8 mistakes NOT to make on Instagram in 2018: Jumping in, the right way

(Photos courtesy of Huffington Post and Shutterstock)

So I’m going to digress a bit…

The year is early 2000-and-something, and I’m visiting family for the summer down in Clearwater, Florida. As some may know, Clearwater sits right on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. Lucky for them, my family’s house sits right on the outlet to said Gulf.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — what the HECK does this have to do with Instagram??? Just trust me and you’ll see the metaphor soon.

While I’m there, my cousin decides to go fishing on the edge of the dock, and being a kid, I decide to follow him and watch. But there’s one problem; I don’t know how to swim yet. Yes, you can see where this is going…

SPLASH! I slip right into the water, and a few gasps and one adult supervisor later and I’m out after what feels like eternity. I’m still thankful til this day that my brother had one eye on the TV and the other on me.


And that’s where Instagram and you come in. Instagram — like many social networks, is a great big pool (or gulf). I want to make sure that you’re ready to jump into the deep end, not just tread water in the kiddie pool.

Let’s get started. Here are 8 mistakes to not make on Instagram this year:

  1. Forget about Instagram stories: 2018 is going to be the year of Instagram. I mean, 2017 was really the year of Instagram, it’s just that now every mom, uncle, and business is making sure to hop on too. With more users, that means competition for engagement will be even fiercer. Here’s where using Stories can help you. Whether it be a behind-the-scenes shot of you or the team at the office, or the new text-only format that is being tested right now, using Stories will give an ‘exclusive’ look into your brand. It’ll also help increase engagement by providing a more personal touch point with your audience.
  2. Forget to post often or post inconsistently: Okay, here’s a confession, I have struggled with this one myself. In the past, I’ve been pretty bad at this, though I’m turning that around. Take it from me when I say that nothing will drag you down further in the ‘Almighty’ algorithm than inconsistency. Yet, make sure you’re also hitting the sweet spot for posting times, or else you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. I don’t know about you, but I like my feet without bullet holes.
  3. Use boring content: Here’s an exercise, think about the last post you liked on the ol’ insta? Was it a) a food selfie with poor lighting b) a random picture of the sidewalk or c) an inside joke that only three people liked? Oh, it was none of the above? Hmm, I thought you might say that. My point is that if you don’t like dull content, then your audience probably doesn’t either. Remember, the name of the game is engagement, and people just do not engage with poor content. Don’t just listen to me, here’s a post from the folks over a ChatterBlast, a social media agency, rant about these issues (and a couple others like this post).
  4. Manage influencer relationships poorly: I get it, I get it. You were just having a chat with your college friend who works at an the hippest agency in town, and they suggested turning to influencer marketing. Although a VERY effective tool when used right (influencer marketing doubled in usage during 2017); factors as simple as ROI measurement flaws disprove that influencer marketing is the end-all, be-all solution. If you do have budget for experimenting, my advice is to start small and be hyper-focused on the exact audience you are trying to reach. As the great team over at Buffer tell it, it has to be a collaborative experience in order for you and the influencer to achieve success.
  5. Have sh**ty image quality (Sorry Mom!): I’m not asking for you to become Picasso with a smartphone, but for the LOVE of latte-art-hearts, please make sure that you’re posting high(-ish) quality pictures. Especially for the SMB owners out there, I cannot stress how little people enjoy blurry or unfocused pictures. As Entrepreneur suggests, use a real camera if you must, you’ll thank yourself later.
  6. Ignore your followers: Say it with me… EN — GAGE — MENT! Yes, engagement is the basis behind number six. If you’re engaging with your fans and audience, then they’ll engage with you. Whether this is through: asking relevant questions on posts (don’t go for the engagement-bait), liking and commenting on others’ posts, re-gramming great UGC or even partnering up with a fellow instagrammer; there are plenty of effective ways to engage with your Instagram community that will improve engagement numbers. Challenge: Try leaving a comment on a different Instagram account you follow every, single day for a month. Let me know if you see a boost in impressions and engagement.
  7. Have a broad narrative: In that Entrepreneur article mentioned earlier, one expert says to ‘stick with one theme only,’ and I agree. Brand can be everything in marketing, thus creating a visual brand that people recognize and come back to daily will do wonders for building your audience. If the content you publish varies too much, you may lose your audience.
  8. Making content with Instagram solely in mind: Remember in grade school when people talked about TEAM? Well that applies to your content channels as well! If you use your social media accounts properly, you can publish content on one channel with direct links to another channel, and another, and… well you get the idea. For the skeptic out there, I’m not talking about merely cross-posting the same content, but rather creating a journey through multiple channels . Hootsuite outlines this perfectly. Bottom-line, cross-promoting across sites greatly increases your reach.
  9. (Bonus) Give up!: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT give up. The social media game is hard, but when done right and with determination; any goal is within reach!

I hope you found these tips helpful! It might seem like a lot, but don’t worry, I’ve also prepared a brief infographic outlining these tips. Grab a copy and share with a colleague, print it out, or make it your wallpaper; go crazy with it!

For more, please read my other stories on Medium, and don’t forget to add me on Linkedin!