The 7 deadly sins of Instagram

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You know this, but it bears repeating: Your brand should be on Instagram.

It’s not too late—as long as you know what you’re doing.

It’s disturbing to watch sophisticated brands make rookie mistakes. Like any social network, Instagram must be learned. The following guide can teach you the ropes. If you’re committing any of the gaffes below, please stop. Make Instagram a better place:

1. Advertising in other people’s comments

Self-promotion is tricky. After all, you’re on Instagram to promote your brand, right?

Like most social networks, Instagram is more complicated than that. You need to invest time and energy to cultivate an audience by building goodwill in the community.

One of the fastest ways to anger Instagram users (and lose followers) is to leave an irrelevant, annoying comment like, “Want to earn BIG $ $ $ with no work? RIGHT now??” on someone’s post.

2. Posting inconsistent content

The most popular Instagram posts have clear messages. “Behind the scenes with your favorite celebrity” is probably the most used angle, but many accounts have great success by using other immediately understandable angles for their messages.

An account that only posts photos of weird-looking pumpkins is much easier to understand and share than one that posts random snapshots. Your brand should send clear messages on all online channels, anyway.

[RELATED: Harness the power of communications to transform your organization into a Best Place to Work.]

3. Begging for likes or followers

Begging sometimes works. Say you are an agency charged with building an Instagram account, and your only metric for success is total followers. Begging will probably achieve that goal, but you’ll annoy many people. If it’s worth damaging your brand, go for it. But you’ll degrade your audience, consisting of users who don’t mind shamelessness.

Be aware that most Instagram users don’t like those who post, “Yo, dude! Follow me for awesome pics!!” in the comments. It’s irrelevant and adds nothing to the conversation.

4. Ignoring comments

Instagram is a social network, so if you’re not social, you miss the point. When people comment on one of your posts, they speak to you. Respond like the polite, interesting person you are. And since you speak on behalf of your brand, judiciously bring the brand into the conversation.

5. Not using hashtags

Hashtags are Instagram’s backbone. They organize content and help users discover content. But hashtags can be awkward at first. It might feel silly to tag every fifth word in your caption, but if those tags place your post in a content category, it was the right thing to do.

If you don’t tagging your posts, start. To familiarize yourself with hashtags, Google the most popular tags, and click through them on Instagram. Notice how popular accounts use them, and follow suit.

6. Posting other people’s images without credit

This is obvious, but people still do it.

I guess if you post uncredited work, you probably don’t care much about my advice.

Instagram doesn’t have a mechanism for re-sharing content, so users often turn to third-party apps that watermark content as re-posted. Responsible users also tag the creator in the post’s caption.

Users usually encourage re-posting since their content reaches a wider audience, but re-using other people’s photos without credit is creepy. You’ll be exposed as an image thief, and you’ll suffer mass unfollows.

7. Buying followers

You can buy new followers pretty cheaply. Sometimes buying followers might make sense; for example, you launch an account that quickly needs to looks legitimate. The quality of bought followers will be terrible. They won’t care about your content or like or comment on your posts.

Buying followers doesn’t make sense long-term. The point of Instagram is to build rapport with a new audience. Buying followers only means a larger number on your profile page.

Drew Hubbard is a social media and content marketing strategist and owner of Foodie Content Studios. A version of this article originally appeared on iMedia Connection.
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The 5 Deadly Sins Of Ego Baiting For Link Building

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One of the most effective link building strategies is ego baiting or creating content to specifically appeal to someone’s ego in an attempt to get that person to link to your content, tweet about you or mention you on social media or in their own content. Ego baiting is an effective way to get the attention of bold-faced names in your industry and attract some of their audience while simultaneously gaining credibility, but it can also backfire if you do not do it correctly. At best, a poorly executed ego bait campaign earns you nothing more than silence or a bland “thanks” from your intended target. At worst, your efforts to gain links are obvious and earn you nothing but disdain and a bad reputation.

There are many ways to go about ego baiting for link building purposes, from curating lists and creating awards to simply mentioning your “targets” in everyday blog posts, but unless you follow through on your efforts and take the extra steps required to actually get the links, your efforts may be in vain. You need to avoid the most common “deadly sins” of ego baiting.

1. Not Telling The Person That You’ve Mentioned Them

The experts at Digital Current note in their guide to link building that as long as someone has a blog or website, there’s a good chance that they will share the news of your ego bait with their audience. However, they need to know that it’s out there. There’s a good chance that anyone that you’ve deemed worthy of ego baiting has a substantial online presence and has the Google Alert messages to prove it.

However, you cannot assume that the person you’re targeting will receive any sort of alert to your mention. That’s why it’s vital to reach out and let your target know that you’ve included them in your content. Send a quick email or reach out on social media to give him or her a heads up.

2. Not Asking For What You Want

It’s not enough just to inform the target that they have been included in your content. After all, ego baiting is part of your link building strategy, so the point is to get links. So you need to be clear what you’re looking for when you reach out, without just coming out and asking them to link to your site. When you ask for a link, your target will see right through you and probably not be as impressed or honored by your mention as you would expect.

Instead, include a link to the content, a prepopulated tweet that they can share, or a badge they can post on their site if that’s what you’re offering.

3. Appearing Disingenuous

Ego baiting is best for building relationships. The relationships you forge with other bloggers and experts can support your link building success well into the future. That’s why it’s important to make your ego bait informative, honest, and useful to your regular audience – not just to the person you’re trying to get a link from.

It’s fine to share your enthusiasm for someone’s product or ideas, but avoid coming across as a brownnoser or sycophant and appearing disingenuous.

4. Aiming Too High

We’d all love to get a retweet from a Kardashian or Lady Gaga, but unless you have an existing relationship with them (or any other celebrity), they probably aren’t going to respond. Similarly, if you reach out to the same thought leaders that everyone else is, your bait could be lost in the shuffle – especially if the others sites have more followers, look better or more closely align with the target’s own goals.

Therefore, to get the most bang for your link building buck, carefully choose your targets and focus on those that are most likely to respond favorably – not one of the minor Kardashians.

5. Not Seeking Additional Opportunities

The primary purpose of ego baiting might be link building, but it’s also relationship building. Once you’ve mentioned someone in your content and provided some positive exposure, you are in a better position to ask for something in the future, whether that is an interview, a guest post or even a link. When you let someone know that you’ve mentioned them, and they seem receptive to you and your site, follow up with additional ways you can work together. After all, while a single link is nice, an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship is even better.

Ego baiting for link building is a solid strategy, when executed properly. Don’t commit these deadly sins, and carefully consider who you approach and how. Who knows? Someday, you might be the target of ego bait yourself.

Link Building Is A Vital Part Of Online Success

Link Building Ego Baiting

Link Building Ego Baiting

Bit Rebels

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