Instagram seems simple enough, right? It involves posting, liking photos, and uploading stories. Unfortunately for anyone hoping to build a sizable audience (such as businesses), expanding your presence on Instagram necessitates a significant amount of work. There are other users to engage with, content to create, research to conduct, and more. Success on Instagram is more complicated than one would think, which means that many naive business owners ultimately make mistakes that set them back. While you may believe you are doing everything you need to do, here are a few mistakes you might be making on Instagram that are the reason you are struggling:
1) Forgetting to optimize your profile
When it comes to social media, think of yourself from a customer’s point of view. One of their first impressions of you is your profile. Have you optimized it? Polished it? Written an amusing bio and included a link to your website? Completing your profile may seem obvious, but some entrepreneurs and marketers focus so much of their energy on content creation that they neglect to optimize their home pages. Your profile is a crucial aspect of your Instagram account and one of the first things potential followers will see when they check you out, so make sure that everything is in order (you don’t want to risk looking like a seedy business or a spam account).
2) Not making your content engaging enough
People use Instagram for entertainment. If your posts are entirely promotional and talk about discounts and deals, why should anyone follow you? People have no investment in your products or services, and they get enough of outright advertisements everywhere else. Attracting people’s attention—and retaining it—means that you need to publish material that is compelling, and sometimes informational. Maybe it’s a how-to video, a unique piece of photography, an interview, a game, or something else—but whatever it is, it needs to add value to your audience’s Instagram experience.
3) Playing the hashtag game wrong
Hashtags are an integral part of the Instagram game. They are how you find people interested in your field and how you label your content so that other parties can see you. While hashtags are essential tools for community-building and visibility, it is also possible to overdo them. Including too many hashtags on each of your post will make you seem spammy, and using too little makes your content harder to find. The conversation regarding how many is most advantageous is still ongoing, but many social media experts say that 8-12 is what you should aim for. Conduct some research to determine which hashtags make the most sense for your business, and analyze how your posts perform with each one.
4) Neglecting your followers
Even if your content is engaging, it’s not always enough when it comes to keeping people’s interest. Your followers will appreciate it if you acknowledge them and let them and what they do for your business. Thank people for following you, respond to comments, answer questions, and engage with your followers in one-on-one conversation. Consumers are tired of faceless corporations that pretend like they aren’t made of people too, so ignoring your followers will push them away. Reminding them that you are a person that sees what they do, however, helps encourage them to stay.
5) Only posting to your feed
What kind of content are you creating? While your feed is essential, you also need to spend some time creating Instagram Stories. Though they are temporary, stories let potential followers know that you are active on the platform, and not every piece of content needs to be on your feed forever.
Take advantage of user-generated content, too. If you host a contest or if people tag you in something, ask them for their permission to re-share it. Doing so both acknowledges your followers by letting them know that you are paying attention to them and keeps your content fresh.
6) Not posting at the right times
Another question you need to ask yourself is: when are you posting, and how often? Your followers probably will not like you spamming their feeds if you post several times per day, and they might lose interest if you only post once or twice a week. Publish material at a steady rate that doesn’t make your followers bored of you.
Research the times of day your followers are most active. Yes, this matters a great deal: posting at midnight when all of your followers are asleep will only drown out your content amongst Instagram’s algorithms. Publishing material right before people get home from work, however, or when they check Instagram before they go to bed, increases the likelihood of people seeing your posts.
Instagram is a more complicated platform than you would expect, but it is possible to accomplish your community-building and marketing goals. What mistakes have you caught yourself making on Instagram?