Poor grammar, too many selfies, politics, lack of diversity and too much promotional content could be turning your audience off your Instagram feed.
On Thursday 2nd July 2020, Lily Goleby asked the Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine Facebook Group community this question: “What turns you OFF on a business’ Instagram feed?’
Within 24 hours the post had over 700 comments and because we loooooove spillin’ the tea at BeKonstructive, we’ve curated the responses and made a list of the top things you should avoid on your Instagram feed if you don’t want to turn people ‘off’. It’s fair to say that we’re all guilty of some of these from time to time (posting too many pictures of coffee? ???? using slang and buzz phrases in the copy? ???????? patterned Insta feeds? ????????????). But if you’re reading this list and it’s all hitting a little too close to home, it might be time to rethink how you do things. It could be the reason your posts aren’t hitting with your target audience or you’re not seeing great engagement levels on your content.
Before we get started dishing out everyone’s instant Insta hates, just want to give a huge shout out to all the people who participated in the conversation and gave their feedback on the group thread – lurkin’ in Facebook groups is one of the number one ways we generate ideas for content at BeKonstructive and without ya’ll this post would not have been possible.
Alrighty, now onto the dirt you’ve been waiting for.
What is the number one thing that turns people off a business’s Instagram feed?
There were three top contenders for the number one spot – bad spelling and grammar, too much selling / promotional content and a lack of diversity in models. But the number one spot ultimately went to too much promotional content.
What does this mean for you? Well if your Instagram feed is allllll about makin’ a sale and you’re not sharing much insight into the way your products are made / sourced, or the people behind the brand, or your brand values – it might be time to shake things up a bit. Start sharing a bit more ‘behind the scenes’ content, or the process of how your products are made or your service is delivered.
What other things do people hate seeing on a business Instagram feed?
So while too much sales and promotional dribble was what turned people off the most, there are a handful of other things that were mentioned too frequently not to take notice. Second spot goes to poor spelling and grammar. This one is pretty simple – spell check, get a second pair of eyes on the post captions before they go live and double check your autocorrect hasn’t subbed in some weird words.
Next up we have a lack of diversity in models – this spanned body shape and size, race, gender and sexual orientation. People are also not here for any type of body shaming and many people called out poor-taste memes around Covid-related weight gain, or any content that was meant to be a ‘joke’ but that ultimately puts a negative spin on different body shapes or sizes.
Flowing on from this, we saw multiple people state that if they saw any trace of sexism, fat phobia, homophobia, racism, transphobia or basically any hint of being a shitty human, they’d bail on that Instagram account (and take as many of their friends with them as they could in the process).
What kind of content turns people off a business’s Instagram the most?
From a content point of view, there were a few themes that we saw pop-up throughout the comments again and again and again and again.
Selfies. The general consensus was that people dislike too many selfies – especially for Influencer accounts, and especially when the selfie is accompanied by a completely unrelated caption. And especially especially if the selfie has been over-edited, features unnecessary sexualisation (butts were thrown under the bus on more than one occasion) or unnatural / overdone makeup.
Filler content. There were a lot of comments about filler content, especially filler content that uses unoriginal stock imagery or that has no relation to the brand or product the account is about. Filler content that has been chosen specifically for the colour (to suit the grid design/pattern) and has a basic caption like “it’s Monday babe” or “dreaming” or “hump day”. The phrase ‘quality over quantity’ was used many times, with people saying that if you’re clogging up their feed with too many of these useless filler posts, they’ll likely unfollow you.
Hint: If you need to post filler content so that it keeps your grid pattern maintained – don’t add hashtags to them. Less hashtags, means less engagement, means less people will see the post in their feed. You get to keep your grid neat and tidy without annoying your followers by spamming them with your filler content.
Also, people really hate those over-done and meaningless “inspirational” quotes.
What do people really really hate to see on a business’s Instagram feed?
One of the topics or themes that had the most passionate comments relates business pages ignoring copyright laws. This means stealing or plagiarising content, not crediting the original author (or crediting the re-post account instead of the original), rebranding someone else’s content with your own brand and basically being unoriginal.
There were a couple of industries that were earmarked as being particular prone to this include health and wellness, fashion and beauty. People commented that they hate seeing the same quote or meme rebranded ten times with no attribution to the original creator of the quote.
Either create your own content, or credit the original source. Don’t know who the original source is? Then the consensus is that you shouldn’t use the content if you aren’t able to correctly credit the author.
What is the most controversial topic that people hate on business’s Instagram feed?
Politics, social issues, religion and related themes were mentioned in the Facebook Group thread more than anything else. Even more than selling, spelling and selfies!
The people were NOT united.
About half the people who mentioned politics and social issues were against businesses posting. They want you to stay in your lane and not get involved in political and social matters. They are not following you to know where you land on matters, they just want to see your business content.
But the other half of people? They want to know where you land on social issues. They want to know that your values as a brand align with their own brand values. Many people said they unfollow business accounts who don’t weigh in on social issues, many stating that issues like Black Lives Matters are a human rights issue, not a political issue. If you don’t show your support for these important matters then they won’t show their support for you.
There were also a lot of comments about business accounts that post about social and political issues just to get on the trending hashtag bandwagons. This was universally disliked. The consensus is that if you’re going to post, you need to post in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Research the issue first, make sure that it aligns with your brand values and the values of your audience, and then post something that shows support while not taking away spotlight from the issue or the victims (many of these posts directly referred to the Black Lives Matter movement).
Also, people want to see you take action, not just add to the noise. Whether this means enacting new policy within your company, or making a donation, or participating in an event – they want to see you contribute.
What does BeKonstructive think about this? The team at BeKonstructive are definitely FOR posting support for political and social issues that align with your brand values. We also believe that it needs to be done in a very thoughtful manner; you need to be contributing in a meaningful way that doesn’t distract from the voices of the people who are affected by the issue.
Consumer behaviour has changed a lot over the last decade – and we see a more and more consumers making purchasing decisions based on a brand’s values. This extend beyond just political issues and covers things like only purchasing from businesses who are doing their part for the environment, or who have strong diversity policies in place, or who are actively trying to do good and be better. These values are often worth more to the consumer than a price difference – they will choose to purchase from the more expensive option because they know that extra $10 is going to a good cause, or means that the packaging will be recyclable, or that the product is being manufactured in a factory that treats its workers fairly.
So yeah, we support the idea that businesses should use their voice and their platform to make a difference.
What about the captions and tone, what turns people off Instagram accounts there?
From a captions point of view people really dislike waffling long-winded posts. This was mentioned for both captions and stories / video content – people hate those 10 minute long videos cut up into 15 second increments where it is just someone talking at them, and they take 8 minutes to get to the point.
They also don’t like seeing overly personal content – it is ok to bring in your personal story if it relates to the business and how/why you got started or do something a certain way. But they don’t like seeing constant updates about your personal life when it doesn’t relate to the business.
Another contentious issue related to family content – some want to see the personal life behind the hustle, while others don’t think it is appropriate to post pictures of your children and family, especially when your product has nothing to do with children or family.
From a language point of view, people hate swearing. They also hate being referred to as ‘Lovely’, ‘Hun’, ‘Babe’ etc. Oh and there were several mentions of disliking over-used buzz and slang phrases like “slay girl”, “you do you”, “be the queen that you are”.
Drama and rants should also always be avoided – passive aggressive posts about competitors, customers or anyone else in general should not be making it onto your feed. It looks unprofessional and it pretty much always works the opposite way to what you hoped it would – people walk away with negative feels towards your brand and business, not the one you were ranting about.
What do people hate to see in the Instagram bio?
The biggest gripe people have with Inta bios is a lack of useful information, specifically location or service area. Restaurants were singled out specifically here – if you are a restaurant and you don’t state where you are based in the bio, people take one look at your profile and leave. People do not want to follow your account if they can’t actually shop or buy from you, so unless you are an international service with international shipping – you should have some detail about the locations that you service in your bio.
The other thing mentioned was irrelevant information in the bio – having a bio that says something airy like “Good vibes only”, and it is not immediately obvious what you do or what your account is about. Several comments stated that if they can’t figure out who you are and what you do straight away, they will not follow your account.
In a similar vein people really dislike the opposite – a few people mentioned that they hate it when you use your Instagram account to communicate key information about your business that isn’t mentioned on your website or any other marketing channels. This specifically related to businesses changing their opening hours or availability during Covid lockdowns, and putting up one single post on Instagram about the change. Your audience doesn’t want to have to scroll down through 3 weeks of content to find this information – it should be the first thing they see when they click through to your website.
Oh, and speaking of clicking through to your website? Many people really hate your LinkTree page. The link in your bio should go to your homepage where they can access all of your content easily, or it should go directly to the page that your most recent post refers to. If you do need to have a link tree, it should really only have 2-4 options on it – Home, Blog / News, Shop, Contact. Don’t keep adding a new link to it every time you make a new post.
The Honour Roll:
We’re getting towards the end of the list here! These are the items that maybe weren’t mentioned as frequently in the thread but that gained a lot of agreement, or sparked a large sub-thread conversation.
About Image Quality: Don’t use blurry images. Don’t use over-used stock imagery. Take quality photos – invest in good photography if this is not a skillset you have. Basically, if your content is bad quality, don’t post it.
Posting Frequency: If you’re taking up too much space in someone’s feed, they will unfollow you (even if they generally like a lot of your content). Different frequencies were mentioned but the ideal seems to be 3 times per week up to once a day. Any more than once a day (with some exceptions like news accounts, or when there is a special event to post about) is overkill.
Over editing & filters: A lot of these comments seemed to be directed at the influencers. But use of editing to make yourself slimmer, prettier or more attractive is seen as a negative. Using filters on every single image of yourself turns people off your Instagram feed – they want to see the real authentic you. This was especially relevant for anyone posting about beauty, wellness and makeup – don’t put a filter on a post where you’re trying to sell a beauty product as people will question the actual effectiveness of the product.
Posting a story saying ‘new post’: Or sharing your latest post to your story with no additional comments or content.
Trying to game the algorithm: Ending every post with a question like ‘how about you’ or ‘what do you think?’ to try and get more engagement. Yes you should be encouraging conversations with your audience, but using the same lines over and over again feels inauthentic. Try and be a bit more creative with your questions.
Lack of engagement: Following on from that last point, people hate it when you ask your audience a question and then don’t stick around to reply to their answers. They hate seeing questions go unanswered on your posts, or feeling like the page is talking at them, not with them. This comment was often made in relation to the sales / promotional content comment – if people think you are using Instagram as an advertising channel, and not a social channel to engage and communicate with your audience, then they will not follow you.
Hashtags: Avoid using hashtags in the body of your caption. Ideally, most people prefer to see the hashtags as a separate comment and not part of the post. They don’t like clicking on the ‘more’ just to find out that the only thing they were missing out on was a paragraph of hashtags.
Text on Images: This one was mentioned a few times. Text slapped onto images turns people off – you can’t see the image, and the text is difficult to read, making for a bad user experience. If you want to add a text post, turn it into a branded graphic.
Lack of Authenticity / Fakeness: This has already come up a lot under other points, but there were a lot of comments about accounts not feeling authentic. The factors that seem to contribute to this included: Using “sob stories” or guilt too frequently to try and sell your products / services; using too many filters and editing apps; sharing personal stories that seem fake – MLMs were called out a few times here for bragging about their six figure incomes; influencers wearing too much makeup and never showing fresh faced images; influencers and celebrities spruiking products you know they probably never use, or referring to every product that they promote as being their ‘go to’ or a ‘lifesaver’ that they ‘can’t live without’; using too many buzz words and meaningless phrases like ‘good vibes only’.
Using your kids: People DO NOT like to feel like your using your kids to make money. It is one thing to feature them in your content from time to time, but if you’re sharing embarrassing videos of them or forcing them to create ‘scripted’ content then stop.
Overly sexualised content: Using bikini shots, or photos that feature butts and boobs to sell your products, when you don’t specifically need to be wearing a bikini to use the product.
Bots and the Follow-Unfollow: If you go around following heaps of accounts and then unfollowing them, or liking 10 pics in a row but leaving no comments – stop. The People are onto you, and they are not happy. Also DM’ing saying how much of a fan you are of their page, but have never actually engaged with a single piece of their content. It doesn’t go down well.
Boasting and Bragging: Accounts that boast (or “celebrate”) how many followers or likes they have. Accounts that brag how many sales they’ve gotten or how much money they make. If you’ve ever made a post referring to your ‘six figure income’, we’re looking at you.
A few of the random ones:
Look there were a few random comments that made us giggle a little so here they are:
So there you have it – the top things that Instagram users hate to see in their Instagram feed. Obviously everyone is different and have different preferences – some of the things on this list might fall under ‘loath and unfollow if they do it’, while others might be a mere pet dislike. Your target audience might actually love some of these things!
But for BeKonstructive? Our target marketing is literally the women in Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine. So know we’ll be taking this feedback on board and looking at what we can do differently!