With Instagram being a strong visual platform and brands and influencers placing more and more importance on it, it’s clear that the audience that once popularized #ootd and flatlays for bloggers is still going strong. But how do you engage them in 2016 when the market is so saturated? There’s more to it than just having a clean, consistent feed and great captions. Here’s 5 major Instagram mistakes that you probably don't even know you are making.
1. Dismissing Instagram Stories
The new feature is officially here and, while it took time to warm up to, there seems to be huge potential for those that already have a substantial following. If you’re already using it, you might have noticed that your engagement there might be better than on Snapchat, so this is your opportunity to connect with readers already following you and interested in what you have to say. These are three quick methods to engaging your audience:
- Build curiosity about your latest post. Once you publish, add the best photo from it to your Instagram story by swiping down and selecting from your camera roll. Add a caption with your blog address or draw attention to the link in your bio for an instant traffic boost.
- Ask your readers for opinions. When you are choosing what to wear for an event or can’t decide if you really need another pair of shoes, make your shopping trip into a story and send several updates asking them for feedback on what you’re thinking of getting or wearing. Your audience will appreciate the chance to interact more personally and you’ll get help making the choice!
- Give them a behind the scenes look. You can use the story to share something personal or curious about your Instagram or blog posts, like why you chose that outfit or how much time your friends had to wait before you took the perfect #foodporn pic *authenticity*. If you make this a regular feature, readers who see your posts on their feed will immediately check for updates on your story.
2. Missing Out on Emoji Traffic
Emojis are the crown jewel of any Instagram post. Statistics show that since the release of emojis that can be hashtaged, they were used over 6.4 million times in just the first month. Positive emojis like the heart symbol and the smiley face can be added to your post tags to bring the post to a new group of people. And while you’re using them as hashtags, don’t forget you can play with the arrow emojis to draw attention to your bio link. It’s a great chance to come up with a call to action that always gets noticed.
3. Forgetting To Have Fun With It (and Focusing Too Much on Metrics)
Talking about metrics and engagement often leaves us thinking about social media as just another corporative report that needs to be filed and completed absolutely perfectly if we want to get any success. Amidst timing when your posts go live, keeping your filters and feed consistent and always replying to comments one by one, it can definitely start to feel like a chore.
Don’t forget to use Instagram just like your audience does. Use the Explore page and search for other bloggers by hashtags or by brands they tagged in their photos. Leave genuine comments on people’s profiles that you like, and when they comment on your posts, acknowledge it. Building a community by using Instagram as a real person and not a business can make all the difference in the type of readers you attract.
4. Not Knowing When to Post
Now, I’m not saying being aware of posting times is fake or boring in any way. On the contrary. It can really help your posts become popular and win you lots of new followers if you know what your audience well.
First of all, you need to analyze if you are posting the optimal amount of times. I gain most of my followers when I post once per day, or even once every two days. Every single time I’ve made it a conscious effort to post high-quality content 3 times a day, I end up losing more followers than I anticipated. It’s worth spending the time experimenting with how often you post and how it affects your audience.
Two tools that will help you plan your engagement are Prime for Instagram, an iPhone app, and Fohr Card, one of the leading influencer agencies. Fohr Card just rolled out a new tool that analyzes your Instagram engagement and tells you the best times to post each day to multiply your average engagement rate. It’s very straightforward and allows you to plan your content out in advance by knowing approximately how often you’ll be posting.
5. Not Showing Who You Really Are
Think about this one. It’s all too easy to fall into the vortex of what others are doing and start copying their work and not feeling genuine, be it in your photos or bio. This is something I recently started working on myself as I realized posting the exact same sunset or food picture on Instagram as others doesn’t really inspire or affect any of my readers. Even if you get lots of likes, it’s not creative on your end and is that the light you want to paint yourself in?
Don’t be afraid to break the mold of how pictures should be taken. It’s not always about shooting from above or doing a top-down outfit selfie. Play with camera angles and how you see the world. It’s your own creative space, so don’t flog it with someone else’s vision. Your audience will appreciate your boldness and enjoy your posts that much more.