Instagram for business owners

Avoid these 7 Instagram pitfalls if you want to get customers consistently and grow your business

by Michaela fong

Instagram for business owners

Avoid these 7 Instagram pitfalls if you want to get customers consistently and grow your business

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Avoid these 7 Instagram pitfalls if you want to get customers consistently and grow your business -  Small Biz Babes Community Podcast


Are you a small business owner learning to use Instagram to get customers or clients?

Well, hold onto your smartphone, because today, I’m putting a spotlight on the time-wasting pitfalls that many entrepreneurs stumble into on Instagram. Specifically, I want to share with you 7 mistakes that could be hindering your growth, and even worse, your ability to attract customers

As a business mentor, I see these mistakes A LOT. The worst part is, many business owners don’t realize they’re making these mistakes, which are directly hurting their reach, engagement, their business’ trustworthiness, and ultimately, their sales.

But don’t worry, I’m not here to point fingers and leave you hanging. I’ve got some actionable tips up my sleeve to help you learn, improve, and watch your Instagram efforts pay off! 

Now, let’s get into those pesky pitfalls…

01: Creating content for your competitors instead of your target follower

This often happens unknowingly, and it usually happens from wanting to create valuable content with the best of intentions.

You probably already know that to market your business on Instagram, the first thing you need to do is grab attention on the platform. And to do that, you’ve got to create the content your ideal customer or clients is actually looking for. This means your content needs to lead with value around what you sell, whether it’s educational, entertaining, or inspiring.

But here’s what I’ve noticed happening with many new business owners on Instagram. When they try to create content, they might unintentionally create content geared more toward their competitors than their target followers. That can lead to attracting the wrong audience and struggling to convert them into actual customers.

Let me give you some examples: 

  • Let’s say you’re a candle maker and you create a post talking about the mistakes you made when you began your candle-making business.  
  • Or maybe you have a home-cleaning service and you create a post about how you started your business. But instead of sharing parts of your story your ideal client can relate to, you end up getting into your personal situation, like how you needed extra income, felt depressed, craved more freedom, and so on…

Yes, the information shared in both of these posts are educational and valuable. But it’s only educational and valuable to other business owners who want to grow a business like yours, not to your target customer. 

Candle customers don’t care about the mistakes you made when you started your candle-making business. They care about how your candles evolved over time, and that they’re now crafted from the highest quality materials for a clean burn because that directly impacts them.

The same goes for the cleaning service example. If you’re looking to attract potential clients, they want to know how you’ve always had a knack for cleaning, how you’re passionate about cleaning homes because you know many busy moms don’t have time for it, and how you’re their go-to person for making their lives easier. That’s the part of your story that’s relevant to them, not the part that’s relatable to someone who’s thinking about starting their own cleaning business.

It all boils down to your messaging and the information you share within each post. A straightforward way to make sure your posts don’t attract competitors is by asking yourself: “What is the main message I want my ideal customer to take away from this post?”

In the candle business post — the main message should be about letting your customer know that your candles are high-quality, toxic-free, and that you’ve evolved them over time for their benefit.

In the cleaning service post — the main message should be about communicating how much you LOVE cleaning, how great you are at it, how passionate you are about making their lives easier, and that you’re the solution they’ve been looking for.

Okay, moving on to pitfall #2. 

02: Posting and ghosting = ignoring your audience

I totally get it! 

We’re all busy and it’s so tempting to hit that post button and disappear. But it’s absolutely crucial to stick around and invest a few extra minutes engaging on Instagram, both before and after you hit that publish button. Not only can it help you  increase your post’s visibility, but it also helps you build a sense of community on your account.

Getting sales on Instagram doesn’t come just from posting, especially when you’re just starting out and your audience isn’t fully interested in your business yet. It’s about connecting and building relationships on the platform.

Here’s a simple way to do that:

  • Before you post, take a quick moment to respond to the comments on your previous post. It’s a way to keep the conversation going and to let your audience know that you’re there, you’re listening, and you truly appreciate their input. If you don’t engage with their comments, chances are, they might not bother commenting in the future.

  • Or you can post a story and use interactive stickers to ask questions and start conversations with your followers.

Now, if you have a brand new account and don’t have any comments, no problem! Search for the hashtags your ideal customers might be following and leave thoughtful comments on the posts that catch your eye. You can also find accounts related to your niche — not necessarily direct competitors, but accounts who sell products and services complementary to yours — and drop meaningful comments on their posts too. 

Engagement is all about building bridges and forging connections, one interaction at a time. So let those conversations flow! Next up is pitfall #3…

03: Inconsistent posting

Inconsistent posting will hinder your engagement, follower growth, aaaand your potential sales on Instagram. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but the mantra is true: consistency is key.

Now, let me make this clear: being consistent doesn’t necessarily mean you have to post every day. Consistency is about choosing a posting schedule that aligns with your personal schedule and sticking to it. Same time, same place, every week.

So, if right now, you can only commit to posting and engaging on Instagram, let’s say, on Tuesdays and Thursdays during your lunch break, well, that might be the best consistent posting schedule for you!

Posting consistently for a few weeks, and all of a sudden disappearing for a month, only to repeat the cycle, will hurt your account and alienate your audience in the long run. When you go MIA for extended periods of time or post inconsistently, your audience naturally won’t see your posts because, well, you aren’t posting. They might start to forget about your content, or worse, find other accounts that offer more reliable and consistent value.

Instagram’s algorithm will always give preference to recent posts. That means inconsistent posting can lead to reduced visibility on your content, meaning your posts are less likely to appear in your follower’s feeds, even when you get back to posting regularly. Inconsistency directly affects your engagement, making it tough to maintain an engaged community. And from a business perspective, inconsistency may be perceived as a lack of commitment or professionalism. 

Think about it — imagine you see a post from a business that you like. Let’s say it’s from a nutritionist, and you’re considering booking a consultation with her. But when you visit her profile, you see posts from last week, and then a random post from several months ago. You might start to wonder, “Is this nutritionist even active on Instagram? Will she show up for me as a client?”

It automatically hinders the trust you have in them as a service provider. Or if it’s a product-based business you want to buy from, you might question if they’ll actually ship out your order if their account looks kind of abandoned.

 If you struggle staying consistent you’re not alone! That’s why I wrote an entire blog post on how to stay consistent with social media for your small business. Alright, moving on to pitfall #4…

04: Sending your audience to the “link in bio”

While this strategy might have worked years ago, Instagram users have evolved. Our attention spans are shorter than ever. We’re easily distracted and we like easy.

If you post about your product or service and say “shop in link in bio” or “book your consultation in my link in bio”, sure, some people might follow through. But most people will get distracted on the way there or change their minds altogether. 

If you don’t make it super easy for them to find what they need, they’re likely to bounce before reaching your website. They’ll think, “Agh, this is too much work to find!” Remember, every extra click, scroll, or search in your bio or website is just an extra opportunity for them to click away.

So what should you do instead?

  • Make sure your link in bio is optimized for a user-friendly experience. It should be streamlined for visitors to find what they’re looking for with as few clicks and as little scrolling as possible.
  • In your posts, instead of telling people to go to your bio, tell them to comment with a specific word if they want more information or a link related to what you’re promoting. Then, use a DM automation to send them a personalized message with the link they’re looking for.

    This way, it’s delivered to them immediately when they’re most engaged and ready to make a purchase. You can include a link to that specific product or a freebie to join your newsletter for example, so they can take action right away after seeing your post. The tool I use for this is ManyChat! It’s super easy to set up and I’ll link it here if you’d like to give it a try.
  • Aaaand also, if you’re a product-based business, make it easier for your audience to shop with Instagram shopping. This feature lets you tag your products directly in your posts so customers can shop with just the tap of a button. 

When your followers see a product they like in your post, all they have to do is tap on the tagged item to get more details, see pricing, and make a purchase — all without leaving the platform! It’s awesome for those impulsive buyers and streamlines the entire shopping process.

We’re more than halfway there! The next pitfall you want to avoid is giving off…

05: Desperate energy

This is a pitfall I see many business owners fall into without even realizing it. But what exactly is desperate energy?

Well, desperate energy is exactly what it sounds like — appearing desperate.

Examples of that are:

  • Leaving comments like “support my business” on other people’s posts
  • Bombarding your audience with constant promotional posts without providing valuable content 
  • Cheapening the value of your product or service by offering sales and coupons on regular basis
  • Sending your reels to the DMs of larger accounts, hoping they’ll discover you and share your post to promote your business 

So, what’s the alternative? Well, remember, on Instagram, what you give is what you get. Start by being an active and genuine follower. Be that person who engages with other people’s content, leaves meaningful comments, and sends heartfelt messages explaining why you appreciate their account. This is how you build relationships.

I know this might be tough to hear, especially if you’ve made these mistakes in the past. But here’s the thing — if you’ve made these mistakes, you didn’t have bad intentions; you just didn’t know. That’s why you’re here to learn, right?

You’re not desperate. I know you’re ready to thrive! If you want to get noticed, believe in yourself and don’t sell yourself short. Let’s shift the focus from YOU to serving other creators and your audience. Engage in meaningful conversations on others’ posts and you’ll not only get noticed, but also build authentic relationships with potential customers. 

06: Ignoring your account insights

Instagram insights are literally a goldmine of information. They provide valuable data about your audience (things like their age, gender, location, and even when they’re most active) as well as feedback on how your content is performing.

If you are not analyzing this data, you might be creating allll this content, only to worry about short-term results like the number of likes or comments on your recent reel. You could be doing yourself a disservice, guessing what to post next, and making your work harder than it needs to be.

Instead, take a look at the numbers from the posts you’ve already shared. Overtime, you’ll start to see the bigger picture of what’s actually working and what needs improvement. This way, you can create more posts using strategies or editing styles that bring in the most new followers. Or you can create more content that gets your audience engaged and clicking on the links you share.

Alright, the final #7 pitfall to avoid making on Instagram is…

07: Buying followers

Even though this might seem obvious to many, I had to include it here because you wouldn’t believe how often I get business owners reaching out to me on Instagram, frustrated because they’re not making sales. But when I take a peek at their profile, they have 20K followers, only 8 posts, and an average 2 likes on each post.

It’s a dead giveaway that something’s not right. You don’t gain 20K followers if none of your posts get genuine interaction. Let me make this clear: fake followers are a dead end. They’ll never translate into real sales. They’re not real people.

So if you’ve ever thought about buying followers as a shortcut to Instagram success, I’ve got a bad news — that shortcut doesn’t exist. It will ruin your account and the trust people have in your business. 

The real path to success on Instagram involves building a real, engaged audience that’s likely to become customers one day. Will it take time, effort, and work to create better content and connect with your audience? Yes, it absolutely will. Especially if you’re just getting your Instagram off the ground. 

But that’s how every business owner who’s successfully monetized Instagram has done it. There are no shortcuts. Please, if you know any business owner thinking about buying followers, share this message with them — it’s a scam!

If you want to grow your business on Instagram, avoid these pitfalls

Let me summarize them for you so you know exactly what NOT to do to attract customers on Instagram:

  1. Creating content for your competition instead of your target follower — Before you create a post, always ask yourself: what is the main message behind this post for my target follower?
  2. Posting and ghosting — Rather than focusing on just publishing posts, focus on building relationships on the platform. Sales come from the connections you create. Spend a few minutes before and after posting to engage with your audience.
  3. Being inconsistent — Consistency is the key to account growth, engagement, and sales on Instagram. If you struggle with consistency on social media, check out this blog post for more tips and inspiration.  
  4. Sending your audience to your “link in bio” — Every click your followers need to make to find what they’re looking for is an opportunity for them to click away or get distracted. Instead of asking your audience to hunt for your link in bio, use a chat automation tool like ManyChat
  5. Desperate energy — Don’t make it obvious that you’re desperate for a sale. Focus on engaging in meaningful conversations on others’ posts and create valuable content. It’ll get you noticed and help you build authentic relationships with potential customers.
  6. Ignoring your insights — Instagram insights are a goldmine of information. Use them to understand which content and topics resonate with your audience so you can replicate them in the future.
  7. Buying fake followers — This isn’t a shortcut for growth on Instagram. It’s a scam and a one way ticket to Instagram’s cemetery! If you want to make more sales on Instagram, focus on building a genuine, engaged audience that’s likely to turn into customers some day.

If you’re curious about more pitfalls that might hinder you from gaining customers and growing your business on Instagram, tune in to today’s podcast episode here 🎧

Talk soon,


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