While there’s no wrong way to do marketing on Instagram, there are certainly a few things to avoid. In a time when anything you post can get saved, screen-shot, forwarded or reposted, the life span of the content you’re putting out is forever. And forever is a long time. This is all on top of the fact that every inch of your photos will likely be dissected, judged and criticized. For these reasons alone, taking the time to post quality, well thought out content is imperative. This is especially true if you’re posting on behalf of your personal or business brand.

While we’re all about being unique and having the freedom to show off your creative personality, there are a few Instagram no-no’s that may have you losing your audience. The following are 5 mistakes you’re making on Instagram (and how to avoid them).

  1. Using low-res photos

Having bad quality photos cheapens your brand whether you’re a business or an influencer. The resolution, lighting and layout of your photos directly reflect the product or service you’re selling. If the photo looks like garbage, your followers will assume the product is garbage. And nobody wants garbage.

Using expensive and complicated photo equipment isn’t necessary to get good shots either. A simple DLSR camera or even your iPhone (with the right lighting) can turn out great photos easily and quickly.

  1. Not having a link in your bio

To me, this is the most obvious mistake someone can make. If your ultimate goal is to drive traffic to your website (or other social media accounts), WHY are you not telling people about it?

Website traffic is the blood that runs through your brand’s veins and without it, your dream is going to collapse and die. Too dramatic? That’s how seriously we take website traffic. Always post the link to your latest videos, website address or social media accounts in your bio so people have the option of delving deeper into your brand without having to Google. Mentioning that there is a “Link in bio!” in your photo captions doesn’t hurt either.

While we’re on the topic, your bio is incredibly important too. A lame bio description is ruining your first impression and is enough to make anyone swipe left (if that was an Insta-thing). Use your bio to briefly give the “why” of your page and your brand.

  1. Posting at the wrong times

This one seems simple yet I still see brands/influencers posting at 3am on a Saturday night. The large majority of your followers are either fast asleep or blind drunk at this time. And while drunk people are great to take advantage of (marketing wise, easy now), no one is in the right mindset to enter that giveaway contest or buy that face mask at 3am.

There is no one ideal time to post as it varies from business to business. The best time to post about crocheting is different than the best time to post about adult toys. You need to know your audience. Using an app like Iconosquare can help you determine what your optimal posting times are based on statistics they gather from your page. Easy peasy.

If you’re lazy though, we do have the times where Instagram users are most active. Typically, people are scrolling their feeds most on Mondays and Thursdays and on off-work hours (11am-1pm and 7-9pm). It’s also been found that between 3-4pm is when there is the lowest engagement as most people are busy into their workday (or in my case, busy taking a desk-nap).

  1. Not using geo-tags

Not utilizing everything Instagram has to offer is foolish and this includes not using their geo-tag feature. Findings from an AdWeek study show that while only 5% of Instagram posts tag a location, the ones that do get 79% more engagement. This is because including that tag adds one more layer to how people can search or find your photo. Win.

Geo-tags are not only valuable for brick-and-mortar type businesses, they also come in handy for influencers who want to connect with people/businesses in their area.

  1. Being too sales pitchy

No one wants to be friends with the guy that’s always selling you something. The “Hey man, buy my $5 mix tape” guy is no fun and it’s no different for your Instagram account.

Instagram is not Ebay. It’s not an e-commerce site. The last thing people want when they’re scrolling their feeds is to be inundated with ads. This is why, if you’re a business or influencer pushing a brand, your content needs to be integrated into lifestyle shots that don’t have that ad feel.

If you’re selling clothing, for example, don’t just post a photo of the t-shirt. Post a photo of some awesome chick wearing the t-shirt tucked in to some cool mom jeans while sitting in a trendy café. Lifestyle shots will always get more engagement than plain product shots.

When it comes to engaging with followers, avoid using sentences like “Follow me!” or “Buy it here!”. Instead, engage with your followers in a more personal way by asking about them or having a two-way conversation. People love to buy things, but they absolutely hate to be sold.

 

If you’ve been guilty of any of the above mistakes, it’s not too late to change. Before you post next, though, remember that in 500 years some tween may be laughing at your low-res, badly-lit photo of a t-shirt. No pressure.