With over 300 million Instagram users and growing, I’m not surprised that I’ve been working with more companies to build their brands on digital platforms like this popular photo-sharing social media platform.
Companies are quickly finding out that Instagram users (which mainly consist of 16 – 30-year-olds) aren’t interested in corporate advertisements and distinct sales copy. It will take a little more style and creative finessing to ensure their business objectives are met on Instagram. I’ve gathered a list of common mistakes I found while managing Instagram profiles for brand building purposes:
1. Using low-quality images or not having a consistent photo theme on Instagram
Instagram is a visual platform that is vital to both telling your story and building your brand.
I completely understand the temptation to take pictures on phones and just upload, irrespective of lighting or other quality considerations, however, if you’d like to be a giant among little people, you’ll have to invest a bit more time and energy in your photos.
With many picture editing applications available for phones and a little bit of photography know-how, you can raise your “insta-game” with these simple principles:
i. Take multiple pictures of the same object before posting to Instagram.
Believe it or not, for every beautiful image you see (whether it’s in your favorite magazines, billboards, or other) it can take over 50 or more shots to get that perfect shot that comes out looking so good. Trust me; this isn’t a game. Bloggers (especially street style bloggers), Instagramers, and those whose photos you enjoy online should be well respected and appreciated. From taking the picture to editing the photo, creating the copy and uploading it to dashboards or mobile devices, it can take one to two hours (sometimes more) to prep one photo.
ii. Find an Instagram filter and stick with it, or better yet, try not using any at all.
As long as you capture your photos using a professional camera (which I highly advise), inappropriate lighting, the natural beauty of your photo will be highlighted.
iii. Use as much white space as possible (a fundamental design principle that will never go out of date).
It is always aesthetically pleasing and gives the appearance of a clean layout (even if there is not design or skill involved).
2. Have a theme for your overall Instagram board and (if you feel saucy enough) each column
I’ll use a recent client, Emmaus Beauty, a natural skincare line for healing skin care line for treating skin disorders as an example. Column one (from left to right) lays emphasis on a white background, as in column two (middle) is more for free styling and metallic grays, and column three is for plants and nature shots involving her brand or product.
3. Using too many hashtags. Worse not understanding hashtag meanings
Hashtags are great when used appropriately (like anything meant for good in the world). With all things good, however, comes responsibility. If you use too many hashtags, it is possible for your posts to look spammy (many are guilty of this). Using hashtags without fully understanding the meaning or implications of the particular hashtag is also a major faux pas. Pop culture has added and keeps adding, layers of definitions to words and phrases we commonly use or understand. In addition to traditional dictionaries such as Webster’s dictionary (or dictionary.com), take the time to look up phrases (hashtags) in urbandictionary.com.
You’ll be surprised at the meaning that has been added to words like “chill,” as in #netflixandchill. And no, it doesn’t mean relaxing while watching your favorite shows on Netflix. #Stop #It (Note: the last use of hashtag was horrendous and meaningless. do not try it home).
4. Not updating or providing a link in Instagram bio
Your Instagram bio is the ONLY place where you can insert an active hyperlink. I cannot tell you how many times I find that people put links in their posts, and yet fail to place the same link in their bio where it is active.
Even worse are those that don’t put any link or maintain the same link, in the bio section for years. Use this opportunity to liven up your page, and update your link to reflect what you’re posting.
5. Not interacting with anyone on Instagram
Don’t be that person, who speaks about yourself and never stops to listen and include anyone else in the conversation. We all like to be paid a little compliment or gentle attention here and there. Gain disciples and not just followers by encouraging others, reposting photos (always provide credits where due).
Although managing your brand on Instagram sounds like a lot of work, it will be rewarding. After all, the goal of using social is to connect, engage, and promote. If a photo is worth 1,000 words, imagine what your entire Instagram profile says about you, your brand, platform, and your company. Making the mistakes above could mean, losing traffic to your site (remember the link in bio), lost in potential newsletter subscribers, and even worse- leave potential customers with a bad impression. Hiring a firm or an individual, to manage your digital presence with the right tools (camera, writing skills, and clear business objectives), could go a long way. Take the time or make the investment.
P.S. There are so many other ways of building your brand on Instagram. Most of which is contingent upon the newest features they roll out. Most recently they rolled out Instagram Stories (in response to SnapChat). According to sites like Forbes, Adage, and Mashable, a rising trend in advertising and building your brand will be adding elements of video to your content marketing. Instagram Stories, allows you to engage your audience in a spontaneous, more authentic way.
This article was originally shared on Entrepreneur.com ( South Africa )
“Build Your Brand On Instagram By Avoiding These Common Mistakes” Entrepreneur Magazine ( SA ). N.p., n.d. Web 21 Jan. 2016