5 Instagram Mistakes Costing Climbing Brands $5,000+


Authored by Sam Van Boxtel

For many business owners, Instagram feels overwhelming, frustrating and confusing because they know there’s huge potential to reach more customers but don’t know the best way to invest their time and resources. After talking with hundreds of climbing business owners and marketers, we’ve noticed five common mistakes that are probably causing you stress and costing your company $5,000+ in wasted labor.

This is the exact reason I wanted to write this no-nonsense article: to help you save time and money while getting better business results through Instagram. Anyone who takes action on these five mistakes will see better results from Instagram or maybe realize they should decrease their investment in the platform.

Sam Van Boxtel
Sam Van Boxtel and the entire Climbers Crag team speak from experience when it comes to social media best practices in the climbing industry, having worked hands-on in the climbing industry and grown their own Instagram account to 300k followers in under a year before working with leading athletes and brands. (All images courtesy of Climbers Crag)

This probably isn’t the first article you’ve read about Instagram from a social media marketing expert, but here are 4 reasons I’m a bit different:

  1. I’ve been climbing all my adult life and in a short span of time have ensured that I’ve worked hands-on in almost every aspect of my job in a gym. (Front Desk Staff, Head Routesetter, Digital Marketing Manager, etc.)
  2. In the last five years, I’ve gone from starting my first account as a challenge to get over 1000 followers to professionally managing some of the most influencial social media accounts in climbing, such as Friction Labs, Kilter Grips and many more.
  3. I founded Climbers Crag, a social media agency for the climbing industry, with Tom Randall in 2021 because I could see that there was huge opportunity for better practices in this area of the industry. I wanted to create cost and time effective systems that deliver real business results.
  4. Now less than two years later, I believe we’re the most successful social media agency in the outdoor industry, with our team managing 13+ climbing brand Instagram accounts and sharing 100+ posts/week. Our clients average follower growth is 18.1%/month, compared to the climbing industry average of 0.73%/month.

Curious who our clients are? Here are the accounts we manage and what clients have to say about working with us.

Mistake 1: Stressing About the Wrong Things

On Instagram it is very easy to become overwhelmed with the ever-changing nature of the platform. So let me give you three things to stop stressing about right away:


Back in 2018 when I started to learn and grow on Instagram, hashtags were the main tool to grow your account and reach new customers. Fast forward to 2023 and they make little to no impact on the growth of your accountsuch a small impact that a majority of the 13 climbing brand accounts we manage don’t even utilize them on our posts.

Hashtag average engagement

Timing of a Post

This topic is something I see covered in blog articles all the time but has had very little impact across all the accounts we’ve managed. The only small factor to consider: when your target audience is awake. For example, a client that wants to reach an American and European audience should be posting while both these audiences are awake.

Content Quality

This point may be unexpected, but let me explain. Too many brands reduce the quantity of their posting due to what they consider “poor quality” content. However, the majority of brands should be more worried about quantity over quality at first. The reason is because studies have conclusively shown that the more you post, the more you grow. Not only will you grow faster, but posting more often will allow you to monitor and test several types/styles of content to see what your audience finds most valuable. We strongly believe that for a brand to consistently grow above the industry average, they need to be sharing 5+ posts/week.

Average growth rate based on number of posts/week

Mistake 2: Not Utilizing Collaboration Posts with Ambassadors & Brands

The collaboration post feature is probably the single most important new feature since Reels were added to the platform. This feature allows you to publish a single post in front of two account’s audiences, which if done correctly can massively boost the reach of that post and practically guarantee you’ll reach more of your target audience.

Instagram collaboration post

The image above is a great example showcasing how brands could collaborate with their ambassadors to get a boost to their posts and account. We spend lots of time brainstorming and coordinating these collaborations for our clients since this could be the single greatest way to grow on Instagram. In our opinion, it’s currently the most under-utilized feature by climbing brands. Since these collaborations are so critical, we work with our clients to have at least one collaboration post every week.

Mistake 3: Creating a Poor Content Blend

Your Instagram feed shouldn’t only tell people about your latest product or holiday discount. You’ll never grow if you only post content that tells people about your brand/products without providing much value. All successful Instagram accounts have a balanced content blend. For instance, every Instagram strategy that we build for our clients includes a balance of these three types of content:

Value Content

Value content is any content that provides value to your target audience. This content could be a Reel in which one of your ambassadors shares a pro tip, or it could be a Carousel that you use to share some best practices on getting the most out of your product.

Brand Content

Brand content is any content that highlights or reminds people about your products and brand. Without this content your feed can lose clarity on what products you even sell and how the content relates to your brand. Brand content could be a photo of your community using your products, or a Carousel of your newest product.

Viral Content

Viral content is any content that is created to expand your reach beyond your core audience to a wider group of your target audience. An important reminder is that viral content must mainly appeal to and engage your target audience. If you create a viral food reel on your climbing brand account, you’ll end up attracting the wrong followers and potentially ruin your future growth. The goal should not be 5M views for a climbing brand, but rather around 5-15x your follower count.

There’s no set formula for the exact ratio of these three types of content, but instead it’s based entirely on your brand, audience and goals. If you’re unsure what the ratio should be for your brand, I’d love to help out totally for free. Just shoot me a quick email at Sam@climberscrag.com with “Content Blend” in the subject line.

Mistake 4: Having a Confusing or Unclear Bio/Profile

The first thing we do for every account we manage is optimize their bio, mainly because it’s what your target audience will use to determine if they are going to follow you and is probably their first impression of your brand. You can’t overlook your bio, otherwise your audience will overlook you. They need to visit your profile and instantly understand what your business is and why they should follow you. If you get this part wrong, it won’t matter how amazing your content is because people won’t follow your brand and return for more content. Here are a few best practices for your bio:

Use Your “Name” as the One-Sentence Description of Your Brand

That bold line at the top of your bio is the “name.” We recommend brands use that space for a one-sentence description of your business. Here’s the equation: [@handle] is [Name Slot].

Instagram bio part 1

Use Your Bio to Answer These Critical Questions

Just like your website, your Instagram page should instantly tell people who you are, how you can help them, and what you sell.

Instagram bio part 2

Have a Clear Call-to-Action at the Bottom of Your Bio

This call-to-action prompts your audience to click the link in your bio and lets them know where the link will take them.

Instagram bio part 3

Mistake 5: Delegating Your Account to a Non-Climber or Untrained Employee

This final mistake is probably the top mistake costing you money and holding your business back from growing on Instagram. From this article, hopefully you’re starting to understand the level of complexity and skill needed to get real business results from Instagram, which simply takes creating and sharing thousands of posts to develop and master. It’s not that non-climbers or untrained employees can’t manage an Instagram account; it’s that I have not seen any examples of this strategy working effectively and resulting in positive ROI for the brand. It always ends up in thousands of dollars down the drain.

Climbers Crag clients' account growth vs. industry avg.

The graph above highlights the vast difference in results you’ll see based on who you hire to manage your account. So if you’d like to get better business results from social media, click here to learn more about Climbers Crag.


This story was paid for by the sponsor and does not necessarily represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.