Worried About Muting on Instagram? Here’s the Fix


Worried About Muting on Instagram? Here's the Fix - Eric Sachs SEO

Frightening news for Instagram marketers who already need to jump through hoops to ensure they don’t break the platform’s in-depth advertising rules: you now need to worry about your target audience muting your account, too. Instagram just rolled out the new feature a couple of weeks ago, which gives users the right to “mute” annoying accounts for virtually any reason at all under the sun.

How Muting Impacts Your Business

If you’re marketing your business through the platform, the new mute button essentially means you’re at the mercy of your audience when they don’t like something you post. If viewers find you annoying, they can now turn you off or silence you on a whim. With the wrong content you just might find your campaign crippled by a mass muting spree.

Aggravatingly, the platform doesn’t even tell you when someone mutes you, and doesn’t require that they unfollow. There’s virtually no way to figure out how many people actually have your account muted, so being proactive matters.

Before you give up on Instagram altogether, let me brighten your day a bit: the mute button isn’t the herald of doom it sounds like. Remember: most established marketers use best practices so they don’t become overly pushy or annoying anyway. Even so, grey areas do exist, and nearly nothing on social media is ever black and white. Use the strategies in the next few sections to eliminate as much muting risk as you possibly can.

Improve Your Targeting

Instagram users mute accounts because they feel annoyed, offended, or somehow “put off” by the account. If you’re doing a poor job of targeting a specific demographic of users on the site, you’re more likely to offend or be annoying.

Think of bad targeting like a horrendous blind date. Both people are probably just fine separately; together, they just don’t make any sense. Worse yet, they probably bring out the worst in each other, making everyone cranky and unsettled.

Here’s a marketing-specific example: a corporate cleaning supplies company attempting to market their products to a teenage girl. Or, a men’s clothing company attempts to sell their products to pregnant women. Sure, someone among that demographic will buy, but otherwise, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Bad targeting leaves people with a bad taste in their mouths – and that bad taste just happens to be their experience with your business. It’s what leaves consumers saying things like, “Ugh! Why do I keep seeing messages about men’s clothing?!” or “OMG! I don’t want your product, stop tagging me!”

Enough of bad targeting and your consumers will mute you so they don’t have to be annoyed anymore, but there is a preventative fix.

First, figure out who it is you’re targeting in the first place – how old are they? Are they male, female, or gender non-specific? Create a persona for your average audience member, then review who you’re following and/or advertising to and adjust your campaign as needed.

Keep in mind that the more vague your demographic is, the greater the opportunity for bad targeting to happen. In the words of WordStream writer Dan Shewan, “Everyone” is not a demographic.

The more narrow your demographic, the better your targeting. Sending out ads to all women over 40, for example, leaves a tremendous amount of room for mismatches. Sending out ads to women over 40, who have children, who are married, and who have an interest in, say, sports, is much more in-depth. Of course, common sense applies; if you get too specific, you may find your niche too small.

Put Your Consumers First

In today’s episode of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, let me ask you a question. What’s more important in marketing, your campaign’s success or your consumers and how they feel about you?

No matter what you answer, you’re partially incorrect; it’s a trick question. Campaign performance is deeply connected to audience satisfaction with your business; really, one can’t exist without the other. You can follow a genius campaign to the letter and still never see results if your audience is already disgruntled.

If your current campaign involves little more than spamming similar messages about products or sales every few hours or days, you may already be at risk. Mix it up, add in some value with content your audience loves, and spread out direct sales requests so they aren’t as staccatoed.

The fix? Put your audience’s needs first, not your sales. Use demographics, market analysis, split testing, and feedback to figure out what the heck it is they want to see or experience, then tailor your campaigns around that. Providing your audience with value will always be the key to better conversions – Instagram muting notwithstanding.

Don’t Steal Content (Even Inadvertently)

Instagram marketing is really content-heavy; the site relies on pictures and videos, and you need to be able to capitalize on that quickly to catch trends. Unfortunately, this is exactly what leads many businesses to grab a meme, gif, or picture off the Internet, attach a few hashtags, add a positive message, and post – all without realizing their curation has turned into content theft in the process.

Suddenly, angry reactions and comments accusing you of plagiarism and theft begin to flow onto the photo. You went viral for all the wrong reasons, and people are now actively muting you over it because they don’t want to be associated with a business that steals content. Your well-meaning self feels baffled; after all, all you did was share a meme, right?

Unfortunately, content theft just isn’t that black and white, and many, many people misunderstand what plagiarism even is in the first place. You don’t need to take and recycle someone else’s content word-for-word or image-for-image exactly to qualify; in fact, simply sharing someone else’s content (respun or not) as if it was your own is enough.

Real content curation – the process of gathering, structuring, and presenting information you find online to your audience – isn’t the same. In curation, you give credit where credit is due, always link to the creator when you can, and disclose that you aren’t sure of the source when you don’t. It’s all about being transparent while still showing appreciation for other creators.

So, what happens if you inadvertently find yourself accused of stealing content you thought was CC0 on Instagram? You can save face by asking the commenter to send you information for the creator so you can contact them for permission, or at least credit them correctly in the subtitles. This can also be a great opportunity for collaboration and outreach if you play your cards right!

Ask for Feedback

Instagram is unique from most other social media sites because users love when businesses interact with them, ask them questions, and encourage back-and-forth communication. It’s a much more organic and communicative environment than sites like Twitter or even Facebook – which is exactly why the platform exploded Influencer Marketing in the first place.

If you’re not sure whether you’re hitting targets right, or if you’re pretty sure you’ve managed to annoy at least some people into muting you already, ask your audience for help. Ask them what they like or dislike. Alternatively, try flipping the script by saying you want to get creative and branch out into new content themes; create a survey with a few options and ask them to respond with tags.

Another great way to get the conversation flowing and encourage brand loyalty without being overbearing and annoying is to get out there and be helpful. Offer to answer questions about your business or product, or encourage them to show how they interact with your brand through images and tags. Use what they share to learn more about them and adjust your content marketing strategies to match their needs.

Remember: feedback is also a form of user-generated content (UGC). Research tells us that the presence of UGC on social media can boost overall engagement by up to 7 or more percent if it’s positive. Get the conversation flowing and you just might find you get more interaction and fewer struggles with muting, too.

P.S. – If you’re struggling with your audience, including gaining followers in the first place, I can help. I wrote a piece on how to get more Instagram followers early in February; check it out at the link.

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners - helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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