Instagram is not a platform that businesses can afford to ignore—but it can be challenging for businesses that don't have "Instagrammable" products or services to share. Especially if yours is a B2B brand.

Yet, with more than 500 million active users and an engagement rate that is 10 times higher than that of other social sites, Instagram is worth the time investment.

However, if your brand isn't using Instagram effectively, you could be wasting time—and annoying your followers.

Here are five mistakes I see businesses make on Instagram every day—and what your business should be doing instead.

Mistake 1

Not Pushing Followers to Your Own Platforms

Instagram has always limited users from adding links in posts. For the longest time, you got only that one link in the Bio, which frustrated businesses that were used to being able to post their latest blog post, new products, or even their website URL several times a day on sites like Facebook.

Today, however, Instagram users that have more than 10,000 followers can post links in Stories; but that is about it, unless you are a product-based company that can use Instagram's Shoppable Posts.

This limitation has resulted in many companies' failing to push Instagram followers—who are often highly engaged—to their other, owned platforms, such as the company website or email list.

Because of the absence of links in Instagram posts, converting Instagram followers to website traffic or customers is complicated. But it can be done.

What to Do Instead

If you have more than 10,000 followers, use Instagram Stories to post links to your blog posts, whitepapers, and other content. You can even post links for opting in to your email list.

Or you can use your Instagram Bio link to send followers to a landing page (on your website) tailored to your followers.

Also consider using Instagram ads, which allow you to target specific users based on location, behavior, live events, and interests. Instagram ads have an average 1.08% conversion rate. That's lower than sister site Facebook's, but Instagram boasts a higher average order value.

Before you run your ad, be certain your site and Web host can support a spike in mobile traffic (depending on how large your Instagram follower base is). You don't want your site becoming sluggish—or shutting down—during your campaign.

Mistake 2

Using Instagram Follower Automation Tools

Automation and AI are taking over everything from social media posting to PPC bidding. But can automation help you grow your Instagram followers?

Sort of. Follower automation tools might help increase the number of followers, but those followers are often fake, and they are definitely not interested in engaging with your brand.

You don't want followers just to pump up your follower count. You want real people who want to engage with your content and your brand.

What to Do Instead

Work to build Instagram followers organically by using industry hashtags, posting regularly, and liking and commenting on other posts.

Companies on Instagram have a much higher engagement rate than they do on Facebook; don't throw away that opportunity by using a tool to increase (likely) fake followers.

Mistake 3

Posting Only About Your Company

If you are posting only about your products or services, you are doing Instagram wrong. Instagram is a casual, laid back social platform than LinkedIn. If all your posts are focused on pushing followers to convert, it's time to change up your strategy.

What to Do Instead

Post a variety of content, including posts about your employees, traveling, or even your office dog. For example, Ann Handley posts content about her company, MarketingProfs, and her book Everybody Writes—but also travel photos and candid shots from events she speaks at:

Instagram should be about building relationships—not just shoving your products at potential customers.

Mistake 4

Ignoring Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories started as Instagram's response to Snapchat. These time-limited posts expire, and so they're time-sensitive. They show up at the top of users' feeds and have a much higher reach rate than other Instagram posts. They are fun to create, and they allow you to share links if your account has more than 10,000 followers.

If your Instagram strategy includes only posts and not Stories, you are leaving a lot of reach and engagement on the table.

What to Do Instead

Start publishing Instagram Stories if you aren't already. Include videos when possible; those get fewer drop-offs than photos. Use features that can help increase engagement, such as polls or questions that encourage followers to respond.

You can also use Instagram Stories to share user-generated content, such as reviews or other Instagram posts about your brand; tag the original users and thank them for their comments.

Worried about losing all that great content when your Stories expire after 24 hours? You can save your favorite Stories in Highlights that show up on your Bio.

Mistake 5

Not Engaging With Your Instagram Followers

Here's the thing: Instagram's algorithm favors posts that get more engagement. That means when more people interact with a post or story, even more people will then be shown the post, in turn increasing the likelihood of even more engagement.

However, that algorithmic reality can be frustrating for brands that are getting only a few likes per posts, leading them to drop the ball on Instagram because they assume the platform just won't work for them. That's a mistake.

What to Do Instead

Set aside time every few days (or every day, if you can) to engage with followers. Respond to comments on your posts, and like and leave thoughtful comments on others' posts.

Authenticity is the key here. Don't just write "Great post!" and move on. Take the time to share what stood out to you, why you think it's important or relevant or enjoyable, or share a similar experience. Build a relationship with your followers.

Final Thoughts on Instagram for B2B

Instagram can be a powerful social media platform for B2B companies—when it is used correctly. If you want to succeed on Instagram, it's time to stop phoning in posts and take the time to build relationships with your audience through authentic engagement, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and engaging Instagram Stories.

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image of Danielle Antosz

Danielle Antosz is a Chicago-based digital marketing consultant and writer specializing in SaaS and tech. She has worked with sector-leading brands like SEMRush, Search Engine Journal, Hard Rock Cafe, and Marriott.

Twitter: @dantosz

LinkedIn: Danielle Antosz