When it comes to learning to use social media for marketing, everyone quickly learns that what works on one platform does not work on another. They all have their own nuances and popular among different types of target markets and all of them explode at some point.

Twitter is a very popular social network but we now see that Instagram easily surpasses the platform with its own use of hashtags and photo sharing making life around the world come alive. Unfortunately, using Instagram for marketing does come with some serious faux pas to avoid. Let’s look at a few very common mistakes that will cost you dearly and how to avoid them.

  1. Don’t buy your followers.

Buying likes and followers is a bad idea in general, but very bad on Instagram. It is a destructive practice that can ruin your business reputation quicker than it took you to buy those likes and followers. In the world of social media, the truth comes out and your clientele will not be happy about it. Another point to drive home is that it’s a complete waste of time and money. The return on investment (ROI) from buying followers and likes is extremely low and you are going to wonder why you aren’t seeing higher profits.

Take the time to cultivate your followers and get their likes organically. Nurture those relationships as they will share your page with others. Your ROI will grow exponentially and it will do you better in the long run. To grab your followers, you can hold contests in which they share one of your photos for an entry or create a funny video relating to your business so that others will want to see it. Naturally, you should be promoting your Instagram profile as much as possible on your website, other social networks, and with your offline marketing materials as well.

  1. Posting poor-quality content.

This is one area where your captions should be correct grammar, the photos feature the best subject, and your videos are top-notch. Blurry pictures, misspelled words and hashtags, and videos that can’t be understood are the quickest way to present your business as an amateur and that you just don’t care much about it.

Hire a photographer to get the best shots, a videographer who knows how to create excellent video content, and make sure your social media manager has excellent writing skills. If you can’t afford to hire people to help you, study up on how to take better shots with your phone, and learn more about how to write for social media.

While you are at it, change things up a bit. Create photos that show different angles and brightness. Videos can be funny but throw a few serious ones in there too. Create your own hashtags so that you can monitor what others are saying and throw in a unique spelling to make it part of your branding.

  1. Not posting (or posting too much).

Why create a profile if you aren’t going to update it with content on a regular basis? When you ignore the profile, people assume that your business is not serious about making connections. They can’t see your business grow or the latest item you have in your shop. They will forget about you quickly. Take the time to post once every couple of days or even once a day. It keeps you in the forefront of their mind and they are likely to engage with you.

Having said that, you also want to avoid being the company who posts too much. You can get away with one or two daily posts, but beyond that and you are going to become the annoying next-door neighbor everyone hates. The reality is, if someone is seeing a ton of posts from you throughout their feed and they are unable to see posts from other people, they are going to unfollow you quick.

The key thing to remember is that it’s about engaging with your target market, not flooding them with content. Focus on responding to questions and comments on your posts and posting quality content. Quality over quantity is a wonderful rule of thumb for Instagram… and social media in general.

  1. Don’t pay attention to analytics.

It’s an amazing thing but many marketers don’t pay attention to their analytics profile. Doing that means you are missing out on valuable information. Your Instagram analytics can tell you what kind of content gets the most attention, who is paying you the most attention, and when they are engaging with your account.

When you know that information, it becomes easier to create content and contests that will help you gain popularity across the platform. You can even pull in new folks by mimicking what you know works for your existing audience.

  1. Using hashtags incorrectly.

Hashtags are a language within itself and there is unspoken etiquette about how to use them the right way. Firstly, the hashtags should be relevant to your brand and your post. If you are a makeup company and you use a trending hashtag for the day (let’s say something like #ThingsKidsSay) because you are launching a new mascara, you have just committed a major faux pas!

Many marketers will use this tactic in order to get their product seen by people who are checking out that hashtag. Problem is, no one wants to see a post about mascara while sharing stories about Little Johnny and the questionable things he told his kindergarten teacher. The hashtag needs to be relevant so that people looking for brands related to a hashtag (such as #makeup) will find you and check out your business.

On the flipside, don’t avoid hashtags all together either. Since the introduction of the hashtag, it has become an integral part of searching for the consumer and helps the marketer connect with their target market. Avoiding hashtags on your posts would be like standing in a crowded room, screaming, and no one responding to you. They are what makes content easy to find, and people use them to find new accounts to follow often – especially now that Instagram allows users to follow hashtags and accounts.

  1. Gaining followers but not following.

Consumers want a relationship with the companies they do business with. When a company Instagram account has 10,000 followers but not following anyone (or following 100 people), they will make the assumption that you are all about advertising and not engaging with them. You may have those followers but more than likely, they are bot accounts and won’t do much for your business in the long run. It’s far better to follow back, engage, and create a fantastic business relationship with current and potential clients.

Instagram can be tricky to learn after learning other platforms because it’s a very different sort of platform to market to. With practice and diligence, you should be able to find your way in the Instagram world and see a rise in sales.