Instagram is a popular platform for all kinds of businesses, and you’ve probably come across dozens of articles about how to create an effective Instagram strategy.
The problem? Those articles rarely tell you what not to do. That’s where we come in. Keep reading for a list of seven mistakes you should avoid as you craft your Instagram strategy.
Posting Without a Strategy
Speaking of crafting your Instagram strategy, mistake number one is approaching the platform with no strategy whatsoever. While you might assume you should just start posting and figure it out as you go, you’ll likely end up with a feed that looks scattered and isn’t helping you reach your goals. Instead, spend some time thinking about what you’re hoping to accomplish on Instagram, and plan your content accordingly.
You’ll want to think through details like your brand’s content pillars (which are like themes for your account’s content), how you’ll capture photos and videos to share, how you’ll brand your content, and how often you’ll post—more on that later.
Letting DMs Go Unread
You may think of Instagram as mostly a content-sharing app, but it can also be a great platform to communicate with your network. With that in mind, make sure to keep a close eye on your account’s DMs. Don’t go more than a day or two without monitoring and responding to your messages.
If you happen to get a message that stumps you or needs additional support, it’s best to respond to the person anyway and let them know that you’re on it. Apply the golden rule of customer service here and treat your customers the way you wish other brands would treat you.
Not Using Hashtags
Next on our list, “hashtag” may have been the hottest buzzword of 2007, but hashtags are still essential for any successful social media strategy. Hashtags allow your audience to find you by topic or niche, which is excellent for attracting new customers that may not know to search for you by name.
Do some research about common hashtags in your industry, and consider creating an additional hashtag that you just use with your audience. As a shortcut, you can also look at your competitors’ accounts to get a quick overview of the most promising hashtags in your field.
Skimping on the Bio
Another common mistake local businesses make is rushing their account’s bio—or, worse, not having one at all. You have 150 characters to use to describe your brand and what users can expect from your content if they follow you. A well-written bio also sends a signal of professionalism and attention to detail that won’t go unnoticed with potential customers.
As a general rule, include a brief description of your brand and any other info you deem relevant to your followers. Also, make sure to set up a profile photo and use the link feature to share your website or another useful URL.
The second mistake local businesses make with Instagram is ignoring opportunities to use video. Most social platforms are becoming increasingly focused on dynamic content, and video is the king of dynamic formats.
As of this month (August 2021), you can post videos to Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, IGTV, and the regular post feed. Video is proven to perform better than static images, so try sharing some video clips if you haven’t already.
Remember that Instagram strategy from step one? Make sure it includes a regular cadence for sharing content. Try to mix up the formats, like posting one Story, one Reel, and one regular post per week. If possible, aim to post multiple times a week (or even once a day) to build up your following.
If you notice that you created a schedule that you can’t stick to, reevaluate your plan and scale back a bit. However, if you find that you’re going more than a week between posts, try to reallocate resources to prioritize your Instagram strategy.
Having Multiple Account Managers
Last but not least, many local businesses make the mistake of having multiple employees with admin access to the account. Hear us out here—this isn’t always a mistake, and it can work well if you have clear guidelines about who is responsible for what. But, unless you’re already an Instagram master (and if so, you probably don’t need this list), it’s a recipe for disaster.
You may end up with content and captions that are completely different in style and tone, and it’s easy to wrongfully assume that someone else has checked DMs or scheduled the week’s content. In most cases, it’s better to give one person sole ownership over the account and trust them to handle it.
It can be tough to get everything right as a local business owner—especially in the social media world, where features and capabilities change on a daily basis. Thankfully, the tips above are all evergreen—they’ll hold up even if Instagram tweaks its algorithm or releases a new feature.
If you’re overwhelmed, take note of any mistakes your company is currently making and focus on correcting just one. Tackle others down the line as needed, and your Instagram account will be on the right track in no time.
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Linda Musselwhite is an author, speaker and co-owner of Musselwhite Marketing (est 2009). Linda’s previous positions as Human Resources Administrator. Combined with extraordinary customer service makes her the obvious choice of day to day operations for Musselwhite Marketing.
Connect with Linda on LinkedIn.