Feeling like an idiot means you’re learning

You're learning kids with heads in water blowing bubbles learning to swim circa 1920s via Library of Congress on Flickr Commons
Looks weird, right? But putting your face in the water and blowing bubbles is part of learning to swim. (Swim lessons circa 1920s, courtesy the U.S. Library of Congress on Flickr Commons)

You know and we know that some days you mess things up.

No one wants to feel foolish.

No one wants to try something and have it not work out.

Still, we sometimes need a reminder: that is how you learn.

We thought about that recently after Sheila made two Instagram-related mistakes and felt pretty badly about it, before remembering the importance of trying new things as a path to educate yourself.

Even though we’re digital marketing and social media experts with a lot of experience, we don’t always do everything perfectly.

We are still learning, too.

Here is what happened:

Whoops on Instagram – First Mistake

(Sheila here . . . )

We claimed our Tourism Currents brand name on Instagram in December 2017, but we didn’t activate it and start posting until May 2022, when it finally made sense for our business goals.

So, we are still taking care of a few “new IG account” recommended tasks like creating Stories that explain what we do and who we are, then saving them as Highlights at the top of our account profile.

I was trying to create a quick Highlight Story that featured link stickers going out to each of our top three most popular blog posts.

Instagram said I could only use one link sticker, not three.

I thought, “Why is that? I did multiple links in another one of our Highlight Stories – the one about our digital marketing coaching and consulting offerings. Why can’t I do it again?”

Well, it turns out that the reason I was able to add multiple link stickers within that consulting Story is because I’d messed up when I posted it. 🙄

(Note – Instagram calls each section or unit of a Story a Story, which you see when you look at your IG analytics. To me, the WHOLE THING is a Story, made up of sections or frames or parts or whatever you want to call it. For this discussion, I’ll call each individual section of our Story a “part” if that makes sense.) 

My mistake was that instead of drafting the whole Story and publishing all the parts at once, I’d gotten confused that day and had hurriedly published each part one at a time, taking a minute or so to get the whole Story posted.

Making that error resulted in Instagram allowing me to use a different link sticker on each part of the Story.

By messing up, I ended up creating the content I wanted anyway (hah!) and learned more about how Instagram worked.

It wasn’t very professional or elegant or “correct” to drip out parts of the Story over the course of a minute or so, but it turned out to be to our advantage.

Screenshot Tourism Currents Instagram account with arrow to Story Highlights
Normally, Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, but you can save them as a Highlight at the top of your account as shown here.

Whoops on Instagram – Second Mistake

My next mistake was while trying to set up an Instagram “collab” – a collaboration post between two IG accounts.

A collab post appears on each collaborating account’s grid, and is shown to followers of both accounts. It’s a good way to get in front of new potential followers, and get more visibility for both accounts.

Some ideas for Instagram collabs:

  • A CVB, DMO, or Tourist Board account and their local Main Street or downtown or merchants association account.
  •  A hotel and a nearby theater, restaurant, or museum.
  •  A park and a nearby shop that rents kayaks or bikes.
  •  A restaurant and the Farmers Market where they get their produce.
  •  A state or regional tourism organization and a designated scenic byway located in that region.

It can be hard to get organic reach and engagement on Instagram these days (no, Reels have not been the magic answer for us) so we wanted to try a collab with an account whose mission and followers were a good fit for us.

You remember our recent guest blog post featuring tourism insights from the Survey of Rural Challenges by SaveYour.Town?

We love content repurposing – including turning a blog post into social media – so I decided to make a graphic carousel on Canva that summarized the main points of that rural tourism post.

It was a no-brainer to then make that carousel a Tourism Currents IG account collab with the SaveYour.Town Instagram account. Deb and Becky from SaveYour.Town agreed to do it.

I was setting everything up on desktop Instagram, and as I got to the point of publishing, I didn’t see the “Invite collaborator” option that you get in the Instagram app under “Tag people.”

No matter, right?

Surely you can invite a collaborator after you hit share or publish?


You must invite your collab partner in the IG app, and do it before you publish the post.


I had to contact Deb and Becky and tell them I’d blown it, which was embarrassing even though they were very understanding. They shared our post to their account’s Story (not as seamless as a collab post would have been, but better than giving up entirely) and I vowed to do better next time.

I’ve been on Instagram with a personal account since April 2012, and I feel that I ought to be some sort of wizard with it by now, but I’m not going to get everything right every time.

I am a human who is still learning things on every one of the social media and digital marketing platforms.

So are you, and that is FINE.

Leave a comment on this and tell us what you’ve learned from making a mistake.

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Commenting area

  1. I learned that it’s better to use original music on an Instagram collaboration with a CVB or such. As a business, they can’t share your collaboration if they don’t have rights to the music.

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for your insights. The whole music rights situation on IG can be frustrating – if a song or instrumental isn’t cleared by Instagram for use, why does it even show up as an option? Sigh.

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