8 Mistakes You’re Making on Instagram

 

Instagram is an amazing platform and a great way to connect with people. Want more followers?  Make sure you’re not making these mistakes:

 

1. Being set to private: If you want get more followers, people need to see who you are and what you’re about. Setting your account to be private is a sure-fire way to stop them from finding out about you. If you want new clients, it’s never going to happen if you’re set to private. On the other hand, if you’re doing stupid things that may reflect badly on your professional life, then, by all means, have your profile set to be private. Otherwise, public is the way to go. Why? Because every day, tons of people are checking out your profile and looking through your pictures. I do it – I look at people’s work, what they’ve accomplished, and what photos have had the most success. I’ve watched other people do the same thing. Being set to private shields potential followers from finding out who you are.Screenshot_2014-03-13-15-22-42[1]

2. Not telling a story: What’s your favorite movie? Got the movie in mind? Great.  Now, why do you like it? It’s because you like the story.  Humans love stories, and movies let us watch other’s stories. So why not create your own? It doesn’t have to be long, or complicated. Instagram is the perfect platform to tell a story because it’s going to be a maximum of 15 seconds (or less).  People’s attention spans are also short, so this is a good combination.  A 3 or 4 shots in different places or from different angles, can go a long way toward telling a story.  For a great example of a story, check out my friend Lisa’s very simple but very creative post:

I was so inspired by Lisa’s post, I created my own story from a recent vacation to Italy.

3. Posting the same thing over and over (including selfies): Just because you see celebrities constantly posting selfies doesn’t mean it’s the right way to use the platform.  Sure, celebrities may have millions of followers, but you’re not a celebrity. And posting selfies isn’t going to make you one.

There's millions more of these. I'm not posting any more of them. You get the point.

There’s millions more of these. I’m not posting any more of them. You get the point.

4. Not responding to every comment on your posts: Social media is all about engagement. Engagement means having conversations with people because you genuinely want to, not because you get something out of it. You have to comment on people’s pictures and respond to all of their comments are yours. If someone walked up to you in real life and started talking, you don’t just walk away or stare blankly at them without answering.  You know how excited you are when someone comments on your picture? Here’s your chance to give that feeling to someone else.  Admittedly, conversations on Instagram are challenging because you have to make sure you include the person’s name in the comment, but it is rewarding.

5. Not using hashtags correctly: Hashtags have one purpose: to group pictures and conversations. Don’t use them as jokes. Don’t make them up. Don’t write #Idontgethashtags or #hashtagsareconfusing on your posts. Creating custom ones as jokes may seem funny, but doesn’t help anyone else find you. There are so many relevant hashtags that people aren’t using. I was recently talking to someone who wanted to build up their local clients. I asked “Why not use the hashtag for the town you’re in when you take pictures locally? Then, follow people who are also using the same hashtag, comment on their pictures, and engage with them. Get to know those people. They are your future clients. You’ll be known as the 2015 local person who knows everyone.” Look for the hashtag for your town or location, and see who posts the most using that tag. Learn about them, compliment them, find ways to help them. Learn from their successes and mistakes, and imitate what’s worked best. Here’s the results of a search for the hashtag of my town name.

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5. Not following enough people: If you’re following less than 20% of the people who follow you, I’m wary. It means you’re not getting to know your followers, and  you don’t care who they are or what they’re about. It’s clear you just care about how many followers you have. I’m not interested in people like that. Even if you’re a celebrity, this isn’t OK. Don’t imitate celebrities by picking up this practice.

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6. Not being human enough: Lots of people post inspirational pictures and sayings. You know what I rarely see? An original inspirational post. You probably have a ton of sayings or expressions. I’ve been saying “You’re the product of the 5 people you spend the most time with” a lot lately. Why not take that expression and put it on an image? Here’s a great example from a friend of mine, Michael.

Michael’s post really inspired me to create my own posts with my worldview.

 

7. Not posting your rates, recent successes, or current work: A few of my friends are personal trainers, and I follow them. Do I know their rates? Do I know when they have openings in their schedule? Do I know what amazing results they’ve helped their clients achieve? I have no idea about any of those things. Why not? Because they’re not posting about them.  Before and after shots of clients are easy – take one at the start of training someone, and take one 60 days later.  Posts with text are easy – why not make one showing a client who’s had great results, and write pricing info on the picture?  Even if you’re not a personal trainer, you need to be talking about whatever it is you do. If I’m following you and have no idea what you’ve accomplished lately, then you’re not marketing yourself.  (Note: don’t overdo it. One post with your rates every few weeks is enough.)

When I first started on Instagram, I refused to post pictures from my phone, because I can never consistently get a good picture with my smartphone camera.  Here is the process I use:

  1. Take a photo (or video) with a digital camera. I use a Canon Point-and-Shoot, but you can use a Digital SLR (DSLR) if you have one.
  2. Open the photo on your computer
  3. Upload to Copy.com or Dropbox
  4. Download to your phone
  5. Publish to Instagram

Instagram is an amazing platform to share your message with the world.

So how do you accomplish that?

I can show you. Contact me for help using the form below, or check out the following posts:

Should You Buy Instagram Followers?

How Do You Build an Online Following?

Should You have separate Instagram accounts for personal life and work (or your brand)?

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  • Yes to #3! I would add one thing to your series on building an audience. More than doing what you love and sharing it, I think finding a following online is about being helpful. Putting others first. When you make your platform about other people, they make it about you. It’s a virtuous cycle. Glad to see you doing that, Daniel.

  • Stephen Thomson

    Is it possible to post too frequently or too many times in a row? Is it better to be on a sort of schedule? I sometimes worry that I am just spamming my followers.

    • Hi Stephen!

      I think more than 2 or 3 posts per day can be
      considered a bit rude, but that’s just my opinion. Some people are on
      Instagram constantly so they probably wouldn’t mind.

      My overall feeling is one post per day is enough to leave your followers wanting
      more, and gives you enough time to make sure the quality of each post is
      better than the one before.

      Hope that helps!