Overlooked Instagram Mistakes that Even the Best Marketers Make


Can one photo really tell one thousand words? For the right brand with the right story, it definitely can. We’ve seen it time and time again with brands like Oreo going viral from a simple image or memorable ads that showcase a thin line of milk gracing the upper lip of various celebrities. Powerful visuals with a powerful message can stand out.

Visuals have always been an important part of the marketers tool kit. Yet, technology and channels like Facebook and Instagram have transformed visuals from a nice to have to a requirement. The great thing about social media is the ability to have your visuals shared to millions in the matter of seconds.

Outside of Facebook, Instagram is the current leader for photo sharing as it relates to brand storytelling and communications. The great thing about Instagram is that you don’t have to be a world renown photographer to create a successful page.

Here are 4 mistakes that many brands make that you should avoid:

1. Sharing Images With No Context

Context is a key factor that can differentiate a brand from generating a like on Instagram and simply having their photo scrolled passed without any care. It’s important to ensure that the visuals you share on Instagram can be seen by your followers and quickly understood. There are many brands who are using Instagram for their own self-righteousness and they’re struggling to generate a following.

The brands who use Instagram correctly are the brands who share content that resonates with their audience. It’s important to truly look at the world views of your customers when building your digital strategy and establish a story that you can tell using visuals. That story needs to be told in every piece of content you share and needs to demonstrate both your brand’s value while clearly communicating your brand’s story. Simply put, if content is king, context is queen (tweet this).

2. Using Instagram like a “Human”

I follow my friends to see pictures of ice cold beers on the patio overlooking an ocean or two legs on a beach that could be easily mistaken for two hot dogs. Trust me. That link is worth clicking. Why do we follow brands? We follow brands to see cool stuff that our friends can’t offer up.

We’re looking for brands to be creative. We’re looking for brands to be engaging. We’re looking for brands to do things that push the status quo, make us scratch our heads and smile in amusement. It’s these things that separate brands from people on Facebook. It’s these things that will drive a user to press follow and increase the chances that they’ll comment and like your posts.

3. Underestimating The Power of Hashtags

There’s nothing wrong with using a couple hashtags on your Instagram posts, but make sure you’re not overdoing it. On average, there’s a best practice on Instagram for brands to use 4-5 hashtags per photo. That’s enough to add a bit of context to your post while also increasing the likelihood of generating some engagement.

Studies show that adding hashtags to your photos on Instagram increase the likelihood of fan engagement. From increasing reach to adding context to your photos, a hashtag can drive a wide range of benefits to your Instagram strategy.

Hashtags are also important for brands looking to host events or any type of contest. The startup, Frank And Oak, runs a contest every friday called #NecktieFriday where people all over the world upload photos wearing neckties using that very hashtag – the winner gets a necktie from Frank And Oak.  Using hashtags for contests is an easy to keep track of  entries but also acts as an opportunity to increase your brands reach.

4. Not Embracing Their Inner-Hipster

While Instagram isn’t just for Hipsters anymore, it’s definitely still embracing the hipster culture. The use of filters still runs wild on Instagram as do the beautiful shots that make you wish you paid more attention in art class. There are a handful of different trends and creative cues you can take from following some of the more popular brands on Instagram.

One trend that you’ll also find on Instagram is the combination of multiple shots within one frame. It’s a way to tell a wide range of stories within one single update. Apps like Pic StitchDiptic, and Frame Magic make it easy to combine multiple photos into one and ultimately tell a more compelling story.

Marketing is about telling great stories. Instagram is another channel in which brands can share, create and connect with their audience. A story that connects is one of the most powerful forces in business. That connection between a brand and its customers can be the difference between a brand who drives loyalty and a brand that is replaceable.

What brands have you seen using instagram effectively?

Ross Simmonds
Ross Simmonds is a digital strategist, public speaker and entrepreneur. He's currently writing  Stand Out: A Content Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs which highlights how businesses can use content marketing to drive meaningful and measurable results
Ross Simmonds

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