With more than 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram clearly holds an appeal for brands looking to reach key target audiences.
But on the fourth-largest mobile app, it can be all too easy for brands to make very public mistakes.
The following are the 14 biggest mistakes businesses make on Instagram, as well as how you can avoid them for your own brand.
Instagram mistake #1: Purchasing likes or followers
Often, the currency of social media (and Instagram in particular) centers around authenticity.
Buying your likes and/or Instagram followers may give you quantity, but definitely not quality. And by doing so, you risk breaking the trust of your real followers and commenters.
We also don’t recommend paying for automated outgoing comments because it definitely makes your brand look more like a robot than a personality that people want to engage with. Plus, you’re missing the opportunity to authentically engage with your target audience.
Instead, focus on a strategy where you prioritize engaging content and meaningful interactions with other users.
Instagram mistake #2: Not optimizing your Instagram bio
Too many companies don’t adequately optimize their Instagram bios. Remember that beyond your post that could reach a user who’s unfamiliar with your brand, your bio is often the first impression you can make.
Keep your bio clear, concise and relevant. You can use links, emojis and even line breaks to make your bio unique and easy to understand.
Instagram mistake #3: The use of poor-quality photos or videos
Instagram is a visual-first social media platform. While you don’t have to have the most expensive photographer shoot all your photos and videos, you do have to be thoughtful in the images that you are publishing.
Beautiful is great, but even interesting or well-composed images also work.
Think about your lighting, finding a neutral background and the composition of your images.
Fortunately, there are many easy-to-use photo editing apps and graphic design tools to edit your images as needed.
Instagram mistake #4: Your posting frequency is off
There’s a fine line to walk on Instagram before you end up posting “too much” or “too little.” It’s such an easy mistake to make.
With too many posts, your brand can look desperate to users. With too few, your brand’s Instagram account can appear inactive and forgettable.
The “right” number is not only ever evolving but can also depend on your industry and audience.
For example, a news outlet could post multiple times per day, and that makes sense. A retail brand, on the other hand, would be more likely to post a few times per week.
Keep an eye on your analytics, so that you can find the sweet spot for your own brand’s posting frequency.
Instagram mistake #5: Ignoring your performance analytics
A huge (but common) mistake brands can make on Instagram involves ignoring your data, or at least not using your metrics enough to inform your strategy.
But go beyond the vanity metrics. It’s not only about likes. Keep your reach, audience demographics and more in mind as you publish your content.
Seeing what works and what doesn’t will only make your Instagram strategy that much stronger.
Dive deeper with our guide on Instagram Insights.
Instagram mistake #6: Using too many hashtags
A powerful tool on Instagram, hashtags (when used correctly) can help your content organically reach more users.
However, you can use too many and shoot your brand in the foot.
While you can use up to 30 hashtags, you’ll more likely see only a handful in use on any given post. Up to 11 hashtags is generally accepted these days.
Instagram mistake #7: Inattention to sharing quality content
All content is not created equal.
If you allow the quality of your overall content to slide, then you risk publishing posts that are boring, spammy and/or out of touch. Big mistake.
Don’t post just to post. Always ask yourself if what you’re posting is intriguing, informative and/or fun. If it is, your target audience will more likely engage with it. What does your audience care about?
Instagram mistake #8: Being impersonal
Just because you’re speaking for and representing your brand, doesn’t mean that you’re not human. Many brands make the mistake of being too professional.
Take a moment to think about your brand voice and how you should be engaging with and speaking to your target audience on Instagram.
Instagram mistake #9: Lacking an Instagram strategy
An Instagram strategy goes beyond just what you’re going to do, it drills into what your Instagram goals are and what actions should happen to help achieve those goals.
No matter what your goals are, it’s very difficult to achieve them without a plan to do so. That lack of a plan or strategy is a big Instagram mistake.
Dive deeper into what you should do with our 16 Instagram marketing tips.
Instagram mistake #10: Inconsistency with your visuals
This ties into your branding. What colors, aesthetics and tone define your brand? Inconsistencies with your overall visual presentation is a mistake.
Now, apply that to the compilation of all your Instagram images. When you look at your Instagram profile (and all your images in one place), is there a consistent look and feel?
Variations can exist, of course. But the idea is that overall, an Instagram follower should generally recognize your content when it appears in your feed.
Your consistent visual presentation can be included in your overall Instagram strategy. It could be as simple as a style guide.
Instagram mistake #11: Errors in your captions
Just like with any other piece of your digital marketing, typos put the perception of your professionalism and credibility at risk.
But even marketing writers can make mistakes. We’re all human.
So, include a proofing process into your social media publishing (not just Instagram).
Instagram mistake #12: Not embracing Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are not as new as they used to be, and about 500 million users use this feature. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring this important feature.
Instagram Stories feature fun, authentic content in a vertical orientation that disappears after a day. Stories can be used to share behind-the-scenes moments, first-person narratives and more. The sky’s the limit as far as creativity.
Instagram mistake #13: Lack of engagement with followers
Social media is not a broadcasting platform, Instagram included. It’s about conversations.
Every time a user comments on your Instagram posts, that’s an opportunity to engage with him and her that can help build a trusting relationship.
Go beyond planning and publishing your content. Consider one of the many social media management tools that can help you not only schedule your posts but monitor all engagement actions on that content. Social media management in general can help you stay on top of all social media activity.
Instagram mistake #14: Including links in your post captions
Instagram does not allow for clickable URLs in post captions. By including “links” in your captions, not only will it look messy and not work, but you’ll look like you don’t know what you’re doing on the platform.
The best practice is to include your relevant link in your bio and refer users to click that. It’s a common practice. If you need to share more than one link at the same time, websites like Linktree and Campsite can create a “landing page” of links that can be found through a single link that you can include in your bio link.
If you have at least 10,000 followers, you can include links in your Instagram Stories as well.
Whether you’ve made any of these Instagram mistakes or not, it’s never too late to improve and move forward.
Plus, you can think about the bigger picture with our Digital Marketing 101 Guide for Beginners.