By now, most of us are aware of the no-no’s of Instagram like follow-unfollow or buying followers. However, in 2020, there are other mistakes that may be holding your account back from its full potential.
Mistake #1: Not knowing your target audience.
For someone to decide to follow you, they first need to know what your account is all about. A great way to hone in on the focus of your account is to think about who your ideal follower is. Are they male or female? What kind of content do they want to see? Tips and tricks? Travel content? Dog pics? Don’t ask these questions with a mindset of “How can I perfectly please others?”, but instead with the idea “Who would I most like to surround myself with?” and “What do I love to create? Who do I want to see my content?”
Once you have found your niche, stick to it. It is essential for a potential follower to be able to know in just a quick glance what your account is all about, and what kind of content to expect from you. If they can’t tell what your account’s focus is, it’s likely they will click out without hitting the follow button.
Now that you know who you want to attract, and your account is prepped to earn you a follow, it’s time to go where your audience is! This brings me to the next mistake you might be making on Instagram:
Mistake #2: Posting and ghosting.
In order to gain new followers, you have to be seen by potential followers! How do you do that? By being visible on Instagram outside of your page. By leaving meaningful comments on the posts of other creators in your niche, you can be seen by both them and all their followers. And by doing this, you give a boost to the hard-working creator who made the post! It’s a win-win.
Make sure to add something to the conversation and be genuine. Comments like “omg” or “cute” are not helpful to anyone. Really take in their picture and caption and let it inspire you to open a real conversation.
I recommend setting aside 10 minutes a day to go through hashtags and thoughtfully engage with others. A great strategy is to figure out where your ideal follower is hanging out on Instagram. Is it in hashtags? Is it in the comments of a thought leader? A good tip is to make sure the hashtags you use on your posts are the hashtags your target audience searches, NOT your competitors. For example: if I am photographer trying to get clients, I could use the hashtag #ncelopement not #rebelt7i (the camera model I use). A potential client might be searching the first for inspiration, but only people well-versed in photography already would be searching the second.
Mistake #3: Blaming the Algorithm
I know how frustrating it can be on Instagram sometime. It can really feel like the algorithm is out to get you and wants to see you fail. But the fact is, this mindset does nothing to help you move forward and grow. Instagram wants people on their platform who create valuable content, because this keeps people on the app longer, and they are able to make money off of ads. Really be honest with yourself about what feedback you seem to be getting on what you are putting out there.
Here’s a personal example: I love low-light pictures. I think they are so beautiful and artistic. But looking at my stats, they do not perform well when I post them. So, I have two choices: either say “screw it, I’m gonna post what I love and not care about the reach or likes”, or I can choose to say “I’m going to prioritize optimizing my account for growth and keep this amazing picture for my personal account”. Either decision is so valid. And either way, I’m not going to get angry with Instagram or my followers for having different opinions about a piece than I do. Go to your “insights” on your profile and see what content performs well and what content doesn’t.
Another thing to avoid is performing any actions that Instagram might think looks “spammy”. I am very guilty of getting sucked into Instagram and leaving around 50 comments in an hour. When I do this, I notice my reach is extremely low. If Instagram thinks anything about your account looks suspicious, they will limit your reach to new potential followers.
(Side note: sadly, oftentimes the algorithm DOES suppress the content of marginalized groups, and that is NOT okay.)
Mistake #4: Trying to be a Carbon Copy.
I get it, you see someone else killing the game and finding major success, and suddenly it can be SO tempting to think “what works for them will work for me”. Unfortunately, it’s just not true.
The market on Instagram is flooded, now more than ever. The best way to stand out is by being 100% authentic and true to yourself. While no one’s art is completely original (we all draw inspiration from the world and people around us) it is important to make it your own. Your power is in your uniqueness. Your life has given you a unique perspective and voice. Share it with the world.
Mistake #5: Not Being Consistent
Now that your page is fully optimized, it’s time for the final step: staying consistent. Your audience needs to know they can trust you to be there. You have to give them a reason to stay, by routinely delivering high-value content. Posting consistently keeps you fresh in their minds. It also keeps them engaged and excited about what is to come next. However, quality is also important. Only post as frequently as you are able to create stellar content.
I would recommend posting to stories daily, regardless of how often you are posting in your feed. Stories can be less polished and more personal. For more help on creating engaging stories, read my post on the best apps to use to keep your audience active and engaged.
At the end of the day, there are no real “mistakes” for posting on Instagram. These are just tips and tools to help you optimize your social media strategy for growth. If you are happy and fulfilled in your life and business, you are already succeeding.