10 Biggest Instagram Mistakes Every Business Should Avoid


Instagram boasts over 700 million monthly active users, making it one of the biggest social media networks in the world. It has also been averaging a 15% growth rate year over year, meaning that by 2020 over 1 billion people will log on to Instagram at least once a month.

For marketers, Instagram is appealing because of the large number of people who use the platform, but also because Instagram content typically has higher engagement rates than content on other social media platforms.

For business owners to get the most out of this promising social network, it is important to avoid a few common mistakes that can be hard to recover from. This article will review 10 of the most common Instagram marketing mistakes business leaders should avoid.

1. Ignoring Instagram Stories.

Launched in 2016, Instagram Stories is quickly becoming one of the most popular aspects of Instagram’s entire platform. Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories monthly, which is 40 million more people than Snapchat’s entire user base.

Brands like Reebok use Instagram Stories to drive followers to their website. In the example above, users who swipe up are taken to a mobile-optimized store where they can purchase items worn by their favorite CrossFit athletes.

2. Forgetting to look at the data.

Social media marketers will be more successful if they use Instagram analytics to inform their marketing decisions. Ignoring data is equivalent to ignoring valuable insights that can improve various Instagram marketing decisions.

Owlmetrics, our Instagram analytics platform, has the ability to show users the optimal time to post content according to follower activity. This can help marketers ascertain which content received the most engagement, making it easier to know what to share in the future.

3. Choosing to use Instagram for the wrong reasons.

Instagram can be a powerful social media platform for brands. Some companies, like Anastasia Beverly Hills and Brandy Melville, have used Instagram to beat bigger brands by reaching potential customers directly. An article in Digiday recently profiled Anastasia Beverly Hills, a mother-and-daughter-owned makeup company.

Author Hilary Milnes notes that “Anastasia … doesn’t have the brand awareness of peers like Mac and Benefit. What it does have, however, is the most followed Instagram beauty account on the platform, with 7.5 million followers. The beauty-industry average is 1.4 million followers.”

While Instagram can be a brand-building platform, it will only work if your brand’s target audience is actually using it. It can be easy to get swept up in Instagram success stories like the one mentioned above. Be sure to do your research before committing to an Instagram marketing strategy. Ensure that your target audience is on the platform before going all in.

4. Overlooking successful competitors.

Competitive intelligence can be gold for Instagram marketers because it can accelerate your learning curve. Carefully analyzing the competition to see which content resonates and which does not will help you to build an engaged Instagram following quickly.

Competitive analysis will also help to highlight areas of opportunity. Remember that social media users are interested in brands with a unique perspective. Determine how competitors position themselves on Instagram, and find an alternative position that is true to your brand’s voice.

5. Copying another brand’s strategy.

While competitive analysis is important to understanding areas of opportunity, it isn’t a good idea to mimic another brand’s voice. Brands that fall into this trap will always be in a position to play catch-up, rather than being ready to lead a conversion or an industry.

Let the examples above serve as a cautionary tale to Instagram marketers thinking about copying another brand’s voice or content strategy. On June 1, BMW posted a picture of one of their luxury cars overlooking the ocean. The post received nearly 35,000 likes.

A month later to the day, on July 1, Infiniti posted a nearly identical image featuring one of their luxury cars overlooking the ocean. Infiniti’s post received 9 times fewer likes than the BMW post.

6. Focusing solely on organic Instagram posts.

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, Instagram offers social media marketers a rich selection of advertising options, which are nearly identical to the options offered by its parent company. While organic Instagram content is a smart area to focus on because costs are lower than social media advertising, Instagram ads can be a powerful tool to increase followers or post engagement in a short period of time.

Social media marketers should create an Instagram strategy that relies primarily on organic content, while also using Instagram ads to increase the reach of content that has already performed well organically.

7. Only using Instagram on desktop.

When managing an Instagram account at work, it may be tempting to using Instagram on desktop. After all, Instagram offers a desktop version of the platform, and a number of third-party Instagram applications work better on a computer than a smartphone.

But savvy Instagram marketers will use their company’s Instagram account on both computer and smartphone. Doing so gives social media marketers a better understanding of what followers and potential followers see. Sometimes the device can impact how followers engage with Instagram posts, Stories or ads.

8. Sending visitors to a non-mobile-responsive website.

Last year, Instagram was the sixth most used smartphone app in the United States. Instagram was designed as a mobile-first social network and only added desktop functionality later. That means that most Instagram users will be using the platform on an app or on the mobile web.

Social media marketers who wish to drive visitors to a website need to make sure that the website is optimized for mobile, otherwise a sizable percentage of users will immediately leave.

9. Overcommitting to one marketing channel.

It’s true that Instagram can be a powerful marketing channel if used correctly. But committing to just one marketing channel is not a smart business decision, regardless of how effective the channel is.

Marketers need to find strong product–channel fit. In some cases, Instagram may fit well with the product being sold and the business model associated with the product. But it is unlikely that Instagram will be the only channel that results in strong product–market fit. Creating a diversified marketing mix is important to the long-term health of any business.

10. Neglecting to share user-generated content.

According to data cited by AdWeek, 93% of shoppers trust user-generated content (UGC) when making a purchasing decision. UGC is frequently produced by Instagram users, given that the platform is primarily based on images and video.

Brands like BMW, Budweiser and GoPro regularly share user-generated content because it encourages users to continue to create UGC and because it provides a type of social proof to prospective customers.


Instagram has the power to be a highly productive marketing channel for many businesses. The platform boasts hundreds of millions of engaged users, features many flexible content-creation options and gives markets access to rich data. But in order for social media managers to make the most of Instagram, it’s important that they first avoid making the 10 mistakes outlined in this article.

About the author

Deep Patel

Deep Patel is a serial entrepreneur, marketer and bestselling author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success. The book was dubbed the #1 best business book in 2016 by Success Magazine and named the best book for entrepreneurs in 2016 by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Also recognized as a top 25 marketing influencer by Forbes, Patel has worked with VC-backed startups to Fortune 500 companies. He is also a contributor at Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post and Success Magazine.

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