Are you wracking your brain trying to figure out how to run Instagram, but you’re coming up short on results?
Instagram can seem like a giant mystery with no set rules. When it comes to best practices, we have compiled Instagram dos and don’ts to help you succeed and not fail at Instagram marketing.
1. Not posting consistently
It’s imperative that you know and understand the community that’s engaged with your brand. By doing your homework on your users, you can get a clear picture of when they’re online and engaged. And once you know this, you can build a schedule for posting your content.
One of the biggest reasons for lack of engagement is inconsistent posting times. Why would you have a post scheduled for three in the morning when your users are the most active at five in the afternoon? Don’t snooze on this one. Figure out a schedule and stick to it.
Instagram’s elusive algorithm is based on a user’s own activity. However, here are some tips to get your content above the scroll:
- Post regular Instagram stories; they recently passed the 500 million daily user mark
- Video content reigns supreme. But you don’t have to have a high glossy production. Think time-lapse videos and even Boomerang gifs!
- Instagram Live videos generates notifications to users and has a spontaneous aspect. In other words, the more organic and real you are, the more engagement you’re likely to get.
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2. Posting low-quality content
Instagram is about pretty, scroll-stopping pictures. Give your users the prettiest pictures you can. If you’ve got low-quality images on your account, get rid of them and up your image game.
3. Having a disorganized feed
This one may not be as obvious. However, how your Instagram feed is organized and curated is something to strategize and to plan.
In the early days, any random image would work on Instagram. But the application and marketing strategies have evolved. You have probably noticed how brands are organizing their feeds, so that each new post complements the others.
Everything is cohesive and flows like a beautifully-tended garden. You should be doing the same. Here are some quick tips to develop a brand consistent Instagram feed:
- Try to stick with one photo filter
- Do you have a specific color? How can you incorporate that into your photos?
- What’s the overall content theme? What’s the story you’re telling?
4. Junking up your user’s feed
Everyone knows spam is bad. You know it, I know it, and your followers definitely know it. You wouldn’t spam their inbox with requests to visit your store, so why would you spam their Instagram feed?
If you end up posting multiple images over a short period, your followers are going to become disengaged and simply zone out while skimming through all your posts. And that’s the best case scenario!
If you really must post multiple images, be tactful about it and use Instagram’s slideshow post feature. It’ll let you share more content without spamming your users.
5. Being unresponsive
You’ve posted the day’s content to Instagram. You’ve got a few likes, a few shares, and a few comments. All in a day’s work. Except your day isn’t over yet.
The biggest mistake businesses make when using Instagram is that they assume it’s a repository for pictures that are meant to lure people in to buy your product or service.
That’s not the entire picture.
The whole model is meant for engagement: You engage with your followers and they engage with your company. Take the time to respond to comments or tap the heart button to like a few. Like photos you’re tagged in. Regram posts to show off user-generated content. Send private messages to users to thank them for comments! Show your followers know that you’re a real company ran by real people that care about their input.
6. Not directing users to your bio.
One of Instagram’s most criticized non-features is not supporting live links in the body of a post. That’s why it’s important to let users know that they can “click on the link in bio” to subscribe to your e-mails, to learn more about a contest, to read the blog, to go to your website.
A compelling call-to-action should be a no-brainer. If you’re doing everything right, like posting quality content and engaging your follows, the next step is to get those followers from Instagram to your website so they can buy your products or services.
Be sure you have a short call-to-action on your bio and also be sure you add similar shout-outs to various posts you make. You don’t want to sound too promotional but don’t ignore this one either.
7. Being too promotional
Marketers want to reach the Millennials, and Instagram is where it’s at. But here’s the tricky part: this generation of users flock to Instagram to escape the toxicity they associate with Facebook and other social media outlets.
It’s a fine line to attract this audience on a platform that isn’t designed for blatant sales messages and promotions. Don’t fill your follower’s feeds with images and copy that belong in infomercials.
Instead, post content that’s relevant and has meaning beyond your brand but also represents your brand’s culture at the same time. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s the one you want to saunter on.
8. Not capitalizing on user content
User-generated content can be a veritable gold mine when it comes to Instagram. However, many brands fail to capitalize on it. If your followers are engaged with your brand, they’ll be likely to share posts that are relevant to you. When they do, repost them for the rest of your followers.
Moreover, get creative when working with different campaigns. Try running a photo contest where you ask your followers to submit their own content for a prize. Ask them to submit it using your brand’s hashtag. In the grand scheme of marketing strategy, it can lead to some incredibly affordable marketing.
9. Going nuts with hashtags
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags in your posts. That said, never use 30 hashtags in your posts.
Be relevant with the hashtags you use. Make sure the content you’re posting has hashtags relevant to itself, as well as ones relevant to your brand or marketing campaign. Beyond that, less is more.
Instagram uses the following criteria to determine how high up your posts appear on a hashtag page:
- How often it’s used
- How engaged people are with your posts (number of likes and comments)
- The timing of your post
- How popular your Instagram is (number of followers, number of engagements)
Instagram has 2 million monthly advertisers
10. Editing posts after they have been published
When you edit your Instagram post after it’s gone live, Instagram resets your engagement ranking. So, all the likes and comments up to that point will reset and you could lose the coveted higher ranking spot in the news feed. Also, if you’re lucky enough to hit top posts for any location or hashtag, your post will be taken off the top posts.
It’s OK to edit the posts shortly after they’ve published. It’s better to edit a post after it has amassed a horde of likes and comments.
The Bottom Line
Instagram marketing is truly a great way to interact and engage with your fans. It’s a platform where you can be playful. Be creative when you’re coming up with content to represent your company.
But also take heed of these 10 Instagram fails. If you don’t, the Instagram gods can be fickle and unforgiving. It’s best not to invite their wrath.