There’s no doubt that Instagram is an essential marketing channel these days, with over a billion people using it every month and 81% of people using it to research products and services. But while Instagram may be engaging, visual, and fun, it’s still important to be strategic about your Instagram marketing to harness the platform’s power to benefit your business.
Unfortunately, Instagram marketing has a few pitfalls that are easy to fall into, with many companies making the same mistakes repeatedly. As a result, they fail to create engaging content, ending up instead with a series of posts that bore their audience. To make sure you don’t fall into these traps, here are some ways that companies go wrong with Instagram.
Watch Out for Stock Photos
Being a photo-based platform, you probably want to post photos on Instagram. But if you’re posting content regularly (which you should be), it can be hard to keep up with original photographs of your own. That’s why so many companies turn to stock photos, which are readily available, relatively affordable, and quite varied in their offerings. Sounds perfect, right?
Wrong… See, most stock photos are easily identifiable as stock photos. The average internet user can spot one from a mile away, and they’re perceived as being generic and lacking personality – not exactly helpful when seeking audience engagement.
Beyond that, there are only a limited number of stock photos available in any given category, so the chances are high that you and your competitors will choose some of the same ones. For example, if you’re a law firm looking for an image of a person signing a contract, the one you’ll choose has likely already been posted by multiple competing firms — which doesn’t help you stand out from the pack.
Plus, it’ll be increasingly difficult to find appropriate stock photos when you start looking for images to represent certain more abstract concepts. This is something you probably already know well if you’ve ever had to search for a photo to convey the idea of something like “justice” or “burnout.”
So, instead, ideally hire an experienced, talented photographer to get original photos for your Instagram account. If this isn’t an option, an alternative is to find a member of your staff who has some photography skills. Either way, the genuine and personal nature of the photos you’ll capture will make up for most shortcomings in quality.
Using Graphics and Templates
In addition to photos, you’ll also want to post graphics and text, but these are something to be approached carefully. Because Instagram isn’t the place to dump 150 words of copy onto an image. It’s too small and long, and nobody will bother reading it. Save your wordiness for the caption and keep the image pithy and short.
It’s also worth noting that an amateur use of fonts and layout will tarnish your firm’s appearance on social media. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to have a graphic designer on staff or on contract to help you with any graphics you want to create for your Instagram account.
Things to Remember
Regardless of what you’re posting, there are a few general principles to keep in mind to help guide your Instagram strategy that will set you up for success. Ask yourself:
Who is your audience? Try putting yourself in their shoes. Imagine this person scrolling through their phone and coming across your posts. Do they care? Will they stop scrolling to read your caption? Does it mean something to them, or is it just more noise?
Most importantly, what are your goals on social? Without clear goals, you won’t be able to have a strategic approach to social media, because you’ll be posting willy-nilly with no particular aims to guide you. So consider what you’re trying to achieve with your Instagram. Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Are you attempting outreach to new clients? Do you hope to network with colleagues in your profession? Are you trying to grow brand awareness or establish thought leadership?
The answers to these questions will be specific to your own business, its larger goals, and your general marketing plan, but either way, you should always make sure that the content you’re putting out supports your goals. That is how you’ll implement a successful Instagram marketing strategy.