With over 400 million active users, Instagram is an incredibly powerful tool for any growing business. This photo sharing platform is easy to get started with, even without a lot of photography or social media experience. That said, it’s also easy to make mistakes that will cost your business sales, customers, and opportunities. Here are eight common Instagram pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Don’t over post
Limit your posts to once or twice a day. Any more than that and your followers will feel overwhelmed and annoyed. Although it may be tempting to share a number of photos at once, especially when first starting out, space them out to engage your followers without irritating them.
Don’t post low-quality photos
Thanks to the magic of modern camera phones, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to take a decent picture. Instagram is designed to be used with mobile phone cameras, all of which include an auto focus feature. There is simply no excuse for posting a blurry, out of focus photo on your Instagram account.
Don’t over filter
Filters are a fun, useful way to slightly improve your photos. Used deftly, Instagram’s editing tools can make your pictures sharper, brighter, and better looking. Too much editing, however, will give your photos an artificial, garish appearance. Be especially careful with filters provided by Instagram, which often seem amateurish. Too many over edited, filtered photographs will make your account look unprofessional and possibly ridiculous.
Don’t over hashtag
It’s tempting to add dozens of hashtags to each post in hopes of attracting more attention. Too many hashtags, though, can look sloppy, unfocused, and even desperate. Definitely avoid any of the massive, empty hashtags such as “l4l” or “follow,” which only attract bots and spam. Instead, choose popular but specific hashtags, including the genre of your business and a few words that describe your photo. The ideal number of hashtags is between one and four.
Don’t repost without acknowledgement
There are a number of apps that allow you to repost images from other accounts, and this can be utilized to great effect. For example, you may repost the winner of a contest you’ve held or share a customer’s image. Simply practice proper repost etiquette: ask permission before reposting, and always give credit to the original account. Reposting without credit is plagiarism, and your followers may take their business elsewhere if they spot it.
Don’t ignore responses
The goal of your Instagram account is increasing engagement, so don’t let opportunities for conversation pass you by. Whether someone has asked a question or left a comment, every response to an Instagram post should be acknowledged. A simple thanks is enough in most cases. Always remember to tag the person you’re responding to, otherwise they won’t see your message.
Don’t stay isolated
Although engaging your customers is key, don’t miss out on the business to business networking that Instagram also provides. You can search by hashtag to find accounts and businesses that are simply to yours. Besides competitors, you will find potential collaborators and partners in related fields. If you want to contact another business owner privately, send them a direct message. Never use direct messages to solicit customers, however, as this is considered spam and violates Instagram guidelines.
Don’t stay hidden
Every Instagram photo can be marked by location. Use this feature to advertise your physical location on each post and to find other people and opportunities nearby. Also, share your Instagram posts on your Facebook account, and use the location option there as well. Even if you operate an online only business, you can find community support and customers by making yourself a virtually visible part of the neighborhood.
Allowing one on one communication, vast outreach, and immediate impact, Instagram is a uniquely powerful social media platform. Used wisely, it will grow your business and connect you with customers like never before.