Before we start, lets talk a little about what I mean by: Instagram Myth.
When it comes to social media marketing, it’s not often you can say someone is ‘wrong’. This is because a particular tactic may have worked really well for a particular business; however it might not have worked well for someone else.
For example, I don’t get anywhere near as much traffic through from Facebook as I do from Instagram. So is it correct for me to say that Facebook is not a good platform for small business? Not really.
In my experience there are three reasons why a platform might not perform well for you:
1. Your Niche Is Not Suited to That Platform
For example, you might find that if you are an artist, a visual platform works much better for you, like Instagram.. As opposed to, say, a networking platform like LinkedIn.
2. You are Not Suited To That Platform
If you, personally, hate Twitter. You hate the platform, you hate how you have to interact on it and you hate the user experience. That platform is probably not going to do as well for your business, even if it totally suits someone else in the same niche.
3. Your Audience Isn’t There
If your audience isn’t there, then you don’t need to be there. For example, if your target demographic is 30+ then you are probably going to have as much less success on Snapchat than on Facebook (although that might be changing).
So, with these things in mind, let’s move onto the myths:
INSTAGRAM MYTH #1 Don’t Use Hashtags
This piece of advice seems to have stemmed from two places.
Firstly, the vague agreement among some Instagram users that hashtags are ugly and they look ‘salesy’, which will put people off. Now, sure, hashtags aren’t the prettiest of things but without them you are not going to get found at all. This goes double for new algorithm changes.
Personally I think that hashtags are so common that people are less adverse to them than when the platform originated. However, I also think that it is better to get your image in front of a thousand people and ‘offend’ some of them. As opposed to getting your image in front of five people and them all like it. You can’t please everyone.
In any case, you can fairly easily hide hashtags by including them as the first comment under your image, instead of the caption, to ensure they will be ‘hidden’ from the feed by further commentators.
A second place I’ve seen this piece of advice is in a few different publications, citing that X or Y famous model uses none, or a single, hashtag and as their account has 900, 000 followers then this must be correct. However, I think we can reasonably assume that this is a bit of a chicken an egg scenario, given that said model’s fame is probably responsible for those followers, rather than her chic use of a single hashtag.
So if you are a famous model or Kim Kardashian, carry on sans hashtags. For the rest of us mere mortals, I’d keep them around.
INSTAGRAM MYTH#2: Following everyone, all day everyday, is the best way to build your Instagram
There are quite a few blog posts out there that start, ‘How I got 10, 000 followers in three months’. And some of them are truly impressive works, where business owners have tirelessly looked for people they think might be interested in them, connected with them and reached out to influencers to get their brand name out there.
And some of then start with, every day I went on Instagram and followed a bunch of people that I thought might follow back.
I’m not a fan of this method for the following reasons:
1. Most of the time it ends up being this exceptional tedious game of, following someone, them following you. Sometime later you unfollowing them and them unfollowing you.
Which is a gigantic waste of everyone’s time.
These people that just follow you, only to unfollow you at a later time are usually quite easy to spot. For example, I was followed by a huge fashion blogger account recently. They had 300k + followers and followed only a thousand people. I’m a small business blogger, not in their niche; they were obviously going to unfollow me in the future. And they did.
2. This brings me onto my second point, using this method, you are going to end up following a lot of people. You cannot properly interact with all those followers, which means you are not going to be able to encourage the engagement. More importantly you are not going to be able to connect with the ones that matter.
3. This really leads on from above because if someone is following you, just because you are following them, are they going to buy your product? Are they interested? You don’t really know. If you are trying to engage with your audience, are you engaging with the right members of your following? Are you engaging with the interested ones? Or are you wasting your time trying to talk to people who aren’t interested in what you’re saying.
To put it another way, let’s say I invite you to talk to a room full of people about your business. Through Door A is 300 people and through Door B is 1000 people.
Fear of speaking issues aside, you’d logically pick Door B right? There are way more people in there!
But what if, in Door B, most of the audience spends their time on their phones and ignoring you? Others are asleep and every two minutes someone leaves the room. That would really suck right?
But what if behind Door A are 300 fans of your brand, who cheer in all the right places, laugh at your jokes and stay around to chat with you at end.
Door A is looking pretty good right now, yes?
This why engagement is the all important metric and the one that seriously works.
INSTAGRAM MYTH #3: Don’t even bother, Instagram doesn’t convert
So, you know how we talked about how a social media platform might not work for you? The statement that Instagram doesn’t convert might well be true for some of you. The reason this criticism is fairly prevalent is for two main reasons;
1. You get one shot – Yep, we all know it, you get that one clickable link in your bio and that’s it. Instagram is not like Twitter or Pinterest, when you can link to as many blog posts as you like hour after hour. This is not very conducive to gaining leads.
2. It’s difficult to track Instagram like conventional social media. You can see, with Pinterest, for example, which pins are doing well. Which are getting impression but also which are the ones bringing people back to your site. Instagram gets mixed in with your ‘direct traffic’. However, with the introduction of Instagram analytics in the future this should make things easier.
Of course there are ways to get around this by using bitly as we cover in our Instagram book.
However, the main reason I think that Instagram doesn’t convert is because you need a goal. If you’re goal is to get people to your landing page – to sign up to your email list for example – you need to plan your Instagram accordingly.
Your bio should strongly emphasize your call to action and your posts should showcase the benefits of signing up to your email etc. Of course, that is not to say every post should be a hard sell, however you should think before each post – how will this help me toward my goal?
Less directly you might want to build your brand awareness, or showcase your products in order to build trust with your audience.
Whatever it is that you want to achieve, be purposeful and keep a close eye on your performance indicates and adjust accordingly. For example, if one image type does particular well, start using that style more frequently etc.
Whilst with platforms like Pinterest, there is a set methodology of what you need to do to increase your pins, Instagram can seem a little harder to get to grips with. You need to more carefully consider your strategy. Both for Instagram itself and how it fits into your overall marketing goal.
But if you totally nail Instagram on the head, the results can be amazing, so I totally recommend giving Instagram a real go.
If you need a bit more of a helping hand, do check our our Essential Guide To Instagram which will walk you through how to find and connect with your ideal clients, how to create a theme for your account and a visual story to tell your followers. It will also cover how to write your bio to convert followers into fans and much more.