Don’t do another thing on Instagram until you read this post because I’m going to share with you the top 10 biggest mistakes I see sellers make.
Hi, my name is Mei and I help makers, artists and designers make a living from selling their handmade products online.
I didn't even include this number one mistake to avoid in my top 10, but I'm just going to say it before I get started.
Mistake number zero would be spending like 12 hours a day on Instagram.
You're running a business. Your top priority is making sales and clicking around on Instagram all day is not the best use of your time for doing that.
You'll want to check out my other videos for tips about how to be successful on short amounts of time, but today, specifically, I'm talking about some Instagram technique mistakes that you want to avoid.
Mistake #1: Having a Lame Bio
The bio is what people see at the top when they look at your profile. You want your bio to be captivating.
You only get a couple of sentences to tell people what you do, so make it punchy.
Have a call to action in there, tell people what you want them to do. For example, “Get 10% off if you sign up for my newsletter”.
Even if someone likes your Instagram account, the Instagram algorithm only shows your posts occasionally. So you may think, “Oh, that person liked my account. They'll see all my updates.” No, unfortunately, they won't. They'll see yours once in a while, buried under a lot of other stuff.
You want to make sure you're harnessing your Instagram account to get people off of the platform and get them following you in other places as well.
Mistake #2:Using the Wrong Hashtags
You have two goals with your hashtags:
- You want to be seen by other people when they search for the hashtags that you're using. It's important for your posts to come up in those hashtag feeds as high up as possible. You want to avoid getting your post buried too quickly, which is exactly what happens if you use a hashtag that's too popular.
- You're aiming to be featured in the top nine posts. Those are the top posts that are constantly rotating. So if the hashtag is too big, you are never going to be selected in the top nine because being selected is based on popular engagement and you have to compete with influencers who have a ton of followers already.
So you don't want hashtags that are too popular or too unpopular. If you're using a hashtag that's way too popular, like #weekendvibes or #America, those have twenty to forty million posts as of this writing!
Your posts aren’t going to get seen at all because it’s too crowded and competitive and it’s very unlikely you’ll get into the top posts.
On the flipside, if you're also using these hashtags that never get you noticed, it's not great for you and the algorithm.
No one's following or looking at hashtags that are too small or niched, which means it doesn't matter if you're in the top posts because no one's looking at it.
Instead, when you do hashtag research, it tells you how many posts that use that hashtag. Pick one that's mid-size or something you can compete in. Generally speaking this is going to be somewhere between 1,000 – 30,000 users. With that being said, it’s going to be different for everyone.
Mistake #3: Using Hashtags that are Only for Other Makers
Before you start using a hashtag, search it and look at the posts that show up for that hashtag. If you're a jewelry designer using #handmadejewelry, it seems really intuitive, but it only attracts other jewelry designers like you.
People don’t go on Instagram to shop, so hashtags don’t get used in the same way that a customer uses keywords to search for something they want to buy on Google, or Amazon or Etsy.
This is why when you use hashtags like #makersgonnamake or #watercolorart, you only seem to get likes, comments and follows from other makers, sellers, shop owners and artists.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it’s not likely those people will actually buy your stuff, because they’re crafty, just like you, and they will probably just make it themselves.
Mistake #4: Not Responding to Comments
This would be like sitting at a dinner table with someone and them saying, “Hey, I love your necklace. Where'd you get it?” and you just ignoring them.
You would probably never ever do that in real life, so why in the world would you do that to a customer who might actually be interested?
I see this happen a lot. Potential customers asking sizing or shipping questions and never getting an answer from the shop. Those questions are coming from someone who is very eager to buy your work, but if you don’t respond in a timely manner, you might have lost that sale.
Comments are a pathway to opening up more conversation.
I know it can get difficult and time consuming to answer all of these comments, especially when you start to grow your following, but that's the point where you need to think about hiring a virtual assistant or hiring some help. I’ve done that for my business accounts.
You can't just stop answering comments because it won’t look good to other potential customers as they’ll see it as you not giving good service, and you’re also missing out on potential sales.
Mistake #5: Not Having a Consistent Posting Schedule
Here's a quick rundown of the Instagram algorithm. When you have a post, Instagram puts it out to your group of the most loyal and engaged followers first. The algorithm evaluates whether those people like it because if not, the post isn’t good. If those people didn’t even like it, why bother showing it to anyone else who follows you? Then the post dies there.
But if those people like it, then the algorithm shows it to the next level of followers. These are followers who like your posts some of the time, and it keeps making decisions about how many people it's going to show it to based on how much response it's gotten in those first few minutes or hours.
If you post at 3:00 AM, no one's going to see it and no one's going to like it. What's going to happen is that other posts in different time zones are getting liked more than yours and your 3 AM post isn't going to get as much reach as if you're posting at a time where your audience is available and that's consistent for you.
If you want to see where most of your audience is, you can go into your insights and look at your audience by city.
Chances are, it's going to be pretty close to your geographic area and your time zone because it's actually natural for most of us to post when we're awake and when we're doing certain parts of our routine during lunch break or after dinner.
Get to a consistent posting schedule.
This also means posting either every day or every other day consistently. It doesn't mean posting seven times on one day and then nothing for a week, because then your posts, aren't getting filtered out through your audience in a consistent fashion.
Mistake #6: Not Writing Engaging Descriptions
I see this all the time. I know you probably follow some gorgeous photography feeds and they post this epically gorgeous photo and then the caption is a dot and they have a million likes.
I get it, but that’s the fringe case of posts that have gone viral or influencers with millions of followers.
For the rest of us little people, we need to do the best with everything we’re given.
You need to practice writing engaging descriptions that people are interested to read. You want to make people enjoy reading your posts.
Tell a story. Make it emotionally grabbing, or fun, or witty or share value in some way. Entertain them, educate them, ask questions.
You also want to encourage them to follow through on your calls to action. You want them to click on your bio and go to your website and sign up for your email list or make a purchase.
They're not going to do that if you don't have good descriptions telling them exactly what you want them to do.
Mistake #7: Not Making the First Line in Your Description Stand Out
Copywriting is all about grabbing a person’s attention with one line so they read the next. Then next line grabs them to read the next and so on.
Why would they keep reading if the first line is all boring?
When people are scrolling through their feed, they only see the first two lines of your description. If it's not captivating, they're not going to read more.
Make sure you spend extra energy putting thought into what goes into those two sentences.
Think of it as like writing a headline to a blog post or article, or a subject line to an email you’re sending out to a very busy person.
Mistake #8: Posting the Same Kind of Thing Over and Over Again
You want to have diversity in your posts. So if every post is a sale post or you're only doing lifestyle photos, then it becomes predictable and people aren't going to engage with it the same way as when you’re pattern interrupting, which is a great way to get people engaged.
Mix things up a bit. Show them a photo of you working in your studio, show them the product as it's finished in a separate post, show it on a model. They’re all different settings and styles of photos.
Make sure that you have diversity in your posts so that it makes your feed more interesting and you can see what people respond to most.
If you're only posting the same thing all the time, then how are you going to know what works best? But if you post sales posts, lifestyle photos, and behind the scenes work, and maybe you can throw in a quote post from time to time, now you have insights and statistics on four different kinds of posts and you can see what works better.
If you see that you're getting a ton of engagement on your behind the scenes posts, then you can dig a little deeper and see:
- Do people like seeing your hands?
- Do people like this kind of lighting?
- Do people like this kind of color in your photo?
The diversity allows you to explore what kinds of posts are more successful and then you can continue to tweak your postings from there to be posting the content that is most successful for you.
Mistake #9: Totally Mixing up Personal and Business
I'm not saying you can't post a photo of your personal life on your business account, but that's completely different from photos of dogs all the time and the drama about your plumbing bursting and your fight with your partner.
This is for not only what you post, but also how you use Instagram. If you log on to your business Instagram account and you like your niece's graduation photo, and some dog photos and all of this other stuff as your business page, the algorithm is going to keep showing you more and more of what it thinks you like.
If you're not using your page truly as your business, that is pursuing ideal customers and working on business relationships, it's going to keep showing you just personal stuff because it's learning by your behavior.
I suggest you split up your personal and business pages, and use your business page as an employee in your shop would use your business page.
Mistake #10: Not Going Out and Engaging
I'm going to refer you back to my Instagram strategy video again, but if you just post and run away and log off on the app, you're not going to see the same kind of results as you do as if you post and then comment on some of the other posts using that hashtag and like some items in your feed.
It's also these comments and these likes on other people's pages that'll make them come back and look at your page. When they see your awesome posts and your great bio and if they like what they see, in other words, if they’re your ideal customer, then they'll follow you.
Then they'll start seeing more of your posts in the future and it's a cycle that happens. So make sure you're going out and engaging and doing outreach.
That’s the most important thing that not enough people are doing on Instagram.