Instagram is a fantastic platform for branding and visibility. While it’s certainly geared towards more creative brands, practically any business can thrive on the platform (among others) and build a brand there.
On Instagram you can create videos as well as images to visually build your brand and entice individuals. But like with all social media marketing, there is a certain way to go about it. Not only do you have to find a style that brands you, you need to be following some of the unwritten rules that Instagram has.
Here are just some of the do’s and don’ts on the platform that you need to follow and not follow in order to thrive.
Do Post Consistently
When you get into social media marketing, you’re making a commitment. The platform will definitely reward this by serving your content up to other people and in turn will attract more followers to you.
By posting consistently, you are staying in the minds of your audience you are trying to build. This keeps you relevant and growing.
At the same time, don’t think you need to be posting several times in the course of a day. Social media isn’t always about dishing out a ton of content. Instead, start small with maybe three to five posts each week. You can even use a scheduler or a post creator to keep things tidy.
Don’t Be Spammy
While you want to be consistent with your content, you don’t want to be coming off as spammy or be over-posting. While some businesses can get away with posting three pieces of content per day, that’s likely the most that you’ll see any business do.
No matter the value of your content, no one likes to have their entire feed crammed with post after post from you. What’s also worth pointing out is how users generally behave too. After all not everyone spends their entire day on social media.
So neither should you be.
Instead keep your content valuable and spread it out during the week and the day. People will engage with it.
Do Use The Link In Your Bio
One distinct feature you might’ve noticed about Instagram – if you’re new to the platform – is that the platform doesn’t like other links stuffed in posts. Instead you’re given a single link space that you can use. This is in your bio.
Because of the rarity and overwhelming restrictiveness of it, you need to leverage that one space as best as possible. So when you have a new product or a blog post or anything that you wish to promote, make a point of changing that link and having a call to action in that particular post.
You can also be strategic in your use of stories and include a link in your stories. True, users won’t be able to click it, however if it’s simple to memorize it can prompt people to type it in manually.
Tip: If you want more links from your bio, try out Linktree which is free and works great with Instagram.
Don’t Be Needy
Along the same vein as sharing a link, you also shouldn’t be positioning yourself as someone needy. While there’s definitely research behind mentioning things like “please retweet” or stating a certain action in a post to trigger that action, you want to be careful.
Those tactics can still position you as someone who focuses on those psychological tactics as opposed to creating content people do want to share and engage with.
At the end of the day, you want to be sparse with those kinds of tactics. Only use them when you want people to really focus on it. For example, mentioning to click the link on your bio could be revolving around a book release or a new product you’ve added to your store. Make a post to hype up the product or service and direct people to that link. That strategy doesn’t make you needy since creating a product or a new service generally takes more than a couple of days to set up properly.
Do Ask Questions To Keep Engagement High
While a brand is all about giving value through their content, it’s not always about delivering that value. Once you have an engaged and active audience, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need more engagement.
While it’s not exactly the same type of value as giving tips and advice, from a consumer stand point this can benefit you immensely. For your particular audience, it feels like you value the opinions and thoughts of your user base. After all you can ask questions about what sort of colors look nice for a product you’re launching. Or maybe you’re stuck on what e-book you want to write next.
Letting your audience weigh in gives you direction on what you can focus on and your audience feels part of the process. Everyone wins in their own way.
This can also be a way to build up anticipation as well. After all, producing a new product or a new ebook can be exciting for some users and gives them something to look forward to in the coming weeks.
Asking questions is cool if you’re stuck, but you never want to come off as whinny or complain. Yes, businesses have their ups and downs. You might not be getting enough engagement on your posts or maybe a new product or service flopped.
While it can be key to show your struggles as a business, you don’t want to stoop to complaining about certain things happen in an attempt for others to make you feel better. No one has ever said they loved spending time with a complainer so why start that now?
Instead, learn from your mistakes and continue to forge forward. Go back to reminding yourself what makes you different from others on the platform and move in that direction. Focus on your growth rather than complain about people or businesses and people will be more keen on following you.
Do Engage With Others
Instagram isn’t about posting and leaving. Make an effort in commenting and liking other peoples content as well. For sure there are many competitive businesses, but do keep in mind that each business is building their own kind of audience. Their audience is different from yours.
Also by following particular conversations or hashtags you can generate ideas for your own business. Not to mention making new connections and perhaps friends.
Another way you can think about this is that by partaking in conversations, you can position yourself as a sort of expert in that field. Or at least someone who knows a thing or two about the subject. It’s not like you’re stealing others followers, but people may be inclined to follow you as a result of saying something thoughtful or meaningful in others posts.
Don’t Write Using All Caps
Never do this. Even if it’s part of a promotion. While I understand that using all caps to stress specific words may drive emphasis, it can distract readers from the overall message. On top of that, having your entire post in all caps can suggest that you’re yelling or that you’re upset. Even if your intended message is positive and meant to be exciting.
Remember, people can only read your messages and lack the body language and tone that you use to communicate said message. So keep your text simple and use spelling and grammar as you would normally.
If your focus is to stir particular emotions, use emojis if need be. These are great ways to convey feelings and set the tone for your messages.
Do Have A Style Or Look
This is tricky at first as your own style will change as you learn more and gain experience on the platform. This overall style is how you are building your brand. Think of it as your personality on the platform. It’s what’ll attract people to your posts even if they are following hundreds of people.
Every platform definitely has its own style and since Instagram is more visually focused, you want to go with a visual style. What this means is selecting specific colours for your posts and using particular filters and what your posts are all about.
The idea is to give your content a consistent look to them. This is important because on your profile your profile transforms into a sort of visual post board. If you have a random assortment of posts, the board will look messy and disorganized. However if you are careful with what type of posts your posting and have a uniform style, it’ll look cleaner.
Don’t Share The Exact Same Message Repeatedly
Think about your audience or how you’d react in this situation:
Would you follow someone who – even if they are posting once or three times each week – was saying the exact same message repeatedly?
Even if you spread out your posts, if you’re delivering the exact same message day in and day out, you’ll get dry very fast. Much like with everything on social media, audiences have one question in the back of their mind: “What’s in it for me?”
What sort of value do you deliver from sending the exact same message to your audience?
Probably next to nothing.
But this also applies to the bigger picture with your business as well. If you are recycling content on several platforms, make an effort to adjust the content. While you may have different followers on different platforms, if you ever link that content together, you want to make sure it’s effective by it being different on each platform.
Do Have A Plan
Before getting into onto the platform, you want to consider what you want to be doing in the first place. For each social media account you have, you’re creating an extension of your brand. So just like setting business goals or creating company projects, you want to sit down and plan out what posts and images and your goals on the platform are.
Of course this doesn’t mean have a strict plan that you must stick to on the platform. Just like with any brand, they change strategies and realize the method they are using is ineffective. But at the same time, you still want to be planning and choosing carefully.
What this means is spending time editing your pictures and double checking if the post fits with the brand you’re building. This also means experiment a little bit and test different captions and compositions too.
Don’t Post Aimlessly For The Sake Of Engagement
Posting consistently is important of course, but keep in mind that if you miss a day it’s not the end of the world. Instagram isn’t going to immediately punish you for not posting if you missed a day or two.
That being said, some people think the exact opposite and post for the sake of consistency but also to get that engagement. While you are being consistent in that case, that way of thinking will do you more harm than good.
Remember, your Instagram account is part of your brand. As such, the content you’re delivering should be brand-centric. It should be connected to the interests of your audience and the followers you are trying to attract. As such, context is so important.
So when you’re making a post to be consistent and engaging, make sure you have the post tie into your brand in some way. If you don’t it’ll be confusing and people won’t engage with it.
Do Have Relevant Hashtags In Posts
Hashtags are used entirely for search purposes. You want to be using them but not abusing the system. Thankfully Instagram allows users to include up to 30 hashtags. But again that doesn’t mean use all 30 of them.
Instead, use that as an opportunity to place a lot of hashtags that fit your brand with ample of wiggle room to put in more that are relevant.
To do this, think about how your audience or someone would be looking for your type of post. Consider the overall topic of your content and think about what a typical person would do to find more content like that.
You can even draw inspiration from other content creators similar to you. After all, they’re using similar hashtags and those could be relevant for you to include in your posts too.
Don’t #Have #Too #Many #Hashtags
Like I said above, you have ample of room to be posting hashtags but that’s not grounds to abuse it. Hashtags are excellent for categorizing your post and attracting specific groups of people.
The last thing that you want is to be using hashtags for every single word or for an entire sentence.
Not only will that likely attract no one, it also makes it difficult for people to understand your message. It looks really spammy. This is why most people have hashtags all the way at the bottom of the post away from most peoples eyes.
What’s also worth noting about the 30 hashtag limit is this also applies to your comment as well. For example, say your post as 20 hashtags in it. If you decide to comment and include more hashtags, you can only include 10 more hashtags. Anything above that will have your comment denied.
Do Give Users Behind The Scenes Looks
Generation Z users love this sort of content, but so do many others. When you give some behind the scenes content, you’re giving them a small window to content that they otherwise wouldn’t experience or see.
If you’re a public speaker, take a selfie behind the scenes before you go on. Take a picture of you behind your desk or with your staff.
Providing another look inside of your business can help people understand your overall culture and people will love you for it. It’s another reason for them to follow you.
Don’t Use Automated Messages/Commenters
Delving into the social media world you’ll find all kinds of automation tools. They are certainly convenient however some tools are better than others. One of the lesser tools are tools that send automated messages, comments, or mass follow people.
As a warning, you want to avoid these tools and never pay for these services as a stand alone service. Even if they are free in some cases, these aren’t the best tools to be using.
While there is definitely convenience behind them, a lot of the automated tools don’t always have your best interests in mind:
- Mass following tools will follow people that aren’t related to your niche or are part of your target audience.
- Auto DMs can still seem robotic and generic, even if you make them sound genuine. They lack a personal touch that only you can deliver by looking at a persons profile manually.
- Auto comments can be really spammy and have similar issues to auto DMs. On top of that, some businesses use these tools to promote their business which is a big no no in comment etiquette on any social media platform (unless the post asked people directly to post their business or something).
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have any automation at all. That being said, there is a time and place for when you want to be jumping into that.
Do Use Analytics
Every social media platform has analytics and Instagram is no different. It keeps track of followers, likes on your photos/videos, comments and more. While it can be easy to think about focusing on just the content, you want to be checking your analytics at least once in a while.
What this does is it gives you an inside look into whether your strategies are working or not. At the end of the day, you have some set goals on Instagram and you want to make sure you are getting towards them. That in of itself will help you in narrowing down on your content as well as you’ll get valuable insight on whether a piece or style of content is working for your brand or not.
This allows you to make adjustments to your content and to think of new and creative ways to provide valuable content that your audience will share and enjoy.
Again social media isn’t all about the numbers so don’t feel discouraged if you’re not getting far enough with particular pieces of content. Keep making changes until you have a formula and style that works for you.
Don’t Obsess Over Numbers
As you could probably tell from your analytics results, social media branding and marketing is a long-term process. It’ll take several months or years for a brand to grow a massive following and have an engaged community.
Because of this process, business owners tend to go through a cycle where they are excited at first and slowly become discouraged. This cycle typically happens when you are looking at your numbers too much.
As I kind of mentioned in the previous point, you want to find a balance between checking your numbers and not checking them. Because while growing your business is certainly important, there are more important things to do than worry about how many Instagram followers you have.
Always keep in mind you don’t need to have millions of fans in order to make a lot of money and have a thriving business. Some small businesses can thrive off of as little as a few thousand engaged followers who love your products or services.
So don’t put so much stress on the numbers and focus on creating the best content you can for your audience.
Do Have A Complete Social Media Profile And Update It As Need Be
When people go to your account, you need to make an impression on them in some way shape or form. This typically means having all of your details out in the open. And why wouldn’t you?
If you’re a business, you want to be taking as many advantages as possible. This means taking the time to fill out your profile and to stay on top of it by updating it should things change.
If your profile looks half complete – or private – then people will generally be reluctant to follow you. They see you as less professional which is the last thing you want. Especially since most people know it only takes a few minutes to complete an instagram profile.
Don’t Worry About What Others Are Doing
On the same note of getting into the numbers and all, don’t always be fixated on what other people are doing. Comparing your business to others business makes for nasty business. It builds resentment within you and that’s the last thing that you want.
Once you start comparing yourself to others, you lose immediately. Why? Because your business is your business. In other words, who you’re attracting, your business model, and everything about your business is different.
And that’s a good thing.
No one want’s a copy for copy of another business. They’ll gravitate to the business that they’re already dealing with.
On top of that, comparing your results or your posts to others can discourage you from posting content yourself. Instead, take the approach that I suggested above. Make sure to engage with others – and your audience too – and look to others posts as inspirations or ideas.
The platform will continue to attract creative and innovative individuals so it’s up to you to focus on your posts and bringing in people who will follow you for you.
Do Have Fun
And of course, you want to be having fun on the platform. Like with everything else, our feelings towards something will determine our effort and convey our tone through our work. If you’re having fun on a platform, you will continue to use it, leverage it, and express that emotion through the content you deliver.
Don’t be afraid to try features like stories or create a multi-picture post. Take some selfies or record some videos. While you want to be consistent and uniform, you still want to be experimenting and trying new things as well.
Social media is a massive landscape with a lot of potential. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind and you can create a thriving business on any platform.