Instagram — the most popular visual social platform has experienced a meteoric rise, rising by around 100 million users per year since 2014. As of today, Instagram has over 1 billion active Instagram users and an average of 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— with Instagram’s recent innovations, such as IGTV, it is a perfect place to begin establishing your brand.

Pimping Your Profile

Instagram allows you to change your profile photo and add a 150 character bio with one link. One way around putting multiple links in your bio is to use Linktree, which allows you to create a custom link that redirects your fans to a page with multiple links. 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!

Another way to make sure your profile stands out is by setting up a business profile allowing you to link your account directly to your Facebook page. This gives you the ability to run ads and promote your page and find out more detailed information about the people that follow you such as when they are most active.

How to set up a business profile:

  1. From your existing profile in the mobile app, tap on settings.   (If you don’t have a profile yet, install Instagram on your device and follow the prompts to create a personal profile).
  2. Choose Switch to Business Profile.
  3. On the Set Up Your Business Profile page, review your business’s contact information, make any changes and tap Done.

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.

Tags

When you post a photo, choose at the least 5 hashtags (you can use up to 30), 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.

Don’t forget you can always start and popularize your own hastag!

#cyberpr #indepedentartists

You should use as many hashtags as you can that are relevant to you or your post and to avoid looking “spammy” you can always post and hide your hashtags in the comment section if you format it as shown below.

 

Tip: You must write out your hashtags in some version of a notes app then copy and paste to format correctly

 

Geotags

Before you post a photo, Instagram gives you the option to geotag your post. By adding your location to your post, not only does it give your picture context but it also increases your visibility on the platform in the same way a hashtag does. This is a good idea for posting live photos because it helps build a relationship between you and the venue through promoting the space. Including geotags will also increase your reach in those particular regions and can possibly lead to more gigs and press opportunities.

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.

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.

And if you have your page set up business account Instagram allows you to access analytics about who is following, where they’re located, as well as the days of the week and the time of day and your followers are most active.

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.

Tip: For business profiles you can pay to create promotions that target your audience with a CTA link included in the post that sends people directly to your website or page.

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Tap the post you’d like to promote.
  3. Below the post’s image, tap Promote.
  4. Fill in the details of your promotion by setting things like Audience (who you want to reach), Budget (how much you want to spend) and Duration (how long you want your promotion to run). Tap Next once you’ve completed these details.
  5. To complete your promotion, tap Promote

Videos

Instagram allows you to post 60-second videos directly to your page – 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.

IGTV

Instagram is now competing with YouTube with IGTV, their dedicated platform to long-form video content as well as an in-app feature.This allows you to post videos longer than 60-seconds.

For more information on how you can utilize the platform, check out our detailed article here.

 

 

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are a 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.

Tip: once you’ve reached 10k followers you can add links to your Stories that send people to your website, iTunes, Spotify, etc.

To learn how to use Stories to their highest potential, you can read our guide here.

Instagram Live

Instagram also 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!

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

  1. Sally Laverne

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

    Reply
  2. Justin Weir

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

    Reply
  3. 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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