[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre. Stay tuned for a follow-up article focusing on Instagram Stories best practices!]
If you’re still thinking of Instagram as nothing more than that app that lets you share snaps with your friends and you’re trying to become a full-time musician, you’re really missing out.
In less than a decade, Instagram has become far and away one of the most popular apps on everyone’s phone, and it’s also one of the most important. Wherever millions of people go every day to interact with content from people and brands they like—that means social media, for the most part—is where you not only need to be, but where you need to focus much of your effort.
If you’re not already adhering to these suggestions and best practices on Instagram, now’s the time!
1. Use Professional Images When Possible
Instagram was built by people sharing selfies, quick snaps with friends, and mirror pictures of what they’re wearing, but these days, in order to stand out and grab the attention you’re looking for, something a bit more elevated is required.
Don’t settle for good enough when it comes to your Instagram, because while you might not necessarily think about it in this way, that’s how many of your fans interact with you on a regular basis. Do what you need to in order to have a bank of high quality images to share whenever you like. This may mean hiring a photographer to come to your shows and to work with you on occasional photoshoots, but you can also be smart about capturing content wherever you are. These days, most cellphones have a professional camera built in, so make sure your bandmates, your friends, and those around you know what they are doing and are smart when taking a picture.
2. Find A Style…And Then Change Things Up
Associating the word branding with your personal social media profiles might sound weird, but it’s 2019, and we take these things seriously now! Your Instagram should have a certain look and feel to it, and it should match who you are as an artist in tone and feel. Before you begin posting, spend a lot of time playing around with filters, effects, and so on until you find something that words for you.
Some musicians only post in black and white. Others always have a border around their pictures. Plenty of people always use the same filter (which can either be built into Instagram or one of the many options that come with third-party apps you can also explore), which ensures that every photo fits with one another. Just as you’d want your merchandise to all use the same colors and font, your Instagram page, and the photos on it, should follow the same rule.
Having said that…once you find what works, feel free to test new colors, styles, fonts, filters, and so on. Just because something is performing well at the moment, that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t another option out there that will do even better, and the only way to find out is to try!
3. Don’t Promote Too Much
Your fans follow you on Instagram for much the same reason they listen to your music: they like it, and they like you. While the platform can be a great way to deliver important marketing messages and remind them of new releases and upcoming concerts, if you only use the site to push products and potentially make money off of those who love you, you’re not going to keep them interested for long.
Take a look at the pages of any big name in the music industry, and you’ll see that most of what they post is simply for fun. Photos of the musicians themselves, their friends, and their lives dominate their feeds, not reminders about new merch and ticket sales. For every one item you upload that’s promotional in nature, you should be sharing at least three or four things that have nothing to do with someone’s wallet. Keep that ratio strong and your fan base will stay loyal!
4. Mix Up The Medium
Instagram allows you to post both images and video on your page, and you should be including a healthy mix of both. There are so many different things you can do to split your profile up between photos and visual clips, and you should give your fans plenty of both. One day you might post a minute of your new music video, the next a simple photo, the next day a video made to look like a GIF (since Instagram doesn’t actually allow for GIFs to be posted), and then perhaps a slideshow with several images.
You can have a lot of fun trading off types of content and making things interesting, and your fans will thank you for it.
Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.