Has your Instagram growth been stagnant? It may be frustrating not to see continuous growth, especially if you’re putting time and effort into growth. Chances are high you’re making Instagram mistakes that prevent your growth.
Instagram has never been hotter than it is today. It has proven to be one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, with over 2 billion monthly users.
Given the success and the fact that “everyone is on Instagram,” it’s been harder and harder to catch attention and differentiate your brand. Instagram is a highly visual platform that is very popular among the younger generations.
According to Statista, 32% of users are aged between 18 and 24, and 33% are aged between 25 and 34.
So, if your brand is trying to appeal to these demographics — you know where you need to succeed!
Did you also notice that the popular Netflix show “Emily in Paris” was exclusively about marketing on Instagram? It proves that the platform is compelling and can do wonders for your brand.
I have worked a lot with businesses that are looking for ways to bring their Instagram strategies to the next level. I’ve consulted and audited Instagram accounts looking for ways to boost engagement, gain new followers, drive traffic to websites, etc.
10 common Instagram mistakes to avoid at all cost
While working with clients and performing Audits on their accounts, I noticed that most Instagram mistakes are repetitive. It means that almost every account that I audited made them, and it prevented their growth.
If you address these common Instagram mistakes, I’m sure your growth will kick in soon.
So, let’s take a look at them and make sure to take notes.
You believe in magic success formulas
We all follow at least a few “famous” Instagram accounts that pocket hundreds of thousands of followers, maybe even millions. It’s important to understand that they didn’t end up where they are today overnight.
Most likely, it’s been hard work that took years to bring them where they are today.
You should not listen to the shams online about overnight success stories. All these stories describe ways of getting followers illicitly — most frequently through Instagram bots (an activity that’s not allowed by Instagram).
I highly recommend you not to go that way. What’s the point of having hundreds of thousands of followers who don’t engage with your content? No point whatsoever. You also risk being banned by Instagram, making your content invisible to others.
It isn’t worth the risk.
So next time you see an account with a huge following, don’t only judge it by its number of followers. Check its engagement rate as well.
I use Instrack to analyze the engagement rate. Anything that’s less than 2% (for an account with a huge following) isn’t good enough for me. I wouldn’t hire such accounts for Instagram marketing jobs.
I always use Hypeauditor’s Average Engagement Rate on Instagram benchmarks as they seem to make sense and truly reflect the account’s success.
You aren’t clear on your themes
The most successful Instagram accounts publish content that has a feel, vibe, or emotion to it. Generally, these accounts have two or three thematic ideas that they continuously repeat.
These Instagrammers keep the themes consistent and produce content that is related to the chosen theme. They stay focused and, therefore, get attention from people who are interested in these themes.
Treat the themes that you choose as a niche for the audience that you want to attract.
Some examples of Instagram themes are inspiration, motivation, innovation, teamwork, spirituality, health and fitness, cooking, travel, science, etc.
Choose two to three of these, and remember that they should be the core of your content. Your audience will want to see content surrounding these themes, and anything that’s not relevant may confuse them.
I often see new accounts that haven’t decided what their Instagram will be about. They post something that seldom connects.
For example, posting about traveling, beauty, and inspirational quotes may confuse the potential audience. Therefore, they will not click the “follow” button. I’d suggest having something that has a close relationship.
For example, Adam Pfau: Fitness & Nutrition has a very clear theme on his Instagram.
You will follow him if you want to lose weight, learn to eat healthily, and learn more about exercising. The way he produces his content makes the visitor understand that they will be getting content within these fields.
Once you determine the themes, you should clarify your visual presentation and style.
Your Instagram feed will look ideal if you have a consistent and engaging strategy.
Make sure to use the same (or similar) Instagram filters across your posts, have a strong brand identity (logo, company/brand name, tagline, hashtags, etc.), and have a consistent caption style.
You don’t have clear goals
Social media platforms are tools that we use to achieve our business goals. One of the biggest Instagram mistakes that I encounter is a lack of goal planning.
You won’t be able to achieve your goals if you cannot clearly define them. Depending on your business, you may have different goals for Instagram:
increase visits to your website
increase sales via social media
get new leads
grow your brand awareness
get more followers or improve the engagement rates
These are just some of the examples, and don’t limit yourself to these — anything that you want to achieve via Instagram can be a goal.
Maybe you want to increase the number of readers of your blog. Instagram can help in one way or another.
Define your goals and measure the success of your efforts.
You don’t track your milestones
When you have your goals, you should track them. I was at a stage where I was totally demotivated to continue my Instagram journey. Why?
I am a person who needs “instant gratification.” It means that when I publish, I expect the post to bring hundreds of new followers, get thousands of likes, etc. In reality, it doesn’t work this way. Unfortunately.
To actually keep me motivated, I started doing a weekly report which included the main metrics I wanted to track — reach, likes, engagement, number of followers, engagement rate, the average number of comments, etc.
It has really helped me to see the progress I have been making every week. It has also helped me better understand what has worked and what I shouldn’t do again.
That’s why go ahead and develop a simple table in Excel and start tracking your results — you’ll see how motivating it will be to work harder to achieve even more.
Be accountable to yourself — it is hard to get results without accountability. You can even go one step further and set specific targets and goals you want to achieve. For example, gain 10% more followers this week.
Then the process becomes like a game, and you are more motivated to perform and outperform.
You believe in Quantity over Quality
Some people may have the best niche and the best brand identity, but they post content that’s too mediocre. My rule of thumb always is — only the best of the best will be posted. How you deliver your content also matters.
How many times have you skipped someone’s Instagram Stories because that account had a tremendous amount of stories uploaded within 24 hours? The second I see there will be tons of Stories under one account, I skip them.
Simple, I want the best content. I don’t want to see something that’s mediocre.
Some accounts also try to post lots of posts that flood the feed.
Or they post 10 posts in one day but remain silent for the next 2 weeks.
This isn’t a sustainable and consistent strategy, and if you’re doing it, it may be a reason why your growth, for example, is poor.
Prioritizing quantity over quality is another huge Instagram mistake many content creators tend to make. Assuming that more eyes will lead to better results isn’t always true.
I always take at least 10 different shots. I play with angles and later on choose the best content to edit. I use Lightroom by Photoshop to edit my photos on my phone.
I love this software as it allows me literally to enhance the quality of my photos without overdoing it.
Also, I always ask myself — why am I publishing this? What benefit will it have to my overall Instagram presence, and will it be interesting to my audience?
If the answer is “just because I have to post,” — I close Instagram and carry on with my daily activities. I want to deliver the best quality to my audience, and I want the content to be relevant and beneficial.
You don’t follow my Daily Actions Checklist
Success on social media is based on routine. You cannot expect to expedite your growth if you post sporadically or don’t engage with others. Every day, I follow a simple routine — a checklist of small things that I have to do:
Post one picture
Post at least three stories (spread out throughout the day)
Save the stories as relevant Highlights
Leave at least 20 comments under other posts within my niche
Like at least 50 pictures with hashtags within my niche
Respond to comments under my posts or posts that I was tagged in
Look for accounts that are interested in my niche and engage with them
Try this strategy, and I’m sure that you’ll see growth in terms of followers and engagement within a week.
You don’t show the human side of your brand
As humans, we cannot live without socializing. It’s also very important to know who we are socialising with. Nobody likes talking to an imaginary person. That’s why, if possible, you should share human photos on your account.
If you’re a corporate, you can share photos of people in the company. If you’re a blogger, add photos of yourself.
I remember it was scary to upload the first face photo on my Instagram foodie account. It took me nearly a year to run that Instagram account to show my face.
It was scary because, suddenly, the work I was doing became real; it was publicly associated with me. But the first photo of me eating noodles had the highest engagement at that time.
I do add photos of myself from time to time. I notice that their engagement rate is higher than “no-human” photos.
I also noticed that my clients who post images or Reels with human elements regularly enjoy a higher engagement rate than those who only post things.
Don’t make this Instagram mistake – incorporate faces, smiles, and people in your posts.
You don’t use all that Instagram has to offer
Instagram has plenty of ways to bring your content to audiences. Sadly, many users who want to grow don’t maximize on these tools.
Geolocation — I notice many accounts not tagging their posts geographically. Did you know that it’s a great way to get discovered? Always tag the location.
Stories — I noticed that more and more people check stories and not their newsfeeds. It’s maybe because stories are more engaging and entertaining. Make sure that Instagram Stories are in your strategy. And don’t forget to add hashtags and geotag, as well.
Suggested for you — I always make sure to check out the accounts that Instagram suggests to me. The algorithm knows what content I like and suggests users based on that. I make sure to engage with these users, which often leads to extra followers.
Filters — Instagram filters are a great way to beautify your photos within seconds. Adjust colors, and make the pictures more vibrant and eye-catching before hitting that post button.
Video tools – use Instagram native tools to create Reels. Avoid saving Reels from other platforms to upload on Instagram later. Instagram algorithm prefers content that was created using Instagram native tools.
Caption — Your content should have an engaging and personal caption that would interest your audience. If you’re sharing a food picture, tell us about it; if you’re sharing a selfie with spot-on makeup, let us know what eye shadow you used. Instagram is becoming a place for microblogging, and people love reading captions (unless they are boring).
Profile data — People can discover your account through a search based on the information you provide in your profile description. If you say that you’re a makeup artist, there is a big chance a person searching for a makeup artist as a keyword on Instagram search will discover you. Thus be wise and specific in how you describe yourself.
In fact, Instagram has introduced many different tools that can help you improve your content. Features like Instagram Polls, Live Videos, Stickers, and Reels are among the top features you should use to improve your engagement rates.
As MobileMonkey puts it, Instagram Polls, Reels, and Lives Videos are among the latest trends that Instagram content creators must embrace.
You don’t use specific hashtags
Instagram allows you to have 30 hashtags under each post. However, don’t make a rookie mistake by using the same hashtags for every post. In fact, I experienced that Instagram reduces reach if an account consistently uses the same hashtags.
That’s why you should aim to interchange your hashtags with every post. Even better if you think of narrow and niche hashtags that would describe specific content.
I know you noticed that sometimes when you follow a specific hashtag, the content that pops up on your feed is nothing related to it. For example, #foodie frequently brings content unrelated to food or foodies.
The reason for this is that people use a general list of hashtags that they believe are most popular on Instagram. By doing this, they expect to gain new followers and engagement. However, in reality, it seldom works that way.
You don’t have fun on Instagram
If you loathe creating posts, writing captions, or have no interest in the niche that you’ve chosen, you won’t achieve your goals, and the negativity will drag you down.
Therefore, choose strategies, themes, and content that you love. Enjoy the process, and don’t overstress about achieving the results. Remember that the results aren’t only about numbers (followers, likes, comments).
They can be about something intangible — you improved your writing skills, you learned to take nicer photos, and you met people who love the same things you do.
Instagram is about lifestyle, and if your lifestyle doesn’t have space for Instagram, it’ll be hard to grow.
Now you know what Instagram mistakes prevent your growth
The list is not extensive. Since Instagram is a fast-changing platform, the trends and strategies keep on changing at a very rapid speed. However, being aware of these 10 common Instagram mistakes will set you for a good start.
It’s a good idea to review your Instagram strategy regularly. You should reflect on your performance and see what gaps you need to fill in to perform better.
It’s often hard to be objective when assessing your own success; therefore, you could choose to work with a third party that’ll perform a complete Instagram Audit of your account and share the missing pieces with you.