Instagram is a popular platform for all kinds of businesses, and you’ve probably come across dozens of articles about creating an effective Instagram strategy.

The problem is that the articles rarely tell you what not to do. Keep reading for a list of seven mistakes you should avoid as you craft your Instagram strategy.

 1. Posting Without a Strategy

The number one mistake people make in their Instagram strategy is to have no plan. If you assume that you should start posting and figure it out as you go, you’ll most likely end up with a feed that looks scattered and isn’t helping you reach your goals. So instead, spend some time thinking about what you’re hoping to accomplish on Instagram, and plan your content accordingly.

You’ll want to think through details like your brand’s content pillars (like themes for your account’s content), how you’ll capture photos and videos to share, how you’ll brand your content, and how often you’ll post—more on that later.

 2. Letting DMs (Direct Messages) Go Unread

 You may think of Instagram as a content-sharing app, but it can also be a great platform to communicate with your network. With that in mind, keep a close eye on your account’s DMs. Don’t wait a day or two without monitoring and responding to your messages.

If you get a message that stumps you or needs additional support, it’s best to respond to the person and let them know you’re on it. Apply the golden rule of customer service here and treat your customers like you wish other brands would treat you.

3. Not Using Hashtags

Next on the list is “hashtag.” Hashtags may have been the hottest buzzword of 2007, but hashtags are still essential for any successful social media strategy. Hashtags allow your audience to find you by topic or niche. Using hashtags is an excellent way to attract new customers who may not know to search for you by name.

Do some research about common hashtags in your industry, and consider creating an additional hashtag that you use only with your audience. As a shortcut, you can also look at your competitors’ accounts to get a quick overview of the most promising hashtags in your field.

4. Skimping on the Bio

 Another common mistake local businesses make is rushing their account’s Bio—or, worse, not having one. You have 150 characters to describe your brand and what users can expect from your content if they follow you. A well-written bio also signals professionalism and attention to detail that won’t go unnoticed by potential customers.

As a general rule, include a brief description of your brand and any other info you deem relevant to your followers. Also, set up a profile photo and use the link feature to share your website or another helpful URL.

 5. Ignoring Video

 Another mistake local businesses make with Instagram is ignoring opportunities for Video. Most social platforms attempt to focus on dynamic content, and Video is the king of dynamic formats.

This month (August 2021), you can post videos to Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, IGTV, and the regular post feed. Video is proven to perform better than static images, so try sharing some video clips if you haven’t already.

 6. Posting Irregularly

If you do not post regularly, potential customers will not find you. Your posts need to include a regular cadence for sharing content. Try to mix up the formats, like posting one Story, one Reel, and one standard rod per week. Aim to dispatch multiple times a week (or even once a day) to build up your following.

If you notice that you created a schedule you can’t stick to, reevaluate your plan and scale back a bit. However, if you’re going more than a week between posts, try reallocating resources to prioritize your Instagram strategy.

 7. Having Multiple Account Managers

 Many local businesses make the mistake of having multiple employees with admin access to the account - this isn’t always a mistake. It can work well if you have clear guidelines about who is responsible for what. But unless you’re already an Instagram master (and if so, you probably don’t need this list), it’s a recipe for disaster. You may end up with content and captions entirely different in style and tone, and it’s easy to wrongfully assume that someone else has checked DMs or scheduled the week’s content. In most cases, it’s better to give one person sole ownership over the account and trust them to handle it.

Getting everything right as a local business owner can be challenging - especially in the social media world, where features and capabilities change daily. Thankfully, the tips above are all evergreen - they’ll hold up even if Instagram tweaks its algorithm or releases a new feature.

If you’re overwhelmed, note any mistakes your company is currently making and focus on correcting just one. Tackle others down the line as needed, and your Instagram account will be on the right track in no time.