Written by Ayla Carlin
Instagram is one of the most valuable marketing tools when it comes to business. But knowing how to use it is key to getting the most out of it. And truth be told, most business owners have absolutely no idea about how to run a successful Instagram page. Which is why we are here to give you a guide on the best and worst things you can do for your Instagram page.
With a fully optimized page, the right content and understanding of how to get your content shown to your target audience, you can create yourself the perfect way for your business to earn money. Even while you sleep!
But to do that, you first need to understand how Instagram works. Here’s a quick rundown of the Instagram algorithm. It will give you a better understanding for the list of the best and worst things you can do for your Instagram page.
The Instagram Algorithm
Instagram does a trial on every single post that is put on Instagram. This is what they call a micro trial and the performance of any post dictates how much Instagram is going to show that content to other people. Naturally, Instagram wants its users to spend as much time on the platform as possible. Because that is what makes them money. So they will show the content that people like looking at the most.
If you put up a post and it gets little engagement, Instagram will give it a low rating and may only show it to a very small amount of people who follow you, and virtually no one will discover it through hashtags. But if you get a good amount of engagement in the first few hours, Instagram marks this as content that people want to see and engage with, so it will make sure more people are seeing it.
Here’s a quick step by step of how this works;
- Your post is shown to a small percentage of your total audience in the first hour.
- Then it grades your post on how many people stopped scrolling when they saw it, and how many people engaged with it either by liking or commenting.
- It compares this post to others to see if it is genuinely good content that attracts more engagement, or if this is your standard performance rate.
- Finally, it will then have your post appear in people’s newsfeed and other areas of Instagram. Depending on the value of your post.
The best and worst things you can do for your Instagram page
Everything we do on Instagram is going to affect the overall rating that Instagram gives our pages. Which is why we have here put together a list of the best and worst things you can do for your Instagram page.
We will go into detail on each of these a little further down in the post. Then you can understand why they work, and how to make the most of your Instagram account.
The best things you can do for your Instagram
- Optimize your page
- Be consistent
- Understand how to use hashtags
- Post quality content
- Join a GOOD, small and niche engagement group
- Follow Influencers in your niche and engage with their posts
The worst things you can do for your Instagram
- Buy followers/ likes/ comments
- Join ‘follow trains’
- Join BAD engagement groups
- Steal someones content
- Advertise other businesses too early
Now, we know a lot of the things on the worst list can be quite tempting when you’re starting a business. But one of the quickest ways to get flagged by Instagram as trying to cheat their algorithm, is to have drastic spikes in any of these areas.
Naturally, Instagram doesn’t like people trying to cheat their algorithm, and they can punish your page if they catch you. This could mean a ban from Instagram or a shadowban. A shadowban means that you can still post content, but it will be shown to a drastically reduced rate of people. Basically, your posts will get the lowest score possible, for as long as Instagram deems necessary. Sometimes this can last up to a few weeks if you’ve really made them mad. And the worst part is, you won’t even know that it’s happened!
The best things you can do for your Instagram
Let’s go through this list one by one, so that you can use these as a checklist. That way you will get a fully optimized page, great growth and exposure. Then of course, increase the number of sales you are making through your business page.
1. Optimize your page
You have to have a great landing page, so that when people click through to it, they either want to follow you for more great content, or they click through to your website to make a purchase.
To optimize your page, you want to have;
- A simple, clear display picture. For businesses, this is best to be your logo. If you have quite an intricate logo, simplify it as much as possible. You want it to be recognizable at any size.
- You want to make sure you get the shortest and best Instagram handle and display name possible! We know this can be a little tricky if you’re just starting a business on Instagram. And maybe your ideal handle is already taken. But do what you can and play around with ‘_’ and ‘.’ to get you the best name possible. Your display name, however, doesn’t need to be unique, just memorable.
- A great bio that is not too long. We don’t want your viewers to be having to click the ‘more’ button! Emojis at the start of each sentence is great to draw attention. You basically want to have about four lines here, each that add value to what you do. Each only needs to be a few short words, and a great blueprint for this is to have;
- The first line stating what you do,
- The second line to encourage people to follow you
- The third line to offer something, like a discount
- And the fourth is basically just a call to action to click on your website link.
You can use hashtags in your bio, and it allows people to find you easier. But make sure you only do this on MAXIMUM 3 keywords. You don’t want it to be overloaded with hashtags.
Instagram also gives you the option of adding what your business does just under the name. For example, if you are a builder, you can have that pop up straight under your name. This means that if people were searching for a builder in your area, your page is more likely to come up.
2. Be Consistent
Instagram loves consistency. If it sees your page as one that posts consistently, it means that it can rely on you. And as such, be more willing to show your page to a larger audience. If you plan to post weekly, make sure you stick to that. And if you plan to post daily, make sure you can stick to that as well!
As we said earlier, Instagram wants to show it’s viewers things they will like, from reliable sources. So if your posting is all over the place, Instagram will probably not prioritize showing your page to as many people.
3. Understand how to use hashtags
If you’re a business that’s just starting out, we know it can be tempting to go for the biggest hashtags possible. But unfortunately, it just means that your business has virtually no chance of being seen. You are trying to directly compete with pages that have years of trust and often millions of followers. Instagram isn’t going to be prioritizing your brand new page against the ones that they already know that people like. So we want to make sure that we start small. Then we can work our way up to the bigger hashtags when we start to get on more of a level playing field.
To start, we want to make sure that we get the smaller hashtags that are still relevant to start building our following. And there are definitely still people looking at these! The best way to do this is to use the search function. Type in your ideal hashtag (i.e. the biggest one) and then scroll down until you find something that has a smaller amount of posts.
Here’s a quick guide for you;
- For pages with under 1k followers, focus on hashtags with less than 100k posts.
- When you are above 1k followers, move up to hashtags that have around 300k posts.
- Once you get to 3k followers, then move up to hashtags that have around 500k posts.
- Once you hit the 5k flowers, you can then start scaling up.
The aim is to dominate each field. The less competition, the more people will see your content. And the more people that see your content, the more you will be able to build your followers who love what your business is about.
4. Post Quality Content
Your Instagram page needs to be posting things that people want to see. Think about your niche. What are their likes and dislikes? Think of posts that will resonate with them, stop them scrolling when they see your post, engage with it and then hopefully give your page a follow.
This means that not every piece of your content should be sales! In fact, only about 10% of your posts should be sales.
The rest needs to be content that people are going to want to like, comment on, or share/tag their friends. This means mostly finding or creating viral content that is related to your niche. For example, you can post tips and tricks, fun facts, and a range of other things that will interest your target audience. The goal when starting your page is to have your followers trust in your business and what you are about. People are far more likely to buy from a business that shares common ground with them, rather than one they know nothing about.
So be genuine, let people know about your business and what matters to you. Then when you do make a sales post, they will be far more likely to take action.
5. Join a GOOD, small and niche engagement group
When people talk about engagement groups, you are going to get people on both sides. One is screaming the benefits of how much they have helped their business grow. And the other side screaming it is a scam and will get your page shut down. And honestly, both sides are right, because there is both the right and the wrong way to do almost everything.
We will speak about the scams a little bit later, but it is crucial to know that they exist so that you know how to select a good one. A good engagement group is a small group of business owners all in the same niche. They are there to help their fellow small business owners grow by increasing their engagement in the important trial phase of each post you put to Instagram, and reach more people in your target audience.
The groups are mutually beneficial, and in the good ones, you won’t have a bunch of rules you need to follow. The key to a good engagement group is that it is not too big and that it is in your niche. It is hard to stress which one of these is the most important, but here is why.
You remember when we spoke about the Instagram algorithm and how it compares your post to the last one you made? What do you think Instagram would make of it if your last post got 3 likes, and then this new one got 1,000 likes and 32 comments? Yep, account flagged. It’s just as bad as buying followers or likes. So having a small group (think of them as business friends that you have networked for) can help boost your engagement, but not to a suspicious increase of say 2000%.
Having an engagement group in your niche is so important. The people in your engagement group will already have followers that are your target audience. And if their interests align with your business, your posts are far more likely to show up in their feed. Naturally, you want to grow your following by reaching these people that are interested in your business and who will also want to engage with it.
6. Follow Influencers in your niche and engage with their posts
If there’s one place you know that your target audience is already on Instagram, it’s in influencers followers. So it makes sense to tap into that resource. We have often found that just by following influencers, we get a number of new people following us back. And that’s not even from engaging with their posts! It makes your account look more credible if you are both following and engaging with other people in your industry. So make sure that this is one of the easy things that make it onto your Instagram checklist!
The worst things you can do for your Instagram
We live in a digital world where everything we want is at our fingertips. Which can make it very frustrating when we don’t see our Instagram reach 1,000 followers on the first day. Let alone the first month! Which is exactly why it’s so easy for people to fall for cheap tricks to grow their Instagram quickly. And if you don’t know any better, they all look like a great idea at the time. But we are here to explain to you exactly why you shouldn’t get involved with ANY of the things on this list.
1. Buy followers/ likes/ comments
We already know that Instagram wants to show genuinely engaging posts to its users. And we also know that Instagram is on the lookout for anyone trying to cheat the system. If you want to make this process as easy as possible for Instagram, you buy followers, likes and comments. They will thank you by instantly flagging your account and often shadow banning you.
And if that’s not bad enough, you’re also probably going to get a lot of unfollows as most of the followers get closed by Instagram for being fake accounts. Even from the companies that promise you that your followers will all be real people! And the same thing with comments, you won’t get anything of value. It will just be spammy content like only emojis.
2. Join ‘follow trains’
Most business owners are in different networking groups on Facebook. And they are great for networking, but when you see posts like ‘I want to reach 1000 followers! Let’s support each other by following’, if you can’t run for the hills, just keep scrolling.
Sure, you may get a bunch of followers. But we can almost guarantee that you will follow more than those who follow you back. And to add insult to injury, most of them are going to unfollow you in the next few days. The follow/unfollow game has been strong on Instagram for years, and today is no different. And Instagram will be notified that your account isn’t great if you have more people unfollowing you than following you over the next week.
And just to put the cherry on top, as we have mentioned time and time again, Instagram penalizes inconsistent and suspicious activity. So say you’ve gained 7 new followers in the past week. Then in one day, you get an extra 50. The following week, you may gain another 7, but you’ll also probably lose about 30. So please, just stay away from follow trains!
3. Join BAD engagement groups
Ok, we briefly touched on it before, but here’s the lowdown on bad engagement groups. Although some people still swear by them, and many big influencers are a part of them, for the average business, they are a bad idea. Engagement groups have been used for years now, and when they are done right are so valuable for a business. But of course, there are people who are looking to take advantage of situations and people’s desires to build their business.
People often go seeking out engagement groups or pods, because they understand the benefits of them. But their mistake is trying to go too big. They get added to a group that has hundreds if not thousands of people in it. Then they are expected to jump through all these hoops of engaging with a ludicrous amount of posts before they can even share their own.
These types of groups are incredibly time consuming. You have so many people that you have to engage with if you want anything out of it. And then, of course, your account can get flagged and potentially shadow banned! If you’re averaging 200 likes per post and then it goes to 2,000 without you changing anything… Well yeah, that is suspicious. The people in these groups aren’t going to be in your niche, so you won’t even be reaching your target audience.
We know they can be tempting to grow your account quickly. But too quickly is not good for your account or your reputation. Stick to the good types of networking engagement groups. And although the results will be slower, they will still be faster than without them. And they will be far more valuable to your business by building your following with your ideal clients.
4. Steal someone’s content
We know that everyone on Instagram does this, but it doesn’t make it right. And you don’t want to be approached with someone who has rights to the content that you have shared without consent!
But what you can do is get inspired by other people’s content and try to improve it and post your own. You can easily see what kind of posts people like, so make one for yourself and cover it in your branding so that no one can steal it without your knowledge!
5. Advertise other businesses too early
When you’re starting your business on Instagram, you need to put a lot of effort into building trust with your audience. So to start advertising another business on your page can cause your audience to get confused. It can also make you seem less reputable because it appears as though the intention of your page is to make money by selling advertising space to other businesses. This is not what you want your audience to be thinking when you are building trust with them!
This is great to do when you start to build your audience more, and the number of followers that means varies for different people. A safe way to gauge it is you have already been consistently making sales through your Instagram page. Then perhaps you could consider a share for share with someone in your industry, giving you both benefits out of reaching each other’s following.
There is so much to understand in the world of Instagram, but if you put a little bit of effort into it, you can get a pretty impressive reward. The best things you can do for your Instagram do take a little time to set up and wrap your head around, but once you’ve got it down, it’s an absolute breeze. Your time needs to be spent on your business, not needing to spend hours on end on your Instagram! And these tips will help you to do that and continuously decrease the amount of time you need to spend working on it.
We also discussed the controversial topic of engagement pods. When done right, they are endorsed by the likes of The Entrepreneur and many other marketing giants. And when done wrong, they are condemned by almost everyone! There really aren’t many positives to the average engagement pod, including a massive waste of your time trying to meet all the rules, as well as engaging with so many people’s posts. But when you have a small niche group, you boost your engagement, reach your target audience and spend as little as one minute per day on it. Of course, the biggest benefit is that you are doing this all while growing business connections and not running the risk of getting shadow banned. But make sure that the organizer is a trusted marketing professional, or you could find yourself in big trouble!
We have given you a number of the best and worst things you can do for your Instagram page, so make sure you follow them! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment. And if you need more help managing your social media, please feel free to reach out to our team at Booming Businesses International.