Social media can be a great tool as part of a larger conversation. It connects people but can also connect businesses with their audience. But not all of us are social media rock stars. In a previous post, we covered what not to do on Facebook. This time we’ll talk about mistakes commonly made on Instagram.

Don’t use text instead of photos.

Instagram is a photography focused platform. From post to post you can see what your friends and followers are up to. There’s also a rhythm to the steady stream of photos in your feed. Nothing breaks that rhythm like a large block of text and no photography. Integrating a little text into a photo is fine but posting only graphics and text is the first on our list of Instagram sins. Think about how your content is being consumed by audiences. While you want your posts to stand out, it can be jarring and unpleasant when it’s text only. Stick to what the platform was created for: images.

Don’t make anything too time specific.

Of all the social media platforms, content on Instagram lives the longest. You can scroll through your discover feed and be served a post from 6 months ago. That is why it is important to make sure your posts are “evergreen.” Consider how content will be consumed 6 months to a year from now. Try not to get too time specific in your posts. Does that mean that if you have a sale coming up soon you shouldn’t post about it in fear that someone will find that post later? No. But be really clear about it, marking the date of the sale clearly in the post and providing other less time sensitive content as well. Your posts should always be interesting and applicable.

Stop leaving out the hashtags.

Unlike Facebook, hashtags are an important tool on Instagram. Hashtags are used to spread content beyond your inner circle. Users regularly search for topics applicable to their interests. If you’re not using hashtags, you’re not engaging in the larger conversation and your posts won’t be as easily discoverable. Include at least 1-2 hashtags in each post. But don’t go overboard since there’s nothing worse than a tower of hashtags below the photo. Be intentional with your hashtag use and maybe even try to integrate a hashtag or two into your photo caption. There’s nothing more #impressive than being a #hashtagpro.

Don’t ignore comments.

It may be a little more clunky to reply to comments and messages on Instagram, but don’t let that be an excuse to not engage with your audience. Direct messaging is becoming increasingly popular, especially with younger generations. This, along with comments are how many will reach out to get their questions answered. Start engaging with your audience. Be sure to promptly reply to messages and comments. Like someone’s photo if they use your hashtag. This shows interest and that you’re paying attention to your audience. Social media is like a cocktail party. If you’re always the one talking, eventually no one will want to hang out with you.

While there are numerous ways to use each platform, these simple tips will keep you on point in your use of the platform, your branding, and consumer engagement.

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