How Not to Suck at Instagram: Avoid These 6 Social Media Fails

As members the human species, there is one unifying common denominator that haunts us all: the fear of failure. However paralyzing it can sometimes be, that shouldn't make anyone not give something a go just because there's a chance it might not work out.

Especially when it comes to Instagram.

If you feel like this title has pinpointed your shortcomings, today is the day where you turn things around - we've identified common mistakes people make when using the popular photo-sharing app and ways to help you overcome them.

Right now is when you begin to stop sucking at Instagram.


Straw hats and cacti are the perfect complement to Madewell's brand story. Source: @madewell1937 Instagram

Straw hats and cacti are the perfect complements to Madewell's brand story. Source: @madewell1937 Instagram

Getting a hang of social media is quite challenging. All platforms are different and serve distinct purposes, which makes mastering all, or simply one of them pretty difficult. The reality of it is, it can be extremely counter-intuitive if you don't belong to the generation that was born into it.

When it comes to the arsenal of platforms out there, we're obviously partial to Instagram. To help you along your journey of conquering the best social network of all, we've gathered some intel for you, packaged it nicely to be delivered wrapped in a lovely bow.

Ok, maybe not literally a bow, but extremely useful tips on how to be better at Instagram await you yonder. Onward!

The @onekingslane gallery is an amazing collection of impeccably-designed interiors, which leaves no doubt as to who they are as a company. Source: @onekingslane Instagram

The @onekingslane gallery is an amazing collection of impeccably-designed interiors, which leaves no doubt as to who they are as a company. Source: @onekingslane Instagram



1. You're Inconsistent

One week you're posting every day and then the next thing you know, you take a two week hiatus. This type of thing doesn't fly on the platinum platform.

We see this time and time again: accounts that don't post on the reg are not prone to getting followed. Not only that, but when they do eventually post, they tend to get unfollowed, because it acts as a reminder to their audience that they're following an nearly inactive account.

Think about it: what's the point of following a feed that doesn't fulfill its content promise? The more consistently you post, the more your followers will engage with and around your content, and the more ammo it gives you to hook people.

Buyer beware! You don't want to appear spammy either... Make sure you're publishing at least once a day, but cap it off at four. Overloading your fans can also be the kiss of death.

Urban Outfitters has mastered their Instagram posting schedule and also built an entire strategy around UGC. Source: @urbanoutfitters Instagram

Urban Outfitters has mastered their Instagram posting schedule and also built an entire strategy around UGC. Source: @urbanoutfitters Instagram



2. Your Content Is Bad

Before going any further, the big bad elephant in the room is demanding to be addressed: objectively speaking, is your gallery even follow-worthy? Being introspective and keeping a (reasonably) critical eye on yourself can be the one thing to actually propel you forward. If you're noticing that your account is stagnant or on the decline, have you ever truly asked yourself whether or not your content was actually any good?

There's a rather easy way to remedy to a less-than-compelling feed, but first you have to be prepared to admit that perhaps there is room for improvement. Compare your own account to those you deem competitors, take a step back and truly assess how your gallery's aesthetic fares in comparison.

Not in the sense that your goal is to have the same kind of content, but in terms of point of view: if your direct rivals have feeds that seem visually cohesive and that look like their photos further enhance their brand experience, while yours is more akin to one of those weird knick-knack shops that don't actually telegraph a particular sentiment other than hot mess, then you know what to do.

Not sure how to go about the change? Here's a good starting point. Oh and stop using Instagram filters if you are. There are a slew of killer tools out there that will come to your rescue.

The Everlane entity is impeccably represented through their beautiful Instagram feed. Source: @everlane Instagram

The Everlane entity is impeccably represented through their beautiful Instagram feed. Source: @everlane Instagram


3. You're Veering Off-Brand

There are no two ways about it - nowadays, Instagram is one of the most important brand vehicles out there. No matter how you approach fueling your image via curated or created visuals, your gallery needs to derive directly from your brand strategy. For some people that means memes, while for others it's about representative high-quality UGC.

Stick to a particular aesthetic that ties into your brand story. This is an angle that enables all potential followers (and existing ones, too) to be able to understand your point of view as soon as they land on your profile. Resist the urge to post a low-quality selfie of a celebrity wearing one of your best-selling pieces if it doesn't intrinsically mesh with the rest of your grid. Even if it is T-swift Selena.

Alternatively, if yours is a food account that generally sticks to posting mouthwatering recipes, photos of ingredients and other related images, perhaps posting a random shot of a pet should be avoided, even if you're aware that furry creatures tend to strike Instagram gold.

Repeat after us: resist the random, construct concisely. Basically, stick to the game plan, no matter how cute Fido is.

The Infatuation knows that they are the reference for all heavenly palatable indulgences and that's why their fans follow them. So that's what they stick to.

The Infatuation knows that they are the reference for all heavenly palatable indulgences and that's why their fans follow them. So that's what they stick to. Source: @infatuation Instagram


4. You're Not Using Hashtags

Can you think of a more polarizing thing than hashtags? Didn't think so.

Listen here, sport. If your reluctancy vis-a-vis hashtags stems from the fact that you think they're a major faux pas for try-hards, think again. Not using them is kind of a missed opportunity and it's actually a completely acceptable form of visibility-obtention, not to mention a way to partake in those virtual aesthetics conversations.

While a hoard of them inside the actual caption is a bit of a gaffe, ain't no shame in the hashtag cloud game. Here's a useful guide to help you along your hashtag 'Gram goals.

5. You're Not Engaging

The whole point of this magical platform is to be able to connect and engage with users who feel so compelled by what you're posting that they not only double tap your photos, but also make the time to leave you a little note (or emojis) under them.

While we realize that the bigger the account, the less you can feasibly reply to everyone (the volume struggle is real), don't be the too-cool-to-answer d-bags that don't even acknowledge comments and questions.

Making your audience feel important is, well, über important.

Glossier has built their entire brand and product panoply off of conversations with their community. Now THAT'S engagement. Source: @glossier Instagram

Glossier has built their entire brand and product panoply off of conversations with their community. Now THAT'S engagement. Source: @glossier Instagram


6. You're Disregarding Data

As big data geeks, we'll be the first to tell you that ignoring it is a huge mistake. We know we're repeating ourselves here, but Instagram is one of the most important channels for marketers in this day and age, and disregarding the cold hard numbers can mean the beginning of the end for your foray into social media.

That's where Dash Hudson comes in.

We'll help your brand monitor ROI, among other things, uncover all kinds of useful pieces of insights to aid you in growing (or monetizing!) on Instagram, and provide you with the kind of analytics that will shape future strategies.

Never deny the importance of analytics: look at everything it can do for you.

If there's one brand that has honed their Instagram skills, it's Happy Socks. Their content is a real testament to their core message: happiness. On the feet. Joy! Source: @happysocksofficial Instagram

If there's one brand that has honed their Instagram skills, it's Happy Socks. Their content is a real testament to their core message: happiness. On the feet. Joy! Bunnies! Source: @happysocksofficial Instagram


With Instagram's recently announced - and highly controversial - changes, it's becoming more and more imperative to keep asking yourself the real questions: What are you bringing to the table? How does my content enhance my brand? What makes my gallery relevant to my audience as it relates to my category? Fortunately, we've answered a few of these questions before and our team continues to do so by working with amazing brands every day.

If Instagram truly does go right over your head, then it's probably time to hand the steering wheel to someone who understands its ins and outs and who has experience with brand-building on the platform.

For everything else, you have us.