You can no longer deny it; Instagram is an incredibly powerfully marketing tool. Statistica explains that there are now over 600 million active users. That is a whole lot of people! And what’s more? This figure is only expected to rise in the years to come. So if you aren’t on the Instagram train, you better hop on quick smart before it leaves!
The dynamic of Instagram has certainly changed since its conception in 2010. Once a place for individuals to share their life experiences is now yet another unconventional (nonetheless effective!) platform to reach your consumers.
Instagram provides so many benefits that must be taken advantage of. By not having your business’s presence on Instagram you could be potentially ignoring thousands of customers. The reason business owners give for not having a business Instagram account is that none of their customers use the social media platform.
Let me go back to that first statistic – 600 million active users. If you don’t think that some of your customers (or potential customers) make up at least the tiniest fraction of that number, then I can’t help you!
Instagram has changed the social media game. People love visuals much more than they like reading text. Instagram picked up on this and made the focus of posts on the picture and not the text. Hashtags have also come into play with Instagram and it provides users a new way of searching for something.
Another reason you should be using Instagram? Well, a study by Mercury Creative found that Instagram shows up to 20 times more engagement compared to that of all other social media platforms. So if you want to engage with your consumers (like all business owners) then Instagram looks to be your best bet.
So by now I have hopefully convinced you to investigate setting up a business Instagram account (if you don’t already have one)! But this blog isn’t solely addressing just how amazing Instagram is. Here I will be discussing some of the most common Instagram marketing blunders that need to be avoided.
No one will be an Instagram whiz right of the bat. You are bound to make mistakes. Some of the time businesses don’t even know they are making such crucial mistakes. Buts that’s okay because I’m going to shed some light and hopefully give you some clarity on what not to do on Instagram!
Below are the top 6 Instagram marketing blunders you need to stop marking right now:
1. Unfinished Bio
Your bio must be complete and in detail. Users will not follow you if that don’t really know anything about your business. Your bio will usually be your first impression and an incomplete bio doesn’t send out a good one.
Completing your bio should be the first thing you do on your Instagram account, even before you upload your first post. Also remember to update any information in your bio if anything changes.
By completing your bio you should have an engaging description (not too long, but with enough details), a high quality profile picture and a call to action (i.e. a link to your website).
The only place in Instagram where you can include a link and it be hyperlinked (i.e. the user can click the link and be directed elsewhere) is the bio. SO MAKE SURE YOU INCLUDE A LINK IN YOUR BIO! This is very important yet I don’t see many businesses actually doing this.
On SEO Shark’s Instagram, we have included a link in our bio (as can be seen below). As well as this we have a profile picture that is easily recognisable to the brand and a short (yet effective) description of who we are and what we do. The description invites users to find out more and they can do so by clicking on the link!
2. Not proper strategy in place
When using Instagram you will need to have a strategy in place. If you don’t really know what you are doing on Instagram then you won’t be able to achieve anything and you won’t have goals to work towards and measure your progress.
By establishing realistic yet challenging goals, this becomes the foundation for every other action. Everything you do must be thought with your goals in mind. Goals help to build the strategies and plans of your approach.
So what are your goals? Take the time now to actually think (and maybe even jot down) about some of your main goals for Instagram. Every business will have slightly different goals because no business is identical.
If you don’t have the time or effort to come up with a unique strategy, then there is no point you even having an Instagram account. You won’t achieve anything! However, with a proper strategy in place you have given yourself every opportunity possible to succeed.
If you find that your social media marketing isn’t working and you aren’t getting the results you are after, it isn’t the platform itself that’s the problem, it’s probably you! Social media marketing does work so if you aren’t seeing results then you should look to change your goals and strategy. Maybe your goals aren’t specific enough, or maybe your strategy doesn’t match the goals you are working towards.
Every post you make, every hashtag you use, every video you upload must be done for a reason. A good strategy means you have direction and you are simply following the path.
Every time I write a blog about social media, consistency seems to come up. When posting on social media you will need to be consistent. Inconsistency makes you look unpredictable (and not unpredictable in the good way!).
By posting irregularly your followers aren’t aware of what you are doing and they are unlikely going to be on the lookout for your future posts. When you make regular posts, consumers come to expect it and they are ready to see what you have to say today.
While you need to post consistently, you also need to ensure a variety of different types of posts. So for example, you aren’t just posting about your products. Variety is the good type of unpredictable because your followers don’t know what you are going to post about next and it will keep them coming back to find out.
4. Private account
With Instagram you have the option to make your account private. This means that only followers that you approve can see your photos. Users don’t usually want to stick around and wait for your approval so they probably won’t follow you in the first place.
The whole point of Instagram for your business is to share the photos with as many people as you can, when your account in on private, you can’t do this. If you don’t know if your account is on private or not, or if you want to change it from private to public, you can do this in your account settings.
You can see below in the last account option, “Private Account”. This is what it looks like when it is switched off:
Your business profile will always need to be accessible. You don’t want to make it harder for users to follow you. If it is too hard, they simply won’t do it. The private account feature is great for the individual user who doesn’t want to share their photographs with everyone. But for a business profile, this feature is worthless and should never be used.
5. Low quality photos
As said before, Instagram is all about the photos. The caption is important yes, but the picture is the first thing users will see and this will determine if they even read the caption. Low quality photos are certainly deemed unprofessional which makes posting quality photos even more important.
Instagram also gives you the opportunity to edit and add filters to your photo. You may feel as though you don’t need to edit your photo, but it is a good idea to have a play around with the options. You may want to use this at a later point in time.
Your photos are sending a message to your followers and it shows how you want to be perceived. Therefore quality photos are your only option! Users also relate the quality of your photo to the quality of your products (yes, really!). So make sure you don’t have a blurry photo on your profile.
It is important to ensure your photos are the correct size! As a guide your photos should be no smaller than 500 by 500 px, but the bigger the better. If you are unsure about the size of your photo, visit Pic Resize and they will tell you what the size is.
Your profile should be an example of professionalism and quality. The best way to showcase this is through your photos. If you aren’t sure if the photo is good enough, always try to find another photo that you like completely.
6. Using the wrong hashtags
Hashtags are very important for Instagram and unfortunately it can be fairly easy to misuse them. Out of all the social media platforms, hashtags are probably the most vital to Instagram. The hashtags you use must be in line with your goals and they form a major part in your strategy.
Hashtags are one of the ways users can search for things in Instagram. When a user searches for a term, all the posts with that hashtag will be shown in the results. For example, these are the results when I searched the term “shoes”. You can also see other related hashtag suggestions at the top as well.
It is important that your hashtag is relevant to the picture to avoid confusion when users are searching. For example, I am (as you probably are as well) confused as to why there is a picture of lips when I was searching for the hashtag shoes. One of life’s great mysteries!
Hashtags are a great and easy way for more people to find you. The more hashtags you include, the higher level of exposure. However, this doesn’t mean you should be posting to the limit of hashtags (the maximum amount of hashtags per post is 30).
If you can produce 30 quality and relevant hashtags then great! If not, stick to a smaller number, maybe between 20 and 25. Quick Sprout explains in their guide to using hashtags that those posts with more than 11 hashtags are likely to receive about 80% more interaction than those who use 2 or fewer.
Take the time to develop quality hashtags that are relevant to the picture. The good thing about Instagram is that it provides you with suggestions. So going back to our “shoes” example, if I am making a post about shoes and use it as a hashtag, other similar hashtags will be provided as a suggestion. As can be seen below:
As well as this, Instagram also shows how many posts have been made with that hashtag. Using hashtags with generic words will usually show a lot of previous posts. This could mean you are lost in the crowd. For example, the “shoes” hashtag has over 56 million posts. While generic hashtags can be good, they shouldn’t take up all of your hashtags.
On the flip side, hashtags that are too specific or long won’t have many other previous posts and this means that users won’t be searching for this. For example the hashtag “shoesfordogs” only has 493 posts. Users simply aren’t searching for this and you are wasting your hashtag space by using something this specific.
It is important to find your balance and learn from what your competitors are doing, and possibly how your previous posts preformed. Using all this information provided you can develop a post with some kickass hashtags!
Instagram is here for the long haul and certainly won’t be making any dramatic early exits. So make sure your business is on Instagram reaching more customers than you ever thought were possible. Instagram’s power and influence is something that you should be taking advantage of (if you aren’t already).
Even though you are using Instagram, it doesn’t mean your account is perfect. There are a lot of common mistakes that businesses make on their profile. I have listed a couple of the main mistakes to avoid. However, you shouldn’t get over whelmed by this list; most of the problems are easy fixes!
Charlotte is a digital marketing and communications practitioner at SEO Shark. She takes on a range of roles relating to SEO and has a keen interest in studying the SEO industry and its future direction, particularly in relation to content marketing. Charlotte takes her writing very seriously and always seeks ensure the content she produces is of a high standard of quality.