The Instagram logo is displayed on a smartphone on December 20, 2012 in Paris. Instagram backed down on December 18, 2012 from a planned policy change that appeared to clear the way for the mobile photo sharing service to sell pictures without compensation, after users cried foul. Changes to the Instagram privacy policy and terms of service set to take effect January 16 had included wording that appeared to allow people's pictures to be used by advertisers at Instagram or Facebook worldwide, royalty-free. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)

For Generation Z, the demographic cohort following Millennials, social media is more than an online experience. It stores our memories, reminds us of important events, and provides a platform for authentic human interactions.

And although social platforms encompass many functions for normal, everyday people, their utilities go through the roof when in the hands of a capable business. With Snapchat, for example, companies can showcase behind-the-scenes footage to better connect with consumers.

With Twitter, businesses can continuously send out bite-sized updates about their most relevant products. But with Instagram, if done correctly, businesses hold a much more engaging power. And the best way to tap into that power is marketing through visuals.

Here are 10 mistakes companies are making on Instagram and how to fix them.

1. Posting Without a Goal

On the surface, Instagram seems pretty straightforward. Take a few pictures, think of a snappy caption, and post them for your followers to see. Despite the platform’s accessibility, this off-handed approach is not ideal for businesses desiring to build up their online presence.

There are multiple reasons for businesses to get involved in social media, but simply sharing snapshots of their day is not of them. Increasing brand awareness, sparking website traffic, and connecting with consumers are all valid incentives for embracing social media. And Instagram certainly delivers on all these fronts.

However, to effectively achieve these goals, businesses need to tailor their content to their specific aspirations. For example, increasing brand awareness is best done with pictures of products. Whatever the reason for using Instagram, having a goal beforehand can improve results.

2. Forgetting About Quality

In most people’s hands, the general approach to social media is to share, share, share. Although this strategy works for individuals, it misses the point for businesses with more meaningful reasons for taking to Instagram.

In addition, this emphasis on content can breed poorly-taken or careless photos that defeat the purpose of marketing through visuals. As the old saying goes, quality over quantity. In order to capitalize on the marketing powers bestowed through social media, businesses need to be deliberate with their posts, making sure they stay relevant and engaging for their consumer audience.

After all, a study showed that Instagram posts can boast longevity with comments and likes flooding in for up to twenty days in the case of top brands. With each post receiving so much lasting attention, it is important that businesses emphasize the quality of their posts.

3. Quantity Not as Important

In the same vein as the last mistake, quantity doesn’t make up for lost quality. Also, too many posts in rapid succession can confuse, annoy, or disorient potential customers.

Although it may be tempting to dump out as much advertising for a brand as possible, businesses can utilize social media more effectively by only sharing those bits of product placement that are the most powerful. They should also make sure that they post in spaced-out intervals.

Focused and regulated delivery of content ensures that businesses are making an impact on their customers but also keeping their attention between individual posts.

4. Ignoring the Product

Just like how every business is unique, so too is every product unique. Depending on the uses and selling points of different products, businesses need to emphasize different aspects of those products in their advertisements.

Instagram may encourage finding clever, flashy ways to catch the attention of consumers, but, in order to effectively advertise, companies need to focus on the features that distinguish their products above all. Instead of making just interesting content, businesses can truly achieve social media success by considering the best features of their products and services first.

5. Failing to Create Traffic

For lots of businesses, especially those that lack goals beforehand, Instagram is just for the name. They’ll post recycled content every now and then, simply for the sake of being on a social platform.

According to Dan Simons, the founder of Founding Farmers, where these companies fall short is their failure to create external traffic and not pointing potential customers in the direction of their products and personal website. Businesses can capitalize on the visibility offered by Instagram by providing links to external websites in posts and account biographies.

6. Catering to the Wrong Audience

Successful Instagram advertising often takes a familiar form: visually engaging and humorous. Whatever the content, most businesses doing advertising on the social platform try to fit their own products in the husks of past successes. The inherent problem with this approach is that the same outlines of advertisements may not always be applicable to different audiences.

Different ages, nationalities, and even regions require different references and themes to catch their attention. Businesses should consider the demographics of their audience when tailoring their posts to their consumers.

7. Post Regularly

Although it is solid advice for businesses to fight the urge to share as much as possible on Instagram, neglecting any kind of posting schedule can be just as bad. Businesses who put themselves on Instagram may maintain frequent posting briefly before dropping off the social platform and becoming virtually inactive.

For companies trying to increase brand awareness, an inactive social media page not only fails to communicate that message, but it can also frustrate and confuse potential consumers. The easy fix: find a balance between too little and too much posting to keep consumers informed but not overwhelmed. Businesses who do this are assured to maximize the impact of their posts.

8. Forgetting Interactions Are Key

One of the allures of joining social media is the added dimension of the producer-consumer interaction. Consumers can like and comment on the posts made by brands they follow to express their concerns, extend praise, or simply reach out. The biggest mistake businesses can make in this scenario is to remain silent.

Replying to comments and direct messages shows consumers that businesses value their concerns and are worth supporting. Businesses who regularly respond to comments can strengthen their following greatly. After all, with a thousand comments per second, Instagram is teeming with consumers looking for something to follow.

9. Misusing Hashtags

Besides coming up with clever, informative, attention-grabbing captions, there’s another element to post description on Instagram: hashtags. With the purpose of summarizing meaning and connecting related posts, hashtags can spark conversation and attract consumers easily. The problem arises when businesses forego using hashtags or use too many unrelated ones.

Studies show that more hashtags correlate directly with more likes and comments. However, this is not to say that businesses should cram thirty hashtags on one post; consumers may be unenthused by the clutter of words. As long as businesses utilize purposeful, relevant hashtags in moderation, they can effectively increase their visibility.

10. Go All In

Making a successful Instagram page can be difficult, especially with so many businesses clamoring to reach the top. There are so many factors to consider and dozens of bits of Instagram etiquette to follow, as evidenced by the lengthy list preceding you. Despite the difficulty of being relevant on Instagram, there’s one mistake businesses make that trumps all the others: not going all in.

Social media adds an entirely different layer to marketing, and companies that don’t keep up risk falling behind in consumer interaction, brand awareness, and actual sales.

Creating fresh and clever content only becomes increasingly more challenging, prompting many companies to form social media divisions. Businesses who follow in their example and put real effort into the social media game will reap all the rewards Instagram can offer.