11 Ways I’ve Screwed Up Instagram Stories


I really like Instagram Stories.

But that’s a relatively new development.

For a long time I didn’t get it, I didn’t really use it and, when I did, I wasn’t very good at it.

I’m getting better. I still have tons of room for improvement, but at least now I can recognize some of the missteps I’ve made with it.

I’m sharing some of my biggest Stories mistakes here so you can avoid making the same ones unnecessarily.

Save yourself some time and frustration.

Here are 11 ways I’ve screwed up Instagram Stories.

1. Reposting my Feed to my Story

No one wants to see repeats of the same post across all your social channels. That means we need to create unique content for each channel. I know, it’s a huge timesuck, but if we want to do it well, that’s how it is.

That being said, in my early IG Story days, I would repost my posts into my Story to make sure everyone saw it. I don’t do that anymore. It’s boring and the two are different tools that call for different things.

2. Being Too Promotional

This one is a work in progress. As my offerings and events and content channels have grown, so has the need to let people know about all the things. Since Stories are quick and informal, it’s easy just to pop something up about the next training, Coworking Convo, workshop, blog post, video…etc.

But, my Story sometimes leans too far into promotional land. Now, I intentionally create more behind the scenes Stories, and I share inspirational quotes and designs, photos and videos to rebalance the Story. That way, when I do drop a promotional post into my Story, it feels fresh and not spammy.

Like I said, I’m still working to strike this balance while also not getting sucked into a black hole of always posting to Stories to avoid being spammy. If/when I strike this balance consistently, I’ll let you in on my strategy.

3. Not Being Promotional Enough

The flip side of being overly promotional on my Story is not being promotional enough—or at least not being effective in my promotion. No matter how many social blasts and mentions I put out around a particular event or offering, there are always people who email me to say they didn’t know about it.

My plan to remedy this mistake is to be more deliberate and effective with the occasional promotional Story.

4. Not Using the Tools

My favorite thing about Stories is that the built-in tools are fantastic. There’s a countdown timer, a poll feature, a cool slider, a quiz feature, hashtags, location, mentions, tons of stickers, gifs, text options…it goes on and on.

Sometimes I get stuck in the habit of just posting day in the life photos, or a promotional graphic for an upcoming event, without thinking strategically about how I can use all the tools available.

If you’re new to Stories, or if you’ve been around a while but aren’t getting traction, spend some time familiarizing yourself with all the tools and toys.

5. Overthinking It

The reality is that I could spend 40 hours per week just crafting Instagram Stories. Part of me would like to do that. But if I do that, there’s no time to actually do the work that I do—creating content that matters and helping others do the same.

At some point, I have to let go of the idea that my Stories will be the greatest Stories in the world, and just create intentional posts that do what I need them to do.

6. Being Inconsistent

When I post to Stories consistently, I can keep my brand and posts in front of people. When I don’t, I drop off completely from the platform and so does any brand awareness and connection.

As with all content, it’s better to post less frequently but stay consistent than it is to do a flurry of content then nothing for weeks.

7. Being a One-trick Pony

No one wants to see the same type of content over and over. For instance, some people post videos of themselves talking, with no subtitles, all day every day. This doesn’t work very well on the platform and, to be blunt, it’s boring.

Sometimes I fall back on the easy path of posting the same type of content over and over: photos of me in my home coworking space, photos of our coastline, inspirational reshares. This strategy overlooks the power and fun of Stories and is a good way to bore my followers.

8. Not Giving People a Way to Engage

With traditional advertising, brands broadcast messages to the masses and hope for the best. Today, we have the incredible opportunity (and responsibility) to engage with people around the world in meaningful ways, in real time.

When I get into broadcast mode, there isn’t a good way to actually engage with the people I’m trying to connect with. If we want people to engage with us, we need to give them ways to do it. Use the tools, ask questions, put yourself out there. People really do want to connect with you and your brand on a human level.

9. Lack of Brand Cohesiveness

I think I’m getting better at this one. The other day someone said they can always tell it’s a Cat Johnson Co post. Which is good.

But cohesiveness across all the channels and all the content and all your Stories can be tricky, for sure.

To stay on-track, I spend time every week looking at what attracted attention, what didn’t, who engaged, who didn’t, and whether all the content I created that week was consistent with my brand tone, values and feel. It’s another stream of todos, but it’s important to create cohesiveness across all our channels.

10. Not Engaging with People

It’s a privilege to have someone follow us. If they then take the time to like and comment on our content, we have a responsibility to reach back out to them. Respond, like their comments, message them back, be human with them.

Does that sound too heavy-handed? The brands that are making an impact, and continue to make an impact on Stories, social and otherwise, are the ones that take the time to make human connection with their communities. Yes, even on a social media post.

11. Lack of Intention

Social media—and especially Instagram Stories—can be really fun. You can be silly, artsy, creative, inspirational, helpful. It really is a cool tool. But, it takes a lot of time to do it well so there’s no room for random stuff that doesn’t benefit your marketing goals.

If I were doing Stories just for fun, I could toss random stuff up there as I felt inspired to do so. But, I’m using it as part of my brand ecosystem, so I’m increasingly intentional about how I use it, what I want to come from it and, most importantly, how I can further engage with the people who have made a choice to connect with me.

How’s your Instagram Stories game looking?

Are you using Stories strategically to strengthen your brand, connect with your extended community, and invite people into your content ecosystem?

Yes? Fantastic.

No? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

If you need guidance, check out our one-hour virtual training on using Instagram Stories to market your coworking space.

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