Instagram is currently one of the fastest growing social media sites. I have been using Instagram for several years and managed to build nice enough following on it. In this blog post, I want to share with you some of my tips on how to use Instagram for musicians. I want to offer musicians some actionable tips, which you can implement in your music promotion plan as an independent artist.
Getting heard through the noise
This day and age there are more tools and opportunities to promote your music than ever before. The problem for most of us is getting heard through the noise. Instagram is not going to make you a big star overnight, but with consistent work, you can build a solid following.
But as with most things in life, this is not an overnight trick. It will require you to put in the work. You need to commit giving these tips good six months to show real results. Don’t come back crying to me after a week or two if you didn’t put in the work.
Let’s get your profile sorted first. What’s the point of posting on social media, if people can’t figure out who you are and what you do? You don’t need to include your life story, just the bullet points, Where you from and what you do. For example “Dublin based Singer-songwriter” will get the point across nicely. Then give them also an idea of what your page will be about. Pick maybe two or three things, music being one of them. The other one or two should be something you are interested in and can create content around.
Include a link to your website; you do have a website don’t you? If not that should be the first task to get sorted. Facebook link is bit useless here, as we are going to link it another way later. Do include both your Email and Phone number info. They will not be displayed, but people can contact you through them.
I know the profile picture is part of the edit profile section, but it is an important one, so I decided to dedicate a chapter to it. If you are a real person, put a picture of yourself in the profile! If you want people to relate to your songs, they need to know there is a real person behind them. Remember that in the feed, profile photos are small, so make it recognizable. Headshots with vibrant color work well. If you prefer black and white, make sure there is a nice bit of contrast, and a little drama always helps (shadows and light.)
What to post?
So what should you post? Your music? Of course, but make it only part of your Instagram account. I want you to share your story. Gary Vaynerchuk has a great way of looking at it, document, don’t create. If you just focus on capturing something from your day to day life, instead of trying to create a great masterpiece with every post. If you are writing a song, capture the view of where you are. It could be even a messy room, but it is part of your story.
Utilise your hobbies and interests. If you are into hillwalking, capture photos from your trip. If you like beer, share your favorite brew and tell people why you like it.
Top tip: Musical instrument and gear review posts do well, so snap a photo of every bit of your setup. Then post once a week one bit of equipment, and in the description, explain what you like and don’t like about it and why you have chosen to use it.
Never ever ignore the description! Not writing a description is one of the biggest mistakes I see musicians do on Instagram. You should treat the Description as a small blog post. More is always better here. Write about what was happening when you took the photo, whats in the photo, why you took the photo, why you wanted to share it. Tell stories to get people engaged.
Top tip: Ask questions. Questions help to improve your engagement, and better engagement means better reach.
Are hashtags important? Yes, they are very important. This is how people find your photos. Hashtags are the not so secret tool for getting organic growth in Instagram. If there is more interest on this subject, I can write a separate article on Hashtag research. But for now here are few tips.
Include hashtags at the end of your description, or post them within 60 seconds from posting the picture as the first comment. You can post up to 30 hashtags, use them all. Find hashtags that have between few thousand and 500000 posts. More is not better when it comes to the number of posts under a particular hashtag. If a hashtag has millions of posts, your post will get buried in no time at all.
I very rarely use filters. Why I will explain this in the next chapter. But filters are a great way to add interest to an otherwise dull photo. But don’t use them for the sake of using them. Only use them if the picture is better with the filter. More on this in the Next level.
If you enjoy taking photos and sharing them on Instagram, it is time to up your game. Get yourself a nice camera. Point and shoot, mirrorless and DSLR all work great. Even though the camera on your mobile phone is probably amazing, having a better lense and more flexibility will definitely raise your photography game.
The reason I rarely use filters is because I edit my photos in Adobe Lightroom. This is a professional photo editing software and is not free. But there are a lot of great free photo editing software and apps available. This will give you more control than filters. But always remember to work on getting a great shot first.
Should you use video on Instagram? Absolutely! This is where you can post your music. But what if your song is over three minutes long, but you can only upload 60 seconds to Instagram? Even better! This is a perfect tool to use as a teaser to drive traffic to your music somewhere else, for example on your website (did you get it sorted yet?) Spotify or YouTube.
Keep it simple. If you have a full production music video, just share a snippet of it. But if you don’t have a full production video, record yourself on your mobile phone, you singing and playing an acoustic version of your song.
Instagram stories are a great way for musicians to share a lot of behind the scenes stuff. Also, you can happily share quick photos here, which you don’t necessarily need to edit. Just snap and share.
Another cool feature in the Instagram stories is the Instagram live. I highly recommend you use this feature as well. You could do a weekly short concert from your home and broadcast it all around the world.
How often to post?
Here is where the hard work I talked about earlier on comes to play. I want you to post a picture or a video every day of the week, every week of the month and every month of the year. I know it sounds like a lot, but you can take the pictures in advance, research your hashtags in advance and save them into the notes in your phone, same with the description. When you get into the routine of it, this will only take few hours a week.
Like and comment
To grow organically on Instagram, it is very important to engage within the community. Take everyday time to like a bunch of photos that you like, or are related to your Instagram theme. Spend time leaving meaningful comments in other peoples posts. But don’t spam, this will only harm your account.
Link your Instagram account to your Facebook page (not personal profile.) When you post on Instagram, you have a choice to share your post directly from Instagram to Facebook. I have found, and others have reported the same, that the posts I post from Instagram to Facebook have better organic reach than if I post the same image natively to Facebook.
The obvious stuff
I will leave you with a few obvious points. Make sure your account is public, not private. Don’t post anything offensive, or your account will get banned. I said it before, but don’t spam. And last but not least, never post “Check out my music” posts. They just look desperate. Give people a reason to check out your music. One of the best ways to do this is to have a cracking Instagram feed.
And that concludes our tips on Instagram for musicians. Please share in the comments below your thoughts and experiences on using Instagram for promoting your career as an independent artist. We at Melosity offer free comprehensive Instagram audit with improvement suggestions for all of our Platinum users, but even musicians on the free Melosity plan (with fully filled profiles) can share their Instagram accounts with us for a short audit/ one-page tip sheet. And if you know a musician who should read this post, feel free share it with them.