Instagram is the second-most popular social media platform, following Facebook. Currently, this photo-sharing platform has more than 700 million users and gets more than 4.2 million likes on its posts every day.
And since Instagram has opened its floodgates for businesses to advertise on the platform, marketers are jumping at the opportunity to appear in the news feeds of their target customers. And why wouldn’t they? A study conducted at the end of 2016 claimed that Instagram has 20x more engagement than Twitter and 15x more than Facebook.
However, it’s also true that many businesses are failing to convince Instagram’s proactive and highly engaged user base to tap their advertisements. And it’s not just small brands—big names like Coca-Cola, Victoria’s Secret and McDonald’s also fail to capture Instagram’s full potential.
What mistakes are these brands (and yours) making which prevent them from mastering one of the fastest-growing social media platforms?
Let’s review the common missteps brands make while advertising on Instagram so that you have a checklist of what not to do.
1. You’re not being unique enough
Remember, there are lots of brands on Instagram vying for attention, some of which have similar products and target audiences as yours. Just as you compete with so many brands on the market, you compete for space and share of mind online. So how are you differentiating your brand from other brands with the content you create and share?
2. You have bad timing
When you post on any social media platform, the timing matters a lot. Though Instagram’s algorithm is relevance-based rather than time-based (that is, it generates users’ feeds based on their interests and activity rather than showing all items chronologically), you should still post at times when people check their social media apps the most. This will make it more likely that your content is seen, liked and shared—and the algorithm will amplify its exposure.
3. Your content is not focused enough
Instagram is not the place for crowded infographics or random pictures. Be thoughtful about the ongoing theme and presentation of your posts. Every user scrolling through their feed only stops to look at a post carefully if it catches their eye and speaks to their values. The better your content is focused around a relevant niche, the more chance a user will stop and absorb your post.
4. Your pictures are low-quality
Instagram is a visual platform, and people who use it regularly expect a certain level of aesthetic quality. Make sure your original photos are shot with proper lightning and in high resolution. If you use stock images, make sure they feel authentic. Keep the editing to a minimum so your images don’t look fake.
5. You don’t post frequently enough
Most brands believe that posting once or twice a day should be sufficient. However, according to a Union Metric study, brands that post once an hour enjoy higher engagement rates on all of their content—both posts and advertisements. Turns out that, in this case, more is more.
6. You’re misusing hashtags
It’s vital to understand the significant role that hashtags play on Instagram. Using too many, too few or simply the wrong ones—all of these can prove disadvantageous for your brand. Before using a hashtag, do some research to see what it’s primarily being used for. Aim for a few short hashtags that don’t distract from your message, so new people can find you but your current followers aren’t annoyed.
7. Your business account is private
Yes, it really does happen. There’s no good reason to keep your business account private, because the entire idea is to reach new audiences and gain followers. If you’re worried about privacy, make sure your business account is separate from your personal account. Rather than approving each new follower, open the gates and welcome the masses. You can always block troublemakers when and if they arise.
Summing it all up
With Instagram’s increasing popularity, it’s only going to continue to grow. As a social media platform, it’s intriguingly unique. It’s visual, it grabs undivided attention from its users, and it keeps users hooked with fun new features.
Yes, it requires some investment—but with focused creative campaigns designed specially for the platform, Instagram can bring you more conversions than any other social channel. More Instagram users prefer to shop online than Facebook users, so it’s a potentially lucrative channel to master. And by following these tips, you’ll be well on your way.