Wait! Stop! Don’t post that photo of your dog on your Instagram!

Ok, maybe I was overreacting slightly (it’s not like the internet can’t use a few dogs). But you should know that countless small business owners are making simple mistakes when using Instagram to promote themselves and their business.

Instagram is my current favorite of all the social media networks. It actually reminds me a lot of Facebook before Facebook became “FACEBOOK!” 

It’s a place where you can simply enjoy your friend and followers’ content. No spammy games, random news stories, and other kinds of unwanted content. Instead, you follow people and businesses, and their content comes up. Simple and easy!

However, if you’re using Instagram for your business, there are a few things that you should NEVER do! These Instagram Don’ts can negatively impact engagement, driving away potential followers and damaging your channel’s growth. 

However, if you follow this simple advice, you can instead make your Instagram into a place where your followers will love to visit! Here are my 10 things never to do on Instagram! 

Don’t Skimp on Hashtags

The entire point of all social media profiles is to connect with your target audience. You want to hook and reel them in with great content! This can be challenging if you aren’t using one of your most valuable social media weapons: hashtags!

Unlike Twitter that has a strict character limit, you want to use the FULL 30 hashtags allowed by Instagram. Hashtags help organize photos and videos on Instagram and help filter your content by topic making it easier for YOUR people to find you. You want to pick a selection of low, medium and high density hashtags that are relevant to your business. 

Mind you, you want your hashtags to be related to the topic of the post and your business.  

Never Spam Your Followers

I’ve seen small businesses post up to five times a day. Frankly, I think that’s overkill. 

Your customers want to hear from you, but not non-stop! If you’re popping up in their feed a few times a day, they might be annoyed at the frequency you post and decide to leave. 

Moreover, posting five times a day requires you to write a MASSIVE amount of social media content. That takes up a ton of time! Even if you use a virtual assistant to write all of your social media, that’s not an efficient use of resources.

In my opinion, posting once a day is plenty. It will keep you top of mind, minimize the time that you need to spend writing social media, giving you time to really focus on quality and not quantity. 

Avoid Posting Ugly Images

Speaking of quality, it’s the quality posts that tend to get the most traction.

Instagram is primarily a visual social media network, with an emphasis on the images and video rather than the text. That means the quality of your graphics will be the first thing that people see. If you’re posting unattractive images, people will unfollow quickly! 

But what if you don’t have any graphic design chops whatsoever? What do you post on Instagram, in that case? Well, you have a few options.

You could always hire a virtual assistant experienced with social media and graphic design to create your Instagram posts for you. That way, you will have professional-quality images that will wonderfully represent your business.

Not Everything is About You

Most people have two social media profiles: the professional account and their personal account. You should NOT get the two confused!

Posting non-stop information about your personal life on your small business’s social media account is a big mistake. Remember, you aren’t in business for you, you’re in business for your customers! Your focus should always be on them.

So, when you are creating content and posts for Instagram, ask yourself what they would like. Your posts should always be offering them value of some kind. That’s how you will grow your followers on Instagram! And customers too! 

Make It All Business, All the Time

Ok, that being said…

It isn’t like you can’t post occasional personal posts on your professional social media account. After all, your followers want to see your personality and know that you are a real person.

It would help if you were selective about the kinds of things you post, however. Try to avoid hot topics, like politics or religion. Your business page should be controversy-free! 

Take mine, for example. I love sharing actionable content! My audience is interested in growing their email list, hosting webinars, starting a podcast, creating an online course or engaging their social media audience. I share content that will help them reach their goals through actionable tips!

Don’t Forget a Great Call-to-Action

Let’s say that you are posting about a brand-new product. You are super excited about it as it will be offering a fantastic service to your customers. But after you post it, you notice that you aren’t getting a ton of engagement. It’s like your followers aren’t interested in the product! What happened?

Chances are that you forgot to include a great call-to-action in the post. Even if your followers are intrigued by your new product, they won’t know what to do with that information if you aren’t providing them with the next step.

A CTA could direct them to a landing page, your online store, or a link directly to your website. Remember that links you put in Instagram posts won’t be live URLs. If you want them to click, be sure to post the most important URL in your profile description and tell them in the description that the link is in your bio. 

Never Ignore Engagement

So, it turns out that the key word in social media is “social.” Who knew?

It’s incredible how many small business owners post daily, but then never check their followers’ comments. If you want your Instagram to make the maximum possible impact, you actually need to engage with those who engage with you! 

Keep in mind, you not only need to engage with those who engage with you, but you need to actively search out your target audience and start a conversation with them on their profiles as well. Remember, I like to think of social media like a cocktail party. You have to mingle, start conversations, ask questions and actually be genuine and “social”. 

Never Post at Random Times

When you’re a busy small business owner, you do things when you have the time. For many, that means they post their social media when they have a spare few minutes between other tasks.

In terms of engagement, this is a big mistake. You need to post when your audience is the most active. To figure out the best times to post your content, you can check out your Instagram analytic tools to determine when your followers are most active. That is when you want to post!

If you are too busy at that time of day to post, you should automate your posting schedule. A virtual assistant can take care of this for you, doing everything from writing the post to making sure that it goes up when your followers are looking for it! 

Don’t Ignore New Features

A significant challenge for digital marketers is that things are continually changing. An effective virtual assistant specializing in digital marketing needs to keep on top of every new feature that drops. And as a small business owner who has a vested interest in social media, you do too! For example, Instagram launched a brand-new feature back in November 2020 called Guides, with a focus on mental health

Another example would be Instagram Stories. I highly recommend you embrace them as a way to engage with your audience. Yes, each Story only lasts 24 hours, but this limited-time nature drives engagement. It’s a “catch them while you can” mentality. Moreover, these stories are super easy to create! You only need to take a short video of yourself on your phone talking about a product or service, put some graphics overtop, and bam, you have published your first Story! 

And of course Reels – Reels are like a live advertisement for your business! They are definitely worth the investment of your time! 

It’s Supposed to Be Fun 

It can be easy to forget sometimes that social media is supposed to be… fun!

The whole reason why people check their social media is to engage, watch videos, click on compelling images, and generally blow off some steam. Even if you’re running a business social media account, it’s important to remember this!

After all, if you’re having fun with your social media, that will shine through in the quality of your posts. If you are only ever posting out of obligation, then your content might lack that spark of fun that drives engagement in the first place! 

So, What Did We Learn? 

Let’s review what we learned:

  1. Always use the FULL 30 hashtags allowed on Instagram.
  2. Post once a day, maximum.
  3. Always use professional-quality graphics in your posts.
  4. Focus your content on your audience – value, value, value.
  5. Don’t be afraid to share something about yourself occasionally.
  6. Always include a great call-to-action.
  7. Engage with every comment. And start conversations too!
  8. Post at the highest times of engagement. 
  9. Always check out new features!
  10. Have fun!

If taking care of your social media is taking up too much of your time as a small business owner, you might want to move those tasks over to a virtual assistant. It’s a much better decision than stopping altogether, as an experienced virtual assistant knows how to create content that will gain you brand-new followers and push engagement! If you’d like to learn how a virtual assistant can help, check out my free guide Making the Most of Social Media: Workbook.

Making the Most of Social Media

I’m a massive fan of Instagram for my own business (check out my account). If you’d like me to help you reach similar engagement levels, please contact me here for a free consultation. It’s time to boost your brand through social media

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About Jennie Lyon

Jennie Lyon is the founder of Jennie Lyon Virtual Assistant Services. Jennie specializes in helping busy entrepreneurs organize, manage, develop and promote their brand! She is devoted to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs with social media, content creation, email marketing, client relations, website management, and administration services. If you are a small business owner, coach or self-employed entrepreneur struggling to find enough time in your day to focus on what you really love - schedule a free 15 minute consultation with Jennie. www.JennieLyon.com

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