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Top 9 beginner mistakes on Instagram and how to fix them

Are you new on Instagram, sharing content you worked so hard on and get no growth, bad engagement and no new people visiting your Instagram? I’ve seen loads of accounts who share amazing content and have so few followers. it’s because nothing is done to grow the account (or very few things of what must be done). But these mistakes can be fixed, resulting in better growth in your account than you would have imagined. Let me tell you how to fix your beginner mistakes on Instagram and see your account grow.

Wrong hashtag strategy

Hashtags is a fantastic way for you to get discovered. But if you use them wrong, you’re ruining that chance and making one of the biggest mistakes on Instagram. Wrong people might see your content, or even no one at all. Here are some examples of wrong hashtag strategy on Instagram, and how to fix it.

Using too generic hashtags

A mistake all of us have made when we started. Me too. I did not know what to add in the hashtags, so I just added anything that came to my mind. Big mistake if you don’t have a big audience yet.

Let’s say you’re a nature photographer. You use hashtags such as #photography and #pink alongside with all the other ones. Do you see why the two named hashtags wouldn’t do any good to your account? “Pink” might (and most probably is) related to your picture. But when you visit the hashtag’s page – are at least 50% of the photos you see in the hashtag related to your own photo? Most probably no, because there are pink outfits, pink cars, pink designs and much more alongside with some pink flowers or skies. If the answer is no – don’t use the hashtag and choose a more specific one like #pinkflowers. You want the user who have stumbled upon a hashtag you used to be interested in (and looking for) something like your photo.

When your account grows larger and you have an audience that boosts your posts into the hashtag “Top” section, you’re welcome to use generic hashtags too. But when you’re just starting – avoid using too many of those hashtags, because your photo will disappear there quicker than you can blink, and many of the viewers won’t even be interested in your photo.

Using too few hashtags

When you’re small, you have to do all you can to make your account be seen. Using all the allowed 30 hashtags (related to your photo) will increase the chance a lot. Perhaps you’ve read that it’s better to use only a few related hashtags. That actually isn’t wrong, because then you could have a better chance to trend into the top on the hashtags. But not for small accounts that don’t have a very big following yet, because there won’t be enough people to push you into the top section of your hashtags. Instead your goal is to be seen by as many people as possible in the “Recent” section of the tags.

Using too many big hashtags

Your account can disappear so quickly in a popular hashtag, such as #nature. That’s why you have to use not only the big hashtags, but also medium-sized and small ones too. Take a look at where you can see the size of the hashtag:

Based on the number of posts in each hashtag, balance them so that there are only a few big ones (multiple million posts). Divide the rest between medium-sized hashtags (a couple hundred thousand to million posts) and small hashtags. The bigger your account gets – the more big hashtags you can include, because you will have your own audience that will push you into the Top section of those hashtags.

Not using feature hub hashtags

Feature hubs are something new users might not know about. A feature hub is an account that has their own hashtag, and that posts other people’s photos in their Instagram feed. All with credit to your page of course.

Read more about feature hubs in another article I have written (tap to open).

When a feature hub shares your photo – they credit you by tagging you in the photo and/or mentioning your account in the caption. When people visit the account – they might navigate to your account from the featured photo. The bigger the feature account is (more followers/more likes per photo), the better the impact will be on your follower growth.

Including feature hub hashtags in between your general hashtags will increase your chance of being seen if the account features your photo. To get featured by a feature hub, you have to either use their provided hashtag or tag them in your photos (every hub have their own rules). Take a note that some hubs require for you to follow them to be featured. Feature hubs usually write all the important information and requirements for featuring either in their bio or in each photo description.

Just make sure that your photo would fit in between the photos that the hub shares. This will ensure a better chance that a moderator in the hub will actually feature your work.

Doing “Follow for Follow”

Another of the Instagram mistakes that new accounts are making – is doing “Follow for follow” or following, then unfollowing.

So often I get messages such as “Follow for follow?” or “Follow me”, and even comments “Check out my account”. Those all are so wrong! And let me tell you why.

If you gain a follower, because you asked them to follow you – the chance is, they will unfollow later. They might not even like your content and may have done it for the numbers (to get you as a follower in return). If they do not unfollow you, there’s a chance they’re not even interacting with your content and are not a supportive follower at all.

Why are inactive followers bad?

Followers who don’t interact with your content harm your account even more than not having them in the first place. That’s because when you post – Instagram shows your content to 10% of your followers. If the post does good, then more people see it. But if your follower that does not even like your photos scroll past your photo – it signals Instagram that the photo isn’t good enough to show to more people.

This topic is so important that I have even written a separate guide about why Follow for Follow is bad, and what you should do instead.

Expecting likes and comments without giving back

A very popular problem: You receive a comment from a user and that makes you happy. Time goes by and the comments stop coming. The user is no longer commenting. Why?

The answer: You did not engage back.

Unless you’re their idol, you need to give back to whose who interact with your content. Visit their page, like some of their recent posts and occasionally leave a comment. Let them see that you care about them and want to keep engaging with them. This will keep them motivated and the users who commented will return to your page again.

Posting and leaving Instagram

Unless you have a very active follower audience, never post and ghost. It is very important to reply to the comments you get as soon as possible. Why? Because it can start conversations under your post and generate more comments from users. And the more comments there are under your post – the better chance for the post to go trending.

A good method on driving more engagement in your comment section – is to reply to your comments with a return question. The user will reply back and you will get more engagement!

Another method on getting better engagement is to interact with your followers before and after you post. The users might visit your account – and if there is a new post from you – interact back on your recent post.

Posting too often

I’ve seen accounts who share 20 photos within an hour. As if they’re trying to put out all of their portfolio in the page in one day. No, just please don’t.

Firstly, posting so much content in such short time will trigger Instagram’s checks and you will be seen as a bot due to such spammy actions. This will definitely decrease your reach.

Secondly – when I see an account that shares either many similar photos in a row, or share too often – it’s an instant no from me. I don’t want my home feed filled with photos from just one user. I wouldn’t even choose to follow, and so would many other users.

What to do instead? Choose your very best photos. Plan your feed. And then post the photos daily. I wouldn’t suggest to post more than three photos a day because you will run out of your great photos too quickly and will need to suddenly change your schedule. Another reason might be that 21 photos in just 7 days is definitely too much for your followers to engage on all of your content.

If you want some insight on planning your feed – you’re welcome to read my guide on How to create a chromatic Instagram feed showcasing your best photos, as well as one of my very first articles – Organizing your Instagram feed – how and why?.

Not using Reels

You might have noticed other users sharing Reels – short videos that may or may not be related to their everyday content. Not using reels nowadays is one of the biggest mistakes on Instagram. Did you know that this is a quite new feature to Instagram? Also with Reels Instagram are trying to compete with TikTok. And because of that – Instagram favors people who create reels, and sharing reels can give you a potential of growth.

How can reels help me grow? – you might ask. I have noticed multiple users who have grown their account from 10k followers to 30k and even 60k. It’s all because their reel went viral and was watched multiple million times. This sounds like a great opportunity for you, right? Then why not try it?

When creating reels, take in mind that you may not succeed with your first or even 10th reel. You might even need to create more than 20 to have one that boosts your account to the sky. Also the content that you share needs to be scroll-stopping and with value. People need to want to save it and watch it again and again. So don’t create your reels boring! Take a look at other reels that have gone viral and learn from the techniques.

Conclusion

Do you make these mistakes on Instagram? Most probably you do, at lease some.

Instagram isn’t easy. There are action bans. Your account doesn’t grow unless you put work in it. And even when you do – those have to be the correct actions.

As long as you don’t make these mistakes on Instagram, follow this guide and do the right actions – you should see an increase in your engagement and follower count. They work for me, so why not try them yourself? 🙂

If you liked this article, you might be interested in other topics I have reviewed:

How to regain lost engagement on Instagram

The best time to post in Instagram in 2021 to get the most likes

How to grow your Instagram account in 2021

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