Instagram is on an upward trajectory lately. Its user base is growing consistently, it’s rolling out new features and new advertising options, and as a result, tons of brands are flocking to the platform for an opportunity for more visibility and tighter connections with their customers (and key demographics).
However, if you take a look at all the brands posting on Instagram, you’ll notice that only a fraction are gaining any momentum. Most only have a few dozen followers, if that, and even ones with bigger followings are seeing limited engagements (a truer measure of social media marketing success). Brands may know that Instagram is a honey hole, but they’re making these terrible mistakes and sabotaging their own efforts:
1. Posting inconsistently.
If you want people to follow you for the long-term, you have to have a long-term posting strategy. If you post inconsistently, your followers won’t know what to expect from you, and they’ll likely ditch you in favor of users who provide content on a more regular basis. This doesn’t mean you need to post many times a day to see a result, but it does mean you need to regularly provide your users with new content, in line with your brand. Otherwise, what’s the point of even having an Instagram.
2. Never commenting on other posts.
Remember that Instagram is a social platform, and that demands social interaction. Merely posting your own content is only half the equation; your followers and prospective followers are posting content, too, and if you ignore this, you’ll seem like you’re using Instagram as a megaphone rather than a true communications platform. Take time every day to comment on some of the images you see in your own newsfeed, whether they’re from people you know, followers, influencers, or just accounts you like.
3. Stuffing hashtags into everything.
Yes, hashtags can be a powerful route to more visibility; users often look for fresh content through the use of hashtags, and you can show that you know what you’re doing by following trends correctly. However, you can’t just stuff hashtags into every one of your posts and expect the strategy to pay off. First, you’ll seem exploitative, and your posts will have an air of spam about them. Second, you run the risk of using hashtags inappropriately, which could potentially ruin your brand’s reputation to an Instagram loyalist or someone genuinely invested in the tag.
4. Failing to respond to comments.
As you post interesting content, you’re going to get comments and responses from your followers. Don’t neglect this! Clearly your users are interested in you, so show them your appreciation by responding in turn. Even a simple, few-word acknowledgment can make someone’s day, and encourage them to respond to your posts in the future. It also makes your brand seem friendlier and more down-to-earth. If you let these comments go neglected, eventually you’ll run dry, and you’ll start losing followers.
5. Being impersonal.
A lot of brands make the mistake of being too “professional” on their social media profiles. They adopt this corporate voice, filtering out their personalities in favor of what they think people would expect from a company. Don’t do this; it’s far better to show off your personality, even if it’s a few shades more casual than your “typical” corporate brand voice. Again, Instagram is a human social platform, and you need to be a social human if you want to attract and retain a decent following.
6. Not offering value.
People aren’t going to gravitate toward your brand unless you give them a solid reason to. Every post you make needs to offer some kind of value, whether that’s practical or entertaining. On the practical side of things, you could connect people to events they may not have the opportunity to see in person, or offer some kind of contest, or demonstrate tips or tricks. On the entertainment side of things, you can show off your office and your team having fun, or post images of beautiful things you’ve found related to your company or industry. It should strike and emotion or be of measurable practical value—without one of those two benefits, users will pass your brand up. And offering value has multiple benefits; the more valuable the content you share, the more likely it’ll be to earn inbound links that can help your content rank higher in search engines, driving more traffic, users, and followers.
7. Not learning and evolving.
No Instagram strategy starts out as perfect, and there are always new trends and features to learn and incorporate into your campaign. If you want to be successful in the long term, you need to learn from your user data, form conclusions about the effectiveness of your campaign, and make the meaningful changes you need to keep your momentum going upward. Otherwise, you’ll grow stagnant, and your ROI will slowly deflate.
On Instagram, just like with every other social platform before it, merely claiming a presence isn’t enough to net you a positive ROI. You have to work hard to understand your users, provide high-quality material, and adjust your campaign to keep seeing better and better results. It’s truly an investment, of time, effort, (and sometimes, money), but if you keep your users at the heart of what you do, eventually that investment will pay off.