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5 Ways to Use Instagram Like a Jerk—AND How to Avoid Them

July 4, 2016 12:00 pm Published by

Instagram is one of the most popular social networking platforms worldwide. People like it because it’s clean, simple and beautiful. As a general rule, users post less often and put more thought into their uploads than on other platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

However, that doesn’t mean Instagram is immune to irritating social media behaviors.  Whether you’re an individual user or a marketer, the same rules apply—don’t irritate your audience with these negative practices.

1) Image Buffing

Let’s be honest—image buffing is one of the inherent draws to all of social media. When we do something awesome, we naturally want other people to see it. We want to be congratulated. However, some people take this way too far.

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It’s ok to celebrate exciting news with your followers. If you’ve won an award or celebrated a birthday or got a new job, your friends will probably want to know about it.

That said, do you notice a common denominator among these events? None of them happen very often. If you pose something self-congratulatory every day, you’ll quickly alienate and madden your audience.

2) Cyberbullying

This happens more often than we’d like to think, and it isn’t ok. Anything posted online that puts an individual down or intentionally makes them uncomfortable can and should be considered cyberbullying. 

Fortunately, Instagram is designed in such a way as to prevent most types of cyberbullying. It’s easy to report inappropriate behavior and the limited posting options make it difficult to access personal information or impersonate someone.

Just be careful to never post anything that might be considered bullying material—and watch the comment sections on your posts, as well. Report immediately anything inappropriate.

3) Gratuitous Tagging

Instagram, like Facebook, allows you to tag people in your posts. This is a useful feature if you want to make sure friends see photos they appear in. However, some accounts use tagging as a cheap way to get more attention for their posts.

Have you ever been tagged in a completely irrelevant post? It’s irritating.

Instagram isn’t as bad as other platforms—you’re less likely to get tagged in a photo offering “once-in-a-lifetime prices on Ray-Ban sunglasses.” However, gratuitous tagging is still a problem.

As a general rule, don’t tag someone unless they appear in your photos or were involved somehow in the featured post.

4) Passive-Aggressive Captions

Most of the behaviors that irritate people on social media are designed to draw attention to the posts’ authors. The passive-aggressive Instagram caption is a classic example.

If you’re feeling happy, say you’re happy. If you’re feeling sad, say you’re sad—better yet, wait until you’re feeling better before posting at all. Nobody likes uncomfortable ambiguity.

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This may seem like a problem specific to individual users, but it’s relevant to brands, as well. Be straightforward with your marketing messages. Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t.

If the urge ever comes to caption your post with Elliott Smith lyrics, suppress it.

5) Shameless Plugs

Finally, people like to see interesting and exciting material on social media—not sales pitches. Don’t get us wrong—Instagram is an outstanding place to increase sales, especially with influencer marketing. Just be creative in the way you go about it.

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If a post has no value other than to inform audience members of a sale, it’s probably not worth uploading. Instead, find an interesting way to let your followers know about your promotion. Post an interview with a customer or a candid photo of your staff.

Just don’t get caught clogging your audience’s newsfeed with barefaced marketing messages. You don’t want this, and neither do your followers.

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