December 23, 2019

10 Most Painful Instagram Mistakes Made In 2019

Are you finding it hard to grow on Instagram? Is your Instagram engagement low? We still see so many mistakes preventing people from growing their followers and increasing engagement on Instagram, and you just might be guilty of the same Instagram mistakes. 

In this post we’re breaking down some common Instagram mistakes we see, from unknowingly causing posts to be subject to the Instagram shadowban due to hashtags, to STILL buying fake followers, which is just a disaster. 

Now, if you’d prefer to soak it up in a video, look no further:


For everyone else, let’s get to it.

1. Using Hashtags Incorrectly

There are three main hashtag mistakes we’ve identified: 

Shadow banned hashtags

Shadow banning is when Instagram restricts the use of particular hashtags based on somewhat arbitrary, and occasionally quite solid, reasoning. Things that are consistently shadow banned are hashtags that include cuss words, offensive slurs, and spammy words. Strangely, hashtags like #adultlife and #happythanksgiving were shadow banned for some reason, so be sure to check every hashtag before you use them. You can use any hashtag, shadow banned or not, but be warned that if you do, it’ll essentially automatically shadowban your post and you can say goodbye to your engagement.

Using only high volume hashtags

This one is a little more straightforward. If you choose to rock with hashtags with tens of millions of uses, your chances of being seen are slim to none. For example, #love has an incredible 1.6 billion uses. That’s got to be one of the largest for sure. The optimal way to use hashtags is via a mixed volume strategy ranging from niche => medium => popular, and always keep them targeted to the exact audience you’re going after. 

Not using hashtags at all

This one is way too common, so much so that it’s arguably the biggest hashtag mistake. Why wouldn’t you max out all 30 hashtags when it’s free, it’s simple, you can place them in the first comment so as not to ruin the aesthetic of your caption, and it generates engagement and follows? Use them, just do it, stop messing around.

2. You’re Not Optimizing Your Bio 

This one sounds somewhat obvious but you’d be surprised how many disorganized, messy and unprofessional bios we see every single day. To make it easier, we’ve actually produced a video on how to best optimize your Instagram bio, and to support that we’ve created a simple yet very handy downloadable Instagram Checklist so that you can ensure your bio is set up for success.


3. You’re Still Putting URLs In Your Captions

At no point in time have Instagram ever made clickable links in captions a thing, so it’s mind boggling that people still do it. The only time a link in the caption can be clickable, however, is when you include it in the description for an IGTV video. If you share that video to your feed, the link won’t be clickable and can look a bit ridiculous, but as soon as they head back to IGTV it’s good to go. The only option when sharing links on Instagram is to tell followers to click the link in your bio. We’d suggest using a service such as or, which allow you to use multiple links all tied to one simple bio link that never changes.

4. You’re Still Using Spammy Tactics

We almost don’t really need to speak on this one. Well, we wish we didn’t have to, but we see it daily. Still. In 2019. If you’re still using tactics like follow for follow, purchasing bots/followers/likes… seriously, you might need to take Hilary Clinton’s advice and delete your account. Instagram has been very proactive in removing bots, fake accounts and even public facing likes so all that money you’re spending on those fake likes is going to nothing anyway. Grow a real, engaged, organic following. That’s the only way to roll.

5. You’re Using Poor Quality Images

Instagram is entirely based around aesthetics, meaning how attractive and engaging your feed is essentially determines how successful you’re going to be on their platform. The easiest way to begin to improve the quality of your feed is to exclusively use high resolution images. If you’re using older or just super low quality photos, you won’t be able to use them for ads or boosted posts as Instagram won’t approve them. They even refuse to ruin the quality of the feed they serve to you. You can post low res images, sure, but you can’t promote them. That essentially says it all, really. If you’re looking for suggestions for affordable yet great quality equipment to capture higher quality content, check out this list of some of the content creation tools we’ve used.

6. You’re Ignoring Your Analytics

All the major Social Media platforms offer native insights, so they’re directly telling us that we should be looking at how our posts are performing and acting accordingly. By ignoring your analytics when most of them are available for free (you can pay for more in-depth third party tools if your needs require), you’re essentially refusing to measure how you’re performing and double down on the kinds of content that generate the most engagement. Knowing what your followers are liking, commenting on, sharing and saving (arguably the most important metric on Instagram) is incredibly valuable to your business. You likely have KPIs and analytics surrounding the performance of your business, so you should be treating your Social Media with the same vested interest.


7. You’re Not Engaging With Your Audience

It’s called Social Networking, right? So we’re all there to be social, yet one of the most common mistakes we see brands making is that they never spend any time engaging with their audience and potential followers. Posting and leaving doesn’t encourage Instagram to push your content in their algorithm, and it really just makes it harder for your tribe to find you. We’d suggest that you respond to every genuine comment, even if it’s just with an emoji, as it shows Instagram that the post is generating engagement and people are into it. At the end of the day, your audience will stop commenting if you’re ignoring them, and they’ll lose interest in your brand. We’d also suggest that you take some time to like and genuinely comment on posts from other users so that you get into some great conversations, leaving both parties satisfied from the social interaction and hopefully you’ll get a follower out of it, too.

8. You’re Not Using Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is the #1 hack to improving your ranking in the algorithm. With over 500 million people using the feature, ignoring it is a hugely missed opportunity. Users tend to navigate to their Stories more than their feed these days, as Stories give a more realistic, less polished overview of the lives of those they follow. Stories also aren’t as subject to the algorithm so there are many more opportunities to expose your brand to more people, there are less ads than the feed so the content is more organic and less interrupted, and really it’s a great chance to get to know your followers (and them to get to know your brand better). If you’d like some tips on some Instagram Stories features that you may not be using, we wrote a blog post about it recently.

9. You’re Not Being Consistent

Consistency and persistence are the keys to life, and they also happen to be the keys to Instagram, too. A lack of consistency can derive from poor processes, or a complete lack of processes, that don’t allow you to create and schedule content regularly for your current and prospective audiences. We wrote a blog post about how to easily schedule one week of Social Media content in one hour – this would be a great start to getting some consistency happening. Don’t post once every other week, then go on a posting rampage for 8 straight days and then disappear for a month. This lack of consistency hurts both your standing with the algorithm and the perception of your business by your community. Post daily if possible, or if not at least post regularly, whether that be on the same days every week, the same number of posts every week, or just find a schedule that works for you so that can give your followers some form of consistency from your brand. This goes for Stories too – you should be posting multiple times daily, keeping it extremely active at all times to maximize exposure and break the algorithm.

10. You Don’t Have A Strategy

The final painful Instagram mistake in 2019 will be the one that fixes all the above. You don’t have a strategy. One quick glance at a given feed will tell you whether that brand has a Social Media strategy or not. As we discussed above, a lack of process in all aspects of social is negatively impacting businesses on Instagram, so with a holistic, well rounded strategy in place, you’ll be properly set up to know what to post, when to post, how to voice it, how and when to engage, and a lot more. We created a post recently about how business owners can manage their own Social Media, and for those needing some more in-depth assistance, we also offer our Ultimate Social Media Playbook, a complete customized strategy for your business to maximize your efforts not only on Instagram, but across all major Social Media platforms.

If you’re guilty of committing these Instagram mistakes, or if this all just sounds like too much, get in touch with one of our Social Media Managers so that we can help put together a comprehensive social strategy that’s right for you.

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