There’s no denying that Instagram has overtaken the social media scene, leaving Facebook in its shadow. This is certainly true for emerging musicians, who are flocking to Instagram to share their talents.
Throughout this guide, we’re going to be focusing on the core tenants of Instagram in 2018 and beyond: Photos, Videos, Hashtags and Stories. We’ll look at tried and tested methods to organically grow your following, using the same tactics you may already be using but with a greater level of detail, and with a much more measured approach.
By forming these tactics into habits, you will then be consistently growing your audience, brand and reach without even thinking about it. Let’s get started!
Photos and photo sharing is the reason millions of users flock to Instagram every day. If you own an Instagram account, you’re no doubt already sharing content in the form of photos… Here are some pointers to consider to take things to the next level.
- Consistency – Marketing successfully on Instagram is as much about consistency as it is about what you post. And that’s not to say you should be posting every hour or so either (which is what stories can be used for, and we get into this further into this article). By consistency, we mean using the same filter, and the same size of photos. We recommend using apps such as Square Ready, which put a nice border around every image. This means followers and users flicking through your feed can associate the filters and the layout to your account.
- Types of Photos – So, you’re a musician… What are your followers going to want to see? Nobody wants to be spammed with ‘follow me’, ‘buy my tickets’, ‘check out my merch’ and the dreaded ‘link in bio’ every time they go to your page. So give your feed the personal touch. Think Selfies, personal life, events you go to not related to music, holidays, and upcoming projects. Your followers want to see you and your life, so give them the insights. Oh, and the music of course.
Instagram is a world apart from Facebook when it comes to uploading videos in that the quality does not diminish (at least as not as drastically as on Facebook). With the recent update seeing video length go from 15 to 60 seconds, let’s look at how you can use your own material to an advantage.
- Existing Video Material – There’s no need to worry about making new content all of the time. Got videos already on YouTube, Vimeo etc.? You can easily cut and chop your favourite parts, apply the right filter and upload them to your feed.
- New Video Content – When it comes to thinking of ideas for new content, look at what’s trending, new artists and music getting recognition across social media. If it’s a rapper, why not cover one of their songs with your own unique take? This way, you can start to develop a niche too. This is also the easiest way to establish a steady flow of new followers and maintain an audience.
Hashtags do not exist simply for users to spam their feeds with. When used right, they are incredibly effective tools for growth. So how can you use hashtags without looking like a spammy account? Read on…
- Hashtag Density – So, you’ve just uploaded your latest post. You’re going to need to add some hashtags, but let’s be real. Too many, and followers may be put off. Our golden rule is 20 relevant hashtags. Plus, if Instagram thinks your hashtags are not relevant, you simply won’t be able to post.
- Post Description – Your post description must be at least one line long, so you’re not jumping straight in with hashtags. Keep them looking neat by separating the description and the hashtags with ‘-‘, or even the trusted ‘.’.
As a musician, how can you optimize your Instagram feed to get the most out of it and move beyond the basic aspects we’ve already covered? One word: Stories. Stories are an often untapped source of marketing for musicians, or if used, are not optimized effectively enough.
Below we outline 6 steps so stories mastery, and how you can use stories to elevate your marketing efforts and get your talents seen (and heard). Let’s get started:
- Hashtags – We’ve included this at the top of the list as this is not the common hashtag strategy used in normal posts, and many musicians overlook the visibility potentials of including hashtags in their stories. When you include hashtags in your stories, the hashtag actually links to a dedicated story too. Our recommendation is to include a maximum of 6 hashtags, or keep it two 2 lines at the most. These hashtags can then be shrunk so they don’t look spammy on your story, and also can be colored the same as the post background so viewers don’t see them at all. Chances are, you’ll be included on a popular hashtag story, and every view helps.
- Filters – Much like the filters used on photos and videos, stories also give you the option to include a filter. Filters help to add to your brand, so make sure they’re consistent. If you can, use the same filters on all forms of posts; videos, photos, stories and more. The more consistent your brand is, the more your followers will associate you with that specific style. Whether that’s minimal, a black and white styling, or bright and even over-the-top, it’s totally up to you.
- Reposts – The repost app is an untapped tool, which can be used effectively to elevate your following. With the premium version, you can remove the repost logo, and share similar music to your own. So what’s the benefit of this? You’re seen as a fan of the genre in general, you are actively promoting other musicians (boosting your online persona when musicians reach out to say thanks), and you’re growing the community within your own feed. When added to stories, you can then add an extra story of your own. So, the musician you shared sees themselves on your story, and then they see your video following that. The same works with any fans of that musician who flock to your feed to see the video you’ve shared… Perfect.
- Promotional Material – Stories are a great way to promote any upcoming videos or content, notifying your followers of recent updates. You can guide followers to links in your bio via stories, promote specific photos used for upcoming content, and upload multiple story features to build up hype for a new release. This is exactly what we did for our guide to the best overdrive pedals, our most popular post by far.
- Marketing Sponsorships – If you’re serious about building your brand, why not sponsor other Instagram artists and include all of their features on your stories? By acting as a sponsor, you actively promote all of their material, however you then control the conditions of the sponsorship. Whether that’s a link to your feed in their bio, mutual sharing, or even a website link on their profile, it’s totally up to you.
- Live Videos – A live Instagram video is as interactive as it gets, and is an important tool for interacting with your followers. You can request material to play live, talk to fans, and also save the live video on your feed once it’s finished.
We hope this comprehensive guide to Instagram marketing for musicians has been of help to you. Be sure to keep up with the latest Instagram updates, and remember to post consistently to maintain your follower’s interests. Good luck!
About the Author: James Taylor is the creator of Guitaarr, an online publication and social media presence dedicated to guitar reviews and discovering emerging talent. You can see more at www.guitaarr.com, or head to Instagram for the latest news and tips – @guitaarr.