There’s no way around it—Instagram is booming. Launched in 2010, the Facebook-owned app has not only solidified itself as a favorite of smartphone owners, but also marketers. Seriously, due to the social channel’s engaging interface and visual appeal, it’s no wonder that the app currently lays claim to upwards of 300 million accounts.
The best part of this for marketers? Unlike other popular social outlets, Instagram’s level of activity is incredibly high. Each and every day, half of the app’s users spend an average of 21 minutes scrolling through friends’ photos and videos, not to mention those of their favorite brands.
But it gets even better—according to Simply Measured’s Quarterly Instagram Network Study, a shocking 86 percent of Interbrand’s 2014 Top 100 Brands not only had an Instagram account, but regularly used it. Shockingly, that was a 71 percent increase from the year prior. With 2016 having just begun, time will most assuredly reveal that said trend has, once again, continued.
So, how does your brand plan to use Instagram more effectively this year? Whether you’re just now making an Instagram account, or you’ve been religiously uploading photos and video snippets for months, there are a handful of Instagram marketing mistakes that must be avoided at all costs.
Here’s what you need to know:
1) Don’t Be Overly Promotional
Content marketing is more popular now than it’s ever been before. Basically, content marketing calls for the creation and publication of material that’s helpful for a specific target audience. From blog posts and white papers to video clips and infographics, the more value your brand can provide for potential customers, the more likely they are to become loyal to your company.
Social media—in this case, Instagram—is a huge part of the content marketing methodology. Yes, it’s important that products and services be pushed in a strategic and timely manner, but when made the mainstay of your Instagram account, issues are bound to arise. Overly promotional posts are lazy, boring and downright selfish. In reality, it’s possible to be both promotional and tasteful.
Instead, choose to provide posts that are entertaining, informative, thought-provoking and give followers a look into your company’s culture. Keep in mind that the majority of buying decisions are made on an emotional level. Instagram, more than just about any other social network, is the best place to make this kind of long-lasting connection with buyers.
2) Make the Quality of Your Visuals a Top Priority
Newsflash—Instagram is all about visuals. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, honestly. For this reason, the quality of the images and videos you share must be of the highest caliber.
This is important—take a moment or two to think about how Instagram is most commonly used. More often than not, a user quickly scrolls through his or her feed. When something catches the eye, engagement takes place. If not, it’s on to the next photo with no thought whatsoever for what’s been passed over.
Furthermore, comparatively speaking, studies have shown that Instagram posts have a longer shelf-life than those of Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Though it might take a bit more critical thinking and some grunt work to produce a top-tier post for an exact user, the back-end benefits more than justify the required grunt work.
3) Regularly Schedule Posts as Consistently as Possible
With Instagram, regular posting is extremely important. Ideally, your followers will come to know you and your brand on a more personal level through the visuals you share with them on their respective feeds.
That said, the consistency with which you post will also speak volumes of your brand’s dedication to your audience. The trick here is to find the perfect balance between quantity and quality. If one is sacrificed to the point of user noticeability, you’ve taken things too far and should adjust accordingly.
In fact, a recent study by Union Metrics found that the majority of brands post about 1.5 times-per-day on Instagram. Depending on the nature of your industry, a higher posting frequency may be necessary.
Interestingly enough, what the aforementioned study also found was that brands who fail to maintain a strict posting schedule are substantially more likely to lose followers once they’ve been brought onboard. Needless to say, it’s hard enough to attract followers. Once you’ve got their attention, keep it through the maintenance of a set posting schedule.
4) Capitalize On the Power of Your Current Follower Base
Listen, just because follower acquisition is important, doesn’t mean you should be resorting to shady tactics or buying them. To say the least, these are black-hat tactics and are bound to do more trouble than good for helping build rapport with Instagram users.
Instead, make things easy on yourself and use the simplest, most basic means through which a solid follower base can be further strengthened: your current followers. Confused? No worries, it’s really pretty straightforward. One of the reasons social media is such a powerful marketing tool comes from its potential to produce what’s known as user-generated content (UGC).
By way of real-time user engagement, branded hashtags and photo contests, Instagram is easily one of the best outlets for using followers to do your social media marketing for you. At this point, followers become brand advocates, making your Instagram marketing an exponentially rewarding endeavor.
Wrapping Up The Instagram Marketing Mistakes
It was Paul Simon who once famously said, “Anybody can do bad work, but not everybody does good work.” He’s got a point. As is the case with just about anything in life, if you’re not wholeheartedly dedicated to doing Instagram well, there’s no sense in really doing it. Even worse, neglected accounts transmit a distance between brands and consumers.
Though all of this might seem intimidating, there’s no need to worry. If you and your team of marketing wizards can make a conscious effort to avoid each of the aforementioned pitfalls of Instagram marketing, success is bound to occur.