Instagram is a very powerful tool in online promotion. You can create your own aesthetic, control your own posts, and ultimately find people into the same things you are. Most importantly, you can create a community within your Instagram page. When someone is scrolling through Instagram, only the best content (outside the person’s friends/family) is going to be seen or liked. You have to be great or why would anyone follow you? What’s in it for them? What’s in it for the fan to follow an artist account?
There are a vast amount of features Instagram gives the content creator. You can post video, images, add to your story, and go live. These are going to be the best parts of your day. You want to highlight the real and create content which will satisfy a fan wanting to get behind the scenes. Give them up close and personal while staying authentic to yourself. That’s what people want to see.
Think about how you want to use Instagram while promoting your music. What’s your mission? What’s your goal? Do you want followers to be fans? How can you create an income via Instagram? What possibilities can the platform bring you? What are the negatives? Instagram isn’t just for the photographer. The video feature is fantastic as well as the live feature. You’re competing against the biggest accounts, so make sure you’re on point. Figure out what works best for you. Create content on a regular basis. Drive sales and engagement through artistic implementation.
Below you can find twenty-five ways to use Instagram to promote your music.
- To release high-quality media announcing new music, a show, a tour, or anything else you might send a press release for – This is your news hub. You can accompany any press release with your own statement on Instagram. Post single/EP/LP artwork and announce your release date. Promote a tour or show with an awesome flyer. Are you appearing acoustic in a few weeks? Promote this event as well. Make sure to learn how to create your own content, unless you have the money for a content creator and/or graphic artist. If you’re not creating content at a high level, then these release statements won’t be taken seriously or followed.
- To link to your latest YouTube videos – Instagram videos have been notoriously grainy, but that’s fine. You’ll shoot people over with a quick link in your bio to your latest YouTube video. You can link people to your new music video, an acoustic session, a tour update, or a promotional video for your upcoming release. Create a trailer for your YouTube content, and you’ll see a rise in views through constant production of high-quality video.
- To push followers to digital retailers – You’ll want to push people over to Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or whatever other platform you’re using. This will drive music sales. Be engaging and use this sparingly. You’re not going to want to ask for a sale every time you post on Instagram. People won’t see any value in it for them. This is your “Support us because we give you joy in life when you listen to our music” post. People will add you to their playlist or download your music on iTunes. Either way, you’re going to want to use Instagram creatively to raise awareness.
- To push followers to merchandise offers – You’ll direct people to your online store for your shirts, hats, sweaters, CDs, posters, etc. This way you’ll give the fan a place to purchase these items outside of the shows you play. You’ll want to create exclusive Instagram offers. Hopefully you can use a code or just set up your store to reflect a sale of some type. Make sure your merch designs are awesome because poor designs won’t sell. Remember not to ask for the sale every post, so think just like digital retailers…Only every so often.
- To push followers to ticket links – Tours can be posted and linked to. Shows can be as well. Try and create more than just posting a show/tour flyer. Create some hype around each show, showcase the distinctiveness of the show, and see how your followers react. You’ll always be better off pushing people to your official website here, but creativity can go a long way. Just like merch and digital music, you’ll want to use this only when you have to.
- To show the fans what goes on behind the scenes – If you don’t have a photographer friend willing to help (on a budget, yes), then it’s time to find what works for you. Make sure it’s high-quality and can compete against other Instagram influencers, and you should be fine! People want to see what you’re up to in between shows, writing sessions, and appearances. Keep them in the loop!
- To showcase live performances in photo form – You can hire a friend or a professional, either way you want to have great photos from past shows to post. Show people what they missed out on! The amazing moments encapsulated into one frame, one shot. These are things you want to showcase. If you suck live, you might as well just stop reading now. Instagram won’t help you.
- To use the live broadcast feature – Real-time coverage is awesome! It helps you cater to fans that are using the app at the same time you are as well as notify others (if they have notifications on for Instagram) you’re live. What could be happening? Soundcheck? A rehearsal? A radio appearance? An acoustic writer’s round? Tune in and find out! You want your fans to see you live and in charge. These are moments you’re giving the fan a look into the process. You can even give them a show, play a few songs, and get off. Either way, going live is awesome if you’re an entertainer.
- To make a statement through text – The platform is used mainly for images and video, but you can use a very long caption to release a statement. This could be your “pour your heart out” moment about an issue you’ve been wanting to speak on. This could be your “you can do this and be yourself” moment about why being an artist means the world to you. These long-form posts can be your friend if your writing is eloquent and moving.
- To hold a contest or giveaway – Use Instagram as a contest hub! You can ask your fans to post photos and use a certain hashtag. You can ask your fans to repost a photo and tag you. Give away merch, tickets, digital downloads, or a meet up before the show. Use contests to help bring in new fans. Tag a friend contests can be useful. Give back to the community with easy to win prizes. Perhaps weekly is best here. Find what works for you!
- To interact with other bands, artists, or influencers – Don’t spam people. Comment when you see fit to chime in the conversation. Like photos. Easy stuff. Don’t come on too strong. Post about other’s artwork. Music. Photos. Videos. Books. Art. They can all be shared. Do it! Not in hopes that people post about you, but to spread the word about a community of people who dig the same things.
- To use the stories feature to your benefit – If you’re a full-time artist, then you should be up to a lot of cool things daily or weekly. Use Instagram stories to document these great moments in your career. Show the fans what you’re up to. You can see who’s viewing your story, so there’s a way to track who’s watching and interacting. Stories are your way to shine a light on the things people don’t see everyday on your timeline.
- To promote brands or products – In a joint venture, you can promote other brands or products. Sure, you can get paid for these things. It just depends on your reach. In the beginning, you’re going to want to promote things you use to get on the radar of these companies. Enough quality posts will break through the noise. It could be guitar strings, mics, in-ear monitors, guitars, drums, or any other piece of musical equipment. Hell, it could be a GoPro or Snap Spectacles. Find brands or companies you dig and share content to help promote them. You may find yourself with a nice gift bag, endorsement, or even payola.
- To buy advertising – Yes, you can promote a post on Instagram. No, you shouldn’t promote all your posts. They’re not all important. A new song/EP/LP release is important. Use Instagram Ads there. A new music video is important. Use ads here as well. A tour is important, so use an ad. You may find yourself some new fans. It’s pay to play here, and the results aren’t guaranteed.
- To start your own hashtag tradition – You can create your own hashtag army if you engage the audience correctly. Perhaps it’s making a day that’s yours. Perhaps it’s making a hashtag to raise awareness about a new song or album. Perhaps it’s a hashtag your fans use to make sure you’re seeing their posts. Either way, create your own hashtag community. Encourage it. Embrace it.
- To give credit – If you’re working hard as an artist & things are getting busy, then you’re bound to have a team of people working for you. It could be your road crew, your photo & video producers, your manager, your booking agent, your studio producer, or anyone else adding to the mix. Get awesome photos of them and give credit when credit’s due. People love knowing who helped make their favorite artist better than before. Give thanks!
- To reply to your fans – People are going to love your posts. They’re going to comment and like them. Don’t just leave people hanging. Stay away from trolls. Engage those who are adding to the conversation. These fans are your best fans. They aren’t there because they love “that one song” or they saw the end of your set when you opened for their “favorite band”. These are your true fans. The more of these you have, the better chance you have to having a career in music. Reply to their comments and let the love commence.
- To see the numbers grow – If you’re posting great content and promoting it in a tasteful fashion, you’re going to see the numbers grow. If you’re not, then you’ll stay around the same numbers or even dip below what you had to start with. There’s no other way. You want to see the followers, likes, comments, and hashtags grow in numbers. You can keep track of stats in a weekly or monthly basis with an easily made spreadsheet. Your job is to have more people interacting as part of the community you’re building.
- To spotlight supporters – You can repost fan posts. Has someone taken an awesome photo from last night’s show? Use the Repost app and post it to your account. Did someone wear your shirt to a concert last night? Repost it! Did someone take a pic of your new CD and T-shirt? Repost. Did someone get a photo with you last night at the gig? Repost the best ones! Fans are honored you’re posting their content. Give praise to those who make this work for you: the fans.
- To respond to direct messages – It’s like email, so there’s going to be a lot spam. You’re going to have to sift through and find the messages that deserve a response. Those fans will get some great correspondence directly from the artist. It can create some great moments. You’re going to want to pick your battles here, but remember fans don’t like being stood up. If you have the time, then get back to the fans who clearly have sent their message for a reason. If you don’t have time, be quick with your replies. Even just a short response can make a fan’s day.
- To get comfortable being on camera – There’s nothing worse than watching an awkward person have stage fright on camera. Rather than shy away, start getting confident being able to articulate your message. Directly speaking to the camera can be used in the stories feature or with a quick post on your timeline. Either way, use this time to be great at public speaking. It’s one of the best investments you can make in yourself.
- To be cryptic – You can create a great element of surprise for a new song or new release with Instagram going off the norm from what you do. Instead of posting insider info, you can now post perhaps a color scheme change or a white/black out (where multiple squares are now black, white, or another color) which signifies something new is coming. You can create vast amounts of hype with posts like these. Be creative with both photo and video. The people will do anything to find out what’s next.
- To take over another account – There will be times when other brands, companies, or music publications will allow you to take over their account. This is when you can cross promote and show off your music. This is a great time to show your personality and take what you’ve been working on with your Instagram page and use another’s to get a wider reach/audience. It’s not going to work like magic, but it will be a great way to raise awareness about your music and community.
- To be consistent – If you’re trying to make a community of your Instagram page, then you won’t post for a week the disappear for a few days then come back for a few random posts. You will be consistent in your posts. This is why people tune in. To receive quality content that entertains them, reminds them to put on a great record (preferably the one you’re promoting). If you do take a social media hiatus, then let your fans know what’s going on. No worries! Everyone deserves a break.
- To use Instagram’s other apps to liven up your page – Instagram also has a few applications that add to its functionality: Layout, Boomerang, and Hyperlapse. Layout lets you add multiple pictures like a collage. This can be useful when you want to put together a lot of photos from the last show or appearance. You can also post multiple, square photos in one post on your timeline. Boomerang can make a quick, fun GIF that you can post on your story or timeline. Hyperlapse is an app that is a time lapse tool, so use this whenever you’re setting up/tearing down/traveling. It can make for great content!
Instagram is only one social network, but it’s a very powerful one. As of December 2016, there are over 600 million monthly active users. You’re not trying to get the attention of all of them. You’re trying to find the ones who are similar to you, will like your music, and will enjoy the content you post. Make your Instagram page your visual outlet. This is another way you can brand yourself as an artist. Instagram is only getting larger, and it’s a great place for releasing content while promoting your music and community. Use it to your advantage!