Stuck in a rut with your Instagram account? Not sure where you’re going wrong?
As social media influencers, we can often find ourselves second guessing posts, deleting old photos & questioning whether the IG life is really for us.
I’ve been there – it’s 11pm, I’ve had a long day & I’m laying in bed scrolling through my Instagram feed. I scroll down, see a gorgeous photo, click their profile and fall in love instantaneously.
A shadow of self-doubt clouds over my head & starts inducing a series of [ridiculous] questions. Why can’t my account look this good? Why don’t my photos get that many likes? How come those brands haven’t reached out to me? And the list goes on..
But what’s important to remember here is that everyone is different! What works for you might not work for me.
What works for me might not work for you.
Especially with Instagram’s hideous algorithm.
We can’t afford to get ourselves down these days with such large competition (hate that word) out there.
However, if you’re taking all the right steps to make something of your Instagram account but can’t see much growth happening, here are a few things to be sure you avoid.
Not Using Hashtags
Designed to help your content get discovered, hashtags need to become your best friend when it comes to Instagram.
You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. That’s right, 30 hashtags per post! The way I see it – each hashtag you use is another chance at gaining more exposure.
Don’t skip out on adding hashtags because you can’t figure out which ones to use.
Using hashtags requires a bit of research and a little common sense.
Put it this way.. If you’re posting about a new beauty product, you’re not going to include #hungry #bored #sunday are you? Tailor your hashtags to your audience & niche and go with what works well for you.
Putting Hashtags in your Caption
As I already mentioned, each Instagram post you publish allows you to add 30 hashtags. But, there’s a trick that actually allows you to add more than 30 hashtags per post!
All you need to do is post your 30 hashtags in the first comment immediately after publishing your post. Then, go back to your image, edit the caption & add (at the bottom) any extra hashtags you need to include.
This trick comes in especially handy when you have been gifted or sponsored for a post and need to include #gifted #ad #sp or #spon (which is actually a requirement).
But, if you’re just posting your normal 30 hashtags, pretty please do yourself (& your followers a favour) and post them in the comments. You’re just going to clog up news feeds with endless hashtags and make your post look messy.
Have a browse through my Instagram & check out examples of how to make use of 30 hashtags per post & ad in those required ones (#gifted etc).
Edit: After Instagram’s changes to the algorithm, again, some say that using more than 30 hashtags can get your posts “banned” from being seen by users other than your followers. I’ve been experimenting with using hashtags in and out of the caption & I’m still undecided on the final verdict. However, if you do put them in the caption, make sure to add some line breaks so it doesn’t clog up peoples feeds.
Posting Landscape Photos
If you’re really wanting to maximise your exposure on Instagram, avoid posting landscape photos.
Just like on Pinterest, landscape photos can be easily missed as users scroll through their feeds.
Regardless of the dimensions of your image, the majority of people use Instagram on their mobile phone. And how big is a mobile phone screen? Not all that big. Well, I guess in comparison to my first ever Motorola Coca-Cola phone (lol) they’re huge. But in comparison to the average laptop or desktop PC, there’s not a lot of space to work with.
Not Interacting With Anyone
I love interacting with other bloggers, social media influencers or just down right beauty-junkies. Liking their posts, leaving comments and often having to stalk them once a week because of Instagram’s stupid algorithm – these are all just small parts of being active on Instagram.
Trying to return every single comment you’re left on Instagram can be hard.
Trying to manage working a day job, maintaining your Instagram, keeping up with creating blog content & still trying to have a social life can be difficult at times.
Add to that list having to return hundreds of comments… Oh god, let’s woo up a minute here. I’m freakin’ out just thinking about it.
Try not to overwhelm yourself (like I do) with returning comments & make use of the “like” feature Instagram recently released. If you are really stuck for time, simply like the person’s comment & show them that you at least have read it & appreciate it.
Posting Too Many “Gifted” Posts
If there is one thing you don’t want to get wrong on Instagram it’s this.
Please, for the love of chocolate, don’t fill your feed with gifted posts.
What’s a gifted post you ask? Well, part of being a blogger is receiving new products to try from PR or brands directly. And each time us bloggers put up an image of a “gifted” product, we have to disclose it’s a gifted product of course – it’s actually a legality.
But, post too many gifted photos and you start to look like an advertising page. Trust me, I’ve seen it before. Scrolling through bloggers feeds where out of the last 30 photos, there’s only 2 that aren’t gifted. Oh no..
From both a personal and professional point of view, this just seriously doesn’t look good.
If I posted a new photo every time I was sent a new product, I have no doubt that I’d lose followers.
Although I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities I am given, I pride myself on my values. And one of my values is not to sell myself out & promote products I have no idea about (or dislike).
In fact, It’s actually stated in my disclaimer (that I sent to every company I work with). I highly suggest all bloggers creating something similar or just mentioning in an email conversation. It can save you a lot of issues in the long run.
Not Being Consistent
Consistency is key when it comes to running a successful Instagram.
I recommend posting daily for all serious Instagrammers but probably no more than 3 times. You don’t want to bombard your followers with posts and come across spammy.
It’s also important to keep your followers “in the loop”. Let them know if you’re planning on taking a break so they don’t just assume you’ve fallen off the face of the earth & unfollow you. That could be tragic..
Consistency also applies to the aesthetic of your account, or the theme you could say.
Keep your posts consistent by creating a theme for your Instagram. If you usually post bright, contrasted images, try and steer clear of posting dull, unsaturated shots. If you don’t intend on posting black & white photos often, keep it that way & post in colour. As the marketing meerkats would say… Simples!
Posting At The Wrong Time
Get to know your audience and post at times that you know you’ll get the best engagement.
Instagram now actually offers you the option to change your personal account to a “business” account. With a business account, you’re given “insights” into how many people are viewing your posts, are interacting with your posts & your supposed best times to post.
I tried out this feature for myself recently and just found that the stats weren’t as spot on as I’d like. I’ve now switched back to a personal account but sure I’ll constantly swap between the two as times change.
If you’re looking for an alternative to an Instagram business account, there is a massive variety of apps to chose from.
My personal favourite, if you weren’t already aware, is Iconosquare. I will forever rant and rave about this app – it’s so spot on with everything & even lets you return comments! Find out more about Iconosquare here.
Not Filling Out Your Bio
One of the simplest mistakes an Instagrammer can make is a blank (or just unorganised) bio.
Your bio is your chance to sell yourself.
Explain what your account is about, share your contact details and draw followers in. After all, Instagram is a networking app. Therefore, you need to make the most of the small space you have for people to network with you! How else will brands contact you to request your kick-ass media kit?!
Keep it short, keep it sweet and keep it professional. But don’t forget to be yourself & put a spin on it! Here’s how I lay out my Instagram bio.
Posting Low-Quality Photos
I could sit here and write a whole post on how to take great photos but… Wait… I already did that! Check it out here (ps. there’s no fancy camera required, just your smartphone)
However, if you’re looking for just a few simple tips – focus on getting your lighting right, don’t over style, avoid using filters & pretty please don’t post blurry photos. Oh and might be best to keep the funny Snapchat filters for your personal account.