Instagram is a leading social media platform with over one billion monthly active users worldwide.
It’s predicted that the number of Instagram monthly active users in the United States alone will pass the 127 million mark in 2023:
This combined popularity and expected growth provide substantial opportunities for you to build your brand and your business.
However, when it comes to building your brand on Instagram there are some best practices to follow and pitfalls to avoid.
Hence, that’s what this guide is all about: 12 DOs & DON’Ts to building your brand on Instagram.
Let’s dive in.
1. DON’T Buy Followers (Ever)
An extra 10,000 followers for 100 bucks – what’s not to like?
If you feel even slightly tempted:
Stop. Right. Now!
Sure, you might get a quick ego boost with an extra 10K followers. But, in reality, you’ll end up with a load of bots and inactive accounts that won’t engage with your account.
Engagement is a crucial factor in Instagram’s algorithm. The more likes and comments you get on your content, the more likely Instagram is to show your content on your audience’s newsfeeds and its Explore Pages.
So, all you’ve got for your 100 bucks is a bunch of dummies. And your inflated follower account is also going to play havoc with your performance metrics as the ratios will be skewed.
For example, instead of seeing 100 people from your 1,000 followers liked your content, you’ll see 100 from 11,000 followers liked it. That’s 10% versus 0.9%.
So, whatever you do, DON’T buy followers (ever).
2. DO Publish High-Quality Content
Instagram is a visual-first platform, which means you need to publish high-quality visual content if you want your brand to succeed.
For example, take a look at the content that Oreo produces. Its photos and images are high-quality, often using solid, vibrant backgrounds with their brand blue color to make their posts stand out in the Instagram feed.
One of the best ways to ensure you publish high-quality content is to implement an approval workflow process.
An approval workflow ensures your content is reviewed before it’s published, so it’s posted at the right time, in the right place, by the right person. Depending on the size of your organization, there could be one or many different people involved in the approval workflow.
Loomly’s collaboration features allow you to assign custom roles and permissions to everyone collaborating on each piece of content, whether they’re an owner, contributor, creator, or reviewer.
3. DON’T Steal Content From Other Accounts
It’s good to share content from other accounts.
But what’s not so good is to share content from other accounts without crediting the owner. That’s stealing. And there’s no need for it.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s an image or a quote, whenever you share content, make sure you credit the original source. Even better, contact the source first and ask if it’s okay to repost their content.
On a side note, you need to be particularly careful when you post copyrighted material like photos and images. If you use copyrighted material in your content, then you could face legal action.
4. DO Create Original Content
While it’s good to share content from other accounts, most of your content needs to be original.
But where do you start?
Well, the best way to start is by planning your content with a social media calendar.
A social media calendar (also known as an editorial calendar) is designed to make social media content planning and posting easy so that you can keep your collaborators, clients, and target audience happy with high-quality and consistent content.
A social media calendar can come in a variety of shapes and forms:
- From the humble printed worksheet.
- To the online, editable Google Sheet template.
- To a professional, dedicated tool, such as Loomly.
Loomly’s List View shows all of the relevant information for your social media posts in a spreadsheet-like format:
Loomly’s Calendar View allows you to view your entire editorial calendar in one place – like a bird’s eye view – so you can effectively plan when to publish your social media updates:
5. DON’T Forget Hashtags
You can use several types of hashtags in your marketing strategy:
- Branded hashtags can contain your brand name, tagline, slogan, or product/service names. For example, Nike often uses its famous tagline #JustDoIt while action camera GoPro uses its brand name #GoPro.
- Campaign hashtags are similar to branded hashtags, except you only use them during the marketing campaign, like Nike’s inspirational #YouCantStopUs campaign in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Event hashtags have a start and end date and highlight holidays and seasonal events, like #4thofJuly on American Independence Day or #themasters for the Masters Golf Tournament.
- Content hashtags simply add some context. For example, an Instagram post on food might contain #instafood.
- Location hashtags are beneficial for local businesses who want to target their local audience.
- Trending or viral hashtags use popular terms to expand your reach further but generally only last a short time.
How to use hashtags on Instagram
6. DO Customize Content For Instagram
It’s mega important to make sure you customize your content for Instagram. When posting content to several social media channels, it’s easy to slip into the bad habit of cross-posting the same content on each channel.
Each social media channel has its idiosyncrasies. For example, things like caption length, image formatting, and vocabulary differ by platform, not to mention the different makeup of the audience. So, cross-posting the same content on LinkedIn and Instagram looks awkward. And asking for a Retweet on Facebook is totally wrong.
Loomly’s Post Builder takes content customization into account by allowing you to keep some common elements for each channel and then fine-tune the main body of content.
You can see a preview of your post for each channel right when you create it, and you can update it in real-time.
7. DON’T Spam Your Audience
There’s a right way and a wrong way to post content on Instagram (and any other channel). Publishing once in a blue moon leaves your audience guessing as to when you might next share something. But posting non-stop takes things to the other extreme: spam.
Posting content consistently is the key to keeping a healthy balance that lets your audience know what to expect.
But other actions also make you look spammy. For example, only publishing promotional content, constantly posting the same content, using unnecessary hashtags, or needlessly tagging people to gain attention.
8. DO Publish Consistently
As mentioned earlier, publishing high-quality content consistently is essential if you want to build and engage your audience on Instagram.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is by scheduling your content in advance. You can plan and create your content, get it reviewed and approved, and then schedule it to go at the right time.
Loomly allows you to schedule your content using Instagram Direct Publishing – i.e. you can create, preview, approve, schedule, and publish single photo and single video posts from Loomly to Instagram.
- From Post Builder, select Instagram as your channel.
- Define the generic content of your post (make sure to include an image or a video in your post).
- Fine-tune the content of your post for Instagram, e.g. adding an optional First Comment to be published with your post caption.
- Schedule your post with the Schedule button:
9. DON’T Ignore Comments
It’s easy to ignore comments on Instagram, especially if you’ve scheduled your posts and slip into auto-pilot mode. But social media is a two-way channel, and replying to comments is as important as publishing your content in the first place.
If someone has commented on your post or tagged you in their post, at the very least, you should acknowledge it with a “like” and preferably reply with a comment. Failing to do so is rude and makes you look ungrateful. Furthermore, you may upset the commenter to the extent that they start posting negative comments about you. So, all of a sudden, you’ve lost a fan and started a negative chain of events.
The best way to ensure you don’t miss any comments is to time-block part of your day for acknowledging and answering fans. Or, you could employ a community manager to handle this task.
10. DO Interact With Your Audience
One of the best ways to build your brand on Instagram is by regularly interacting with your followers to increase engagement and loyalty.
Here are five ways you can start conversations and interact with your audience:
- Choose the right hashtags to connect with your audience – Use a mix of branded, campaign, and popular hashtags.
- Embrace Instagram Stories – Go behind the scenes to make your brand more authentic and approachable.
- Use polls and stickers – Guaranteed to get your audience involved.
- Promote user-generated content – Share UGC on your feed to make fans and followers feel part of your community.
- Add CTAs – Encourage your audience to engage with a call-to-action such as “comment below” or “leave your answers below”.
Loomly Interactions is a community management system that allows you to engage with your audience on Instagram and other social media channels.
You can reply to, like, hide/unhide, and delete comments from your fans and followers, right from Loomly.
11. DON’T Give Up
We’ve mentioned quite a few things that you need to do if you want to build your brand on Instagram, from publishing original, high-quality content consistently to interacting with your audience.
But even if you do all those things, there’s one important trait you need, and that’s perseverance.
Building a brand on Instagram (or any platform) is a commitment.
You have to be dedicated from the beginning as it takes time, patience, and sustained effort to build your brand.
It will be slow at first. But as you gather momentum, you can look forward to growing exponentially.
So don’t give up.
12. DO Measure, Learn, and Improve
Whatever you do or don’t do on Instagram, you need to measure your performance so that you can see what is and isn’t working.
For example, you can check:
- Post timings: Do you get more engagement at a particular time and day?
- Content themes: Do some content themes and topics perform better than others?
- Media type: Stories, videos, reels, carousels – which kind of content does your audience respond to most?
- Link-click metrics: number of clicks, and clicks per geographical location, etc.
- Account-level metrics: follower counts, follower growth, total reach, etc.
- Post-level metrics: total impressions, engagement rates, post reach, etc.
All of which help you to make data-driven decisions for building your brand on Instagram.
Build your brand on Instagram, in a nutshell
Instagram is an excellent platform for building your brand, as long as you use it correctly. Follow these 12 DOs & DON’Ts to grow your brand on Instagram:
- DON’T Buy Followers (Ever)
- DO Publish High-Quality Content
- DON’T Steal Content From Other Accounts
- DO Create Original Content
- DON’T Forget Hashtags
- DO Customize Content For Instagram
- DON’T Spam Your Audience
- DO Publish Consistently
- DON’T Ignore Comments
- DO Interact With Your Audience
- DON’T Give Up
- DO Measure, Learn, and Improve