Instagram is a magical place. You can share photos and stories with your followers, interact and engage, and advertise your brand in the most fun way possible. But are you using Instagram to its fullest potential? Even more importantly… are you using Instagram right? Now you may be thinking, hey wait a minute, I thought you just said this was supposed to be fun! But there are rules?! Not so fast… Let’s not think of them as “rules” per se, but rather… things NOT to do on Instagram! The first step in upping your social media game isn’t DOING, nay. It’s NOT doing… these five things:
1. Posting inconsistently.
In order to grow your follower base and get that Instagram page of yours whipped up into prime advertising condition, you absolutely must post consistently. If you’re a smaller brand with only a couple thousand followers or less, you don’t have to kill yourself trying to churn out four posts a week or anything. Even one or two a week will suffice until your follower count gets off the ground. By then, hopefully your marketing budget will have grown enough to outsource your social media management (and when that happens, we hope you give us a call)! Once you get on a schedule, your audience will know when to expect your posts. Simply seeing your brand pop up on their feed consistently will plant a seed in their mind, which will continue to be watered as long as you post somewhat frequently. You can use social media management tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer to create a preset posting schedule that will automatically post your content at the times you set. This way, you can schedule all of your content out the week before so it’s all ready to go.
2. Buying likes and followers.
This is potentially the worst way to spend the funds in your marketing budget. These fake accounts will slowly begin to fall off your follower count anyway, and Instagram may even remove them in bulk with one fell swoop. Plus, if you have nothing but fake followers, your genuine followers may sometimes be able to tell. And no one trusts an account that feels the need to buy their love. Fake followers won’t engage on your posts, nor will they contribute anything worthwhile besides boosting the meaningless number on the top of your page. It’s much better to have 100 real, true followers than 100,000 fakes. Not only does buying likes and followers do absolutely nothing to help you, it can also hurt you. Buying likes and followers is against Instagram’s terms of service, and they may even delete your account if they smell something fishy. This will cause you to lose any real progress you’ve made in growing your account authentically, and you’ll have to start again from square one.
3. Being overly promotional.
Yes, your sole purpose of having a presence on Instagram is to advertise and grow your brand, yes, you will want to make posts promoting your product or service. However, there is a line that must be drawn. Your followers will get annoyed if you consistently shove your product or service into their face in an obvious, shameless way. No one wants to be seen as just a number, they want to be recognized as an individual. Find a healthy balance between promotional content and content that your followers can get something out of in return.
4. Neglecting to interact with followers.
Interaction and engagement are key factors in Instagram advertising that many brands seem to forget about in lieu of oversaturating their followers feeds with unabashed promotional content. But not you! You know better. Your fans are going to provide you with the most valuable feedback, commentary, and entertainment. Plus, they’re the reason your brand is even able to exist, so respect that. Try to respond to all questions and reach out via DM if they post a complaint or negative comment to see what you can do to fix it. If you never respond to comments, it makes you come across as stuffy, rude, and overly corporate.
5. Misusing hashtags.
Hashtags are a wonderful tool that should definitely be utilized. But in the case of hashtags, more is not always better. It’s better to have five really strong, contextual hashtags versus 30 (the maximum amount you can use) completely random buzzwords. It’s important to accurately categorize your content so that you can reach the most relevant people. It’s definitely about quality over quantity.
Hopefully you have a better idea of how NOT to use Instagram. If you do make mistakes, or have realized you’ve committed some of these cardinal sins in the past, don’t worry! There’s not much that will ruin your hope of Instagram success forever. You can always bounce back with a few weeks of consistent, quality posts and active engagement!