According to statistics released in March 2019, Instagram has one billion users and a total of 500 million of these users make use of the social media platform every single day. To take advantage of this vast number of users, brands have begun to use Instagram as part of their digital marketing strategies. There are more than over 25 million business profiles on Instagram with more than two million business who advertise monthly. However, there are still fundamental errors that brands are making on Instagram which are preventing them from reaching their target audiences.
Basic Instagram Errors
Possibly one of the most basic errors seen on Instagram - and one that is the easiest to avoid - is typos and grammatical errors in posts. This is sloppy, displays a lack of care and projects an all-round unprofessional image of the business. You don’t have to be an editor or proofreading professional to make sure that your posts are error-free. Install a tool such as Grammarly into your browser and it will automatically pick up errors.
Just as it is important to proofread your posts in order to maintain a professional image, so too must you avoid sharing low-quality photos, as this too will cause you to look unprofessional. Remember that the fundamental purpose of Instagram is to discover beautiful images and people will easily scroll past those which don’t catch their eye. Only keep your best photos and delete the blurry ones from your camera feed.
Another basic error that many brands make on Instagram is setting their profiles to private. Having a profile - which has private settings - is OK for a personal account as you may only want friends and family to see your Instagram posts and stories, but if you’re going to use Instagram as part of your social media marketing plan, you’ll want to attract your target audience to your posts. In order to make this happen, your profile will need to be set to public.
Think about your strategy like a roadmap or a GPS. You wouldn’t set out on a journey to a place you didn’t know, without some sort of directions. The same can be said for Instagram - especially if you’re new to this social media channel. You can’t dive right in and start posting. You need to know what your roadmap says, as well as what your end goal is. Your strategy is your roadmap.
Decide why you want to be on Instagram. What would you like to achieve?
Generate increased awareness for your brand?
Get more visitors to your website?
Generate more sales leads?
Once you’ve figured this out, you can plan the steps that you can take in order to get here.
Whatever you do, be realistic in your Instagram strategy. Don’t spread yourself too thin because, if you do, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
An Inconsistent Posting Schedule
While a website is a business’ online business card, social media is the place where you can have a real-time conversation with the company. People expect a business’ social media feeds - Instagram included - to be kept current, as this shows that the company is still active.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when starting an Instagram account is that they don’t post consistently. The result of this is that they are not constantly engaging their audiences and making sure that they remain top-of-mind for the consumer. Even if you decide to post once a week on a particular day, make sure that you stick to this schedule so that your followers know what to expect from you and don’t lose interest.
Not Engaging With Your Audience
In their social media marketing strategies, many company executives forget that Instagram is, first and foremost, a social platform. Users are on Instagram to discover new images and form part of communities. What some brands do - especially those who are new to Instagram - is that they share material that is purely promotional.
Remember that, on social media, it’s easy for consumers to spot people and brands that are not authentic. They don’t want to see what you sell - if they really wanted to do that, they could go to your website. They want to see the story behind the brand. They want to be able to get to know you and trust you. If they begin to trust you, they will be more likely to buy from you as they believe that you will make good on your promises.
If you do decide to include Instagram as part of your digital marketing strategy, make sure that you interact with other people on the platform. Make sure that you’re seen as trustworthy so that people will gravitate to you.
Using Too Many Hashtags
The aim of a hashtag is to help people find particular Instagram posts which fall under the same theme. For example, if you’ve gone out to a five-star restaurant and want to share pictures of your food with others on Instagram, you’ll add the hashtag #foodie to your posts. This is to make it easier for other people who are also searching for foodie-related posts to find what you’ve posted.
What many brands do is that they overuse hashtags on their posts because they think that the more categories that they put on their posts, the more likely it is that their post will be found. Unfortunately, this practice backfires because when users see multiple hashtags on a post they immediately associate it with promotional material and will move onto the next one.
By all means, use hashtags - however, use them sparingly and ensure that they are relevant.
Avoid Black Hat Instagram Techniques
The term ‘black hat’ is usually seen in relation to search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques. It refers to practices that are used in order to trick the search engines into giving their site higher organic rankings without doing the work.
On Instagram, ‘black hat techniques’ refers to the process of buying followers and likes, which are usually generated by bots. However, the downside of this is that all this really does it show people that you have a good deal of followers. It doesn’t show them that others really are engaging with you. While paying a little bit of money will get you these vanity metrics, rather put in the work and get the likes, follows and comments the old fashioned way. In the end, it will be worth it!
With so many users on Instagram, your target market is bound to be on this platform. You need to find a creative way of finding them and engaging with them so that you can see a good return of investment for the time and money you spend promoting yourself on Instagram.