10 Instagram Don’ts For Your Creative Business

As the manager and curator of several different Instagram accounts (like @creating.beautifully with around 116,000 followers, as well as @CreativeCoachingforIntroverts, and @julestillman) that help artists, creatives, and a variety of other business owners start and grow their businesses, I see a lot of people trying to promote their businesses on Instagram. Some very successfully, and others, well… not so much. So I thought I’d share these 10 Instagram don’ts for your creative business.

As much as I like to focus on the positive in life and in business, I’ve just got to share some Instagram don’ts, because far too many new business owners and IG users are doing these things every day. They’re not only not helping build their Instagram followers, they could actually be hurting their business and brand.

So here are a few things I suggest you avoid on your business Instagram account:

 

10 Instagram Don’ts For Your Creative Business

 

1. Follow for follow.
Have you heard of this one? (Hopefully you’re not using it!) This includes the using the simple #f4f or #followforfollow hashtags. The followers you gain with these kinds of tactics are almost never your target market. They most likely will never buy any of your products (and isn’t that why you’re in business?), and quite frequently will just quietly unfollow you after a day or two.

2.“I followed you, please follow me back!”
I delete comments like this all the time. It’s a desperate way of begging for followers. IG is a social media – emphasis on social. If you like someone’s feed and/or they are in your target market, follow them, and then engage with them. Heart their photos, leave valuable comments and even ask questions (ie., “Cute boots! Where did you get them?”) Interact!

3. You’re not scheduling your posts.
While Instagram doesn’t want you to use software that actually posts for you, you can still use “legal” work-around software to schedule your Instagram posts in advance. There are many of these types of programs, but personally I use,love and recommend ViralTag (not just for scheduling to IG, but also to Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and more!) to schedule my posts in advance. Basically that means I add a photo and description in ViralTag, set the date and time I want to post it, and ViralTag sends me a reminder on my phone at the time. Then I simply log into ViralTag, easily move the post into Instagram, and voila! The post is up and ready for those hearts and comments!

4. Don’t buy followers.
Never ever. It’s a total waste of money. Again, when you do something like this, your followers are only gaining in quantity, not quality. It’s much better to have 100 followers that LOVE your products than 1000 followers who have absolutely no interest in your business. Also: it’s pretty much a lie since these “followers” are ghost and/or spam accounts, anyway.

5. Don’t be negative.
If you’re having a bad day, talk to your friends about it – don’t post it on social media. (Please!?) If you had a bad experience with a customer, don’t post it on IG. Especially not your business account: Keep things positive.

6. Don’t over-post.
Stick to 2 to 4 posts a day, maybe more on special occasions. As a general rule, if I am going to post more than 4 times a day, I space out each post at least an hour apart. Flooding the feed with photo after photo might just get you unfollowed. (It’s definitely one of my pet peeves!)

7. Don’t under-post though, either.
If you only log in and post new pictures once a week, your customers and fans will forget about you. When you finally do post, they might just end up un-following. Keep your business and your products on their mind by posting at least once per day. If you can’t do at least one photo per day, try to stick with a schedule that will work for you, like 3-4 times a week. Just keep it consistent.

8. Don’t post blurry pictures.
This should be a no-brainer, but I see it more often than you’d think. Instagram is a VISUAL social media… Make sure your photos are the best they can be.

9. Don’t post product shots exclusively.
This one is a little tricky, as it holds true for most businesses – but not all. For most of you, I would encourage some “behind the scenes” shots. This is a great way for people to get to know you, like you, and trust you – so that they will eventually BUY from you. (That’s the whole point, isn’t it?) But if you consistently have new and different inventory (like in the case of vintage sellers) you don’t necessarily need behind the scenes shots, although I personally think they are a nice touch. And the occasional selfie, family or pet photo, makes you seem more likable and approachable.

10. And finally, while you do want to let your followers into your personal life a bit (so they can get to know the person behind the business), you might not want to combine your business account with your personal account.
Your family and friends might (hopefully will!) follow your business account, but you should keep the vast majority of your personal posts (selfies, family photos, food pics) on your personal account. Your business account should be largely about promoting your business.

That’s all I have for today, but I’m curious, how do you feel about these ten tips? And am I missing any other “don’ts” on Instagram? Please feel free to comment below.  Also feel free to follow me on Instagram for more some uplifting motivation for your creative business.

 

Here are a few things it's suggested you avoid doing on your business Instagram account: Click To Tweet

 

 

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  • Hi, thanks for the great article! I have tried to implement a lot of your suggestions for It already. I struggle with consistency in posting, and end up not posting for a week, so I will try to step it up some. Also, and this is a big shortcoming for me, I don’t post the products I sell nearly often enough! I’m a one-woman show, and I get overwhelmed between stocking stores, going to craft shows, and private orders. However, as my business evolves and I begin creating products that I truly love to create, I want to give less focus to the items that sell well currently but don’t inspire my creativity. My question is, what is your advice on hashtag use? I’ve read that I should use at least 11 hashtags per post for the best engagement (a theory which I have found to be accurate among my own posts.) But then I just read another expert opinion that I should use only one or two hashtags maximum! I’m super careful to use only hashtags which are relevant to the image I’m posting. But as I mentioned, my engagement seems to double if I use more than 11. Am I getting false engagement this way? Thanks for lending an ear!

    • From what I’ve learned, as long as your tags are actually relevant, go ahead and use them. Using only 2 or so tags is like only advertising your business to a small group of your possible target market. It just doesn’t make sense. I sometimes even use alternate words for the craft I do (tatting) that catches the eye of people who speak other languages. In English we call it tatting (not the same as tattooing), but the French and the Russians call it frivolite. Another country calls it frywolitka. So I add those as well, to put my posts in front of those people. But I think for a business account, adding silly tags on a regular basis is not helpful.

  • What about hashtags. Sometimes some people just flood their posts with hashtags that aren’t so relevant either. We should be careful in the hashtag we put…
    @shubhrachaturvedi_studio
    @chaturvedi.shubhra

  • Fantastic list, I am pretty good with most of these, I think I do struggle with consistency though.
    I do have a question in regard to not tagging people you don’t know. What about businesses?
    For example, I tag Asics when my shoes are in shot, or my coffee company when I’m drinking their coffee.
    Does this rule still apply?
    Last thing I want is to annoy people or hinder others.
    Thanks
    Angela

    • That’s a really great point, Angela! You absolutely want to tag those businesses. Especially if you want to work with brands (those or any others), because then the brands can see how you’ll feature their products if you were to work together.

      Thanks so much!

  • Hey, great article!
    I struggle with what to post on Instagram. @anneshagordon. I mostly do repost of cool images I find that is related to my business. Artwork, fashion, the occasionally product image and a piece of my artwork.
    Check out my profile and let me know what you think. I’ll take all the constructive criticism as I can get lol @anneshagordon.

  • I need to work on numbers 3 and 7. I always have trouble with being consistent about posting on Instagram because I don’t have an idea about what to post and because I am not consistent, but I know that that is apart of the reason why I don’t have a lot of engagement on my Instagram page. I will work on these. Thank you for creating this article! It helped me realize what I needed to work on to grow my Instagram page.