The Three Big Mistakes I First Made On Instagram (& how to avoid them!)

If you’re anything like me, you’ll know the feeling when you’re at a party but haven’t a clue how to act and the etiquette isn’t clear. That feeling of pretending you know how to behave is beyond awkward.

Such an unsure pattern of behaviour was exactly how I treated my old Instagram account when I first signed up. Not only was I late to the party, but my social ineptitude was showing.

I knew I should be on there, but truth be told I didn’t know what to do or how to make it work. 

With the help of social media experts online, I resolved three crucial errors, managed to turn my account around and multiply my followers by five in the first two months. 

It doesn’t have to be that tough; learn from my mistakes and you can soon be the hit of the Instagram party!

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1. Purpose

There is a lot of Instagram advice out there. One thing I learnt is that it’s not a ‘one-size fits all’. Yes, many areas overlap, but the purpose of your account needs to be taken into consideration. 

As I have several friends who are authors, I watched how they used their feeds; they posted lots of images from their daily lives, from books they were reading, family trips, meals and more.

So that’s what I began doing. 

I mixed my design work with cat photos and general behind-the-scenes shots, because that’s what I’d heard was right.

What I’d failed to consider was that I provide a visual business service. People want and expect to see something beautiful, flowing and cohesive, not pictures of my dinner and my cats (cute as they are!)

Yes, behind-the-scenes shots are great for giving insight into the real you, but they still need to be relevant and consistent with the vibe of your account.

Lesson: Always keep your purpose in mind when posting, and get a personal account for all the rest! 

2. Snakes and Ladders

Joining a ‘follow for follow’ ladder is tempting, and believe me, I joined plenty. 

You know the type: someone posts on Facebook looking for people with whom to connect with the promise of a ‘follow back’. 

It’s a quick way of increasing your numbers, for sure.

The disadvantage? The motives are entirely wrong. On the whole, people started following me to improve their own stats, rather than being interested in what I did. The foundation for my following was hollow.

When it was pointed out to me that I was following more people than returned that favour, and this was damaging to my social presence, I had to unfollow people. 

The result? My numbers dropped dramatically and I felt disheartened! However, with time and studying, I learnt how to build my numbers up and far beyond what it was before. 

And the best bit? These follows are all organic; users genuinely want to see my posts.

Remember, this ‘follow for follow’ was a deal to begin with, and when people discover you’ve reneged on your side of the bargain, the chances are they no longer see the point in keeping theirs.

Lesson: Focus on creating content that will genuinely attract people to your account. Frustrating as it may be, ten engaged followers is better than a hundred who don’t care!

3. Style

Not knowing who I was (and translating that onto my feed) was a huge error. 

When I began a personal Instagram (back in the day), I didn’t give a thought to how my overall feed looked. One photo had a dark vignette, the next was stark white. This slapdash method created a visual nightmare! I wasn't translating my brand across my social media.

It’s so important to make people want to look further and spend more time on your feed. 

The more they look and like what they see, the more likely they are to want to follow you. They trust what will appear on their newsfeed.

In the end, I had to delete almost all my content and start afresh (but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to!).

Lesson: Content is more than just, well, content. It needs to look aesthetically pleasing and on-brand, as well! Keep in mind the look you want to create.

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