Instagram can be a tricky game. It’s always changing and evolving. It feels like as soon as you figure it out, they roll out a new feature. Even with all of the changes, there are still some mistakes that you should avoid regardless of the way the app evolves.

1. Paying for bots

This is a BIG NO NO. If you are still buying followers, engagement, or bots… stop. Now. I don’t know how, but Instagram knows when your account has in-authentic activity. They WILL penalize you for it, whether it’s shutting your account down or sticking you on the bottom of your follower’s feeds. Not only is it bad business to do this, but it’s also SO obvious.

I’m sure you’ve come across an account that has 12k+ followers, but their posts are only getting 20ish likes… that’s a red flag. Unless they are cursed with horribly inactive followers, they’ve probably purchased followers.

2. Not researching your hashtags

Believe it or not, there is strategy behind hashtags that need to be thought through. You can’t just slap 30 hashtags on a post and expect people to start running to your account. Before you ever slap a hashtag on your post, look into it first.

Choosing the right hashtag group for your posts is just as important as the caption you’re using.

 3. Posting just to post and not thinking through your captions

Sure, Instagram is a very visual-dominant platform, but your captions are equally as important as the pretty picture you’re posting. If you’re posting just to get stuff out there, you’re probably seeing a dip in engagement. Gone are the days when you need to post every day to “beat the algorithm”.

Well-thought-out captions can help take your Instagram from “just another account” to one that people flock to on a regular basis. Think your caption through. Are you providing value, entertainment, or something else of importance to your audience? If not, don’t post.

4. Not showing off your personality

If you want your account to stand out at all from the sea of other users, you need to show off your personality. Be different, on purpose. When you post cookie-cutter pictures with boring-as-heck captions, people will not care. Simple as that.

Add a little pizazz to your posts. Let people in. Be authentic, and be yourself.

5. Not engaging with other accounts, and expecting them to engage with you

Unless you are a big-time celebrity, the post-and-log-out method will not work for you if your goal is to increase engagement or build authentic relationships. If you are not engaging with others, how can you expect them to engage with you? You can’t!

PRO TIP: dedicate 5 minutes before AND after you post to engaging with people. Whether that’s people who are already following you or people in your target market, engage.

This will help increase engagement in your post and show people that you are active on the account, and not just posting to post.