While Instagram is easy and fun to use, not having a clear strategy is likely to end up with mediocre results and disengagement of your customers and loyal followers.

With 300 million daily users, Instagram is definitely worth the time and effort and presents a great opportunity to market your products and engage with your target audience. Avoiding the common pitfalls is not that hard if you put some thought into what you hope to achieve from using it and focus your strategy around that.

Here are the most common mistakes we see when businesses come to us for Social Media advice and how to avoid them.

  1. Posting anything and everything for the sake of it

Posting random images without having a strategy behind what you’re posting will likely result in a mish mash of content that doesn’t really tell a story or engage your audience. The first step to success with Instagram is to have a core goal in mind and use that to drive your content creation. Not having a goal will likely result in wasted opportunities and effort. While you might be able to create a visually appealing page and tell a story about your products/services with beautiful images it should always begin with a goal driven strategy.  For example if brand awareness is your main goal then posting high quality images that convey your brand story might be your strategy while if driving traffic to your website is your aim then ensuring every post has an engaging call to action is a must.

  1. Hijacking people’s feeds by posting too frequently

So now you have a strategy behind your posts and a collection of great content ready to go. While you might be excited about all the new content you have to share posting too frequently is a major downer for your new followers! You will bombard people’s feed with your content and they will get bored quickly and most likely click ‘unfollow’. So pace your content out, you don’t want to have big gaps without content either. If you don’t have the time to be online every day then use one of the neat publishing tools like Hootsuite to schedule your posts. If the 300 million users are on Instagram every day then you should be in their feed every day too. You want to keep your audience constantly engaged but not overloaded.

  1. Posting the same type of content over and over

Is it absolutely possible to have too much of a good thing. A variety of post types will keep followers interested and help to highlight the great posts when they do come up. Repeating content is also a no no. Even if the post was super engaging avoid the temptation to re post the same image again, your audience don’t want to see repetition in their feed.

A few different post types to throw in the mix with product/brand shots

  • Go behind the scenes, show how you make the products or what a day at your office looks like. An inside look at your business creates transparency and helps to build trust.
  • Creating a ‘how to’ type of post. This creates value for people by teaching them something new or solving a problem for them.
  • User generated content. Ask your customers to share their own images of your product/business using your unique hashtag.
  • Break free and have a little fun. This doesn’t mean post the next cat video you find but create your own funny content that suits your brand story.
  1. Not using enough or not using the right #Hashtags

Research indicates that Instagram posts with >10 hashtags get the most interaction, comments and likes. But there is a right and wrong way to use hashtags.

To improve your hashtag success consider these key things:

  • Use a variety of the most popular (broad hashtags) and very specific ones
  • Create your own unique hashtag that will become associated with your brand
  • Instagram allows up to 30 on each post but we don’t recommend using that many
  • Hashtags can also be used in secondary comments rather than in the initial image description
  • Hashtags should be short and sweet, consistent, relevant and research driven

Ultimately hashtags are used to enable users to find what they are looking for. So use the hashtags that are most likely to be searched by your target audience.

  1. Measuring your success by the number of ‘likes’ you get

Just because you’re getting post likes it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re actually engaging your customers and fans. One of the most important aspects is targeting the right people and engaging with them in a meaningful way. Having them comment on your posts enabling a 2 way dialogue which may ultimately lead to a click through to your website and purchase.

If you want to take your Instagram marketing to the next level then consider additional analytics to really hone your hashtags and engage your audience. There are tools out there to make it easy for you like Iconosquare, Quintly and Sprout Social. These are not only great for analytics but some also enable you to Engage your audience with photo and video contests.

  1. Only posting images.

Most people still associate Instagram with photographs but limiting your content to photos means you miss out on the opportunity to share rich, visually engaging video. You can post 3 – 60 seconds of video content on Instagram which can be used to pepper your page among your regular photo posts. Only having 60 seconds forces you to be creative about what you want to say and how to say it as succinctly as possible. The beauty of Instagram videos is you can still apply the many awesome built in filters to make them look visually appealing. But keep in mind that unlike taking a single photograph, creating a quality video is not quite as easy.

It’s worth having professional videos produced by someone with the right skills, then transferring these to your phone in order to share them with your fans. You need to consider things like the aspect ratio of the app for optimum viewing. You don’t want the most important component of the video (i.e. your product) to be cropped out when the video is resized. So better to leave this to a pro rather than uploading sub optimal content.

  1. Responding to user comments like a used car salesman

If someone has made the effort to comment on your photograph you have a responsibility to respond to them promptly and authentically. The whole point of social media is to engage with your target audience so not replying to their comments will give them the impression that you don’t really care about them. Answering user’s questions, elaborating about your post or giving them extra personalised information about the post is engaging and assists in building trust and a relationship with your target audience. There is also a balance between inviting them to take some action (i.e. visit our website) vs sounding like a sleazy salesman. People love to buy things but they hate feeling like they are being ‘sold’ to and Instagram is not the platform for a pushy sales approach. The key difference is inviting them to take action in a personal way that aligns with their comment rather than copying and pasting the same call to action for everyone. Using their @handle when you reply will notify them of your comment so they don’t miss out on what you have to say.

 

So now you know the top 7 mistakes to avoid, you can refine your approach on Instagram keeping your core goal in mind to drive future strategy. If you’d like additional support to get better results from social media for your business we’d love to help.

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