In our current age of digital communications, Instagram and other social platforms are some of the premiere and most talked-about modes of advertising. With such ease of spreading information, marketers, businesses, and individuals are more capable than ever of attracting followers and consumers to their personal brands.

However, simply having an online presence does not magically pull in curious eyes by the dozens; to be successful on Instagram, businesses must be purposeful in their content creation, while also being mindful of who their audience is at all times. In the interest of helping out struggling users on Instagram, here are the 8 biggest Instagram mistakes you can be making on the social platform right now.

  1. Failing to define your audience

As stated before, not understanding who your primary audience is almost guarantees marketing failure. Without knowing the interests and concerns of your target audience or even what characterizes the consumers most likely to buy your product, how can you possibly market to them effectively?

Before even taking to sites like Instagram, marketers should study their target consumers’ behaviors intimately and specifically tailor their advertising strategy to match those mannerisms. Without taking this crucial first step, businesses are at a serious disadvantage as an inherent disconnect will exist between them and their would-be consumers, making marketing all the more difficult.

  1. Not diversifying content

Once you’ve identified the proper marketing themes to attract your primary audience, the main issue then becomes crafting content around those ideas. Although creating a successful message or visual or any piece of advertising may not be that arduous, the real challenge stems from the ongoing need to repeat the process.

Creating unique advertising material is a continuous task that discourages reskinning similar content again and again. Although consumers are easily bored, several producers feel that releasing similar content is a clever loophole to increase advertising efficiency; in reality, it stunts potential growth and should be avoided.

  1. Misusing hashtags

On social media, the hashtag is a symbol of power. While it can be used to spark discussions and open channels to different communities, using it too liberally does exist. Some businesses may believe the mere presence of hashtags on their posts will boost their performance, but this practice can actually be detrimental.

Using irrelevant or even too many hashtags can overwhelm or annoy viewers and ultimately drive them away from your content-the exact opposite outcome that most would expect. However, despite this unfortunate circumstance, there is an appropriate way to incorporate hashtags into your content. Restricting their usage to a relevant few can actually boost marketing performance in a rather impactful way.

  1. Not utilizing filters and editing

Instagram content revolves around photo and video. Visual media is the undisputed focus of the platform, so marketers seeking success should be trying to optimize the appearance of their content at every opportunity.

To accomplish this, marketers should invest in photo editing services and use native Instagram filters when necessary. Failing to do so results in a lag between your own content and that of most other successful users, which only contributes to lower marketing performance in the long run.

  1. Being afraid of competition

As a marketing tool, Instagram is highly competitive. Businesses and brands are in a constant bout to one-up each other in the eyes of the massive Instagram audience before them. Despite the nature of this competition, successful marketers are those who embrace the challenge of curating better content and outdoing their closest competitors.

Running away from this challenge or ignoring the presence of your closest competitors eliminates any need for improvement and can lead to an unwanted deterioration of content over time. In order to keep up quality and continue attracting new followers, marketers should embrace their competition and focus their attention on being the victor.

  1. Failing to use Instagram analytics

Although likes and comments are helpful as a gauge for Instagram performance, they can be largely inaccurate and fail to identify the subtleties of a brand’s popularity over time. Fortunately for advertisers, there exist a number of third-party applications that can more precisely chart an accounts performance over time.

These Instagram analytics tools are capable of pinpointing more useful statistics like optimal posting time, the best topics to mention, and net follower gain or loss from post to post. By using these services, advertisers can dynamically change their marketing strategies to increase performance continuously.

  1. Poorly engaging followers

Just as likes are the currency of Instagram, followers are, in a sense, the lifeblood. It is entirely possible to curate content for followers without engaging them regularly, but such a practice is suboptimal for growth and sustained popularity.

Engaging followers is almost essential for ensuring advertising success; this task can be accomplished with giveaways, following sprees, and special Instagram contests. Doing so ensures an increased level of advertising success with followers and a better chance of retaining a lasting popularity.

  1. Missing the point of marketing

The final mistake that failing brands tend to make on Instagram is entirely missing the point of marketing in the first place.

According to Mike Clum, the founder of a Facebook advertising agency, the main objective of advertising is to attract consumers with appealing content and engaging interactions; the business model itself is deceptively simple.

In order to guarantee marketing success, businesses must not lose sight of the barebones structure of advertising. As long businesses are studying their audience, using outside tools, enhancing their content, and keeping things relatively simple, Instagram success is within their reach.