June 1, 2016

As more and more people flock to Instagram, it's inevitable that many of them jump on the bandwagon without taking the time to figure out what makes Instagram unique. These people almost always make the same mistakes. And, unfortunately, even well-intended people end up making the same Instagram mistakes.

They may just not know better. Or they may see others making these mistakes and think it's ok. Either way, when people make these mistakes, it makes them look like amateurs on Instagram.

And, if you're using Instagram for business, you do NOT want to be making these mistakes! You want to come across professional and familiar with Instagram. To do this, you want to avoid these 8 Instagram mistakes.

The Same Name and Username

The name and username are two separate fields. The username is the @name you use and how you will be recognized on Instagram. When you comment, like, or post, it's your username that will appear. This is all lowercase and one word (unless you use a dot or underscore to separate names/words). For example, my Instagram username is: jenns_trends

The name is the name in bold in your bio. This can have capital letters, symbols, spaces, and other simple formatting. For example, my name on Instagram is: Jenn Herman | Instagram Expert

See how they're different? They should be! They should NOT be the same thing. Even if your business name is one word/name, use the single word/name for your username but add another differentiator or descriptor to your name.

An Irrelevant Username

Worse than using the same name and username is having a username that is completely irrelevant to your audience.

If you are using Instagram to promote your business but your Instagram username is some goofy name or variation of your own name, you look like an amateur. For example, if your username is "partygurl21" or "asmith92" or something like this, you look completely unprofessional.

Hashtags in the Bio

Oh, gawd, I hate this one. Yes, that's a strong word, and yes, that's really how I feel. Nothing screams beginner more than a bio with hashtag stuffing. It's not Twitter people, so don't copy your Twitter bio and paste it into Instagram.

First of all, you shouldn't do this on any platform as it completely lacks creativity, professionalism, and humanity.

But, secondly, hashtags in the bio on Instagram do nothing. On mobile, they aren't clickable. And Instagram only searches names and usernames for keywords, not the bio. So dumping a bunch of clickable keywords... it. doesn't. work. STOP doing it! Now!

The ONLY exception to this rule is if you have a hashtag for branding purposes and you want to include it in your bio to let people know about it or encourage them to use it. But that's one hashtag. And it's for an actual purpose.

No Bio Description

As much as I hate a bunch of hashtags dumped into the bio, at least it's something. Leaving your bio empty is arguably worse. This means people have absolutely no idea what you do.

And in business, that's horrible!

Include a well-crafted bio that describes your business and what you have to offer. Make it attractive, entertaining, and descriptive. You can read this post for more info on writing good Instagram bios.

Private Account

If you're using Instagram for business, there are very few reasons why your account should be private.

Private accounts are typically reserved for personal use so if your business is set to private, you look very unprofessional. Make your account public so that people can see what you post and determine if there is value in following you.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. If you offer an exclusive Instagram community or private VIP access, then you want a private account. But you should still have a public account for general use.

Bad Profile Photo

Poorly cropped photos, grainy photos, images where you are small or distant in the frame, or worse, no photo at all - are all bad options for your Instagram profile.

If you're using Instagram for business, your profile photo here should match or be similar to the profile photos you use on your other platforms. It should be clear, professional, and well-cropped.

No or Short Captions

Yes, Instagram is about sharing photos, but if you leave out a caption, you are neglecting a huge portion of an effective Instagram strategy.

Anyone who uses Instagram regularly knows the value of a good caption, a call-to-action, and hashtags. So, if you're not writing effective captions and using this real estate to build your brand and audience, you look like a rookie who just doesn't get it.

Every caption should be at least a couple sentences, if not a couple short paragraphs. When appropriate, you should have a call-to-action. And you should always include at least 10-15 relevant hashtags per post.


Those are the 8 most common mistakes (inadvertent or not) that most people make on Instagram. And it's those mistakes that make you look like an amateur and which will prevent you from seeing real success on Instagram.

If you're worried you fall into any of these areas, go over and check out your Instagram account now. Immediately fix whatever you can! Work on fixing the rest.

And if you need help improving your Instagram profile or strategy, take a look at the services I offer. I would be happy to help you set your account up for success!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Great post as usual although I am not sure I agree on the hashtags in the bio… I don’t think it is a must but I don’t find they bother me either… They are not clickable on a handheld device but they are on a regular computer so not sure I share the strong dislike 🙂

    1. Hi Maria! You’re right, on the desktop, they are clickable but they still serve no purpose in that sense. Unless it’s your own personal branded hashtag (which I said is ok to do), you’re not sending people to anything of your content. They would be clicking on generic hashtags in which case you’re voluntarily sending them away from your content, which does not benefit you. And, since they’re not searchable there’s no value in having them there.

  2. Thanks. I went right to my instagram account and fixed my bio. I will write longer captions now and use more hashtags. Thanks again.

    1. That’s great Amy! I hope these simple steps help you see better results 🙂

  3. Good tips. “10-15 relevant hashtags per post” seems excessive. Others say 3-5. Can you expand your comment on this.

  4. I am MOST DEFINITELY an Instagram rookie (and have just barely scratched the surface in using in for my biz), but I love your tips Jenn! In fact, I went right to my profile and cleaned up a few things! Will have to work on the better photo captions, but for me, it is baby steps! haha

  5. This was a great post, Jenn! The list is very informative! Even thought I am not an IG newbie it is still great to refresh myself should I find myself reverting to old habits or if I have a client who is making these mistakes.

  6. Hi Jenn,

    Thanks for sharing great content. It is always good to get some solid tips when it comes to Instagram training. I liked it so much I have actually linked to your post and your blog in my latest post which should be out shortly.

    Thanks again

    The Naked Internet Marketer

    1. Thank you so much Rowan! I’m glad you felt this was worth sharing with your audience 🙂

  7. Thank you for these tips. Especially your responses to the comments above. It is interesting to have other perspectives on a topic and then to understand your rationale. I am enjoying and learning a lot from your blog.

    1. Hi Tasha! I’m so glad you found this post and the comments to be helpful. We’re here to share and learn 🙂

Comments are closed.

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