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Hi, I'm Tokelo...

I’m a social media loving, content marketing expert, that enjoys educating others & elevating businesses. I also really like taking road trips, Two Dots & peanut butter ice cream. 

I've turned my love for story-telling into a 6-figure business using marketing strategies that I now get to share with you... and just by the way, I enjoy sharing all I've learnt over a cup of tea.

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Nobody needs to be convinced of the power of Instagram as a means of engagement. With a billion+ users worldwide, Instagram can be an amazing platform for telling your brand’s story in a creative, visually inspired way.

With more than 25 million business profiles and over 200 million visiting at least one business profile daily, it seems Instagram isn’t the easiest social media channel for brands to master.

It can be frustrating and demotivating to try so hard to grow your audience and not get the results you hoped for. The thing is, there are too many businesses making these simple mistakes that can be easily fixed. Social media marketing done right can win you customers for life. Done wrong, it can cost you dearly.

Here is a look at 5 mistakes frequently made by businesses on Instagram and how to fix them:

1. Posting just to post

You rushing to post, without putting much thought into the creative and copy; and simply hoping that Instagram will work its magic to make it or your brand popular is not going to fly! Social media is meant to be an ongoing and engaging conversation, so if you don’t have anything important to say - don’t say it! If you don’t feel inspired to share something - don’t share it. Period. Content that is forced usually feels fake and inauthentic.

Plus, posting just to post does the opposite of what you hope it will do. A lot of people feel like they have to post constantly just to stay relevant. In reality, you tarnish your brand and dampen your engagement rates when you post low-quality content. If users are not engaging with your content, Instagram will stop showing your content to them.

How to avoid: Be intentional with every piece of content you post and operate from a well-thought-out strategy. Plan your content ahead of time so you’re not having to rely on daily spurts of authentic inspiration to post. Create a content calendar and always ask yourself if you’d actually stop scrolling through your feed to watch/see/read what you’re about to post.

2. Too much product promotion

Instagram is meant to be a social and interactive platform. Selling too much is very one-sided and not very interactive, so refrain from making every post about what you offer. Yes, it’s true that sometimes your audience may not always know what they want, and they might be happy to learn about your product or service. However, you are going to completely turn them off if you’re constantly promoting and selling to them. It makes you look desperate and can become quite boring.

You need to focus on building a relationship with your audience first. Now, how do you build the relationship you ask? Just the same as you would build any relationship - by creating trust.

You do this by letting them in first. Let them see the real, human parts of your brand. Be transparent and share your authentic self with them. This will build a connection, and connections build trust. Then you'll need to give without any expectation. Before you even think about asking anything of them, focus on what you can give your audience.

How to avoid: Your ratio of product promotion to value-driven content should be something like 1:4, so for every four pieces of entertaining, valuable content, you have one post promoting your product or service.

3. Lack of brand consistency

What is your unique brand essence? Does it shine through all of your content? Is there consistency in all of your content? If you want to build and sustain a powerful brand, you must focus on brand consistency.

Let me be clear. Consistency does not mean monotony.  Don’t put out the same piece of content over and over. It’s still important to switch it up, maintain variety, and test different formats. At the same time, all of it should be consistent with your brand mission, tone of voice and overall look and feel - fonts, colour palettes, etc.

Don’t make the big mistake of copying the format and style of other brands. If you don’t own and execute your unique brand essence in every piece of social media marketing content you create, you are commoditizing yourself and your brand.

Consistency also means to consistently put out content and keep your promises. For example, if you say that there will be a new IGTV episode every week, there better be a new IGTV episode released every week. This creates trust and credibility with your audience and lets them know they can count on you to deliver.

How to avoid: Be consistent in your social media marketing efforts, because consistency compounds and creates powerful, sustainable brands.

4. Wrong use of hashtags

Hashtags are an important part of Instagram marketing. They can be a great way to increase your reach to other people in your niche and to get discovered by customers and fans who are interested in your content, products, and services.

However, for hashtags to be effective, you have to use them – and do it correctly. Using too many hashtags can have a damaging effect on your brand on Instagram.

How to avoid: We recommend researching and engaging with niche hashtags that align with your brand. You can find these by looking for hashtags that align with your brand mission and message through the search function on instagram; noting down hashtags that have under 900k posts, as people often follow and engage with these, versus those with millions of posts. Your content will also stay at the top of these feeds for longer than those with high volumes. Another way to find hashtags to use and engage with, would be to look into the hashtags that your audience use, as they are people you want to engage more with and attract others that are similar to them.

5. Using Linktree as your Instagram bio link

You get one link in your bio, and you’re using LinkTree. Really? Well, it’s actually not so surprising to me because this is one of the most common, yet less-obvious social media marketing mistakes that brands make on Instagram.

Here’s why using Linktree is a mistake:

- You are depending on a third-party app and have zero control. If it goes down, so do you.

- You sacrifice your branding because you have to work within their themes and parameters. Remember we talked about brand commoditization earlier? Well, I hate to break it to you, but your Linktree page basically looks just like everyone else’s.

- No analytics with the free version and limited analytics with the paid version. Plus, all of your data belongs to them.

- Not optimized for conversion. It’s just a bunch of basic buttons with text on them stacked on top of each other. What is compelling about that?

How to avoid: Use your website! There is absolutely no reason why the homepage of your website should not be directing its viewers where you want them to go. If your website is not set up with the top actions you want users to take, fixing that ASAP should be your priority.

If you play your cards right, you can build a huge and loyal community on Instagram to help you grow your business or brand. To get there, you need genuine engagement from people who are authentically interested in your content and brand.

By remedying these six Instagram mistakes with a few simple tweaks, your Instagram account can become one of the most valuable assets in your marketing mix.

If this article was valuable to you, please share it on your social media or with a friend who you want to save from making these mistakes on the 'gram.

Author: Tokelo Motsepe

Tokelo Motsepe is the founder of @afrenai - an online

marketplace for sustainable brands made in Africa and

@afredigital - the online marketing agency that caters to

entrepreneurs looking to build brands that standout

and add value to the lives of their customers.

Follow her on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook