Welcome to the second part of our Instagram for Musicians series. Instagram is the most visually driven social media channel. People use the app as a source of inspiration and to interact with brands and individuals they feel an affinity with. If you haven’t read our article ‘Instagram for Musicians‘ you may want to do so before reading on.
The main point to emphasise when learning about instagram is ‘quality over quantity’. It can be tempting to get into a numbers game where you’re more concerned about how many followers you have or your follower to following ratio than your engagement, but this is the wrong attitude to have with the platform. Ultimately you want your social media following and engagement to translate to video views, track purchases and gig ticket buying so you’re better to have a smaller amount of followers but higher engagement than a humongous number of followers who don’t engage with your content.
1. Optimise Your Profile
People will be searching for bands from your genre more than your band name; you can take advantage of this by changing your profile name (not your username) to a description of what you do, eg. ‘Metalcore Band From Newcastle’. Below this you can either describe in a sentence what users will find on your feed or create short and sweet bullet points about you. The option to share a URL on your profile page presents you with the opportunity to share your latest music video, facebook page, merch link or website so use it!
2. Customise with Icons
We know you’ve been chomping at the bit for this article so no doubt you’ve already done some serious instagram page research. You’ll have seen that the most slick looking pages (and often the most successful) have personalised icons for the story highlights. Using icons gives your profile a unique look and gives a feel of symmetry and consistency to the top of your profile. It may sound over the top to spend time on such minute details, but Instagram is a visual medium – its all about taking advantage of anything that can catch the eye.
To achieve the personalised highlights icons you can make your own using photoshop or similar software (the dimensions are 1080 x 1920 pixels). There are a number of apps available for mobile devices and you can download some free icons from the internet.
3. Tag Other Users
A good way of encouraging people you interact with to engage further is tagging them. You can tag other accounts in your stories and posts, but make sure its relevant and tagging too many people in a post or story can come across desperate. Tags surrounding gigs work well as everyone is excited and in promotion mode. Make sure you capture good content at your gigs by taking fun shots with the other bands during downtime and sharing fan or professional photos (with permission of course!) Tag the bands and venue in the relevant posts and encourage them to reciprocate.
4. Use Stories
Instagram stories are photos or videos which disappear automatically after 24 hours. Stories appear at the top of the app in circles. A multi-coloured ring around a profile picture also indicates that the user has a story live. The little image circles you see below a user’s profile description are stories they have ‘highlighted’ or grouped into themes, these remain until removed by the user.
Stories allow you to add more personality to your profile than simply posting. Their temporary nature means that you can afford to be more experimental and the feature allows you to add gifs, stickers, text and music. Stories are ideal for documenting journeys to shows, band practice and your attendance at other people’s gigs.
5. Split Stories
Instagram stories cannot exceed 15 seconds, but you can use story splitting apps to cut longer videos down into 15 second chunks. Once you’ve uploaded your 15 second clips in order users will be able to view the full video seamlessly. This feature works well for sharing live performances or excerpts from music videos.
6. Spotify Deep Link
If you’ve got a new single coming out and its available on Spotify you can share it to your instagram followers. In the Spotify track play view click the three dots on the screen and select share > instagram stories. You can customise the story with stickers and text as normal, but anyone viewing it can listen to the full track via Spotify. Even if you don’t have your own music on the platform yet you can use this feature as an opportunity to highlight your musical influences and inspiration.
7. Reach Out
Getting your posts featured by pages with high follower and engagement numbers is a great way of stimulating interest in your content. If you find a page you’d like to feature on why not drop them a message to ask what you can offer them in exchange for a feature? This may involve a small financial transaction, but it will instantly multiply the amount of eyeballs on your content.
8. Meaningful Interaction
Follow the hashtags you frequently use in your posts and instead of spamming all the recent posts with likes and bland comments only comment on the posts you genuinely like. Think of something meaningful and interesting to comment rather than ‘cool pic’ etc. You share common interests with these users so they’re more likely to engage with your content and follow you.
I know, sounds like hard work, right? It is! If you’re hoping to use Instagram like a one way broadcasting tool you’ll be disappointed. The platform is designed to build communities; nobody fully understands the algorithm driving the app, but your content is amplified to more users the more engaged you are. Basically, this means you can’t just slob out checking your phone every ten minutes hoping for the likes to roll in by themselves.
9. Scheduling Apps
There are a variety of scheduling apps available, which – as the name would suggest! – allow you to plan your posts in advance. It may sound an attractive prospect to schedule everything up at the start of the week and leave it ticking away doing its stuff but your results won’t be great using this tactic. As previously mentioned, Instagram is a community – even with the convenience of a scheduling tool you need to be interacting with others.
10. The $1.80 Strategy
Entrepreneur and Instagram influencer Gary Vee‘s strategy for building followers gets its name from you leaving your 2 cents on 9 posts over 10 hashtags each day ($0.02 + 9 (x10) = $1.80). By this he means that you should comment on the most popular 9 posts from 10 hashtags relevant to your own content. Again, this is a quality over quantity situation – don’t spam pages with ‘great pic’ on repeat as users and instagram see through this. Commenting on top posts gets you noticed and over time increases your engagement and followers.