inMarketing & Promotion
With about 1 billion active users, Instagram is one of the most popular social media apps these days. It gives handmade businesses an opportunity to reach a large number of people to promote their crafts.
“But why is no one liking my posts?”, “The hashtags I use don’t seem to work!” If you are saying these things, you may be one of the Etsy sellers that struggle to get traction on Instagram.
In this guide, we will go through 13 of the most common mistakes Etsy sellers make on Instagram that hurt their reach and engagement.
On Instagram, 30 minutes to 1 hour after posting new content is crucial to your reach.
If in that period your post gets a good amount of engagement, Instagram will see it as a good quality post and push it out to even more people. However, if not a lot of people engage with your post during that time, Instagram may slow down or stop your reach.
It’s smart to post at a time when more of your followers are online. So that you are more likely to get more engagement.
There are two ways to find that out.
Go to your account and click “Insights”.
Click “Total Followers” and scroll to the bottom. There you should be able to see what time your followers are most active. If it’s around 6pm at night, post your content around that time.
Another way to know whether your followers are online is by using the “Live” function.
On your home feed, click the + button on the top and click “Live”. It will show you how many followers are online at the moment.
This is one of the quickest ways to kill the engagement of your content, and so many Etsy sellers fall into this trap.
As mentioned before, Instagram now only shows your new content to a small percentage of followers in the beginning. Whether your post will be pushed to more people depends on how much that initial group of followers engage with it.
If they don’t engage with your post (like, comment, share or save), then Instagram will think your post is not a high quality post and stop showing it to more people.
And if most of the followers are fake, they won’t engage with your content. Therefore, your content won’t get pushed out to more people, causing your account to suffer from low engagement.
Also, Instagram can see where your likes and followers are from, and when they happened. Fake engagement is easy to spot for Instagram as all the engagement happens at the same time. Other than that, buying fake followers also make your account look untrustworthy. ‘Why would an account with 10k followers only have 10 likes per photo?’
Every other Etsy seller is doing this exact same thing - Posting their own product photos, hoping that photo will get seen by hundreds and thousands of people.
Unfortunately, that won’t be the case.
A product photo, however beautiful it is, is not very engaging.
An average instagram user is unlikely to interact (like, comment, save, etc) with your product photo, let alone clicking into your profile to visit your Etsy shop.
Product photos can also feel like a 'hard sell', which can turn off your followers.
Instead, the majority of your posts should be useful to your followers. They can be informative, helpful or entertaining. Promoting your product should only be a small portion of your content.
This is one of the original hacks to increase your follower count on Instagram.
People do this by following a large number of accounts, hoping that they will follow back. After a few days, the process is reversed by unfollowing those accounts.
However, this spammy behaviour doesn’t work anymore as Instagram will decrease your content’s reach if you do that.
Another one of the early Instagram growth hacks is to participate in engagement groups/pods.
Once you joined an engagement group, you engage with the content that is shared by other members of the group. In turns, you can share yours and other members will engage with your content.
Instagram is now very good at deciding whether the engagement you get is organic and genuine. Engagement groups are against Instagram terms. Instagram is getting good at detecting whether you are in one of these groups and if you are caught, you can risk your account health or getting ‘shadow banned’.
Instead, developing genuine relationship with accounts in your niche is the best way forward. Like posts that are relevant to you and leave helpful and insightful comments.
It’s true that an aesthetically pleasing feed is a good thing to have. But it shouldn’t come at a cost of engaging content.
A perfect feed can take hours to plan and create, which takes your time away from making helpful content to your followers. An average-looking post that helps your follower is better than a beautiful post that doesn’t. Just take a look at these two examples:
Helpful posts like these get saved and shared by many Instagram users, which boost the reach of the post and account.
Limited to 150 characters, your Instagram bio is a place that you can use to convince people why they should follow you.
Instead of focusing on yourself, your bio should focus on one or more of these aspects:
Here are some examples of effective Instagram bios:
Engaging with popular accounts in your niche is one of the best ways to gain traction on Instagram. Other than liking and posting useful comments, you can also interact with other comment on their posts. This is especially useful when you have something constructive to add with your expertise.
This is similar to the $1.80 strategy coined by Gary Vaynerchuk
Instagram is a quick and visual platform. Although your content doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t hurt to have eye-catching photos and videos.
Pay special attention to lighting and composition. If you are taking photos of a product, consider shooting under indirect natural light, with little distractions. That goes the same for videos and reels as well.
Hashtag is an important way to increase your reach to more potential customers. It also tells Instagram what your content is about and helps Instagram show it to the right people.
You are missing out on reach and engagement if you only use generic hashtags like #handmade and #love.
Another thing to keep in mind is to use hashtag that describe what you are posting. This helps Instagram show your content to the right people who have a higher chance of engaging with it.
There is no right number of hashtags to use. Some Etsy shops find success with fewer hashtags, like 5-8, while others get more engagement with more hashtags, like 20+.
The best way forward is to test and see which number of hashtag is the best for your account.
You want to use a mix of different sized hashtags - Popular hashtags (50k+ posts), medium sized hashtags (10-50k posts) and some less competitive hashtags (>10k posts).
Even for popular hashtags, I would recommend avoiding generic hashtags like #handmade, #Etsy, #smallbusiness.
Having a mix of hashtag sizes give you a better chance of reaching more Instagram users.
Instagram pushes out new features all the time, like reels, collaborations, etc. And Instagram wants users to use the new features as much as possible.
Using new features like reels and carousel posts can improve your content’s engagement. Therefore it’s smart to find a way to incorporate your content in Instagram’s new format if they are suitable.
Consistent branding makes your content more recognisable. Whenever you post something new, you will get recognised more easily if you have a strong brand image.
You can achieve that with using your brand font, brand colour, brand voice, etc. Learn more in this Etsy branding guide.
Engagement is everything on Instagram. And one of the ways to get more engagement is to consistently interact with your followers.
You should reply to every comment that you get on your posts, even just saying ‘thank you’. This is especially true within the first hour after posting. Also, replying to any enquiries from your DM’s is a good way to build relationship with your followers.
When your customers post your product and tag you on Instagram, go to their post and thank them for taking the time to post about the product. Sharing the post to your story is also a great idea.