[Editors Note:This article was written by Hugh McIntyre. Read his recent Instagram-focused pieces on tips for better fan engagement, overall best practices and using Stories!]

As everyone hopefully knows by now, Instagram is hugely important when it comes to getting your name out there, making big announcements (like new music and upcoming tours), and it’s one of the best platforms for keeping in touch with fans.

As someone who is promoting themselves and something they create, you should not only be using Instagram, you should be doing everything you can to ensure you’re getting the most out of it, and that means optimizing not only your uploads, but your profile itself.

Here are six easy ways to optimize your Instagram page right now.

1. Get More Out Of Your One Link

This is one of the easiest Instagram “hacks,” and yet I see almost nobody taking advantage of new outside applications that could have big benefits for every musician.

Instagram only allows every profile one link, and unlike on other social media platforms like Twitter, when links are inserted into the copy of posts (the captions under photos), they don’t actually work. I see many musicians writing them anyway, and while I won’t tell you to stop (it certainly isn’t the most visually appealing option, but it could still convince a few people to type the site into their computers, so it’s not a total waste), please know that there is a better way to get people to visit whatever web pages you want.

There are a number of services available that allow you to create very simple web pages that house all the links you could need, all on one page. The benefit of this basic site? You can link to it in your Instagram bio, turning one clickable line into many destinations.

So, for example, instead of having to swap out the link in your Instagram bio every time you have something new to promote, you can simply change it or add it to these services. With one click in your bio link, fans can find you music on every streaming service, your new music video on YouTube, your merchandise, your upcoming concerts, as well as your proper website and even your profiles on other social channels.

A quick Google search will show you that there are a number of companies offering this service, some for free. A popular option is LinkTree, and myURLs also seems to be an often-used variation. There are paid tiers as well, which typically come very cheap and which offer you extra benefits, but whether or not you want to invest in those is up to you.

This is, without a doubt, the best thing you can do to not only optimize your Instagram page, but to do everything from up your stream counts to make some more merch sales!

2.Create Highlights

By now, many people have jumped on board with Instagram Stories, the added function that shares photos and videos for just 24 hours. The add-on has become extremely popular, and thankfully, I see many artists spending even just a little bit of time uploading fun moments to their stories, showing their fans what they are up to.

It’s fine to let many of your stories disappear after one day, as they are probably just quick snaps of where you are or what you’re doing (which don’t need to be held onto forever), but sometimes, you might want to keep them long after the day. That’s where Highlights come in.

Instagram now allows you to curate collections of stories called Highlights, which sit right in between your bio and your actual posts. You can compile them as you wish—perhaps the best stories from a certain tour, or behind the scenes shots while you were recording an album—and your fans can watch whenever they like.

Creating highlights can be a fantastic way to get more out of your content, even if it was initially only meant to exist for a few hours. They allow new fans to catch pics and videos they may have missed, and older followers to relive some great times.

3. Make Your Bio Count

Like with a link, Instagram severely limits what users can do or say with their bio, so you need to make sure you’re making the most with what you have. It’s fine to have a bit of fun and maybe even make a joke, but you should also make sure you convey the important information. Is your new album dropping on a certain date? Did a video just come out? Is a tour approaching? For those who don’t know you…who are you?

It’s tough to fit everything into just a few characters, but think long and hard about what you’re saying, and also what doesn’t need to be said. For example, if you have a link below that goes to every social platform and streaming site, you don’t need to waste space in your bio directing anyone.

Don’t continue to promote older items if something more pressing is coming up. Show your fellow bandmates or friends what it says and see if they have any suggestions, as you might be missing something important.

4. Switch To A Business Page

Switching from a personal to a business page (or starting off as a business page) isn’t for everyone, but it does come with benefits that you might want to consider.

A regular Instagram profile only gives you access to very basic data, while a business profile allows you to dive deep into demographics, geographic locations, and so on. It becomes much easier for you to find out what kind of people are following you and where they live, which can be very helpful when it comes to everything from targeting ads to routing a tour.

5. Get Verified (Or At Least Try)

Now, this is a bit tricky, and it might not happen for you for some time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try! Instagram has made it very easy to apply for that ‘blue checkmark’ that goes next to the names of people the platform deems worthy, though that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get it. Do a quick Google search on how to do this and give it a go, as you never know if you’ll make it through or not.

Vanity aside, scoring a blue checkmark typically makes you easier to find when people search, and it means other, larger profiles have a better chance at seeing when you like or comment on a post. If you’re doing outreach to other artists in the hopes of touring with them or collaborating, or perhaps trying to connect with industry people, a blue checkmark can actually go a long way in giving you credibility.

6. Make Sure Your Profile Picture Is Right

When a complete stranger looks at your profile, what can they learn from it? If someone who has heard your band is searching for your name, can they tell which account is yours simply by looking at the tiny profile pictures that come up when they search?

If you’re in a band, make sure your picture makes it clear that this isn’t one person, it’s a group. If the campaign you’re pushing now has a certain look to it (maybe it’s all about one color, or the entire band is wearing something similar), make sure the first image everyone sees is updated.

It should be easy for anyone to find you on Instagram, no matter what your name is, and having the best profile picture (which, hint, probably doesn’t have any words and isn’t your album cover) is a key factor in your success on the app.

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