In all of my posts about Instagram, I spend a lot of time explaining what you should do to see success. Whether it’s best practices or tips and shortcuts, there are a lot of ways to use Instagram effectively. However, there are a lot of things you might be doing which will actually hinder your success.
Here are the things NOT to do on Instagram:
Don’t use an awkward username
Unfortunately, the search function within Instagram isn’t as powerful as other sites. If you make your username (and even your “real” name) hard to find, people won’t be able to find and follow you. Instead, use the same username as your Twitter handle and make your name something easy to recognize, whether it’s your real name or your business name.
Don’t set your profile to private
Unless you are using Instagram solely for personal reasons and don’t want to network, do NOT set your account to Private. Instead, set your account to Public so that new followers can see what you post and what you’re about. You will gain followers much more quickly if they can see your content and don’t have to wait for approval.
Don’t be a lurker
Instagram is all about interaction and sharing posts. Unless you’re brand new to the platform, don’t lurk in the shadows. Instead, post regularly and like/comment on others’ posts as frequently as possible. Be engaging and you’ll create better relationships with other Instagram users.
Don’t post without a caption
No matter how awesome your image is, it needs a caption. Posts with captions get higher levels of engagement and they allow you to interact with your audience. Tell people what the photo is, share a quote, ask a question. Whatever it is, find something relevant to include on your posts.
Don’t overuse or misuse hashtags
Hashtags are extremely important on Instagram and should be used on every post to increase reach. However, using more than 7-10 hashtags is overkill. Choose 5-7 relevant hashtags to include in your caption. Don’t use popular hashtags like #tagforlikes or #onedirection or #love if they have absolutely nothing to do with your post. Using inappropriate hashtags to show up in popular searches won’t help you reach new followers – you’ll actually end up alienating possible followers.
Don’t ignore your followers’ comments
When people take the time to comment on your posts or ask questions, do not ignore them! Make sure you check your notifications regularly to stay on top of comments. Then respond (using their @username to notify them) and thank them or answer their question. When used regularly, comments will significantly impact your relationship with your audience.
Don’t steal other Instagram users’ content
Just because you like someone else’s photo doesn’t mean you can post it as your own. If you want to utilize user generated content (UGC) in your strategy, have users tag you or use hashtags on their posts. When reposting, always, always, always provide proper attribution. There are some third-party apps which will allow you to repost another user’s post to your account while giving proper attribution to the original user.
Don’t use images from Google searches
Instagram is a place to share your own content, not share generic Google search result images. If you want to share a motivational quote, put the quote on top of one of your own images. This isn’t Facebook or Google+, use your own images and get creative!
Don’t overdo the selfies
I get it, we all love a good selfie. But one good selfie is enough. Unless you’re Kim Kardashian – nope, not even then – you don’t need a selfie a day. And definitely not multiple selfies a day! Want to show off your outfit, show off your outfit. Want to show off your vacation spot, show off the scenery. If you’re using Instagram to grow your business, a bunch of selfies won’t help you.
Don’t crowd your posts back-to-back
If you have multiple images to share, don’t post them one after the other on Instagram. Instead, space them out once every half hour or hour. Not only will this not crowd your followers’ feeds but you’ll get more engagement on each post if they’re not redundant. Speaking of redundancy, you don’t have to share 5 photos of the same thing. Pick one or two of the best images and share only those.
Don’t autoshare every post to Facebook and Twitter
While I recommend sharing the occasional post to Facebook and Twitter, you don’t want to share every post to your other sites. If you’re always sharing every post on other sites, why would someone follow you on Instagram? Instead, share one photo and encourage your fans to come see the rest of the images on Instagram.
Don’t follow everyone that follows you
Just because someone followed you doesn’t mean you have to follow them. Of course, if you find their content interesting or in line with what you want to see, follow them! Reciprocity is great. But don’t feel obligated to follow everyone. If your Instagram feed is filled with images and content that you don’t actually enjoy, you’ll be less likely to use it.
Don’t follow someone only to unfollow them later to grow your fan base
If you’re only looking to grow followers by following someone and then later unfollowing them, you’re just plain rude. This is not what Instagram is about. Follow people you are actually interested in and begin to form a relationship with people. Your fan base will grow organically from there.
Don’t buy followers
I’m surprised we still have to say this, but do not buy Instagram followers! They won’t serve you in any way. In fact, they’ll actually ruin your chances of reaching the popular page and they won’t actually like or comment on your posts. Take the time to really connect with real people on Instagram.
So there you have it. All of the things I recommend you DON’T do on Instagram in order to be successful!