Growing your visibility and reach can start today by avoiding these Instagram mistakes and editing past ones. Don’t worry. It’s not hard to fix these Instagram faux pas once you know about them. 

1. Your Bio Isn’t SEO Optimized 

If you haven’t refreshed your bio in a while, now is an excellent time to give it an edit. Make sure your bio is clear and accurately states your services or products. Include a link to your website so your audience can easily access your homepage or the service you’re highlighting.

The name field in your Instagram bio is searchable, which means you can use keywords to get discovered quickly! The name field is the text in bold right underneath your profile picture. Use words that highlight what your Instagram profile or business is about to improve your chances of appearing in the top results for those services. Include your niche/job title next to your name, so you’re easier to find in searches.

For example, my Instagram bio for my content strategy firm, Ascent StoryCraft, reads “Cyndi | Content Strategist.” I included my first name because I’m a solopreneur, and I don’t outsource my posting or engagement. People who choose to interact with my account are interacting with me, and it adds a personal touch if they know my name right away. I include “Content Strategist” in the name field because I want to be discovered for that service.

The next couple of lines in your bio should describe who you serve in your business and how you do it. Don’t forget to include a link to a Call to Action (CTA). This is where you can invite users to read a recent blog post, download a freebie, or book a free consultation call. Your bio is the only live link you get on Instagram, so make it count.  

2. You’re Not Using Relevant Hashtags

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags a post to increase the odds of your content landing at the fingertips of your target audience. A little research goes a long way. As general hashtags for small businesses rule, focus on hashtags under 500k in size.

There is some debate if you should put your hashtags at the bottom of the caption or in the first comment. It doesn’t matter. It won’t impact your reach either way. I prefer the first comment because I think the caption looks cleaner.

Instagram has a 2,200 caption character limit, so if you tend to write long, adding the hashtags in your comments will give you more space to write. You also get a comment on your post when you post your hashtags in the comments, which is a quick win!

The biggest takeaway: Use all 30 allotted!

3. You’re Using Banned Hashtags

While we’re on the subject of hashtags, do not use banned hashtags. Adding hashtags is a great way to grow your engagement and reach your target audience — unless you accidentally include a hashtag that Instagram has flagged.

What the heck is a banned hashtag, you ask? Banned hashtags are hashtags that Instagram users have reported because the posts using them go against Instagram’s guidelines. This means that any post that uses that hashtag will be hidden, which will only hurt your organic reach and growth efforts.

It is the fastest way to kill your reach.

Banned hashtags are frustrating because they seem so innocent! Some of these banned hashtags seem harmless enough. Desk, dogsofinstagram, and curvy have all been nixed from the IG lexicon for some time now. Some more surprising ones in 2021?

#️Kickoff

#️snowstorm

#️Thought

#️Valentinesday

#️Hardworkpaysoff

#️Killingit

#️Kansas (Poor Kansas!)

So how do you know if you’re accidentally using a banned hashtag? Here’s how it’s done:

  • Head over to the magnifying glass on the bottom left
  • Go to the search bar and hit “tags”
  • Look up the hashtag you want to use
  • You’ll know it’s banned if you see a message that reads, “ Recent posts for [hashtag] are hidden because some posts may not follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines.”

Tools like PreviewApp, Flick Hashtags, and Meta Hashtags can help you sidestep this social media faux pas, but I find that using Instagram directly is the fastest and most accurate way to spot a banned hashtag. 

4. Posting at the Wrong Times

Timing is everything. You want to post when your audience is around to see it. As a general rule, how your post performs within the first hour of hitting publish is a good indicator of its overall success. The more people around to see your post when you hit publish, the better your odds.

You can use your insights to get a good idea of your most popular post times — but that is just an estimate based on Instagram’s algorithm.

There is another hack that I recently came across is a better predictor of optimizing your post timing than your insights page. Click your Instagram profile photo in the top left. Then scroll over to the “Live” feature to see how many of your followers are currently active. Don’t worry. You won’t actually go Live by checking.

This trick will give you a real-time idea of how many of your followers and friends currently interact on the app — AKA the people interested in seeing your new content.

5. Not Engaging your Community

I can say this enough. Don’t publish your beautifully crafted post and immediately leave the app. If you want engagement, you need to be engaged with your current followers and potential new followers.

Try the 20-minute rule. Spend (at least) 20 minutes a day liking and leaving insightful comments on other accounts’ posts that align with your brand. I spend 10 minutes before I post and 10 minutes after I post engaging with other accounts to grow my engagement organically and in a meaningful way.

In that time, engage 20 posts from accounts you follow and follow you. Comment a word of support. Also, engage 10 new accounts that you want to connect with. Don’t neglect to answer all comments and DMS left on your page with more than an emoji.

Remember, Community over Competition. Engage with people who like and comment on posts in your niche too. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and grow your online community authentically.

6. You Have a Bunch of Ghost Followers

Fake accounts and inactive followers are killing your Instagram engagement. These engagement suckers are called ghost followers. To spot ghost followers on Instagram, you can keep these red flags in mind:

  • Accounts having 0 posts
  • Accounts that do not have any followers
  • Accounts with a strange username
  • Accounts that do not have any profile picture

As the saying goes, it’s better to have 100 people love you than a million people that sort of like you. The same goes for your Instagram audience. Remove fake followers if you want to improve your engagement, and who wouldn’t want that for their business?

7. Your Content is Dull 

This one hurts, but I am coming from a place of love.

I have found that oftentimes small business owners become overwhelmed by content creation because they don’t know the basics of content strategy, and they don’t have tons of time to spend creating and posting content. You need strong content pillars as a foundation for anything you’re publishing online.

Whenever you sit down to write content, you need to ask yourself the purpose of the post. When you are strategically using content marketing, every post has a purpose that falls into one of these three categories: Educate, Entertain, Excite. 

8. You’re Not Showing Up Consistently

If you’ve been in business for more than a few minutes, you already know showing up consistently and providing value to your audience is fundamental to success.

They might as well give you a sticker that says “Consistency is Key” when you file for your LLC, amirite?

Consistancy is critical to success in all things, and content creation is no exception. Time restrictions can make this HARD. Beyonce can get away with posting once in a blue moon and still get millions of likes. We mere mortals don’t have that luxury. It’s important to post 4 to 5 times a week if you want to grow your account.

Save time by creating an Instagram post template. Have a recognizable posting style raises your brand awareness. Use tools like Canva to create on-brand templates for your post. Then you can simply plug and post without worrying about having inconsistent branding.

9. You’re not Reading your Analytics 

Learn how to make the most of Instagram through curated educational resources, including tips, tricks, guidance, and inspiration. Instagram recently introduced the Professional Dashboard. It’s meant to be a centralized hub for entrepreneurs, social media managers, and creators to track their insights and grow their business on Instagram.

Use it to discover insights and trends based on your account’s performance, grow your business with in-app features that let you run your account more efficiently, and check monetization status and eligibility for Instagram shops.

It is easy to blame the algorithm when your Instagram account is going sideways, but I promise the algorithm can be your friend. By avoiding these mistakes and creating quality content consistently, you’ll be on your way to growing a following of fans who can’t wait to see your next post.

Happy Creating!

Cyndi 

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