We’ve talked at length about steps you should take to improve your handle’s performance on Instagram. What’s equally important to keep in mind, is what you shouldn’t do with your handle.
Instagram’s moderators (now largely artificial intelligence) are getting stricter and sharper day by day, which is why your Instagram Business account needs to be ‘clean.’ While software that can help you with your engagement activities, and tools to increase followers seem appealing, they can slow your account growth by a LOT.
Don’t be surprised if you’re indulging in activities outside of Instagram’s guidelines and you face shadowbans and complete bans!
However, not every activity you should steer clear of involves illegal tools and software. Let’s discuss all things you should avoid with your Instagram business account
1. Don’t post and disappear
The first piece of advice, that virtually anyone who’s had success growing on Instagram will give you, is to be consistent. Creating quality content is important, sure, but equally important is delivering quality content regularly.
It’s the same principle that goes with creating anything digital really, be it blog posts or videos. If you’re great at writing blogs, but only write a couple a month, that inconsistency is going to act as a serious bottleneck to your growth. Even if you aren’t seeing immediate growth, keep at it (did you know Marques Brownlee posted dozens of videos before he had even 100 YouTube subscribers? He’s now at over 14 million, and is probably the best-known tech reviewer on the globe.)
Pushing consistent Instagram posts doesn’t just have to do with reinforcing your brand’s messages and giving your followers more opportunities to engage, it also ties into Instagram’s algorithm. The algorithm strongly favours accounts that post consistently, to show up in users’ feeds and explore sections. You will then reach a greater number of potential customers. So while this may not be essential for a personal account, it is an absolute must for a business profile.
To ensure you stay on schedule, always have a content calendar ready for the following week or month. If you’re ever out of ideas, Predis’ AI-generated Content Calendar will do the job for you!
2. Don’t add dozens of Instagram Stories in a day
There’s a lot you can do with Instagram Stories. Create unique filters, engage viewers with polls and MCQs, and, as the name suggests, tell stories! On an Instagram Business account, you can even add simple swipe-up links to take viewers straight to your website or particular products. When done right, they can be a powerful tool for driving traffic and generating interest in your business.
Stories are great. But don’t overdo them.
Creating Stories is enjoyable for sure, as they can be less professional and visually perfect than posts that stick on your feed. However, a few Stories every day is the sweet spot, and more than this is simply overkill. Having too many Stories at the same time might be too much for our short attention-spans to handle, and your viewers are more likely to skip them altogether (Stories can be skipped with a simple swipe). It’s similar to seeing very long pieces of text and letting out an internal yawn.
If you have lots to tell your audience, space it out! Plan your Instagram Stories in advance so they can go out consistently and in good order.
3. Don’t put out purely sales-y content
Sure, increasing sales may be the ultimate objective of you starting and growing an Instagram, but at no cost can this be made evident, even if you have a dedicated Instagram Shop. No Instagram user wants to follow the handle of a brand that only posts images related to their products and services. You have to share photos and videos with genuine value, and then manage to keep them engaged.
For this reason, when starting out with your Instagram, first spend time researching the kind of content your audience likes to consume and strategize on how you are going to deliver this.
Again, keep in mind the short attention spans of today’s Instagram users and their constant need for change. Complement your product/service posts with other content like general news related to your industry, BTS, memes, collabs with other handles, and ANYTHING else that you think will keep things fresh. Even posts completely unrelated to your business can do well, while this may not seem like an intuitive way to grow for business owners.
Think like there’s no box in the first place. If you’re ONLY on Instagram for selling products, it isn’t going to work out too well.
We understand that it is necessary to promote your products (at least to an extent) through Instagram posts. To do this, try to establish an overall theme to your Instagram feed, and blend your products into this theme. Here’s an example.
This is the Instagram feed of a sustainable clothing brand called Tentree. Notice how they’ve centred on an overarching theme of nature and travel, and blended their clothing with this theme. The people on the feed wearing the clothing products, look like regular people in nature, rather than paid models.
Try building a feed like this, rather than blatantly posting product images. Admittedly, this takes a lot more effort, but you will end up with a beautiful looking feed that users would want to follow.
To get inspiration, spend time exploring other handles in your industry.
4. Don’t use ANY automation software for user interaction.
Social media managers are split when it comes to automation software. Some claim that they help catalyze the growth of new accounts and allow you to spend less time interacting, while others refuse to do anything that’s not within Instagram’s Community Guidelines.
While some backend automation software (like software for scheduling posts/Stories/Reels) is great, most frontend ones are spammy. Ever recall reading the comments on a public page’s post and it’s taken over by people promoting their own pages? Looks spammy and shady, right? Those are automated bots. You can also use them to DM and engage on your own handle.
It doesn’t mean you should.
Anything that violates Instagram’s APIs can and will get you banned. You’ll have to acquire your follower count through a new handle all over again. This would be a huge shame, especially if you had previously spent precious time and effort in scaling your Instagram Business account.
Don’t gamble with your Instagram profile growth, especially if your marketing strategy is dependent on it. Going out of the bounds of Instagram’s guidelines is a HUGE gamble.
5. Don’t buy followers or likes
Before trying to ‘buy’ followers on Instagram, you’ve got to ask yourself why you need those followers in the first place.
You’ll need them to stan your brand and actively engage with your content, right? Buying followers may seem cheap and convenient in comparison to spending time growing your Instagram organically and spending money on ads. However, these followers won’t really be active; you’ll just see your follower count grow with virtually no change in likes and comments.
Imagine a user (potentially your target audience) seeing over 10,000 followers on your profile, but only 30-40 likes on each post. What kind of impression do you think that will create of your brand?
6. Don’t forget to engage
The difference between online marketing and traditional marketing is that online marketing has the potential to be a two-way street. It’s not just you presenting information to your audience anymore, as it gives you the opportunity to interact with those that want to see your content (potentially with each one of them). If you aren’t willing to do this almost on a daily basis, you should rethink your goals with Instagram as a business owner, and ask yourself why you really need to have a handle.
As seen above, Netflix India replies to at least a few comments on all of their posts. Most of these are agreeing with or building upon what users are commenting. And Netflix is a huge brand; the notion that only small brands should bother to engage with their audience is just plain wrong. Bigger brands can, and should do it too!
Engaging also gives you the opportunity to ‘humanize’ your brand. Engage with courtesy and good humour to remind them that the brand they know so well is run by actual people that care about you as followers and customers.
Healthy, proactive engagements go a long way in building a solid brand image.
7. Don’t take too many actions in a short period of time.
Instagram isn’t explicit about this at all, but taking too many actions in too short of a time period can get you shadowbanned. And if you’re unaware, taking ‘actions’ on Instagram is basically an umbrella term used to cover liking, commenting, posting, following, unfollowing and DMing on Instagram.
DMing and commenting on posts from other handles are always a vital part of an initial Instagram growth strategy. If you’re going to be using these, you should know their limits
There’s a lot of argument about what the exact limit of taking actions is. However, the truth is, there is no standard limit. It will be different for each account. There are supposedly many factors that determine how many actions can be taken by an account, but it essentially boils down to how ‘warmed up’ your account is.
For new accounts with limited posts, followers, and likes, the permitted number of actions will be far less than bigger, more established accounts. Again, there is no standard limit for either kind, but if you’re managing a profile that is only a few weeks old, you wouldn’t want to cross more than 20 DMs/comments/likes/follows per hour.
If you have to do more than this, you should space it out to avoid the risk of getting shadowbanned!
The rough guideline mentioned here states 20 actions per hour. Since this is not an official guideline, you’ll want to be on the safe side and take even fewer actions. Start by DMing and engaging with only a few people every day for the first few weeks of your account being active. If possible, DM known contacts and ask them to reply, as this builds some credibility in Instagram’s eyes.
There is a lot of vagueness around this topic and countless accounts have been penalised due to it, so you must tread lightly!
8. Don’t give up
This is as important as any of the other tips mentioned here, believe it or not!
Growing an Instagram Business handle (while staying within their guidelines) can take a lot of time, especially if you’re just beginning to establish your brand. This is true for organic posts and ads as well. They usually take some time to gain traction.
Do yourself a favour and stop having unrealistic expectations! As long as you deliver genuine value and stick to the basics of Instagram’s best practices, you’ll be fine.
Live long and prosper!
Are there any actions you’ve taken on your Instagram Business account that have landed you in trouble? Share them with us, so we can spread the warning! We’d love to hear from you.
If you’re a marketer, don’t forget to tap into the fresh new field of social audio apps as well!