Social Media

8 Things You Should NOT Be Doing on Instagram

Rob Nightingale 10-01-2018

With so many new and awesome features 10 New Instagram Features You Need to Know Instagram initially made a name for itself with its filters, but the social network keeps adding new features -- and some of the latest ones look awfully familiar. Read More , it’s no surprise that nearly one billion people now use Instagram to share their favorite photos and videos.


The app has become a firm favorite for photographers, artists, foodies, and travelers to share their best work. And it’s a place where millions go to find creative inspiration and behind-the-scenes glimpses that are unique to Instagram.

When done right, Instagram can provide you with a mass, captive audience who can’t wait to see your next post. “Doing it right” means knowing how to:

When it comes to figuring out how to have more than just your friends and family follow you on Instagram, however, knowing what you should be doing is only half the picture. You also need to know what not to do. Keep these Instagram rules in mind to see your profile become more popular.

1. Don’t Post Sub-Par Photos

This isn’t to say each of your photos needs to be worthy of a place in National Geographic. It’s more a matter of looking at your shots, critiquing your photos, and developing an eye for what’s actually Instagram-worthy.

A season of change. A full coat of winter armor on Goðafoss is impressive to witness.

A post shared by ChrisBurkard (@chrisburkard) on


Your shots should invoke emotions and show people something new: unlikely to be found elsewhere. Food photography should make people hungry. Travel photography might give people wonderlust. Behind-the-scenes photos should leave an impression. A feed full of these kind of photos is a feed worth following.

If you’re feed doesn’t look like this so far, don’t worry. Starting today, be more particular when picking photos. Alternatively, you can always archive photos that you don’t think are up to par.

2. Don’t Go Too Off-Brand

If you’re simply using Instagram to share photos with friends, post whatever you like. But for wider appeal, you’ll need an overarching theme or style so people know what to expect.

Roel van Wanrooy, for instance, exclusively posts stunning photos of abandoned buildings. Laura and Nora of FoodStories have their own, unique style of food photography (see below). Mark Brook usually posts images of his comic book art.


what you should avoid doing on instagram

Popular feeds like these have their very own aesthetic. If other users get that aesthetic, hitting follow suddenly becomes an easy decision.

3. Don’t Forget to Caption

It’s no secret that posts with captions attract more engagement than those without. Just adding a little context, like Peter McKinnon does, is all that’s needed. You could also ask a question, share a story, or include a call to action. But whatever you do, don’t leave the caption blank.

what you should avoid doing on instagram
Image Credit: @PeterMcKinnon


This is one of the most basic Instagram rules; blank caption gives no incentive for people to interact. Plus, it makes it less likely that people will just happen on your profile while browsing Instagram.

4. Don’t Ignore Hashtags

Always including a caption doesn’t mean just hammering out a ton of popular hashtags, hoping a few more people will see your shots. Going overboard on some of these non-specific hashtags (#love, #instagood, #like4like, etc.) will usually result in spam comments and followers.

Instead, only use hashtags that are relevant. By this, I mean those that you’re confident your ideal audience will be keeping an eye on. Don’t start turning #every #word #into #a #hashtag. And don’t start #inventingyourownhashtag.

There are no concrete Instagram rules about hashtags; around five relevant hashtags is the general rule of thumb. Some people say over 10 is overkill, but there is no conclusive evidence that you’ll see any downsides from including 20, as long as they’re relevant.


what you should avoid doing on instagram

Look up the most popular hashtags of the past month to see if any are closely relevant to your own style of photos (if they’re not, don’t use them). Otherwise, just try typing a range of hashtags within Instagram. You’ll then be given a selection of related hashtags to choose between, along with the number of posts that include that hashtag.

5. Don’t Ignore Your Followers

If you’re receiving genuine comments on your Instagram posts, don’t ignore them! Become comfortable with interacting with your followers, and they’ll soon become true fans, perhaps recommending their own network to follow you too.

As your profile becomes more popular, people may reach out with collaboration or interview requests, and their questions and insight could fuel your creativity How the Internet Can Make You More Creative than Ever Many say that the Internet is killing our creativity. But isn't creativity a choice. Thanks to the array of tools available to us, the choices are unlimited. Motivate yourself to creativity with these ideas. Read More .

6. Don’t Be Inconsistent

Too many Instagram users pepper-spray their followers with a ton of posts all at once, then fail to show up for a week or two.

This might be more convenient for you, but it infuriates the hell out of your followers. One day, a ton of your photos are clogging up their feed. Next day, you’re gone. When you finally reappear, they’ve forgotten who you are, and decide to unfollow you. Not cool. (See who unfollowed you on Instagram! Who Unfollowed Me on Instagram? Here's How to Find Out Can you really see who unfollowed you on Instagram? It's not easy, but there is a way. Read More )

Instead, be consistent with your posts. Upload one or two posts per day (anything over three tends to be too much), so your followers have a chance to get to know you and your style of posts. The most convenient way to do this is to schedule your Instagram posts in advance 4 Easy (and Legit) Ways to Schedule Your Instagram Posts When you hear the term "Instagram Scheduling" it means sending you a reminder to post the image. There are a number of reputable apps that offer this function. The top four are detailed below. Read More .

7. Don’t Follow People You’re Not Interested In

An overused way to grow an Instagram following is to follow a ton of people, hope they follow you back, then unfollow them. It may work to an extent, but it’s hella time-consuming, and completely disingenuous.

Use Instagram how it was meant to be used. Search for creative, fantastic profiles. Follow the ones you love. Ignore those you don’t. Curate a feed you can’t help but browse.

what you should avoid doing on instagram

This is thankfully how most people use the platform. They use Instagram’s discoverability features to hunt out new profiles to follow. So don’t try to game the system. Just create a feed worth following, and give it a helping hand by linking to it on your other social profiles or website.

8. Don’t Ignore Analytics

If your Instagram account is a business account (you’ll need to link your account to a Facebook Page for this), you have access to some basic, but useful analytics.

You’ll be shown a breakdown of your follower demographics (sex, age, and location), including when they are most active. You can also see the impressions and reach of each of your posts, to see which ones really resonated. Keeping an eye on all of this will help you to more consistently choose the right kind of posts for your followers.

Follow the Instagram Rules to Become a Pro

Unless you’re a popular Instagram celebrity The 10 Most Followed People on Instagram: Should You Follow Them Too? This is not our top 10 of Instagram. It's actually the top 10 accounts based entirely on the number of followers each one of them has. Do they merit the hype? Should you follow them... Read More who attracts fans wherever they set up a social media profile, you’ll need to stick to a few basic rules, and avoid some gaping mistakes like these, to really succeed at Instagram.

Fail to do this, and you’ll only ever have your mates and siblings liking your photos. If you’re happy with that, that’s fine. But if you’ve read this far, I’ll assume you want to take your Instagram profile to the next level. I which case, heed this advice, be patient, be persistent, and always try to improve on what you’re publishing. You can’t go far wrong.

What mistakes have you made on Instagram that other people should avoid? And what have you done that’s helped you to take better photos or to grow your following?

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  1. Dean
    April 30, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks. I'll keep all of these in mind as I try to increase my following.