25 Common (and Totally Fixable) Mistakes That Brands Make on Instagram

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It’s only human to make mistakes. I mean, who among us can say they haven’t made blunders on social media?

Thankfully, most of our missteps have been made before, and we can learn from the errors of our predecessors.

As previously described here on Owlmetrics, there are many mistakes that brands tend to make on Instagram. This article will go over 25 more of these common mistakes that, while serious, can be easily fixed.

1. Poor image quality.

Instagram is a social network entirely driven by visual content. The posts that get the most attention are those with eye-catching imagery. Nobody wants to spend time looking at ugly videos and pictures.

Resolution is important. Never upload anything that’s at low resolution. It looks unprofessional and amateur, and will lower the overall perception of the brand.

You’ll need to be aware of compression when uploading images. A good rule of thumb is to make your images at least twice the size that Instagram recommends. That way they’ll look better when they’re scaled down.

Lighting and composition are other factors that you need to keep in mind. Underlit or awkwardly composed images will not have as strong an impact. Spend the necessary time editing and tweaking pictures, ensuring each one looks gorgeous.

2. Having a private account.

This is a mistake that businesses sometimes make on Instagram without realizing it. When your account is set to private, nobody can access your content without your authorization. As a result, most people will skip past your account and ignore it. A private account defeats the purpose of having an Instagram presence.

Go into your profile settings and turn off the “Photos Are Private” option. When your account is open and public, everybody will be able to view and share your content without any restrictive barriers.

3. Buying your followers.

Buying followers might seem like a quick way to boost your account at first. You may think that if your follower numbers are impressive enough, it’ll surely attract others. However, this route just isn’t worth it.

The biggest problem is that these followers are only bots. They will not interact or engage with your content in any meaningful way.

This leads to a further complication. If you have a ton of followers but barely any likes or comments on your posts, it’s going to look suspicious to an observant visitor, and your brand will seem inauthentic.

Your best bet is to build your community the old-fashioned way. Reach out to real Instagram users by socializing with them and posting content they enjoy. It might be a slower process, but it will ensure a more responsive, loyal following.

4. A boring or empty bio section.

Some accounts put the minimum amount of effort into their bio, if they bother writing anything at all. This is a waste of a good opportunity.

View your bio as an introduction to your brand. Being as concise as possible, use this space to tell your viewer what the company is all about. Let them know what you do and what products you sell.

Don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your description. Give readers a sense of your brand’s philosophy, values and attitude.

5. Not including a link in your bio.

Don’t forget to add a link to your website or store at the end of your bio. Viewers need to know where they can learn more and buy your products.

This is one of the first things you should do when you create your account. It would be a waste to get page views if they can’t be translated into profitable traffic. After all, that is the main purpose of having a business account.

6. No clear strategy.

Too many brands jump onto Instagram and start posting without any foresight. Some just start posting whatever candid pictures they have on hand. While this is typical behavior for most users with personal Instagrams, it is a poor way to handle your company’s account.

You need a concrete plan before you get started.

Any good marketing campaign will set goals and form solid strategies for how to achieve them. First, you need to narrow your focus. Come up with a practical goal that you hope to achieve. This could be attracting a certain demographic, or solidifying your brand’s image. After you’ve settled on your focus, start generating content with that goal in mind.

7. Using hashtags in the wrong way.

Hashtags are a major tool in helping users find your content. They effectively organize related content under an umbrella that anybody can search through.

Not everybody seems to know how to use them properly, though. It can be incredibly frustrating to have to wade through unrelated content clogging up a hashtag feed.

So you should only use hashtags when they are appropriate for your posts. Trying to jump onto a hashtag bandwagon without contributing will only work against you. If your posts are irrelevant, users will be more likely to mock and avoid them.

Also, don’t fill your captions with an excessive amount of hashtags. Any number under 10 should be fine. If you do more than that, it’ll start to look absurd and cluttered.

8. A lack of consistency.

Consistency is the cornerstone of brand marketing. It is a unifying vision for the brand, from its aesthetic style to its core values. A brand that is consistent is recognizable.

Before publishing any post, ask yourself if it fits in with the rest of your content. Does it communicate the same message? Is it in line with the brand’s established attitude? Does it visually blend in, or does it stick out awkwardly?

Audiences like to know what to expect from their favorite brands. This is what keeps them coming back and makes them look forward to your next post.

9. Not enough variety.

On the other side of the coin, too much repetitive content could drive followers away. It becomes monotonous for viewers if every picture in your feed looks the same.

Get creative with your content whenever possible. Try to look at things from different angles, and change gears when you feel that you’ve exhausted an idea.

For inspiration, look around on Instagram to see what’s popular. Incorporate emerging trends if you feel they could enhance the brand’s content. Fuse together diverse influences and try to create something new.

10. Too many text posts.

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you might have noticed that a certain type of post is prevalent. It usually involves a quote or a line of text on a simple background. These posts can be quite funny and inspirational at times.

However, these types of posts shouldn’t be your primary form of content. They will come across to viewers as filler and make you look lazy.

Prioritize your visual content above these text-centered posts. While they’re perfectly fine on occasion, they aren’t the main attraction for most Instagram users. It’s the photographs and videos that will get you attention.

11. Irregular posting times.

Some Instagram accounts seem to only post once in a blue moon, while others release daily deluges of content. Neither of these extremes is ideal. The former will erode viewers’ interest, while the latter will irritate them.

Finding a balanced posting schedule is a necessary part of achieving success on the platform. You want a schedule that is regular, reliable and results in the most engagement.

There are plenty of tools out there that can help you with scheduling your content, such as Buffer, Hootsuite and Social Pilot.

12. Ignoring comments and suggestions.

You can’t expect to go far on a social network without interacting with other people. So it is a mistake to disregard the responses to your posts.

Respond to as many comments as you can. Thank users for their positive words, and do your best to address negative criticisms. Take suggestions into consideration. Sometimes your followers can have genuinely good ideas.

Your followers will be grateful for the fact that you took the time to recognize them. It will build a stronger connection between them and the brand.

The only people you should avoid are obvious trolls. These people are only trying to bait you into acknowledging their frustrating remarks.

13. Swiping other people’s content.

Nobody likes a social media thief. Accounts are often called out, and ridiculed, for stealing other people’s content. It’s a quick way to lose respect on the platform.

Always remember to ask for permission to post anything that you didn’t create yourself. If the creator says no, then you should respect their wishes.

Also, cite your sources in the captions. If you post any user-generated comment, you should include a link to their account.

14. Not following back.

The least you can do for a follower is to follow them back. It’s considered a common courtesy on social media these days.

It takes little effort—all you have to do is click a button! And it’s a gesture that your follower will notice and appreciate.

It’s also something that you will benefit from yourself. Following your fans will help give you insight into your audience and what content they enjoy the most. You could use this information to tailor your posts to their tastes.

15. Writing dull captions.

A great picture deserves a fitting caption. In fact, your captions should be regarded as almost as important as the content itself.

Captions should never be boring. They should be informative, entertaining or emotional, and preferably all of the above. A caption should provide the audience with the context behind an image, or should give them something to think about.

Use strong, descriptive language when writing captions. Be direct and concise by putting the most relevant details up front. Don’t ramble and force your readers to read an entire short story before they get the point.

If you want to encourage comments, try asking a question. Users are prone to chiming in with their opinions whenever they are solicited.

16. Promoting too hard.

Nothing kills the mood faster than an overly aggressively marketer. Nobody likes the feeling of being pushed into buying stuff.

This is especially true on Instagram, where most users are there just to view pictures and watch videos. They want a steady stream of content that has value and substance. Blatant advertisements aren’t typically regarded as having either.

Worst of all are brands that try to pressure their audience into acting. Replying to comments with demands to follow, buy products and share content is undesirable and unsavory.

It’s better to be relaxed and hands-off in your sales pitch. Include a call to action or a link to your store in the captions, but don’t press the issue. Instead, focus on being pleasant and conversational when engaging with followers directly.

Humanize the brand as often as you can. Share content that offers a view behind the scenes of your business. Showcasing employees and being open about what you do will indicate that you are more than a faceless corporation.

17. Being self-centered.

We aren’t in the Myspace era of the internet anymore. Social media isn’t about elevating yourself above everybody else; it’s more geared toward larger, interconnected communities.

Don’t make your Instagram all about yourself. For instance, you can feature user-made content on your page. You could also run contests, and invite your followers to submit ideas for your campaigns.

Companies that demonstrate social consciousness are especially respected. People are impressed by selfless acts like working with charities and donating to worthy causes.

18. Reposting too often.

There’s nothing wrong with reposting content every now and then. In fact, revisiting old favorites can be fun. You can also bring back things that you felt went unnoticed the first time and deserve a second chance.

However, don’t do too much reposting. You will start to lose followers if they see the same images over and over again.

Keep your Instagram feed fresh and innovative. Don’t make duplicate posts for the sake of filling space.

19. Relying on automation.

Some brands have resorted to utilizing tools that automate their Instagram accounts. That means all of their comments are generic responses posted by programmed bots.

The convenience of the option is certainly appealing, especially if you don’t think you can handle the workload of replying to followers. But it is a poor substitute for having real interactions with other users.

There is a limit to how well automated responses can work. The more specific a follower’s comment is, the more glaring your account’s artificiality will be.

Even if you can’t reply to as many comments, personalized responses are always preferred. They show your followers that you care.

20. Neglecting video content.

Images are by far the most ubiquitous type of content on Instagram. They seem to attract the most views and shares on the website.

However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore video content. Recently years, Instagram has ramped up their support for videos. Last year it increased the maximum video length from 15 seconds to a full minute.

Be bold and experiment. Produce striking videos that your audience won’t be able to ignore.

21. Not interconnecting your social media accounts.

Don’t view your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as completely separate entities. Synergizing your activity between them could increase their potency.

For example, if you are holding a contest on Twitter, you could make a post to inform your Instagram followers about it.

Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, there are many built-in features that support integration between the two platforms. If you make a post on Instagram, share it on your Facebook page as well.

22. Failing to proofread.

Typos are embarrassing. Before you make a post, be sure to check for any spelling or grammatical errors. Maintaining the reputation of professionalism requires quality control in all areas.

You don’t want your brand to become a laughingstock or a meme because of a particularly cringeworthy mistake.

23. Avoiding influencers.

If used correctly, influencer marketing can provide a significant ROI on Instagram. Influencers have unquestionably changed the marketing game. They can drive engagement levels up to 100 times the normal rate.

Simply put, people trust influencers. They are viewed as relatable and honest, and their recommendations hold weight.

It would be foolish for any brand not to partner with influencers. Find an influencer that appeals to your target audience and work out a relationship with them. This could involve sending them products for review, or allowing them to take over your account for a day.

Just remember to disclose any deals you make with influencers, as the FTC has been cracking down on brands that don’t.

24. Deleting underperforming posts.

Don’t place too much stock in arbitrary quotas. If a post fails to meet performance expectations, there is no reason to remove it.

Even a low engagement rate is better than none. The best thing you can do is move on and learn from the experience.

25. Forgetting about the product.

Lots of brands have established irreverence as part of their identity. However, this shouldn’t be an excuse for publishing random, disconnected content.

Most of your posts should relate to your brand in some way. If it doesn’t showcase your products or logo, then it should be thematically unified.

Maybe you can find subtle ways of presenting your product. For instance, if you sell running shoes, you might consider producing content with athletes pushing themselves to new heights while wearing them. Other images and videos you post can build upon this theme of inspiration and self-improvement.

Never lose sight of the reason why you’re on Instagram to begin with. You want your readers to take an interest in what you have to offer.

About the author

Neal Hallenbeck

Neal Hallenbeck is a graduate of Adrian College. He is a freelance writer, media critic and computer game designer.

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