Instagram can work wonders for enhancing a business’s image and customer reach, but it isn’t all plain sailing.
In her second article on the topic of Instagram, Sharon Stevens-Cash – director of Derbyshire-based digital marketing firm Gravity Digital – tells you what not to do.
Instagram is a fantastic way of showing off aspects of your business that you didn’t before – the beautiful images, the light-hearted fun, your products being used by actual people – but it does pay to know what you’re doing as otherwise your Instagram campaign might fall totally flat. My previous article went through the benefits of this mercurial modern app, now here are some of the traps into which the unwary business may fall.
The dangers of the ego following
Sometimes, business Instagram accounts focus too much on gaining a large following. This is what I like to call an “ego following”. The point is often made about social media for business that it’s not so much about selling yourself as engaging with your audience, and rather than investing the time into an Instagram account with tactical following and frequent posting, many people choose to buy followers from companies which offer this service.
Doing this is nothing but an expensive number-boosting exercise because the following you gain will be neither relevant nor useful to you for promoting your products and services.
The reason why businesses buy followers is that Instagram can be a difficult platform on which to build an audience. You must invest time, follow a structured plan and have a little bit of patience. If you post regularly, tactically follow other accounts and engage with your users then it’s likely that your Instagram following will steadily increase.
Staying on schedule
As a platform, Instagram has many restrictions. One of these is scheduling. Scheduling makes our lives easier when it comes to social media, as we are able to plan far in advance what we’d like to say on social streams, offering up free time in the work day. This is easy for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Instagram can be scheduled, but still needs man power. Sigh! You have to queue up a post, this is then sent to your phone where you have to physically copy and paste the image yourself. So, as far as time-saving is concerned, it must be said that Instagram doesn’t score particularly highly.
Not so insightful
In my previous article I talked about the benefits of the insights feature on Instagram, allowing you to learn more about the demographics of followers. While that’s true, it must be hoped that Instagram will develop its insights feature further as compared with Facebook and Twitter data – where you’re spoilt for depth of detail – the insights on Instagram don’t seem particularly useful by comparison. However, things are always developing in the digital world so hopefully this will improve.
Doesn’t work on your desktop
With social media business profiles, it’s always handy to have a desktop version, just for ease of access and the larger screen. Unfortunately for Instagram they’re behind in this area. You can’t even post from your desktop or see messages, only scroll through your feed and notifications. Hopefully as they are rolling out more features, a fully functioning desktop app will be one of these.
Changing algorithms make it hard to stay on track
Instagram algorithms are forever changing, literally every day. What used to happen is that the app would show posts in reverse order so the most recent post from one of your following would show up when you first opened the app. Then, you’d scroll through a feed of time ordered posts – simple.
Things have got more complicated, however. Now the app will calculate the popularity of a post, the age of the image, whether it’s a video, how active the account has been and how many hashtags the poster uses. The problem with all of that where SMEs are concerned is that the app considers so many factors there’s no real way to stay in sync. You could open your Instagram feed and see an image from five days ago. Worse still, it means when you are posting, people may not even see what you’re putting out there.
A way around this is to ensure you are monitoring when your followers are most likely to be online, increasing engagement and using hashtags appropriately. Consulting with a digital marketing specialist can really help with this.
Linking up – or not
A final issue with Instagram is linking. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin all allow you to place a link within your post. Link clicks are imperative to social media marketing because they mean that someone has seen your post, found it interesting and they’ve chosen to pursue your product or service by clicking the link. Instagram, on the other hand, only allows you to put in a link in your original biography. This means users will have to make the effort of clicking onto your profile and then find the link in your bio, then they have to search for what they are looking for specifically. Online users are too lazy for this now. They want everything to be delivered to them, they shouldn’t have to go searching for it.
But despite its limitations, Instagram is still a great tool and well worth a look. Get in touch with us at Gravity Digital if you’d like help with your social media management.