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Instagram Issue: Why You Feel Like You’re Only Attracting Competitors

Yes, a little competition can be healthy. But as business owners trying to leverage Instagram, nothing can seem more annoying than discovering the majority of your followers are actually your competitors! Instead of seeing positive feedback and loads of questions, your competitors might leave generic comments – “nice pic” or “great shot” – or just lurk and say nothing at all.

 Now is the time to turn your followers into people who will actually help you grow your business. Here are four easy ways to make sure your Instagram is attracting your ideal customers.

#1 Post images similar to what your customers post, not your competitors

“What do your customers actually want to see?” It seems like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many business owners don’t understand what type of content their ideal audience wants to see. Step back and ask yourself:

  • Who are my ideal customers?
  • What are the habits and interests that drive them?
  • What kinds of accounts are they actively engaging with?

With every post, I share I’m focused on attracting creative entrepreneurs who are ready to step up their Insta strategy. By keeping that key audience top-of-mind, I can be sure that I am posting with intentionality so I get true engagement from my real followers – not just my competitors. Looking at your customers Instagram accounts is a legit way to understand the content that will attract your target audience. My clients love their dogs… and you know how much I love Mr. Cody. You’d be shocked to hear about the amount of business that I get at a dog park!

Sue B Zimmerman stands over a blue rug with her dog, Mr. Cody, looking up at her and an Instagram pillow at her feet.

The Home and Vintage's Instagram post with a goldendoodle pup wearing a human shirt.

#2 Cut out industry jargon and stick to hashtags your customers use

Nobody wants to scroll through or engage with an Instagram feed that reads like a training manual. Put yourself in the mindset of your customers. If you were a wedding photographer, you wouldn’t use hashtags that reference your camera equipment if you are trying to attract clients for weddings. Instead, you need to think about the key hashtags that your potential clients are already searching for. More relevant hashtags like #destinationwedding or #bostonwedding, are much more likely to be seen by couples planning their wedding.

Every hashtag you use should be shared with the intention of driving more people to your business. If you’re still not sure how to cure your hashtag headache, be sure to download my Hashtag Handbook. It’s got a #ShitTon of industry-relevant hashtags to kick start your hashtag strategy.

#3 Focus on following and engaging with potential customers

If you really want to build relationships with potential customers, this is the golden rule to follow: Know who you’re actually engaging with. Only following your competitors or other industry-relevant businesses keeps you in a content bubble. It’s time to burst that bubble and take a deep dive into the content that is evoking a response from your customers. Take a look at your notifications updates, toggle over to “Following” to see how the people you follow are commenting and liking other content. Take note on what else your audience is into.

Is there a specific brand that is getting a lot of engagement? How are businesses using the carousel feature when launching a new product or service? In addition to your planning your daily Instagram content, you should set aside time on a weekly basis to take a deep dive into what’s working for your competitors. Once you understand their content strategy you can adapt it to reflect your unique brand and voice.

#4 Define your unique branding instead of posting like everyone else in your industry

Yes, looking at what your competitors are doing is an important part of any successful Instagram strategy. But remember, mimicry isn’t flattery. Even as you decide how you can implement best content best practices on your Instagram account, you should still make sure your posts are unique to your brand.

Take a look at @type.gang for example. There are lots of creative typography Instagram accounts, but Type Gang stands out because of their unique post style and creative approaches to featuring different creative influencers. This attention to detail and willingness to go above the standard typography posts gives Type Gang an edge on their competition.

A post shared by Type Gang (@type.gang) on

Even accounts like @dagnedover, a business focused on handbags and accessories, rises above the saturated market by showcasing more lifestyle focused photos. They don’t just want you to buy the handbag; Dagne Dover wants your new handbag to reflect your on-the-go, refined lifestyle. Both of these brands know exactly who they’re speaking to, and they use every post as a chance to start that conversation.

A post shared by Dagne Dover (@dagnedover) on

Focus on what makes your Instagram feed stand out

Having your competitors peeking over your shoulder isn’t the worst thing. But your competitors are not the individuals who will help you grow your business. Tapping into what interests your ideal followers and what will nudge them to become paying customers should drive every post you share. By sharing genuine, relatable content you’ll find that you’re able to deepen your relationships and build your business.

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