’t seem to get away from it! If you’re using it correctly, it can be a powerful source of revenue for you or your business. The catch is, you have to use it correctly, and even then, it can take months to build up a loyal following of people who are genuinely engaged and interested in your brand.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic tool to create the perfect feed and profile. However, there are certain tried-and-true strategies you can implement starting today to increase your following, foster genuine engagement, and create leads for your business. I spend a lot of time on Instagram, both as a seller and a consumer, and although I haven’t quite perfected the game, I have seen significant growth in the past few months as a result of implementing these strategies. Below are some of the Instagram mistakes I have made and see others making all the time, and more importantly, how to fix them.
Instagram Mistake #1: Taking Without Giving
If you want others to engage with you, you have to engage with others. Approach Instagram with a mindset of giving, not taking. Find accounts that are relevant to your niche or that fit your target audience and comment, comment, comment. Emojis are fun, but make sure your comments contain at least 4 words. Don’t ask people to follow you back. Don’t even ask them to check out your profile or DM you. Keep your comments relevant and friendly, and people will be more likely to return the favor. Also, make sure you to reply to comments on your own posts. Don’t leave your audience hanging!
Instagram Mistake #2: Empty or Short Captions
All too often I see people posting pictures with short, uninspired captions. Unless your picture is absolutely stunning, most people are going to just scroll right past. Writing long captions may seem like a chore, but it will do three things for you: 1) Viewers will linger on your post longer, which signals to Instagram that your content is noteworthy. 2) People love a good story and are more likely to engage with posts that have a personal touch. 3) You can (and should!) pose relevant questions in your caption that will prompt people to comment. More comments means more engagement, and we all know Instagram favors engaging content.
Instagram Mistake #3: Messy Bio
Your Instagram bio is essentially a gateway to your business. It sums up who you are and what you offer. By messy bios, I’m referring to bios that are crammed with text, emojis, and spammy self-promotion. Keep it clean and simple and display only one offer at a time, which should point to a direct link. Use a couple relevant keywords so that people searching for your niche products or services can find you.
Instagram Mistake #4: Lack of Consistency
This is one mistake that I still struggle with. Consistency on Instagram refers to both the style of your feed as well as posting frequency. In terms of style, a good rule of thumb is to pick one filter or preset and stick with it. This will give your feed an appealing, uniform look. You should also be consistent with the type of content you put out. If you’re a food blogger, don’t randomly post a picture of your cat. Yes, some of your audience will like cats, but most of them will be confused. Your audience expects you to stick to your niche–that’s why they followed you.
There’s no magic number when it comes to posting frequency, but you should choose a frequency and stick to it. Unless you’re a major account with 100k+ followers, I would advise posting no more than once per day, or else you run the risk of spamming your followers. Personally, I aim to post 3x/week. Services like Hootsuite and Planoly can help you stay consistent by enabling you to schedule your posts ahead of time.
Instagram Mistake #5: Vague and Overused Hashtags
We all know the importance of hashtags, but we don’t all know how to use them. The most common mistake I see is the use of extremely popular and generic hashtags (like #shoes or #foodie). The purpose of hashtags is to get your post seen. If you use a tag with millions of posts, your post is going to get lost in the crowd. Do a little research and find 30 niche-specific hashtags that have 15k-500k posts. That way, you’ll know there’s a large enough audience for your posts, but you’ll also be more likely to get featured. Make sure to include tags that will reach your target audience, as opposed to just your peers. The first time I implemented this hashtag strategy, I received 40 new followers from a single post. For an account of my size, this was huge.
I hope you learned something new today about Instagram mistakes and strategies. If you did, be sure to share this post and subscribe to my newsletter for more social media tips and tricks! And remember, growing your Instagram account is a marathon, not a sprint. Be consistent, relevant, and generous, and you will see results.