5 rookie Instagram mistakes you're making and how to avoid them

Many small business owners when they first set up their Instagram account make mistakes - we all do when we first start something. But are they still making the same mistakes 6 to 12 months later?

Unfortunately, I see the same mistakes over and over when I review small business accounts.

Mistakes that are really common and easily fixed when you know what to do.

Are you making any of these mistakes in your business account?

1. Having a private account

This might seem to go without saying, but you would be surprised at the amount of business owners who open a business account on Instagram and forget to GO public. This is not a way to grow your account. It would be like having a Facebook page and not letting anyone like it unless you vetted them first.

Would you do that? 

I didn’t think so, so make sure your account is public.

Instagram for Business is not the same as your personal account, so whilst it is perfectly acceptable to have a private personal Instagram account - you must have an open account to allow people to see and find your posts

2. Wrong Hashtags

Allowing people to find your account is critical to your growth. One of the ways new people find you will be via Hashtags. So it is really important that you choose hashtags focussed on what you customers browse through to find images that they like.

Choosing hashtags is all about our target customer, what are the accounts, words, products or things they are interested in or looking for.

It is not enough to use the most popular hashtags, like #instagood or #thatsdarling or #flashesofdelight if you are new and growing your account.

Whilst your target customers may be using them - the likelihood of a small and growing account finding new users this way (by choosing these very large hashtag hubs)  is going to be negligible. Images are posted into the stream far to quickly for your small account to be noticed.

So think twice about choosing ONLY really popular hashtags.

Likewise, avoid using hashtags that you are just #makinguponthespot or only have a really small hub. If say only 1000 images have been tagged with a certain hashtag, the likelihood of you finding more of your target customers with this tag will be very very small.  

You need to check on the volume of images in that hashtag hub, the type of images and the type of account before you choose to use them.

3. No theme or consistent look

Many people struggle with what to post often

  • overthinking it - or
  • not thinking about it at all.

    We all have preconceived ideas about what we should be posting and how our images should look. The best advice I can offer ALL Instagram rookies is be consistent in what you post and stick to that for about 3 months to find your groove.

By being consistent I mean this

- Choose a style of image or theme ( colour, product, people, place)
- Determine if you have some text images and what this text style will look like.
- Determine where you will place your text images amongst your other images

Go to my Instagram account @summitschoolwithleanneo and see what I mean re themeing. I utitlise my branding colours as well as a set style and placement of quotes I use. 


If you just post a mishmash of images ( which might be what you do personally and is perfectly OK in that context) then you are missing out not only on cementing your brand, but also finding and keeping your audience. The culture of Instagram is looking for a curated feed, so think uniformity ( not conformity). This consistency will bring rewards. You need to think about how each image you post will look sitting next to, above and below the images around it. This is where using an Instagram scheduling tool is invaluable - things like Later or Planoly or Plann that. 

Having images all square, with the same border, or the same filter etc will mean that over time your feed will be known for a certain ‘look and feel’.

And for those of you worried that you are not creative enough for Instagram - don’t worry os much about this and don't try to be. Be consistent instead in what and how you present your images. Consistent colour choices in your images or filters or a grid layout is a great way to create a great looking feed if you think your images are not so amazing.

Here are some examples to showcase what I mean.

Yes - @simplified_accounting

Brand colours
Clear Graphics - consistent fonts

Yes @creativepossibility
Set image to quote pattern ( love the colour/quote/text pattern in this grid).
Set colour choices. Consistent font choice

Yes @coopychoo
Products photographed in-situ. Set quote pattern and style. Quotes have the same layout and every 6th tile.

NO! Just no!

This feed is actually from a person identified as an Instagram marketer. It has not been active for over 40 weeks. I have not shown who they are and I don’t wish to label them - but I just wanted to show you an example of what NOT to do here in relation to theming.

Unrelated quotes on a page is not a theme.

Do not do this. There is no value for your clients or potential clients here that connects to your products or services, so if you use quotes - choose them wisely and tie them to what YOU are all about.

4. Posting too close together

This refers to uploading and posting a series of images one after the other. Not in a way that creates a sliced up image - but rather, posting a lot of images in quick succession to your feed. This can become annoying to your followers. It is better to just post once or maybe twice a day - but at significantly apart - like perhaps 8 to 10 hours. You do not need to be prolific, just regular in your posts.

5. Not engaging with your market

Put simply this means responding to comments. If you think they may be spammy, but are not sure, just like the comment. If you believe the comment in your feed is spam delete it

But engagement with your market is more than responding to comments. You need to actively reach out and like photos of accounts in your target space. Comment on those feeds. Be seen.

Commenting is one of the best ways to be noticed however please don’t just leave a random comment that might be mistaken for a spambot. Rather think about what you post, share a real insight or thought. This is how you build relationships, community and your brand profile.

So now that you know some of these rookie mistakes, are you committing any?

If your ideal client is on Instagram, but it's not a place that you feel comfortable with as yet, then register now for my webinar.