Instagram mistakes brands shouldn’t make (Part 1)

These mistakes are definitely not insta-worthy

Like fellow peers Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has emerged in recent years to become a social media staple. Successfully embedding itself into the cultural fabric of our society, the app is even responsible for altering our social interactions (such as that annoying habit of snapping #foodporn instead of eating), to the way we speak (‘selfies’ or ‘OOTDs’ anyone?). Clocking in 500 million active users, you would be hard pressed to find someone without an Instagram account today.

This statistic alone may just be reason enough for brands to join the community. Inspiring viewers with stunning visuals, Instagram has become a creative outlet for companies to shape their brand image and product offerings. In fact, many businesses have skyrocketed or been made due to their popularity on the social network. But if you think managing an account is as simple as posting photos, think again. Committing these mistakes will be a sure-fire way to not get insta-famous.

1. Badly taken images

Camera 360

A #nofilter look may seem appropriate for selfies, but spare the risk on your brand’s Instagram account, please. In a community that focuses on providing users a visual treat, a badly taken photo wouldn’t even garner a second look. Mistakes include:

  • Pixelated images

Having a stretched photo won’t go well with users and only implies a lack of professionalism in the brand. With mobile phones being able to shoot up to 12 megapixels, there really is no excuse for a pixelated shot. To ensure a clear, sharp image, a square picture should at least have a resolution of 1080 x 1080 px. 

  • Weird angles

Unless negative space is used smartly to offset any unconventional angles, images that do not have a focal point are also lost on viewers. Where or what should they be looking? If unsure of what works, make use of reliable photography guidelines such as the Golden Ratio, symmetry, or the Rule of Thirds. Also, remember to keep your images parallel to its borders; In built grid functions on cameras are there for a reason.

  • Bad lighting

Lighting can make or break an image. Too bright, and it feels like you might be looking into the sun; Too dark, and you end up squinting to discern the edges. Even worse, flash brings about a whole host of problems, from red-eyes to unflattering colours. Incorporate just enough balance to make subjects distinguishable – make use of natural daylight, adjust brightness and contrast through applications like Photoshop or Afterlight, or utilise lighting tools such as reflectors and spotlights.

2. Irrelevant Content

Note: Here’s a pretty picture of the aurora which has nothing related to the topic at hand.

As with all other social media marketing outlets, there has to be a strategy behind operating an account. The only difference is that unlike Twitter or Facebook, which are primarily text based, this intention is translated into images on Instagram. Thus, beyond being pretty or aesthetically pleasing, pictures need to add value and achieve goals for the brand.

Instagram is a wonderful platform for companies to engage audiences in a tangible manner, but not one suited for routine. Post only when you have something new or meaningful to share to your consumers, and not for the sake of staying active. Like writing an outline, marketers should carefully plan out their content and objectives before posting an image. What should the brand get out of making the effort to post?

Posting an image of your product or short video tutorials of how-tos are relevant ways to increase awareness and educate users about your brand. However, if you are in the business of selling fish but posting photos of cute puppies for no apparent reason, viewers are bound to be confused.

3.  Post without Tagging

Photo Credit: Sproutsocial 

Hashtags work the same way here as they do on Twitter; they help consolidate a particular subject for easy searching. And for the millions out there who are not following you, the hashtag function is the gateway for them to learn all about your brand and your account. Brands are able to gain exposure on untapped audiences by including popular tags, and research has shown a positive relation between hashtags and the number of user interactions (likes and comments).

So, when brands do not include any hashtags in their captions, they are effectively isolating themselves from potential followers; Users can’t find these posts on the ‘explore’ page. In fact, in order to optimise your Instagram efforts, there should be about 11 relevant hashtags in the captions for the highest amount of engagement (80%).


Another way to increase exposure to audiences is to include geolocation tags whenever possible. Similar to hashtags, users are able to see related posts tagged to a particular location, increasing a post’s reach and chances of interaction with the brand.

Instagram can be simple to use, yet deceptively complicated; Look out for more mistakes to avoid in our upcoming second installation!

Written by: ( 

Edited & Illustrated by: Script Consultants Pte Ltd





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