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Instagram — the most popular visual social platform has experienced a meteoric rise.  As of today, there are over 700 million active Instagram users, and 95 million photos shared every day. And 80% of Instagram users come from outside of the United States! I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words.  In case you didn’t know, Instagram was acquired by Facebook for 1 billion dollars in April, 2012. We hear from artists all of the time that they love Instagram the most because of it’s ease of use.

Pimping Your Profile

Instagram allows you to change your profile photo and add a 150 word bio with one link, so choose carefully!  Next, connect to people you already know on Facebook, and if you choose, you can also search and connect to contacts in your phone.  Next, link your socials by locating the little “wheel” at the top right of the app where you can link to your Facebook, Twitter, and others.

After this is complete, it’s simple.  Take a photo (or choose one already stored on your phone). Next, apply a filter which will enhance the photo, change the color, make the photo look old, rotate it, soften colors, etc., and then post!

TIP: Try to keep your user name consistent with your Twitter handle! Not only does this make it easier for fans to find you across social channels, but if someone tweets an Instagram photo of you, it will connect to your Twitter account as well.

Hashtags

When you post a photo, choose at least two hashtags, as this is how photos are found.  Top Hashtags is a site that shows the top hashtags trending in real time if you are stuck, or want to get into an active hashtag conversation. You can put these hashtags in the actual caption, or post them in a comment under the photo after it’s been published.

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#cyberpr #indepedentartists

Captions Should Tell A Story

In addition to hashtags, you need to add captions to your photos before posting. What’s going on in your photo? Fans want to connect with you on a personal level, so tell them a story! Post a few photos in real time, documenting the lead-up to a show, a day on tour, a trip to the zoo, etc.

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Humor is always welcome 🙂

Timing is Everything

It’s vital to track which times your fans engage with your posts. Posting at 2 am on a Saturday might work perfectly for an EDM DJ, but it’s not a great strategy for an older folk singer. Think about your target fan, and when they’re most likely to be scrolling through Instagram. If you need help with this, there’s a great website called Iconosquare that connects with your account and gives you detailed analytics on your followers and their engagement.

Cross Posting to Twitter

I caution you to be selective about what you cross-post to socials.  You want to tell a separate story on each of your socials to get people to join you, and not get fatigued by the same posts across channels.  Once in awhile, it’s perfectly OK to cross-post.

TIP: when you cross-post to Twitter, your photo will not show up in your tweet stream (nor will it be added to your photos section on your Twitter page.  It will instead show up as a link to Instagram.  This is beneficial to get followers from Twitter, but can become annoying to your Twitter friends — another reason to use sparingly! There are ways to get your photos to show up on Twitter, but we’ll save that for the next blog post.

Cross Posting to Facebook

Ditto with Facebook. You want to be Instagramming 3-5 times per week and if you cross-post to FB every time, it will get real old, real fast. The way you get people to follow all your different social channels is to actually make them different. It’s okay to occasionally put an Instagram photo up on FB, but save it for the really good/important pics.

Create CTA Posts

Make special posts to advertise events, releases, or get people to follow your Page on Facebook or your Twitter stream. There are a few apps that help you write on top of Instagram photos, creating beautiful and professional CTAs. We’ll go into these in our next blog post.

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Ed Sheeran used a pretty nifty CTA to get his fans to follow him on Snapchat.

Videos

Instagram allows you to post 60-second videos – just long enough to catch the chorus of your latest song! Take the video from your phone, or upload a higher quality clip. This is a great way to promote your new music video, or your next show. Keep in mind that engagement rates on videos in Instagram tend to be lower than the engagement rates on photos, so don’t rely too heavily on the video option. If you want to post lots of videos, Vine might be a better option for you.

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are a new feature within Instagram where users can share their day with their followers! You can post just simple photos of you going about your day, or you can record short videos. You can even use boomerang to make a looped post. Within this feature, you can also add a link that the viewer will have to swipe up to open. This can be used to promote a lot of different things – you can ask your followers to follow your other socials, send out a link to buy your new song or album on iTunes, etc.

Instagram Live

Instagram now has live streaming. When you start one of these live streams, a notification is sent out to your followers to notify them that you are live! There is also a comment feature that happens in real time, so you can answer questions that your followers are sending in. This is a great way to connect with your fans on a more personal level, or to make announcements in a new, creative way!

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Other Tools and Apps to Optimize Your Account

There are dozens of great apps and sites you can use to optimize your photos and fan engagement on Instagram. We’ve touched on a few of them in this post, but stay tuned for our next post, because we’re going to give you a run-down of these tools, and show you some examples of musicians who are rocking it on Instagram!

Still Struggling to Come Up With Content?

At Cyber PR, we encourage our clients to focus on thematics when coming up with content to post on social media. What do your tribe/followers want to see? What fits your personality? What are you trying to say? What do you care about? We recommend choosing up to five thematics, and focusing on those when posting on social media. Here are ten examples to get you started:

  1. Charities/causes that you care about – #unicef #childfund
  2. Family – #bro
  3. Your pets/animals – #grumpycat #puppy
  4. Other music/musicians, shows you go to, etc. – #musicmonday
  5. Your upcoming events, premieres, etc. – #livemusicNYC
  6. Your creative process – #coffeecoffeecoffee
  7. Food – #COOKIES
  8. Your hometown/where you live – #nyc #brooklyn
  9. Nature – #outdoors #dirt
  10. Your hobbies – #adultcoloringbooks

Then there’s always #tbt (Throwback Thursday). Awkward childhood photos go down a treat.

There you go – the basics of Instagramming. Once you have a few photos, you will begin to lay out a visual story for yourself. Instagram is a great place to figure out what you want your brand image to be, and what parts/how much of your life you want to share with your fans. Above all, don’t forget to engage with other users! Follow users who interest you, search for hashtags, and then like or comment on photos. This is how you really start to build your community!

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5 Responses to “The Musician’s Guide to Instagram”

  1. Dolly

    What a joy to find sonoeme else who thinks this way.

    Reply
  2. Sally Laverne

    Instagram has been around for just a a years but it has created a huge buzz for all of us.

    Reply
  3. Justin Weir

    Thank you for sharing. There are some real solid tips in that post.

    Reply
  4. Isaac Sharp

    Hey guys,
    First let me say thank you for all of the resources on this site. Having worked in a studio on the “hidden” side of the music industry for 5 years, the process of broadcasting and publicizing myself has become really daunting and all of this material is a literal lifeline for me.

    My question is, if you are rolling out a brand new social profile for an artist (we can use instagram as an example) what are the best practices to get it up and running quickly in the first week/month? should you post 10-20 photos early on or is it okay to look like a new account? any tips or pointers would be amazing.

    Thanks again,
    – Isaac

    Reply
    • Ariel Hyatt

      Hi Issac,

      If no one is following you on Instagram to get annoyed if you post 10 – 20 images (i.e) its a brand new Page then, I’m of the mind that it’s OK to do so! Hope that helps.

      Reply

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