Bad habits form without us ever realizing it. It isn’t until we get that elbow in the gut from a family member, friend or even a total stranger that we might want to check ourselves. With Instagram, these bad habits run rampant like kids at recess, screaming and running around like they’ve been penned up for decades. There is no shame on Instagram. Not even a little bit.  

Here are the 9 things you need get control of on Instagram like five minutes ago:

1. Buying Likes & Followers

I’m sorry, but you’re not fooling anybody. When you have 12k followers but are only averaging 35 likes per post, you have a serious credibility problem. There are many ways to spot an account that clearly pays straight up for some “Insta love,” making your decision more transparent than ever. For example, no one that posts a once-per-week selfie is going to have 10k followers. Stop it. Seriously, this is killing any possible success you hope to have with your personal or business account. You might as well delete your account and start over, because your analytics are toast for good. If you want to be taken seriously, if you want legitimacy on Instagram, then create good content, post it consistently and be patient with your growth. It’s the only way you can achieve your goals. There are no shortcuts, so please stop looking for them.

2. Not Posting Everyday

This is probably this single most difficult thing for people to do, and it’s understandable. Typically, there’s worry that you don’t have enough “worthy” content to be posted everyday. There’s worry that this would be too much work to put together or that you need to hire a professional photographer. I’m here to tell you that solving this problem is simpler than you may think. It just requires a little planning on your part. Spend a Saturday or Sunday out with your smartphone and shoot, shoot, shoot! It’s not 35mm film we’re talking about here. Whatever your brand is, find a style that your aiming for and be consistent with it. I’ll get more into this in future blog posts, but an editorial calendar will be your best companion to get you posting everyday. The rewards are unparalleled in the sense that you will see a sharp rise in your organic growth and engagement. Instagrammers love accounts that are reliable posters and will stick to you like glue if you give them what they want, so why not give it to them?

3. Inconsistent Photography

As an Instagram Strategist, I literally wade through tens of thousands of Instagram accounts every month. You see trends of things, people copying other people, the infamous ice cream cone being held out in front of a brick wall like a million times, that sort of thing. One major problem many people run into is having your feed look like ten different people are contributing to it, hence, ten different styles and looks going on. If you’re a business and have the means to hire a content creator, I highly recommend this investment. Great content is the cream that always rises to the top. But if that isn’t in your budget, get some pointers online about taking great photos. Youtube is always an amazing resource with teaching things like this. You’re aiming for one simple style that you feel best represents you. Just remember K.I.S.S. - Keep It Super Simple.

4. Not Liking and Commenting on Other Instagram Accounts

Engaging with other accounts is what single-handedly will set you apart from 98% of other Instagram accounts. This immediately draws eyeballs right back to your feed for people to like and comment on your content. They may even decide to follow you, which is the strongest feedback mechanism you have to determine if your content is up to par. That being said, this is the thing you tackle once everything else has been addressed. For example, if you don’t have your photography in order quite yet and the last post you made was last month, there would be no reason for you to make an effort for other people to see your old post. Instagrammers crave the most recent content available. This engagement will boost your following into the thousands if it’s done consistently. This will ultimately give you the coveted status of “Instagram Influencer” and set you up nicely to partner up with other Influencers and brands that fit your mold. And there is a lot of money to be made once you make it to this point, believe me.

5. Not Having a Link in Bio

If you’re putting all of this time and effort into building an Instagram, you better have an end game and have a goal for what you’d like to get out of it. If you have a website, your URL needs to be in your Instagram profile. You think that’s an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this. If you don’t have a website, at minimum, you should have an email address in your profile to receive business inquiries. People have to be able to get a hold of you, so make it easy for them. Forcing potential clients or customers to direct message you in Instagram is tacky and most people don’t even check those. Help create the path to least resistance, okay?

6. Not Having an Overall Strategy

This goes back to having a purpose for your account. Your Instagram account should be deliberate and have a specific reason for its existence, even if it’s just a hobby for now. If you structure it properly from the beginning and make good choices, it could be something much bigger than you ever imagined. Seriously, there are tons of Influencers that make anywhere from $500-$3,000 just for a single post! Not a bad way to make a living, just sayin’. If you’re not sure where to begin, team up with someone like us, or other Instagram Strategists to get the most out of your efforts and resources.

7. Not Utilizing Hashtags Properly

Hashtags were meant to create small niche communities of a variety of different interests. It’s a way to categorize your post in a nice little compartment, or compartments, for people to find easily. The more specific, the better. It’s also an unbelievably easy way to find your target customer. You just have to know where to look and you could have ten new customers by the end of the day, I’m not even kidding. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger, using the hashtag #fashion is a “nothing burger” for you. There have already been 280 million instances where #fashion has been used, so you’ll easily get lost in the mix. But if your based out of San Francisco, using something like #sfstyle might get you much closer to potential customers in the Bay Area. It’s much more focused and specific and only been used 58 thousand times, so much less competition.  

8. Not Having a Strong Voice in Your Captions

The caption is the second biggest opportunity for you to express yourself, aside from the image your posting, which is the first. Please never leave this blank (and please don’t put more than two hashtags here. They all belong in the first comment of the post.). One or two sentences is all you really need. It can directly describe what we’re seeing in the image, it can be a quote, it can be anything you want it to be, really. Just say something, but don’t be weird about it. The more abstract posts are usually glossed over. Unless you know the more abstract crowd is your target audience, then you can be weird.

9. Not Knowing Your Target Audience

Again, this goes back to our discussion about hashtags. It isn’t hard to find your target audience. If you sell baby apparel, just start playing with searching for baby-related hashtags on Instagram. Also, Google the best hashtags for babies. It’s the micro-targeting that can get tricky and time-consuming. An Instagram Strategist would be able to help you find these niche communities on Instagram that will more than likely help you convert more customers by having a micro-targeted approach. That’s definitely worth the investment to get the right kind of attention towards your business.

If you have questions regarding your Instagram account and think a Instagram Strategist can help you, feel free to email me at I usually get back to inquiries within 24 hours. We’d be happy to assist you in any way we can.

Written by Ryan Carmody

Ryan is a resourceful brand strategist that has advised hundreds of companies in a multitude of industries. He brings his vast array of skill sets and experience to Instagram, where he’s able to bridge his passion for storytelling and help businesses share their unique value propositions visually.