People keep asking me questions about Instagram and I simply can’t help but write about this social platform on my blog. I’ve already shared my ideas on ‘Why I love Instagram without taking endless selfies’ and ‘3 fundamental steps to grow your following’. Then for one week only I offered a free Instagram Audit where I had a look at the accounts of all those who emailed me. I wrote individual recommendations and ideas about improvements. To be honest, I didn’t expect so many people to ask for help, but I was more than happy to share my knowledge and provide feedback.
While there are no official guidelines on how to rock on Instagram, I often see people making very similar mistakes. If you use Instagram to promote your blog, business or something else, then you need to focus on growing your engagement. Here, I’ve put together five common mistakes I see and shared ideas on how to avoid them.
If you have a personal profile and do not really care about engagement and numbers, the following information doesn’t really apply to you.
To be honest, I thought it was very obvious that if you are hoping to grow your following and exposure, first of all you need to … have your account open to the public! Jump on Settings and switch off ‘Private Account.’ Unless you do this, when you use a specific hashtag under your photo it won’t be visible, which is a bit of a shame. I run a photo challenge on Instagram and ask people to use my hashtag when submitting a photo. I can see the total number of photos, but some are missing from the feed because of this privacy setting. Open up!
Vague or non-existent bio
As I’ve already mentioned in ‘3 fundamental steps to grow your following,’ having a clear bio is as important as having high-quality content. I often see something like ‘I love taking photos…’ Guess what? 99% of people on Instagram are there to post their photos. But if you are specializing in, let’s say, monkey photos, it can be a good idea to say ‘I love taking photos of monkeys and here is my collection of X.’ Do you see the difference?
Another common mistake in the bio is using a quote, a line from a song or a famous saying. It can make sense when it’s backed up with additional information and when the content you post is all about this idea. Otherwise it’s too confusing and misleading. Be specific.
Instagram about everything is Instagram about nothing
I can hear people saying, ‘But my account is about my life, I want to show all aspects of it and post things I like,’ and so on and so on. It’s absolutely fine to have a lifestyle profile, just think about how to stand out – it’s either a specific aspect of your life, or one colour theme, or interesting and informative captions. Ideally it’s a combination of these three things. You need to make an effort if you are serious about growing your following and engagement. It’s also true if you have a big following outside of Instagram which you can bring over here. These people will continue following you regardless of what you post. But in any case, the key is knowing what your point is and what your page is about.
Instagram is a social media platform and people like to engage with each other. When you have hundreds of comments it’s really difficult to keep up with them all, but I often see unanswered questions under a photo with 20 likes and 2 comments. Having this level of engagement is not overwhelming, and replying to people will only help to establish really good relationships with your followers. Be friendly and people will be more willing to follow you or to click a link in your bio. Socialise.
- How to make money on Instagram
- How I edit my photos for Instagram
- Free Instagram Photo Challenge
- 5 fundamental rules of mobile photography
Not using hashtags or using very generic ones
I call it the ‘#sea #sun #love issue.’ Whatever people say, hashtags are still the best passive way to get noticed and to attract new people to your profile. You can easily hide them in your first comment, so it doesn’t distract or annoy people. Using hashtags is especially important now, since the new algorithm has been introduced and we don’t see content in chronological order anymore. Another issue is using the right hashtags for you. Instagram allows you to use only 30, so I suggest you use them wisely. You want to attract a targeted audience, don’t you? Find hashtags that are specific to your niche, check how many photos are already there (aim for something between 20k-350k) and go for it.
It can sound like too much or too complicated. I understand and I’m here to help you.
I have been on Instagram for four years now and it only kicked off for me in September 2015. Why so? Previously, I had been managing my account without thinking properly about what my goals were and how to use it in the best possible way.
Since then, I’ve been trying a lot of different strategies, techniques and tips on how to improve the quality of my posts, increase engagement and grow my following.
In just ten months I grew from 300 followers to over 13k, since I started to approach Instagram more thoughtfully and strategically. Now it helps me to grow my email list and, therefore, to generate income from my blog.
Now it’s the main source by which I grow my email list, promote my products and make sales on my blog.
I’m not going to lie to you… there is no ‘magic button’ or quick solution to achieve your goals on Instagram. But I can help you to build a solid foundation to attract followers, increase engagement and bring sales.