4 Instagram Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

4 Instagram Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

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This article has been contributed by Jessica Fender.

When it comes to digital marketing, Instagram can help to take your business to the next level. Boasting more than one billion monthly active users and becoming a widely accepted shopping platform, Instagram is a gem for businesses looking to achieve their marketing goals.

However, to make your Instagram account a selling machine or a popular place to visit for your target audience, you need to gain users’ trust.

This is in large part due to the credibility crisis that many businesses face on social media at the moment. This crisis is an outcome of avoidable mistakes that certain Instagram influencers and brands have committed, which has undermined customer trust in businesses on social media in general.

For example, customers know very well that fake followers in influencer marketing cost brands about $1.3 billion in 2019 plus a lot of upset potential customers. Not every influencer is trustworthy, despite having millions of followers. Perhaps the best example is Arianna Renee, an Instagram star who had 2.6 million followers but couldn’t sell 36 T-shirts from her new clothing line.

So trust us when we say that there are a lot of mistakes that can be made here. In this article, we will explore four of them:

  1. Not optimizing your bio
  2. Incorrect use of hashtags
  3. Talking too much about your brand and products
  4. Not sharing user-generated content (UGC)

Mistakes in Instagram Profile Promotion

1. Not Optimizing Your Bio

Whether you’re managing a personal or a business profile on Instagram, your bio should be a concise portfolio, a business card, a welcoming message, and a website, all wrapped into one. It needs to be very concise, with only a few seconds to make a great first impression on people who read it.

A finely tuned, well optimized bio meets at least two of these requirements:

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  1. Not only describes your business but its values and mission
  2. Has keywords that people might be using to find similar businesses or entrepreneurs
  3. Speaks to the target reader by using the language and style they do
  4. Has clickable links by using “@” or “#” to direct people to other posts, campaigns, and branded profiles.

Let’s look at some good examples.

Moment, a go-to destination for photography gear, has a succinct description where they mention what they do, how to find their other profiles by using hashtags, and provide a link to inspirational posts for photographers (#shotonmoment).

Optimised Instagram bio by @moment

Image source: @moment (Instagram)

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Next, Binging with Babish, a popular Instagram influencer, uses his description to lead visitors to his latest episode on YouTube.

Optimised Instagram bio by @bangingwithbabish

Image source: @bingingwithbabish

Kicking Horse Coffee, on the other hand, takes an opportunity to share the brand’s philosophy and provide a brief description of their product. A link to their official website is also there.

Optimised Instagram bio by @kickinghorsecoffee

Image source: @kickinghorsecoffee

Next, check out how Timberland has summed up the brand’s mission in one, concise sentence. In addition, they also take the opportunity to promote their latest campaign, #NatureNeedsHeroes, and share the link to its dedicated page on their website.

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Optimised Instagram bio by @timberland

Image source: @timberland

As you can see, there are many ways to leverage the power of Instagram’s profile description to promote your business, so make sure you take advantage of it.

Unoptimized profile bios are a missed opportunity to tell people more about your brand and engage them. For example, this bio simply restates the name of the business. A better idea would be to place a website link or at least to write a concise description.

Unoptimised Instagram bio by @laptops_sales_dsm

Image source: @laptops_sales_dsm

This way, the company loses an opportunity to engage more customers. So, make sure to share relevant details about your business – a bio is a perfect place for that.

2. Incorrect Use of Hashtags

Instagram marketing is all about using hashtags to reach wider audiences, but if you rush to post without checking your posts for proper hashtag use, you may damage your reputation. Even though there’s no universal formula for the application of hashtags, there are three major ways in which one can screw up their use and effectiveness:

  1. Using too many hashtags
  2. Making mistakes in hashtags
  3. Not doing hashtag research (tracking the performance of hashtags as well as their search volume).

Let’s talk about these in more detail now.

Too many hashtags

Using too many hashtags is actually a common occurrence because some brands tend to follow “the more hashtags, the wider reach” strategy. However, by including a whole bunch of them in a post, a brand can actually hurt their visibility because people can perceive it as a spammy tactic.

But how many hashtags are Instagram users including in their posts? According to this data by Statista, the largest share of posts – 35.2 percent – have 1-3 hashtags.

Number of hashtags used in Instagram posts

Image source: Statista

While 3-4 hashtags could be a great starting point for you, don’t hesitate to add a couple more if you need to (for example, you might need to include additional holiday hashtags or local hashtags). This is also backed up by evidence: Studies suggest that profiles with between 5k and 10k followers perform best when using 5 hashtags (those with fewer than 5k are advised to use 6 hashtags).

This post from Dell, for example, has three hashtags – a perfect amount. But the best thing is that the brand used them so naturally in the copy.

Good use of Instagram hashtags by @dell

Image source: @dell

Such skilled use of hashtags makes the post text easy to read. Plus, inserting them naturally shows professionalism and expertise.

On the other hand, stuffing posts with keywords makes a post look like spam, as seen below.

Example of bad hashtag use on Instagram

Image source: Instagram

More than half of these keywords aren’t super relevant, so could be avoided. Besides, describing the characteristics of the product in the copy instead of listing them as hashtags is a much better idea.

Misspelled hashtags

So, always check your hashtags at least a few times before sharing them. Even one misspelled word can hurt the visibility of the post and make you look unprofessional and careless in the eyes of potential customers. This applies to all content that you put out there to promote your Instagram account.

Hashtag research

Hashtags themselves are another critical consideration. They are like keywords, so you can’t just come up with a hashtag and hope that it works well. You can start by searching for popular keywords manually, but if you don’t feel like doing that, check out Hashtagset.

The tool generates a list of hashtags along with their popularity based on your input and is totally free to use.


Image source: Hashtagset

If you need more help, check out this guide to finding the best Instagram hashtags for more reach with step-by-step instructions and tools by Ampfluence.

3. Talking Too Much About Your Brand and Products

Many businesses have had to rethink their approach to targeting the Instagram community after employing the so-called “machine gun” approach. The essence of this approach lies in the idea that sharing post after post with product descriptions provides potential customers with more buying options, which helps them make a good choice.

In actuality, what the “machine gun” does is build the image of your brand as one that’s too preoccupied with meeting sales objectives. With the days of hard selling behind us, this is obviously a sure-fire way to fail: Many people who see an Instagram feed that looks like a product inventory will leave.

Here’s an example. The post is basically a badly organized list of product features and promotional messages.

Bad promotion of products in Instagram post

Image source: Instagram

One customer group that will certainly ignore these kinds of posts is millennials. These customers care about socially conscious brands with purpose, and they love storytelling, so the “machine gun” is a terrible approach to targeting them on Instagram (and everywhere else).

One good example of an Instagram influencer selling products from their own line while not referring directly to them is NFL player Julian Edelman’s posts. In the shoppable post below, he shares one of the latest items in his collection, the Relentless Beenie, in a really awesome and authentic way.

Good promotion of products on Instagram by @edelman11

Image source: @edelman11

As you can see, the sign in the bottom left corner of the image shows that there’s a product present, but you’ll find nothing salesy or pushy. While this is a technique that mostly well-known businesses and influencers should follow, it supports the idea that impressions don’t mean purchases and only real people with real stories can make an impact on customers.

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, if you have trouble with crafting a proper description for your product, focus on creating an eloquent visual. What’s more, a good eCommerce integration tool can be a great addition to your website.

4. Not Sharing User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC), also known as customer-generated content, is any type of content that is created by consumers.

For many customers, UGC is much more interesting because it’s created by people, not brands, It’s widely accepted that UGC will be the next wave of truly authentic marketing.

Take a look at the post below from Highway Robery, a brand that sells original robes. The company is encouraging its clients to take pictures of themselves in their new robes and share their excitement with the brand community.

A couple took this photo, and Highway Robery’s social media folks reposted it – a great job! Recognizing customers like that goes a long way to generate a lot of positive buzz around brands.

User-generated content on Instagram

Image source: @highway_robery

Content like this increases customer confidence to buy – just look at the happy couple sporting those colorful robes! People who might be considering buying might be more likely to convert after seeing this content, which suggests a positive customer experience.

The brand also did a great job at writing a short but friendly introduction to the post. Indeed, who wouldn’t love this photo? Writing warm words and thanking customers for their business is also a factor that goes into building a positive brand image and increasing sales.

UGC like this has a great ability to bring authenticity and trust to brands, which are critical for building online communities and increasing sales. This applies to every business in any industry with an Instagram account.

Here are some stats suggesting that trust and authenticity are features that every brand should strive for.

  • 57 percent of customers think that less than half of online businesses produce authentic content.
  • 30 percent of millennial consumers report having unfollowed a brand based on unauthentic content.
  • Only 23 percent of consumers consider social media posts and reviews from influencers “impactful” in purchasing decisions.

And, to top it all off, UGC is perceived as the most authentic content by the vast majority of consumers – 60 percent.

Content considered most authentic by consumers

Image source: Social Media Today

There are many ways in which you could encourage your customers to create UGC. For example, you can run contests and use other engagement techniques to make users spread the buzz around your products on Instagram. Also, you can simply ask your followers to share their best moments and experiences.

However, the best thing you can do is to give your customers an avenue to brag about how good you are, your excellent service and your quality products or services. Be helpful and friendly, and more people will want to buy from you and share their experiences.

Wrapping Up

There’s a lot to overcome when it comes to promoting your Instagram account, but this is something you simply have to do to stand out from the noise. Instagram is too good not to take advantage of, but you definitely need to employ a comprehensive and well-informed approach to achieve your promotion goals.

Hopefully, this article has been a good read for you, and you now understand how to overcome the current social media credibility crisis and follow the best practices to promote your Instagram account. By avoiding these 4 mistakes, you can make it one of the most valuable tools in your digital marketing arsenal.


About the author: Jessica Fender is a copywriter and blogger at Bestwritingadvisor and Essay Supply with a background in marketing and sales. She enjoys sharing her experience with like-minded professionals who aim to provide customers with high-quality services.

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