Two-Minute Marketing: The 3 and A Half Deadly Sins of Startups on Instagram

2MM insta picture

Alright, you’ve registered your username, you’ve uploaded your nifty little logo as a profile picture, and you start uploading images of your trendy startup office in the soho district of anywhere, USA.

And then you get one ‘like’ on your picture, and nobody follows you.

It’s alright, we’ve all been there, but let’s at least try and move away from the Instagram treadmill of mediocrity, alright? In today’s quick and dirty breakdown of social media for startups, here are 3 ways to make sure you don’t Instagram faceplant.

#1) Don’t be that guy. Don’t fill quotas.

You know the one: He’s in the comments offering up such killer feedback as ‘love it!’ and ‘great post!’ as comments when you upload an image. He didn’t look at your post, he didn’t really love it, and he didn’t even think it was great.

He’s filling a quota, because he read in some guide, probably like this one except, you know, bad, that he should be commenting on other people’s pictures to get them interested in his own account. So every day he goes and leaves 10 lame comments on 10 pictures and feels happy he’s done his 10 things for the day. Ugh.

If you’re going to leave comments, leave something substantial, at least write a sentence or two that let’s people know you actually looked at the picture they posted. Better yet, leave a question about the image that leads to discussion. Finally, don’t even bother commenting at all if you don’t have any genuine interest in engaging with that person.

#2 Don’t treat your followers like readers.

If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably hoping to learn something. When people are on Instagram, they very rarely ever want to be anything more than entertained.

When you create images to post, don’t try and turn them into mini articles, don’t go overboard with overlaying text on your images. When engaging with any socil networ you will have the most success if your posts are native to the platform.

For Instagram, that means highly visual and easily read or taken in on a tiny mobile screen. If you think someone is going to squint to make out a URL in your image, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

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#3) Get in touch with your pretty side.

Instagram, even several years into its lifecycle, continues to skew in a certain direction. Specifically, that direction is young and slightly female. The images that generally perform well are of high quality and ar eye-catching.

Don’t just fill your Instagram with pictures of random objects and locations… unless you can make them visually attention-worthy.

For example, I noticed early on that Instagram loves black and white photos, so I arranged some objects from around the office and used the description area to tie our daily office life together with two universal favorites: coffee and music.

(The description on Instagram read: “Kicking off the morning right by gathering our #essentials over here:#coffee #music and a blank #notebook – get to it!” followed by a number of hashtags related to business and startups)

That image received 72 likes and several comments, and I’m not even sure we had 72 followers at the time.

Which leads me to the last little piece of Instagram advice for startups before I let you go:

Bonus round: Go insane with hashtags. As you begin typing after a hash symbol, Instagram will show you suggestions along with how many images have already been tagged with that hashtag. If any term is relevant to your brand and has more than 50,000 or so posts, use it. In general, hashtags can be used liberally on Instagram without looking spammy, especially compared to other networks.

If you’re still worried about cluttering up the description area of a post, just leave a comment on your own image after it’s posted and drop all of your tags there; it has the same effect and leaves your original post look less clunky.

Congratulations, you can now avoid embarrassing yourself on Instagram!