For those just starting out, the eagerness to reach fully-fledged professional influencer status can be overwhelming. In the race to gain followers and access to #goals brand collaborations you might even consider cutting a few corners. But do so at your peril. Unscrupulous tactics and missed opportunities will slow you down in the long run and risk sabotaging all of your hard work. With tough competition and an increasing demand for transparency, the following seven sins are the most deadly for aspiring and established influencers alike.
1. Buying followers
There has been a lot of negative press recently accusing influencers of boosting their follower counts with bots. Since influencers have historically been paid on a sliding scale, with more followers securing them a higher fee, some have seen it as a short cut to a much coveted career. But buying followers is the kamikaze move of the Instagram world. Not only are fake followers completely ineffective in generating strong engagement, but they are easily detected. Software is being developed for this purpose alone. Ultimately, reputable agencies and switched on clients will realise and the influencer will lose their contracts. Once a influencer’s reputation is tarnished, its very difficult to repair.
2. Having an inconsistent aesthetic
Finding your own unique look and feel is one of the creative joys of social media. Take time to consider the curation of your feed. A signature style, with similar colours and editing techniques throughout, will help you stand out with followers and brands alike. When you do collaborate with brands its even more important to remain consistent – remember its your personal style that won them over in the first place. Find a way to share their product in a way that feels authentically you.
3. Failing to convert to a business account
‘You’ll get lost in the algorithm’, ‘You’ll lose followers or engagement’, ‘You’ll have to boost your posts to get noticed’. The rumour mill has been in overdrive and has made many Instagram influencers fear converting to a business account – but there are many advantages. Business accounts receive access to analytics which will not only give you helpful insight into your own followers, but will help legitimise your service to brands. You’ll also be easier to find and contact, plus those with over 10,000 followers are able to include a link in Stories. For those frequently collaborating with brands, it’s a no brainer.
4. Ignoring comments and DMs
Of course it won’t always be possible, but if someone takes the time to comment on your post, or message you directly, you should aim to respond. The benefits of this are two-fold. Firstly, it’ll foster connection and loyalty with your following and secondly, it will help boost your algorithm. It’s been the source of much debate, but we now know that Instagram organises posts in your feed in accordance to the relationship they think you have with that person. Chit chat in the comments will help signal to Instagram that your content means a lot to your followers, because they are engaging with it, so it should appear higher in their feed. Don’t forget your direct messages either, there could be all sorts of opportunities lurking in there.
5. Skipping the caption
If you’re a visual person, writing a caption alongside your post can be the most challenging part of the process – but don’t skip it. Think of it as a tool. If used correctly, it can be an effective way of building your audience, increasing levels of engagement and communicating your messages. Step one – find your tone. Your Instagram should be a reflection of your personality, so let that shine through in your captions and keep it as consistent as your visuals. Make it punchy, use relevant hashtags (monitoring the most popular among your communities), then tag tag tag. People, places and brands. All of these things offer extra ways to be discovered and communicate with your audience.
6. Not using Insta Stories to its full potential
Instagram Stories now has 400 million daily users and they are adding new options (like adding music) to keep improving the feature. There are so many opportunities for influencers within stories. It allows you to show engaging behind-the-scenes aspects of your daily life which add personality and allow you to form deeper connections with your audience – but without disrupting your carefully considered feed. To ensure you’re getting the most views and lowest drop off rates, ensure your first frame is the most engaging so followers will be intrigued enough to continue watching. Syncing your Stories to your posts is another top tip, for example a beauty blogger showing behind-the-scenes steps of how they achieved the look. That way each post can drive traffic to each other. Don’t forget to utilise tags in the same way you would a caption.
7. Going it alone
As an influencer you should keep growing and stay on top of the trends. No matter how many campaigns you’ve got under your belt, understanding there is always room to learn and improve will keep you at the top of your game. As well as making use of the fantastic resources and masterclasses online, make the effort to connect with your fellow influencers. Creating a network means you can all support each other when working alone feels isolating and pool resources. Two heads are better than one after all. Perhaps you’re a stylist keen to swap skills with a photographer? Not only can you learn from each other and create some amazing content, by sharing it with your respective audiences, you open yourself up to potential new followers.
Ultimately, your Instagram presence is your online personal brand so make sure its authentic and understand that building a valuable following will happen slowly and steadily. Focus on high-quality content above all else because, while there are tips and tricks to help you be discovered, that is what will make people hit the follow button.