THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
I know y’all are spending a lot of time on social media, so you might as well be getting the most out of your time. That’s why I’m sharing with you five of the worst and most common Instagram mistakes that I’ve been seeing.
It’s The Inspiration Place Podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to The Inspiration Place Podcast, an art world insider podcast for artists by an artist, where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. Now, your host, Miriam Schulman.
Well, hello there, my passion-maker. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration, and you’re listening to episode number 183 of The Inspiration Place Podcast. Today, we’re talking all about what’s wrong with your Instagram. Now, this is part of my What’s Wrong With series. So far, I’ve published a What’s Wrong With Your Email List, What’s Wrong With Your Website, and now, I’m bringing you the What’s Wrong With Your Instagram. You’re going to want to make sure you catch those other two episodes, so we’ve linked both of those podcast episodes in the show notes so that you can go check them out.
Before I dive into today, I wanted to make sure you knew that even though email marketing is way more important than social media, I know y’all are spending a lot of time on social media, so you might as well be getting the most out of your time. That’s why I’m sharing with you five of the worst and most and Instagram mistakes that I’ve been seeing. But first, before we get into today’s episode, I wanted to make sure you knew I’ve curated a binge-worthy playlist of all my favorite episodes that focus on marketing. That way, you’ll be able to dive into why email marketing is better. You’ll also get to hear from some of our prior guests, like Italina Kirknis or Elise Darma and other Instagram experts, so you’re going to want to get your hands on that. Head on over to schulmanart.com/playlist. Let me just spell it for you. That’s S-C-H-U-L-M-A-N-A-R-T dot com forward slash playlist, and you’ll be able to binge listen to the best tips from me and all my guests. Now, on with the show.
Okay, with March here and spring just around the corner, you might be starting to think about spring cleaning, or nesting, or decorating. I know I always do. This year, it’s been intense. I’ve been doing a huge declutter of my home to get ready to move. If you’re new around here, I have a home in the suburbs. My husband and I bought a little farmhouse in the country, and now, we’re selling our home of 25 years and getting a two-bedroom apartment in New York City, so I do not have room to take everything. The farmhouse actually is literally a farmhouse. It’s a 1900 farmhouse, so there are no closets, none, not even one, not a coat closet, not a linen closet, not a clothes closet, nothing. Then my New York City apartment, I think there are four closets, and yeah, that’s for everything, so we’ve been getting rid of so much stuff.
In addition, I don’t have room for all our furniture. My daughter moved out, if you heard me talk about how she lives in our house, my 24-year-old finally moved out. I shouldn’t say “finally.” That sounds so mean. She moved out and we gave her a lot of furniture for her apartment and we know we can’t take it all with us. I’ve been looking at some of my furniture that I bought when I was 24-years-old when I first got married. A lot of it is really dated. It is like this dark brown, Ethan Allen stuff. If you follow me on Instagram, you will see, you can look and scroll through, you’ll see me painting a lot of that dark furniture white. In the farmhouse, I’m actually doing the opposite and painting a lot of the rustic furniture black because it’s kind of like that rustic farmhouse or luxury farmhouse look that’s really on trend now.
But here’s the thing, your Instagram account probably needs a makeover, too, and you might be following some outdated advice. Just like my furniture that I’ve been living with for 25 years, or 20 years, depending on when I bought it, a lot of it is outdated, some of the advice you might be following might also be outdated. That’s why, with spring in mind and decluttering in mind and remodeling and decorating mind, I wanted to pull together my top recommendations for you to make over your Instagram. This is based on some of the worst offenses I see.
If you’re making any of these mistakes, please don’t feel badly, I’m not trying to poke fun at any one particular person. All seven of them, you’re not alone. The reason I put them on this list is because I see it over and over again. It’s not your fault. You’re probably following, like I said, outdated advice that not on trend anymore and no one explained to you why you shouldn’t be doing it that way. It’s kind of like I didn’t realize my brown furniture had gone out of style years ago. I probably would’ve enjoyed it a lot more five years ago if I had painted it then, but I’m doing it now. Okay, so without further ado, here are five things that you’re probably doing wrong.
Thing number one: not including a link in your bio. This is the, meaning the bio is the most important piece of real estate on your entire account. It’s really the only place you can have a clickable link. At the very least, this should go to your website, but I would even urge you to take it a step further because if you take somebody to the homepage of your website, it’s kind of like taking somebody to the front door and not telling them where to go in your house. You want to invite them in and show them where to sit down, which is why using a link tree, which is a piece of software that you can get for free, or you can upgrade, or choose a very important link that takes them to exactly what it is that you’re promoting, or your email opt-in page, or something of that nature.
Now, on my Instagram account, if you go to my bio, again, that’s @schulmanart, S-C-H-U-L-M-A-N-A-R-T, I actually have a custom resource page. I do that instead of LinkedIn. That is just so we can have a little more control in tracking Google Analytics over there. Right now, I have two things, but by the time that this publishes, there may be three. If you are using something like a link tree or something like I’m using, where it’s a list of links, I recommend that you don’t have more than three on that list. If you give people a ton of things to do, they usually will get overwhelmed and shut down. For those of you who are a little ADD-ish, like I am, I have trouble in the grocery store, I have trouble making decisions, if you present to me a lot of choices, I will just turn around and walk out. Don’t do that with your Instagram links. Make sure that you have either one really key link in the bio, or if you’re using something like a link tree, that you have two or three things on that list at the very most. You’re going to want to curate that often.
Thing number two: your Instagram is private. Okay, I am not even sure why I have to say this, but I do. So many times, if you join my email list, I’ll invite you to tag me on Instagram, or to DM me on Instagram so I can check out your page, and there’s so many times where people do that, and it’s so disappointing because when I go to click on their handle to look at their page, I can’t see because it’s private. Listen, if you want to sell your art, you have to be more visible, which means people need to see it. If you make it private, they have to request access, you’re putting up an obstacle between them seeing your creations. Unless you’re using Instagram solely for personal reasons and you don’t want to network, do not set your account to private.
Instead, you want to set your account to public so that new followers can see what you post and what you’re all about. You will definitely gain followers much more quick if they can see your content and don’t have to wait for your approval. Now, if you want to post private things, then I urge you to get two accounts. Get an account just for your private stuff, that’s your family or your friends, or your love life, or whatever it is that you want to keep private, and one that is public.
Mistake number three: gaming the system. There’s a couple of things people do to try to game the system. What am I talking about? Number one thing people do is to follow and unfollow thing, or maybe leaving spam comments hoping people will follow them, or even worse, buying followers, or similar bad things. I’m sure you get lots of requests from people asking you to use their service to do this. I know I get those types of requests all the time and many years ago I did it myself and that may have actually been the reason my account got shut down. I reached 6,000 followers and it got shut down.
First of all, not only is this against Instagram’s term of service, but it’s also a waste of your time. When you follow just to get someone to follow you back and you’re going to unfollow them right away, people will see right through you. And they’re not going to engage with your content. They’re not going to engage with your account. Definitely, buying followers, I never bought followers, and I didn’t do the follow… Well, no, that’s not true. That’s a lie. When I first joined, I did do the follow/unfollow game. It’s definitely a waste of time.
One of the things that I did was I had a service that would like accounts on my behalf. Really, a bad idea because you don’t know if they’re going to like a picture of their kid and sometimes those types of things can be creepy and weird. You want any of your liking that you do to truly be you and be authentic and actually be what you like. When I’m checking out artist’s account, I will go through there, and sometimes people have a mixture of personal things and art things, and I don’t want to hit Like on something that might be a little bit too personal. It might send them the wrong message, so you don’t want any bots doing that for you automatically. Definitely. You want that to be authentic.
Now, I’ve never bought followers. I did use, like I said, the automatic liking for a time, got my account shut down. It may seem like a good idea or a quick way to grow, but these things are only going to hurt you in the long run. I heard of two people yesterday, two, who had their Instagram accounts shut down. Now, I don’t know if this was the reason, or if it was a different reason, but Instagram, it’s a very tricky place. The one person that I heard of that got his account shut down had hundreds of thousands of followers and he can’t get through to Facebook or Instagram. I know this dude, and it is a dude, spends lots of money on Facebook ads, and he still can’t get through. He is a somebody who’s like an influencer. Totally got his account shut down. I have another friend who is a business coach, not quite the huge platform this other dude did. He’s not quite sure why his account got shut down and he’s in the same boat, so you definitely don’t want to do anything that might be on the edge of getting your account shut down.
The other thing that I see people doing, and I put this in mistake number three, even though I could probably have made this a separate category, and I want you to pay attention because I know people do this to me, and that is tagging people who have nothing, nothing to do with your post. I know you’re an artist and you want to share your post, but if the post is not nothing to do with me, I don’t really appreciate being tagged in it, and neither do the other people that you’re tagging in that post.
It’s totally fine if you’re tagging me because you took a class with me or you’re thanking me for something, like information I shared, that stuff, that’s fine, but tagging just so that I see it in the hopes that I’ll share it, that is not a good strategy if you’re doing this because you heard some guru say it’s a good idea. I have heard guru explain to that you should be tagging people in posts. It’s an outdated strategy and you should not do it, okay? Just like my brown furniture, don’t tag people in your posts who have nothing to do with it.
All right, mistake number four: pods. This is something else I could have put into gaming the system, but it definitely deserved its own category. First of all, just for the people who don’t know what a pod is, I’m going to explain what a pod is, and then I’m going to explain why you shouldn’t do it. All right, and again, if you’re doing this, I know this is an outdated strategy, it’s kind of like my big brown Ethan Allen furniture, it’s no bueno. Okay, so an Instagram pod is a group of people that will join a group chat or a forum and the users will somehow indicate to the rest of the group that they have just posted a photo or video on Instagram. Once that user has made it known, the agreement, and this changes among the pods what the agreement is, that the other users in the group are supposed to go over and post and comment on it immediately.
Wait, so let tell you why people do this and why you should definitely not do this. The reason they’re doing it is because they’re hoping that by increasing the engagement of their post, by having extra likes and comments, that it will increase the chances of that post showing up in their ideal client’s feeds, in, let’s say if you’re an artist, in an art collector’s feed. Okay, but here’s the thing, here’s why you shouldn’t do it. First of all, evidence shows it doesn’t really help that much because you’re talking about five to 10 people maybe in your pod. It’s wasting your time.
But here’s where it’s hurting you, okay? Most of the time, people are going to join it with a group of people who are also in the same niche as they are, so maybe if you’re a photographer, you might join a pod of other photographers, or an artist, you might join a group of other painters. Now, the only good thing is, yeah, it’s great to network with other people and collaborate, but this is not the way you want to do it.
Let’s use the photographer example. Every time you like or comment on a post posted by the landscape photographer in your photography pod, you’re telling Instagram to show you more landscape photography in your feed. You’re also teaching the algorithm that the person who your comment on, their Instagram post, should be shown to other photographers. Do you see the problem here? The artificial intelligence is learning the wrong lessons. It’s going to show your post to more of your competitors, not more of your customers. That’s not what you want. If you’re in a pod, you can quit the pod. You can save a lot of time. Just explain to them about this episode, if you want. Send your friends this episode. This is episode number 183, schulmanart.com/183, or just tell them, “Go listen to The Inspiration Place. This is why I’m saying sayonara to the pod.”
All right, mistake number five: your avatar is not a picture of you. Hey, Instagram is a social media platform, which means that people want to engage with you, with a real person, not a brand, so show up on social media as a person, as a human being, not as a logo. Also, when you have that profile picture, that should be a picture of your face either looking directly at the camera or looking towards your feed, nice, big, friendly smile on your face and not pictures of you with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or kid, or dog, just a picture. Unless, of course you are a pet something-something, that’s your niche, then your pet with you could be appropriate, but certainly not your pet instead of you. Show a picture for your real face. It’s okay if you have wrinkles. It’s okay if you’re gray. It’s okay if you don’t have a perfect body. People want to engage with a real person who looks like a real person.
All right, so let’s do a rapid-fire wrap-up of all the things that you’re going to need to fix as soon as possible is you’re going to get rid of the brown furniture equivalent of things that are wrong with your Instagram. Number one: add a link to your Instagram bio. Number two: make sure your Instagram account is public, or create a brand new account so that you can separate what you want to make public and what you want to keep private. It’s okay to have two accounts. Number three: stop trying to in the system. Number four: quit that spammy time-consuming pod. Number five: change your profile pic to your face. All right, so there’s are the five most common mistakes you need to fix. I hope that helped you. I would love to know which you are making. If you want to confess it, head on over, send me a DM over on Instagram. I’m schulmanart, S-C-H-U-L-M-A-N-A-R-T, over there. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Next week, we’re talking to Alexia Vernon. She’s dropping her best tips on becoming a better public speaker. Now, even if you’re not planning to grace, the TEDx stage, at some point, you might be asked to speak about your art or your techniques, either as a teacher, or in a peer workshop, or at a gallery talk, and you don’t want your fear of visibility or public speaking to sabotage these sorts of opportunities. Trust me, you’re not going to want to miss this episode. I want to make sure that you hit the Subscribe or the Follow button and your podcast app and if you’re listening or over on iTunes, they’re a little sneaky over there. It used to be a Subscribe button. Now, it’s this teeny, tiny little plus sign in the top-right-hand corner, so make sure you hit that plus sign so that you’re subscribed to the podcast and you don’t miss a single at episode.
Don’t forget, if you like this episode, you’re absolutely going to love the must-listen round-up of all the episodes around marketing. Head on over to schulmanart.com/playlist and grab your completely free binge-worthy podcast playlist today. Again, that’s schulmanart.com/playlist. All righty, my friend, thanks so much for being with me here today. I enjoyed spending this time with you. I’ll see you at the same time, same place next week. Stay inspired.
Thank you for listening to The Inspiration Place Podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at facebook.com/schulmanart, on Instagram at @schulmanart, and of course, on schulmanart.com.
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