Instagram; One of those social networks you can no longer ignore. Yes it's picture based, but there's no doubt in my mind that it can be used to build up a stronger connection with your fans, and without much additional work on your part. It's because of that I've created this guide: Instagram for musicians!
So read on to find out how you can boost your marketing efforts with Instagram. Some of the below ideas you may already have in place, but I'm sure there are some additional tips you may not have thought of already. So check it out, and apply anything you're not already doing.
But first, if it's your aim to do music professionally, you'll want to check out our free ebook while it's still available:
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What Is Instagram?
Not sure what Instagram is? Here's the brief overview.
Instagram comes in two stages:
- A phone app for Android and iPhone users. This app allows you to add effects to any pictures you have, making them in theory look better.
- A social network. Allows you to connect with other Instagram users and share your photos with each other. A bit like and Twitter, if someone follows you, they can see when you add new pictures. It's possible to follow someone but them not follow you back.
You can have a look at one of the above links to download Instagram if you haven't already got it on your phone. For those that have, let's move on.
How Can Instagram Benefit Your Music Career?
So why should you join Instagram and use it as a form of music marketing? Simple:
- Fans Appreciate Pictures. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. That said, with it becoming easier to make music videos, pictures have largely been taking a back seat. I know for fact though, that a lot of fans will appreciate having somewhere to see still images of you and things related to you. Instagram gives you the chance to set this up and fast.
- Pictures Can Inspire You. Ever seen a really cool picture and wish you were there? That's exactly what Instagram can help you achieve. So get some shots at your gigs hyping the crowd up, and show others what a fun time you all had. Just don't forget to let them know they can get involved by coming down to your next show!
- It Can Make Your Pictures Look Really Cool. No longer do you have to post those dead pictures from your poor quality camera phone, Instagram can make ‘ok' pictures look a lot better. This will help you portray a better image to your fans, as everything you put out should be of a high quality.
- It Gives You Something To Share. By putting out more (Good quality) content for fans, you increase the chance that they'll interact with you in some way. Put out one update a week or month, and you'll find it harder to get two way communication going with your fans. Instagram pictures give you a great excuses to update your fans. We'll look at what you should post pictures of and how often later on in this guide.
- It Doesn't Take Much Time. Despite the potential benefits it can bring, managing your Instagram account it pretty quick and easy. Take a picture, add an effect, share with your network. When people add pictures of you, comment. In your free time, look at other people's picture and comment. And because it's a mobile app, this can all be done on the move. Simple.
As you can see, using Instagram has a lot of plus points. If you haven't already, be sure to register your music name with an Instagram account, and start using it.
What Should You Use Instagram For? (And How To Get Your First Few Followers)
If you ask me, the main function of your Instagram account should be to get current fans more involved in your music career (Making them more ‘die hard'). Yes it can be used to acquire new fans, but in my eyes that's a secondary function, much in the same way it is with Facebook. Because of this, it makes sense to see if any of your existing fans want to connect with you on this platform.
When you first sign up, Instagram gives you the option of inviting friends from your other social networks. I suggest you take them up on this offer. If you have previously signed up but haven't done this stage yet, I suggest you go back and connect with your friends on other social networks. This will hopefully give you a good base amount of followers, making these next steps that bit easier.
Link Your Instagram Account To Your Social Networks & Share
The Instagram app makes it super easy to connect with other social networking sites for posting in multiple places, so we might as well do it. While the social side of Instagram is good for showcasing some of our pictures, there will be a number of your fans who don't have an Instagram account. This may be because they don't a smart phone to create one on, because they don't know about the app, or simply because they don't want an Instagram account. Whatever the reason, if you don't share your pictures on more then just Instagram, you're missing out on people seeing your pictures.
Whenever you take or edit a picture, be sure to share it on all of the available linked networks.
What Should You Take Pictures Of?
So as you know, Instagram is based around pictures. But what should you be taking pictures of? Well while you shouldn't limit yourself to particular shots, here are some things your fans may find interesting:
- Photos Of Performances. As I mentioned above, getting pictures of live performances can help inspire others to come out to your next gig. These will be some of your main ‘action shots', and will be interesting pictures for your fans to see. Be sure to get them.
- Photos With Fans. While not ones you'll personally post on your profile (The pictures will often be on other people's cameras), these are some of the best pictures you can get. Why? Because fans will generally tag both of you in it, and in turn leave more links to your profile for people to see. They may also boast that they've taken a picture with you, getting the picture shared more. Appearing social will make more people want to get involved with what you're doing, so whenever people get a photo with your band, be sure to tell them to tag you on Instagram and share.
- Photos Of Recording Sessions. Let music fans see ‘behind closed doors', and show them what it's like where you make your music come to life. Snaps of you recording your vocals in the studio always come out cool, just be sure to comment on them and let fans know what you're currently working on.
- Photos Of Your CD Covers And Artwork. Fans always love to see shots of your new artwork before it's officially released, so give them a sneak peak.
- Pictures That Give A Deeper Insight Into Your Personal Life. While you won't want to overdo it with these pictures, be sure to include pictures that give fans a better idea of who you really are. Remember, people buy into people, so be sure to put some personal pictures out here and there. Such pictures include shots with your friends, your dinner for the night (Not every night, but maybe do so if you're having a particularly yummy meal), pictures of yourself on the way to events and interviews, pictures of you in random poses, one or two holiday shots, and the like. Remember, don't overdo this, but show people the person behind the music.
These are just some of the things you can take pictures of. Feel free to experiment with what snaps you share with your fans, and maybe even ask them what they want to see.
Applying Effects To Your Pictures
The ability to apply effects to your pictures is one of the big reasons to use Instagram. After all, if you can make your pictures look better using their pre-designed filter effects, then why wouldn't you take advantage of that?
Now I'm not going to tell you which effects to apply, as that's up to you and your personal preferences. I will however give you a couple of tips when using them:
Switch It Up, But Not Too Much
One thing you'll definitely want to do is switch up the effects you use for your pictures. Always posting images with the exact same effect will get boring for your followers, so be sure to switch things up here and there.
If you're posting a set of images from the same performance, I'd say stick to using the same effect for them all. This will show it's the same gig you're performing, and give a consistent feel throughout. If you're showing pictures of a different gigs or a radically different song however, maybe change the effects up a bit.
Try to match the mood of what you're showcasing with a relevant effect.
Don't Go Overboard With Effects
While adding effects will often make your pictures look better, it is possible to go overboard with them. Add too much of a contrast or a color tint, and you could end up ruining your picture. People still want to see it's you, so be sure not to go overboard.
Should You Use Effects On Every Instagram Picture?
No, you shouldn't. If a picture looks good without additional effects, it may be the best option to keep it effect free.
Ok, so it's time to get into the good stuff. The above points while essential, aren't that ground breaking in terms of ‘new ideas'. Want the tips that will have your Instagram account standing out from the crowd? Then check out these next few tips:
Run Picture Competitions For Your Fans
This is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to you about using this social network: Make sure you run regular competitions!! Why I hear you ask? Simple, to increase interactivity and grow your follower number a lot quicker.
Everyone loves competitions The chance to win a prize can be a strong motivator to get people to do something, so use this to your advantage. Some of the things you can get people to do include:
- Like your Instagram profile.
- Share your Instagram pictures and profile with their friends, and encourage them to follow your page as well.
- Get interactive with you, and take more pictures of you when at one of your gigs.
- Comment on more of your pictures.
- Take cool pictures and link them back to your page, giving links for other people to follow back and become a fan of your page too.
All of these things will increase your fanbase, as well as strengthen the bond you have with existing fans.
So what should you offer as a prize to fans? Well, that depends on what you CAN give. Even giving away some signed CDs can be a good motivator, but if you can you should offer more. How about a ticket to one of your gigs? Or free access to your private members area?
How about a personal meeting with you, maybe you could buy them lunch at a preplanned location? While this won't maximize the return you get on your competition (Only people who can get to the lunch location will apply), it can be a very strong motivator, so is worth using if you've a lot of fans within traveling distance to you.
Whatever you decide to give away, make sure it's something you can give regardless of how many people enter. Depending on how big your original fanbase is, how tempting the prize is, and how well you promote it, your competition will get a varying amount of people getting involved. Make sure you have a good prize and spread the word enough though, and this can help you build up your follower numbers a lot.
Just be sure they're targeted followers that have a good chance of going on to listen and interact with your music after though, as un-targeted competition entries will waste you both time and money.
Post Regular Pictures
As with any social networking site, if you don't post or interact with your followers regularly, you won't get as much out of this network as you can. Now I'm not saying you need to post a new image every day as you don't want to bore your fans with unnecessary images, but you should aim to post at least three times a week.
New images will show fans you're still active, and give them things to talk about. As I mentioned in the ‘What Should You Take Pictures Of?' section above, not everything you post has to be 100% music related. As long as it's interesting for fans and helps them build a deeper connection with you, it's worth posting up.
Interact With Fans Like Friends
Ok, so this last tip I'm going to give you could be the most important: Interact with your followers!! Yes it may sound simple, but it's the most effective way you can engage with fans and keep them entertained.
It's easy to post up pictures and then leave it at that, and that's what a lot of musicians do. But remember, you don't want to be just another musicians. By replying to your fans and talking to them like friends (Instead of people you're just trying to make sales from), you're actually making them more loyal to your cause. And when people feel like they're part of something, they're more likely to stick around longer and push you harder! That could be in terms of word of mouth promotion, sales, or both.
Don't forget to comment on photos people tag you in and leave a comment on fan photos here and there, it just shows you're human and are interested in the people following you. Fans will appreciate this.
So there you have it, some top tips for promoting your music with Instagram. With a large user-base and a interestingly different way for you to reach your fans, using Instagram to market yourself is definitely worth doing if you have a smart phone. While not essential to making it as a musician, it can definitely help with building up a more solid relationship with fans.
I'd love to hear your opinions with promoting your music on Instagram, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.