When I'm working with a brand or creative biz owner on their Instagram content, they will often hear me say that using the platform for marketing purposes is more of an ART than an exact science. That's because there aren't really any rules when it comes what you can + can't do. There isn't a "one-size-fits-all" strategy that can be implemented to improve your traffic or sales. We try, we analyze + we adjust as needed.
And, I know... since I just blatantly stated that there aren't any rules on Instagram, shouting out, "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!", in the headline of this post may seem a little contradictory. But just try + stay with me here while I explain.
Even though there isn't an Instagram rulebook, there are most definitely best practices. On the flipside, there are also common mistakes that I see being made all the time. These are usually simple things, that once remedied, can immediately impact your results in a positive way.
So, wanna know if you're totally screwing up?!
Haha, I'm kidding. It's completely OK if some of these apply to you. Sometimes we are so close to the issue, we can't see the problems right in front of our noses. What's important is that if you read this + recognize an opportunity to improve, you course-correct + keep on keepin' on.
So, check out my list of the most common Instagram mistakes businesses make + see if there may be any room for improvement on your profile...
1 | YOUR ACCOUNT IS PRIVATE
Personal accounts can be private. But a private business?! I see this constantly + I find myself asking, "what exactly is it that you do + why do you feel that it needs to be hidden from the outside world?". And then, once I go through all of the possible private business options in my head, I get scared + get the heck out of there. If I can't see who you are + what you do, I am not going to request to follow you, therefore I will probably NEVER buy from you. As a business on Instagram you need to have a PUBLIC ACCOUNT. #theend
2 | YOUR BIO SUCKS (or is nonexistent)
You have exactly 150 characters to tell everyone who visits your profile who you are + what you can do for them. This is also the only area on Instagram where you can post a clickable link to your website, your blog, a freebie, etc. USE THIS SPACE. Use it wisely + use it up. Think of your bio area as an "elevator pitch", then follow it up by showcasing beautiful + thoughtful visual content below.
3 | YOU HATE HASHTAGS
This is Instagram for Business: 101. Hashtags help categorize your photos so that people who would enjoy your content/product/service can find you. I often see two common mistakes on the topic of hashtags for business.
ONE: not using hashtags at all.
TWO: using the wrong hashtags.
For some reason, hashtags trip a lot of people up. In fact, I've had so many questions lately about hashtag use on Instagram that I created a THE ULTIMATE HASHTAG RESOURCE specifically on the topic.
#GETFOUND not only explains how to use hashtags to target your ideal audience, but it's also already done a lot of the hard work for you by sourcing some of the BEST hashtags, (there are over 1600 included in the guide!!), for over 20 different creative industries. You just copy/paste/get discovered!!
This might be the only guide on the subject you will ever need.
The short story is- you MUST use hashtags on every photo to allow your content to be discovered AND you must know how to find + use the right hashtags to get potential customer's eyes on your goodies. This is not a #boy #smile #sun #me situation here. #juststopalready
Want to learn how you can use #hashtags to find the right followers for your business on Instagram?
4 | YOU HAVE NO VISUAL STRATEGY
If you want to use your Instagram account to sell something, including yourself, ( of course I don't mean in "the slutty spam-bot way"), then you need a strategy. Going in blindly + just posting whenever you have the time is like opening the doors to a new brick + mortar without the slightest smidge of a business plan. Your visual strategy is like a road map for Insta-success. You need to know what you're trying to say, who you're trying to say it to + how you will get that message across through your visual content. A good visual strategy covers everything from what filters you will use on each photo to the tone of voice in your bio + captions. Not having a plan in place is going to make reaching your biz goals that much more challenging.
5 | YOU'RE MAKING IT ALL ABOUT YOU
I get it, it's your business. It's who you are, it's what you know, what you sell, what you teach. Naturally you're going to be posting + talking about all of those things. But it can't just end there. You can't just hop onto Instagram, post something about a new product, service, or what you had for lunch + then hop off, not to be seen again until it's time to post about YOU again. Instagram, like all social media platforms, is 2-sided. This is why it's so powerful. You have direct access to your customers, your peers + your heroes. COMMUNICATE!! You make the time to post, so make the time to engage. (And if you don't have the time, hire someone to do it for you). This is the part of Instagram that a lot of businesses forget about. They spend a lot of time creating pretty content + posting pretty content. That's completely necessary. But, after you have spent the time building a beautiful home for your brand to reside in Insta-land, you have to go out + start knocking on the doors of your "neighbors" (potential clients) + introducing yourself. Create a relationship by being genuinely interested in others + then invite them over to see what YOU do. If you build it, they may come... but if you build it + then spend time honestly engaging with your target market + peers, they will come + they will STAY.
AND NOW, YOUR HOMEWORK IS TWO-FOLD:
1. Log on to your Instagram account + do a quick audit.
Is your account public? Do you have a bad-ass bio that's informative + beneficial to your target audience?
Plan some time in this week to engage. Set a goal + communicate with new people in your niche. Follow some inspiring accounts + tell them what you enjoy about them. Build your community. Hell, if you want to, hop on over to my account + say hi, I'd love to meet you!! :)
2. If you haven't yet, snag the super helpful #GETFOUND | Ultimate Hashtag Guide above + start using hashtags the right way for business growth!
I certainly hope this little "WHAT NOT TO DO" list gets the wheels turning on what you may be unintentionally doing to drive potential customers away from your Instagram account.
Did I miss anything? Have you ever had an "Ah-ha" moment with your own Instagram profile that turned it all around for you? Share them with me in the comments below.