08 Nov What Not To Do On Your Instagram Business Account
Instagram is the social media platform that everyone loves to visit, yet poses challenges for businesses and their business accounts. Unlike a personal Instagram account – which you perhaps started to share moments of your life with friends and family – a business account has a very different purpose, which is to generate traffic to your website. Depending upon the nature of your business, you may also want visitors to make purchases directly from your Instagram Shop. So while a business Instagram account isn’t as overtly buttoned-down as a LinkedIn account, you still need to treat it seriously as a lead generation tool.
With this in mind, there are some things you should not do in order to follow Instagram best practices and give your business the best possible opportunity to shine. Some fall into the seven-deadly-sins category, while others simply won’t allow your account to perform to its full potential.
The Worst of the Worst Instagram Businesses Practices
Buying followers – This is typically listed in what-not-to-do lists, but it really needs to be at the top. Instagram – and every other social media platform, for that matter – isn’t a numbers game. Having more followers will not necessarily produce more engagement.
As social media professional Jennie Ahlgren writes for Pace, “Which would you rather have: 15K social media users who know and use your products and are interested in new and exciting things your brand is doing or 100K followers who couldn’t distinguish your products from your competitors’? We think the answer should be simple, but so often we see brands spending money to artificially grow their social media followings.”
As our humble blog often notes, the followers you buy aren’t guaranteed to be members of your target demographic, and are even less likely to actually become customers. It’s a waste of money and negatively affects your business’s reputation. A small local business that attracts thousands of Instagram followers is highly suspect – especially when visitors take a peek at the followers, and see that they’re flung throughout the globe. Buying followers is a form of being deceitful, which is not the impression you want potential customers to have! If you’re misleading people about your Instagram following, they may well wonder about your overall business ethics.
Being on Instagram when it isn’t the right platform for your business – Early on, some business owners or decision-makers start an account on every social media platform because they think they have to. Not so! As our blog post – “Is Instagram Right for Your Business? The Answer May Surprise You!” – covers, Instagram isn’t an effective platform for every type of business. In fact, you can waste resources and budget dollars sustaining an account that won’t provide a benefit.
Reasons include the following:
- Target audience – Instagram is much better suited for business-to-consumer (B-to-C) engagement than business-to-business (B-to-B). Consumers have more time and inclination to like, follow and become a customer of a product or service for which they are the intended end-user. In the B-to-B world, your target market consists of other business owners, C-suite executives and managerial decision-makers – not likely the types to spend time on social media platforms other than LinkedIn during the work day.
In addition, Instagram users are overwhelmingly young. As reported by HootSuite, users under age 35 make up more than 70 percent of Instagram’s more than 800 million active accounts worldwide. If your business is geared toward an older demographic, a presence on Instagram may not reach its members.
- Your brand isn’t “Instagramable” – Some products or services don’t lend themselves to being photographed or otherwise presented in a visually interesting way. Although an Instagram post supports a good amount of text, it’s really a visual platform – and if your subject matter falls flat, your intended audience members won’t bother to click to read the message.
Being honest with yourself about the visual appeal of your product or service, as well as your target demographic, can help save valuable time and resources – which you can use to engage with potential customers on social media platforms that are better suited for your type of business.
Instagram Blunders to Avoid
Don’t set your profile to Private – Some businesses do this, even though it pretty much negates the reason for starting an Instagram business account! This isn’t LinkedIn, where you need to vet those who request a connection – you want people who visit your account to learn about your business and engage with it.
As Jenn Herman writes for Neal Schaffer, “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 use an odd or obscure username on Instagram – Your business’s username should be that of your business, or a very close version if that name is already taken. Herman recommends using the same username as your Twitter handle (if you’re on Twitter), and to make your name something easy to recognize. The search function within Instagram isn’t as powerful as other social media platforms, so people will have difficulty finding and following you if your username is too far off base.
Don’t ignore comments – Followers and visitors who engage with a post by taking the time to leave a comment in addition to a Like deserve acknowledgement! After all, this is the purpose of being on Instagram. Answering their comment with a brief, upbeat reply gives them a sense of connection with your business, and encourages them to stay engaged. Respond using their @username to notify them. Should they be in the market for what you’re selling, you’ll be top-of-mind!
In addition, as Wurkhouse points out, “While comments on Instagram won’t directly affect your ranking, Google uses these interactions as a gauge of engagement as to what users like.”
However, be sure to reply in a timely manner. Letting a few days lapse before acknowledging a comment shows that you don’t keep up with your Instagram account on a regular basis – which may lead your followers to wonder if you also don’t keep up with your day-to-day business operations!
Don’t engage in hashtag overkill or use irrelevant hashtags – As our blog post – “How to Be More Successful on Instagram” – covers, Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post and 10 on a Story. However, you probably shouldn’t use that many. Fewer, but well-chosen hashtags will be more effective than more hashtags thrown out there to see if anything sticks.
Writing for Later, content marketing strategist Benjamin Chacon notes, “Using relevant, targeted hashtags on your posts and stories is still one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences on Instagram. And this can translate into more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your business.”
Again from Wurkhouse, “Only use hashtags that are applicable to your post, and not to falsely attract users or manipulate the algorithm. It looks spammy if nothing else!”
Don’t post without a caption – Instagram isn’t just all about the image! Posts with a caption get higher levels of engagement than those without. Tell people what the image is, where it is, etc. – basically, why it’s important enough for your business to post it. Visitors will be more likely to Like it and comment.
What to Do When a Visitor Invites You to Promote Your Post
You may have encountered an odd comment on one of your posts recommending that you promote it on another Instagram account. What’s that all about? A Reddit member asked the same question. The question and answer follow, edited for the privacy of the poster.
Q: “I just got a bunch of random comments on a post of mine telling me to contact different accounts to get my art promoted. I rarely ever get comments, so I don’t know if this is a scam, I don’t know where these people came from. Is this a type of thing that happens often? What do I need to know about this?”
A: “It’s not a scam per se, they’re spammers who want you to pay them money to repost your content on their large accounts so that you gain some of their followers. They scan certain art-related hashtags, like anything to do with crypto art or NFTs, and spam these exact comments on any posts that shows up in the feed.
“Paying them does work to an extent, they’ll repost your content and promote your account in the caption, but the handful of followers you gain will be low quality, low engagement accounts from India and the Middle East (nothing wrong with that, but they’re probably not your target demographic) who already follow thousands of accounts, so in the long run it’ll just hurt your engagement.
“It’s best to delete these comments when you see them, I believe Instagram punishes you for letting spammers leave comments on your posts.”
So now you know. Don’t reply to these invitations, and don’t leave them in your comments! Even if Instagram doesn’t penalize you, it will only encourage other spammers to do likewise. Consider it the Instagram equivalent of littering.
The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion
If Instagram is the right fit for your enterprise, the platform provides a valuable opportunity to build relationships, drive traffic and increase sales – as long as you avoid the pitfalls! As we always say, you are probably too busy running your business to give social media the time and attention it needs. That’s what Virtual Stacks Systems is here for! Our dedicated digital marketing team provides experienced social media marketing, website design, website redesign, SEO services, PPC marketing, reputation management and much more! Contact us today! We are ready to be your partner in success!