In the world of social media, marketers know that change is one of the only things they can count on. From algorithms and APIs to features and best posting times, last year’s best practices might be this year’s faux pas. So how can you avoid making Instagram marketing mistakes?
Have no fear; we’ve got your back. We’ve put together a list of the 12 most common Instagram marketing mistakes in 2022, so you know what not to do on Instagram.
1. Ignoring your analytics
One of the most common social media mistakes a marketer can make is ignoring their data (or not using it to the fullest).
Instagram gives you an incredible amount of analytics, both at a per-post and overall account level.
Reviewing your data is the best way to know what’s working and what’s not. If a post performs really well, you should definitely be looking at that post’s analytics to find out why.
If you want to go beyond Instagram’s built-in insights tool, we recommend checking out Hootsuite Analyze.
Obviously, we’re a little biased. But for the record, here are some things that Hootsuite’s analytics dashboard can do that Instagram can’t:
- Show you data from the distant past (Instagram insights can only tell you what happened in the last 30 days)
- Compare metrics over specific periods to get a historical perspective
- Show you the best posting time based on past engagement, reach, and click-through data
2. Using too many hashtags
For brands, hashtags are a double-edged sword. They can help other Instagram users find your content, but they can also make your content look like spam.
You can use up to 30 hashtags, but the most common number of hashtags to use for brand accounts is one to three per post. AdEspresso suggests that using up to 11 hashtags is acceptable. You’ll need to experiment to see what works best for your account.
Check out our guide to mastering your Instagram hashtags.
Who does this well: @adidaswomen
Adidas Women keeps it fairly light on hashtags, averaging 3 or less per post. They strike a good balance between branded hashtags (#adidasbystellamccartney) and searchable hashtags (#workout, #style) that signal the topic of the post and help it gain reach.
3. Not being social
Social media isn’t a one-way broadcast — it’s a conversation. But unfortunately, one of the most common social media mistakes in business is forgetting about the “social” part.
As a marketer, you should spend as much time interacting as you do creating and publishing content. And don’t just talk to your followers: Joining a conversation with other brands is a great way to facilitate engagement.
Every comment, question, mention, and DM is an opportunity to build loyalty and create a positive brand experience with your audience.
Who does this well: @netflix
Netflix is one brand that I follow more for its social media strategy rather than the product. Sure, their content is funny and I love The Umbrella Academy as much as the next person, but the real gold is in the comments.
In this post, you can see Netflix replying to commenters in their cheeky, relatable brand voice that matches the tone of the comments. And their audience loves it!
4. Posting without a strategy
Many businesses know that they should be active on social media, but don’t stop to think about why.
Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Are you looking to become the most-known brand in your category? Make sales directly through your Instagram Shop?
It’s hard to achieve success via Instagram marketing if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.
Pick one goal to start, and create a strategic plan to get there. That way you’ll have something to guide every decision and a way to measure the impact of your work.
5. Not using the newest features
Although the Instagram algorithm is always changing, adopting the platform’s newest features has always seemed to be a successful tactic.
Marketers that move fast can benefit from better engagement, faster growth, and further reach. They’re even more likely to be featured on the Explore page.
First, it was Instagram Stories, then Instagram TV (IGTV), and now it’s Instagram Reels. If you haven’t already shifted to a video-first strategy, it’s time. Here’s our guide to getting started with Instagram Reels.
Who does this well: @glowrecipe
View this post on Instagram
Leave it to beauty brands to figure out how to use Instagram’s features to their fullest. Glow Recipe has embraced multiple formats, from IGTV to guides and now to Reels. I particularly love how they use both videos and Reels to share tutorials and teach relevant skills to their audience.
6. Not using tracked links for attribution
Do you use Instagram to drive traffic to your website or app? If so, are you tracking each link click that comes from Instagram?
Social media managers are constantly being asked to prove the ROI of platforms like Instagram. If you include links via Instagram Stories, Reels, Shops, or your bio, make sure you can prove they’re working.
Each link you post should have tracking parameters attached. That way, you can credit business results back to your Instagram marketing efforts.
If you’re unfamiliar with how to create tracked links, here’s a guide on how to use UTM parameters.
Tip: Hootsuite Composer makes it easy to generate links with UTM parameters. This video shows a step-by-step walkthrough:
7. Posting landscape content
Honestly, this is one of the most surprising mistakes that I still see marketers making.
If the goal of your Instagram content (be it photos or videos) is to capture attention and stop users mid-scroll, you should only be posting vertical content. Let me explain why.
92.1% of internet usage happens on mobile phones. That means you want your content to take up as much vertical real estate as possible in order to engage users. A landscape (horizontal) photo or video takes up half the space that a vertical one does!
Check out our social media size guide for the most updated specs.
8. Ignoring trends
Trends aren’t just for influencers and Gen Z. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting brands should jump on every real-time marketing opportunity (that’s a quick recipe for cringe).
But social media marketers should always be aware of Instagram trends so they can adapt them in a way that’s true to their brand’s voice and audience.
For example: Posting screenshots of Tweets (with credit) and using pop culture reaction GIFs are always a good bet. Both are enduring Instagram trends that brands can easily participate in.
Who does this well: @grittynhl
Ok, so not all marketers are blessed with the content gold that is the Philadelphia Flyer’s mascot, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them.
Gritty does a great job of participating in pop culture trends — but only in a way that delivers the humor that Gritty is known for. If it doesn’t make sense for their brand, they don’t participate at all.
9. Not experimenting with your strategy
The only thing worse than not having an Instagram strategy is having an outdated strategy.
Given Instagram’s pace of change, all “best practices” should be taken with a grain of salt. What works for other brands may not work for your brand and audience.
Experimenting is the only way to know what truly works for your brand. You should always be testing:
- Posting times
- Posting frequency
- Caption length
- Number and types of hashtags
- Content formats
- Content themes and pillars
Although it’s not an exact science, I generally recommend testing one variable for at least 5 posts (or 2-3 weeks, whichever gives more data) before making a conclusion.
10. Posting overly produced or perfected visuals
When brands first started using Instagram, users expected to see beautiful, high-quality photos in their feed.
These days, we know more about social media and comparison culture’s impact on our mental health. Many Instagram users are now moving towards less curated and polished feeds.
This is actually great news for marketers. You don’t have to spend loads of time and money on fancy productions to create content for Instagram. Overly produced visuals don’t look authentic and stand out (for the wrong reasons) in the feed.
Instead, embrace using your phone camera to capture in-the-moment content and skip the photo filters.
Who does this well: @eatbehave
Candy brand Behave has fully embraced the Gen Z aesthetic of messy visuals and contrasting colors. They post a mix of UGC, memes, and some professionally-shot photos, but they’re styled in a way that wouldn’t stand out in an Instagram feed as looking too much like an ad.
11. Not optimizing for searchability
Thanks to a 2021 blog post from Instagram, we now know a lot more about how search results are served and how brands can improve their search rankings.
In the same way that you optimize your website content for SEO, your Instagram bio, captions, and alt text can also be optimized. This means crafting your social copy to include words that will match what someone searching for your type of content would use.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a fitness influencer used to grow from 0 to 600,000+ followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
12. Not making your content accessible
Raise your hand if you always add alt text to every image you post on social media. If you do, you’re way ahead of the game (and everyone who uses screen readers to navigate the internet thanks you).
If not, it’s important for all marketers to learn how to make their social media content more inclusive for all users who may potentially consume it.
Here’s a checklist (read the full guide here):
- Add descriptive alt text for every photo
- Write hashtags using Camel Case (#CamelCaseLooksLikeThis)
- Add closed captions (or subtitles) to all videos with audio
- Don’t use fancy font generators
- Don’t use emojis as bullet points or mid-sentence
Who does this well: @spotify
This example from Spotify checks all the necessary accessibility boxes. The hashtags are written in Camel Case, and the video has subtitles to accompany the audio.
In general, Spotify posts a lot of video content in various formats and consistently includes a mix of text-based graphics and captions. These conscious choices make Spotify’s videos accessible to all viewers.
And there you have it: 12 common marketing mistakes that you will no longer make on your Instagram.
Of course, the rules of social media are always changing, so you shouldn’t be afraid to try different things. As long as you learn from what works and what doesn’t. Good luck!
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