What is Instagram (IG)?
For those of you who aren’t using it yet (hint: you probably should be), Instagram is a popular social media tool used for sharing photos and images. It can be linked to your Facebook account, which means double the exposure for posts. And it's not just for friends anymore. It's a way to share company art, promote products, leverage influencers, and build your brand's community. However, a lot of businesses use Instagram incorrectly. We see this all the time and it bugs the heck out of us! More than a few companies totally miss the point.
Continue reading to make sure you're not committing any of these photo-sharing fails.
Judge Judy is not impressed with your Instagram content via GIPHY
1. Abusing and overusing hashtags
#no #one #wants #to #read #nonsense
Your hashtags need to be relevant to your photos and strike interest with other grammers (users of IG). If you're using hashtags, pay attention to which ones are being used by other followers because the one with the most uses is likely to get more attention.
Using hashtags like #followme or #likeforlike will usually get the attention of users that will spam your feed. Make sure the hashtags you're using are relevant not only to your company but also the photo itself.
2. Underusing hashtags
If you’re just starting out with your account, or you've had it for awhile but don’t have many followers or likes, then you need to start using hashtags.
Not using hashtags is #notsmart
If you’re planning to display a before and after photo and want to use a hashtag, use #beforeandafter, not "before&after. The ampersand (&) breaks up the tag so all you're left with is #before as the working part of the hashtag. #rookiemistake
Note that #beforeandafter has 4,652,959 existing posts!
Don’t forget to switch up your hashtags for each post. Test out what hashtags are popular for your industry and get tagging! The current hashtag limit is 30 but you should really only be posting the ones that are relevant. Too many hashtags just makes it look like you’re trying too hard to get noticed and followers pick up on that.
3. Constantly promoting
Instagram is a powerful tool that businesses can use to showcase products and to get creative with product placement. However, if you’re just posting bland stock images that are already on your website, you won’t get many followers or likes. Get creative by posting images of your products with different backgrounds, with people, and in use.
Images courtesy of Fantasia Hair Care - Image on the right is courtesty of @fantasiahaircare on Instagram
You can do some promotion, but please don't ONLY promote your products or services. Gain interest by promoting the lifestyle around your brand and the events your company attends to reach a wider audience.
4. Neglecting your followers
It doesn’t matter how many photos you post, if no one is “liking” the post or following your account, you’re not utilizing the amazing world of Instagram. Build your community by enaging directly with followers and posting "like" worthy content.
5. Failing to reach out to influencers
Brand Influencers. They’re the popular men and women of Instagram - think Kim Kardashian but for your specific industry. If these influencers like and promote you, others will follow.
Note: it may take some convincing in the form of free products to get their attention.
Have you heard of the phenomenon that is Fit Tea? With 1.8 million followers, they've got this Instagram thing down.
6. Posting too often or not enough
Don't spam followers frequently (or ever!). If you’re posting more than 3x a day about your product, you’re likely spamming and no one likes that. Users like to see variety and if you’re spamming their feed, you may just lose a follower. Trust me, I unfollow all the time because of this. On the other end of the spectrum, don't go radio silent on your followers. If you disappear for awhile, your followers might too.
Adding new photos also creates a new opportunity to add hashtags, which will result in new users finding your content.
Pro Tip: According to HubSpot, engagement is consistent throughout the week but the best time to post on Instagram is on Mondays between 3-4pm EST.
7. Not liking other posts and responding to comments
Instagram is a social media platform so be social! Return the ‘likes’ to your followers (genuinely) and do not be weird (weird = random, spammy, irrelevant or creepy comments on their photos).
8. Being unprofessional
If you’re using Instagram as a business, then you need to keep it professional. It goes without saying that you shouldn't be commenting or posting profane content (unless that's your industry?) Keep it PG, fun and classy. Your Instagram is a reflection of your brand and should not become a deterrent for your customers.
9. Posting poor quality photos
First impressions are ALWAYS important and are the key to growing your IG followers. The quality of your photos is very important, especially with the cell phone camera technology we have now.
10. Lacking creativity
Create a theme or pattern for your Instagram and stick to it! Play around with filters to find something enhancing and test it out to see how others respond.
Popular patterns that we've seen are companies switching between photos and text for every other photo they post. This creates an appealing feed, creates opportunities for followers to get more out of your content and for you to share information in photos through text.
11. Going crazy with filters
You should take advantage of the numerous filters available - they’re why Instagram became popular in the first place - BUT they’re not always necessary and can make your post less authentic. Use with caution. #nofilter
12. Only ever posting photos
Incorporate video on your account to spice things up and keep your followers interested. Not sure how to do this? Either take a video live in the Instagram app or leverage existing company video and trim it to fit standards (15 seconds). Remember to keep it interesting and relevant. Ask yourself, would you "like" this if it was someone else's post?
Note: Users cannot upload images or video to Instagram on a desktop - it needs to be uploaded through the smartphone or tablet app.
We hope this post helps you understand how to use Instagram as a business. Play around with it. Have fun and find your niche. Sooner or later it will pay off big time.
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