So you finally did it: You joined Instagram! You’ve been hearing all about how rapidly Instagram is growing, how engaged its user base is, and all the benefits it can provide for a small business, and you finally decided to create a brand account for your company. So now you just post photos, right? Wellll, yes … but there’s a lot more to it than that. Before you get all ‘Gram happy, there are a few important guidelines to learn and follow to make sure your brand page doesn’t crash and burn like an airplane swatted out of the sky by King Kong’s hefty mitt. Here are some common mistakes brands make on Instagram that you can learn from.
Inauthentic Images
Kors-Instagram-picture_mini-300x293People are using Instagram to connect with friends and people they find interesting or inspiring, not brands. So if you’re going to make an impact on Instagram or get anyone to interact with you, you’re going to have to “keep it real.” Michael Kors was one of the first brands to test Instagram ads back in November, and they received overwhelming backlash from users for images that were seen as “too polished,”according to The Verge. (To be fair, this ad also received a staggering number of “likes” and earned the Michael Kors account almost 34,000 new followers…but Michael Kors is also not a small to mid-sized business.) Posting photos that have an authentic, user-generated feel will help your brand seem like a real person and not just a company trying to sell something, someone that your customers will want to engage with—a friend.
Inconsistent Posting
We see it all too often. A brand enthusiastically jumps onto the Instagram bandwagon, visions of “likes” and followers dancing in their heads, posts periodically for a few weeks…and eventually gets caught up in other things and lets the account go dark. Inconsistent posting kills an account (apologies for all the ominous imagery). If you’re not in your fans’ feeds, they’re going to forget about you, and if they’re searching for your account and see that you haven’t posted in seven months, they’re not going to bother to press that little “Follow” button. Establishing a consistent posting schedule, say 3–5 times a week, is key in maintaining a valuable, relevant, and follow-able Instagram presence.
Not Engaging with Fans
This hearkens back to the first point, but if you’re not using Instagram like a real, live human, your fans aren’t going to want to follow you. No one likes talking to a brick wall. If your followers are talking to you, talk back! Answer questions, respond to comments, in short—engage. Maintaining an active and interactive Instagram presence will help you to build relationships and a sense of trust with your followers, and the more your followers trust you, the more they’ll want to give you their business. Think about it; who would you rather give your business to, a real person who is going to give you personal care and attention, or a faceless, mute marketing machine?
Overusing Hash Tags
Kind of a no-brainer. A thoughtful, strategically placed hash tag here and there provides value and helps your brand get found, #but #no #one #likes #to #see #this #in #their #feed. #NorIsThisHelpingAnyoneOrGainingYouAnyFriends. Enough said.
Repeating and Repurposing Content
If your fans are truly your fans, there’s a good chance they follow you on multiple platforms. So if you think, “Hey, no one will notice if I post the photo I just uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ today on Instagram too,” take it from us—they are watching you, and THEY KNOW. It’s okay to repeat some content across platforms, sure, but if you’re not creating some unique posts and content for each channel, your fans will have no reason to follow each of your accounts, thus limiting your reach. The same goes for repurposing content. We know you paid a pretty penny for those press photos and you want to get the most out of them, but as we mentioned above, Instagram is about authentic, user-generated-type images, so filling your feed with the same shiny, ultra-poised PR pictures you posted on your website, in your e-newsletter, and on your ad materials isn’t going to earn you any street cred.
Not Providing Value
Along the same lines and to reiterate, it’s important to provide value to your followers—give them a reason to follow you! Again, if you’re just going to fill your fans’ feeds with ads, branding efforts, and marketing messages, you’re not giving them any reason to stick around—and they won’t. Provide value by posting exclusive content they can’t see anywhere else. Behind-the-scenes shots, sneak peeks, “day in the life” type photos—these not only provide that sense of authenticity we already discussed (i.e., make you seem like a real person and not a corporate robot), but they make your account valuable and worth following.
The important thing is to ask yourself: Would you follow your brand’s Instagram account? If you’re not sure, then you’re probably leaving something to be desired by your followers (or lack thereof, as the case may be…). Keeping some of these crucial “dos and don’ts” in mind will help whip your account into shape and hopefully gain you some new fans—and eventually customers. Of course, keeping all these things in mind while running both a social media marketing campaign and your business can be a bit much to handle, so if you need a hand, you know who to call........
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