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The 14 Most Common Mistakes People Make on Instagram - Saira Mian's Digital Marketing Hub
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The 14 Most Common Mistakes People Make on Instagram


1. Buying Instagram Followers

This is probably the #1 Instagram fail and it’s more common than you think. The problem is people don’t realize that engagement is the most important KPI on Instagram. If I see an account with an engagement rate of less than 3%, chances are they bought followers. These purchased followers are usually not real and do not engage with posts. On the odd chance they are real they will unfollow you eventually and probably aren’t interested in your content anyways.

Don’t focus on the number of followers this metric is not as important as your engagement. Right now we are all obsessed with the number of followers we have or the next person has but at the end of the day if you have steady engagement, followers will come. Provide great content and follow an Instagram growth strategy that doesn’t involve purchasing followers or likes and they will come (with time).

For Up and coming Influencers – I connect influencers and brands, and nothing is worse than a horrible engagement rate. Personally, I could care less for the number of followers but more for how their followers feel about them as a person. My favorite new quote is “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is- It is what consumers tell each other it is – Scott Cook. So what brands need are quality influencers that are like friends to their followers, one whose opinion they can trust. Influencers that do not have a sponsored post every day (this shows their followers that they just like money and not the product they are promoting), a good engagement rate, and how they connect with their audience (like, reply to comments).

2. Using Follow for Follow

Follow for follow sounds simple enough. The OG social media gurus have no issues with giving a follow back. On Twitter, it’s very common and not frowned upon, but Instagram is different and here’s why. With Twitter, you typically have follow backs that are in the same genre/niche as you, it’s more about respect. On Instagram, you will mostly find accounts that are trying to grow are looking sell something. Also, another thing with Instagram is that they will unfollow you eventually, more so than other social sites. You also end up with a messy feed that you never want to look through. Yes, you can turn off posts for these followers but how will you engage with your followers?

If you do insist on using the follow for follow strategy, when you unfollow your followers ensure to unfollow by engagement, meaning unfollowing the non-likers/commenters first. Also, another thing to keep in mind is if you are going to following for following target the likes on a target account and not just the following list. This way you are following users who are the type to actually engage.

3. Using a Follow Bot

This one meshes into the one above and is much worse than a manual follow for follow. At least when you are following for following manually you can target accounts that are like yours or the type of followers you are after. With a bot, you don’t typically have the option of adding accounts and end up following accounts that you would never have followed manually. I tried it out with StimSocial as I had heard good things about the service, as it provides accounts to target. I realized very quickly that these were not the followers I was after when my feed was filled with almost naked women. Eeek.

4. Not Engaging Enough with their Instagram Followers

This should be in every social media strategy and I’m amazed at how even most agencies don’t focus on this. It’s so important to like your followers content regardless if it relates to your brand. It makes feel good and therefore like you/your brand more. If my favourite brand likes my post it means so much more. Also, an obvious one is to like all posts that are related to your brand.

5. Not Engaging with the Right Potential Followers

This one connects with the previous one but the best way to gain new followers is to give multiple likes and comments. These growth strategies go much further to attracting your ideal follower. It’s human nature to reciprocate if you give you shall get. Though this strategy is definitely overused today, it’s still is one of the best ways to grow your account quickly. I’ve found the perfect combination is three likes and one comment.

6. Not posting because their overthinking (which really stands for fear)

This one is a for people who don’t post but have “That should be me” feeling when seeing other posts. People wait for perfection – the perfect feed setup, with the amazing captions for each post. This mentality is probably the worst of the don’ts listed. Overthinking or over perfecting your post and captions is death to your Instagram, literally. You are always better off posting than not posting at all. So if you have this mentality or even worse – the fear of what others will think, please replace it with FOMO. Don’t try to perfect everything as it all comes down to 80/20.

7. Not planning out their feed

There are a ton of tools you can use to plan out your feed, hashtags, and captions. Planoly is my personal favourite. They have a free version where you can upload 30 images a month. That’s a post a day! You can also auto-schedule posts on here. So, in one day, you can plan out your Instagram feed for a full month! They have a desktop and an app, it’s easy peasy!

8. Not Posting on Instagram Enough

Aim for daily posts, or even 4 x a week works well. Whatever you do, do not post more than 4x a day. Instagram may flag you as a spammy account. If you find that daily posts bring down your engagement switch to every other day or ever 2 or 3 days. It all depends on your content and your followers. You have to find the right mix for you. If you want to grow your account, you do need to be consistent.

9. Not having an Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Finding tags where you can show up in the top posts – This is a little trick I’ve learned, and it works a little like SEO where you want to pick hashtags that do have traffic but do not have a million posts under that hashtag. If your image is eye-catching and you have engaged followers, you can end up in the top posts section.

Put your hashtags to work and properly utilize hashtags. I see a lot of accounts only use 2 to 3 hashtags. While it may seem “cooler” that you don’t care, you are missing out on impressions. You should be gaining followers on every post and if you are not then you may want to rethink your hashtag strategy. There are tons of great Instagram hashtag generator apps out to help you with this. They provide related hashtags that you may want to include. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t find relevant hashtags without help. Below is a list of hashtags generated for Instagram hashtag for photography.

Hashtagify is a great one as well. It lets you deep dive into hashtags and track them as well. It offers the most popular hashtags as well, it’s always a good idea to jump on the bandwagon. They do offer a 7-day trial but it is a paid service overall. Chances are you will discover a good number of hashtags that are “trending” that you may not have thought of using but are super relevant to your post.

Tagogram is my personal favourite is very simple to use and it’s free. It allows you to copy the tags selected and easily copy and paste them into Instagram or a planner tool.

10. Not Editing Instagram Photos

Taking 2-3 minutes to edit a photo makes a world of a difference. See below of the before and after of some of my photos. Most people vouch for VSCO (this is my personal favourite), I have set up a “edits” and apply the same ones for all my photos, and then do small tweaks until I’m happy with the image. My go to’s are H2 filter at about 8, adjusting the brightness contrast and clarity. Pros are as using Lightroom (and even selling their presets) this is probably the best option if you are shooting off a DSLR, there is also a free app available in the app store. It’s actually quite powerful for a “freemium” product.

11. Not Adding Value to your Followers Lives

This is the #1 mistake brands make and it is using their social media feed as an advertising platform. Your brand is more than just products and Instagram provides the perfect opportunity to express this. If you’re representing a cleaning brand then why not share cleaning tips or your customers worst mess stories? Another win is sharing the story of people who consume/use the product and the people who make them. Connecting with people is what social media is all about and it drives me crazy that there are so few brands that are doing a good job at it. The easiest way to think about it is what would it take for me to happily follow? The next level would be what would it take to tell my friends about this product?

12. Not Utilizing Their Instagram Bio.

I see bios all the time that are not relevant or a quote from someone else. The best bios are to the point and give a reason to follow and include a call to action, an example would be “Subscribe to my marketing podcast, or Subscribe to receive your free gluten free recipe book”. If you do not have 10,000 followers and are not a business account your link in bio should be updated often. You want to promote a new blog post, product or a freebie. Another option for updating this would be to use link tree, this allows your followers to have a few links to choose from and you don’t have to only select one link to use. Link tree has a free option that works well and a paid option that is relatively cheap for what you’re getting ($6)

13. Not Using Instagram Stories Or Utilizing Highlights.

Instagram stories provide a perfect opportunity to share behind the scenes, quizzes, and upcoming projects/products. These also should have a call to action if it fits the post, of course, this is easier with 10k followers as a call to swipe up is the easiest way to drive your followers where you want them to go.

Highlights are a great way to feature events, recipes, new products or recent travels. This is a fantastic way to connect with followers and gain new ones!

14. Not Tagging Other Accounts

Tagging other accounts could end up as a feature or a follow, giving love to other accounts never hurts. In the end, your followers will appreciate you mentioning an account that chances are they will love too! It’s a win-win. This one also falls into the reciprocating nature of human beings. Also, you have another opportunity of creating a loop giveaway with other accounts, but that comes with time and trust so start tagging other accounts that you like and you believe your followers will like too. It’s best to keep these tagged accounts around the “niche” and around the same amount of followers you have.

Essentially don’t buy followers, this will always hurt you in the long run. Don’t give out follows like candy hoping for a follow back, and don’t overthink it. The dos are editing your photos, give out love as much as you can (bonus: it also makes you feel good and you end up building relationships), make sure your hashtags are on point, use Instagram stories and post the right amount at the right time. There you go! Keep creating, loving and learning my love!

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