How well is your Instagram page doing? Are you getting the results that you hoped for – or does it feel like you’re wasting your time?

The channel reached a billion users in 2018. Among them, more than 400 million users watch Instagram Stories on a daily basis – making Instagram an extremely attractive option for marketers.

If you play your cards right, you could reach a large community with engaged users with content that they love. 

However, it’s not the easiest social media channel to master – if you’re new to the platform you may not know where to start. Thanks to the amount of competition on the site, the rookie mistakes that most newbies make can cost them dearly.

For this reason, I want you to know what to look out for when starting out using Instagram. Read on to find out what these common mistakes are and learn what you can do fix them.

With a few careful tweaks, your Instagram account could become one of the most valuable assets in your omnichannel marketing campaign.
Instagram Engagement Report 2019

1. Quality over quantity

The visual nature of the channel makes it a great way to promote your products, but you have to compete with a lot of other Instagrammers.

Mediocre content is never going to get you very far as a result.

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Most rookies make the mistake of rushing when posting content. It’s so easy to post content – all you have to do is snap a picture or record a video and then hit the upload button. Most users take advantage of this fact.

That’s fine if you are running your personal Instagram account and want to upload photos of your latest outfit or what you had for lunch.

It can be problematic, however, when you want to present a professional image or show your products in their best light.

For the best possible results on Instagram, you should always put your best foot forward. Take a moment to consider what you are going to post about carefully. Set aside time at the beginning of each week to plan your Instagram strategy for the week ahead.

Schedule time to set up your shots properly, just as you would do if you were creating a campaign for print advertising. It will take more time and effort, but it will get better results than a last-minute photo snapped in less than ideal conditions.

This does leave you less time to create new posts, but it is a lot more effective to create one fantastic post a day than five mediocre ones. You will get a lot more organic engagement from your followers and increase the chances of the posts being liked and shared.

2. Bad engagement can come cheap

It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation when it comes to getting better engagement on this channel.

It pretty much boils down to a popularity contest. Posts that are considered engaging, i.e., those that have a lot of likes, comments, etc. – are more visible across the channel.

It makes sense, but it can be problematic when you are starting out and have very few followers. You need the extra engagement to get your post seen by more people, but it can be hard to come by if you don’t have the followers.

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Source: Later

As a result, you might be considering hiring a service that allows you to buy engagement. This is one of the more serious mistakes that you can make. It is against the site’s rules, and it has measures in place to combat these schemes to manipulate the system. At best, you could be penalized through restricted traffic. At worst, you could be banned completely.  

The other version of this scheme is centered on pod groups. Pod groups are private groups on Instagram that are meant to make it easy for people with similar interests to connect. In this case, though, the purpose of these groups is solely to boost engagement stats.

Each member in the group undertakes to like and perhaps comment on posts made by other members. So, when you post, the other members will engage with your posts.

It sounds pretty harmless, but it is a manipulation of the system. And it is one that the site is taking pains to stamp out. It has already shut down several of the larger pods. This is a practice that could get you banned if you are not careful.

Besides which, it takes a lot of work to be involved. You could very well end up putting in more effort keeping this going than you would if you weren’t cheating.

Do yourself a favor and don’t bother with these kinds of tactics. Win people over with your content.

It may take longer, but the results will be long-lasting.

3. Using too many hashtags

Open up any article about being a successful Instagrammer, and you’ll hear about hashtags.

If you’re like most newbies, you’ll be thinking, “The more tags, the better.” According to Hubspot and Mention’s latest Instagram Report, this is actually incorrect and could be hurting you.

Hashtags help to categorize your content so that it gets shown to the people most likely to be interested in it. The more tags you have, the more it will seem as if you are trying to game the system. Even if your post is not spam, it could end up looking that way. Case in point:

Image result for too many hashtags

It’s far better to choose three or four relevant tags at most. This way, your post is shown to the people most likely to be interested. This is a more targeted approach that could help you to get more targeted traffic and therefore boost conversions and sales.

Another mistake that newbies often make is to look for top-trending tags and apply them to their posts whether they are relevant or not. Do, by all means, search for tags that are trending before you post. Only apply tags if they are actually relevant to your content.

4. Not using Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories was initially designed as a fun feature, but it can also be a very effective marketing tool.

You can post video clips, photos, and video journals. They’re meant to be short and ephemeral – making them spontaneous and fun.

This is a great way for you to engage with your followers on a more personal level or try out new strategies. Be creative and think of adding pics and videos that your followers will love or that they will find useful.

The better the post, the more engagement you should get. If the post is really popular, it might even be featured on the “Explore” page. This is marketing gold and a great way to get new followers. The catch? The content must be top-notch to be featured.

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What classifies as top-notch content here? Content that is highly engaging and centered on one particular topic. Because the “Explore” page is centered on themes, making your posts more targeted instead of more general will win you points here.

Even if you don’t make it to the “Explore” page, this feature is worth using. There are many different ways to put it to good use.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • A behind-the-scenes video. People love having a look at what goes on behind the curtain. This also gives you a chance to introduce your support staff and let your clients see the faces behind the names;
  • A sneak peek at a new line
  • Holiday or birthday greetings
  • A tutorial on using your product that conveniently shows it to the best advantage
  • News about a great sale or special offer
  • A tutorial that is of general interest – related in some way to your target market but not making any sales attempts
  • Updates.

Another tip: Get the best out of your Stories posts by using apps to make them amazing.

We don’t have the time in this post to go through the useful apps, but you can read up more about them in this post.

5. You haven’t put in a call to action

This should go without saying in any marketing initiative.

But it’s something that many users neglect, both new and experienced.

And don’t think just in terms of marketing and sales here. Depending on your Instagram business objectives, this could be as simple as asking a question.

Image result for instagram stories call to action examples

Don’t assume that everyone is going to think of liking or commenting on your posts automatically – encourage them!

They might not think it’s important or it might not even occur to them. Ask them to like, comment, or follow you. If they like the content you provide, they’ll be happy to help out.

Happy ‘gramming

There you have it – the top mistakes that most Instragram newbies make.

Are you guilty of one or perhaps all of them? Share your experiences in the comment section below. Don’t feel alone – most of us made at least one or two of these errors when starting out.

What matters now is that you take steps to correct them. Start off by creating a posting schedule. Then, focus on the great quality content that your target market will be most interested in. Finally, take advantage of the Stories feature to experiment with different forms of videos to see what your audience responds to best.

Last but not least, work at building your followers by providing excellent content. There really are no shortcuts with this one – lure them in with quality, and they will stay!

Instagram Engagement Report 2019

Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at Websitebuilder.org.uk. With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies. When his focus trails outside of community engagement, Josh enjoys the indulgences of writing amidst the nature conservations of Portland, Oregon.