Instagram, the most popular visual social platform, has experienced a meteoric rise over the last few years. Instagram has over 1 billion active Instagram users and an average of 95 million photos shared every day. Not to mention, 80% of Instagram users come from outside of the United States! I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words. We hear from artists all of the time that they love Instagram because of its ease of use. With Instagram’s many innovative features, such as IGTV, the app 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. Linktree 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. Then, if you choose, you can also search and connect to contacts in your phone. Finally, 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 that 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. Business profiles allow you to link your account directly to your Facebook page. This gives you the ability to run ads and promote your page. Additionally, the analytics features allow you to find out more detailed information about who follows you.
How to set up a business profile:
- 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).
- Choose Switch to Business Profile.
- 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.
When you post a photo, choose at least 5 hashtags (you can use up to 30 – but Instagram recently said the sweet spot is about 6 per post), as this is how photos are found. Flick.tech is our favorite Instagram hashtag research tool. It separates your search into 3 categories – low competition, medium competition, and high competition – making it easy to select a few hashtags in each category.
Don’t forget you can always start and popularize your own hashtag!
Before you post a photo, Instagram gives you the option to geotag your post. By adding your location to your post, not only gives your picture context but also it 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.
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 a while, it’s perfectly OK to cross-post.
TIP: when you cross-post directly 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. If you are going to post the same content we suggest at least uploading it natively to the separate platforms.
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. Also, Facebook’s algorithm will penalize you for this and therefore show your content to less and less people.
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.
- Go to your profile.
- Tap the post you’d like to promote.
- Below the post’s image, tap Promote.
- 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.
- To complete your promotion, tap Promote
In an attempt to get more involved in the meta verse, Instagram is introducing avatars. Much like Snapchat, you can customize your avatar to represent who you are. Avatars can sync with your Instagram and Facebook profile, as well as usable on Messenger. This is a new immersive experience here to bridge the future of the meta verse. Avatars create a new visual representation of who you are and are more dynamic than profile photos can ever be. Avatars are the stepping stone of carrying your digital property everywhere you go in the meta verse.
Currently, Avatars can be used in DMs and on Stories, and is available in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
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 Instagram videos tend to be lower than on photos, so don’t rely too heavily on the video option.
Instagram is now competing with YouTube with Instagram Videos (which has replaced IGTV), their dedicated feature to long and short-form video content. These appear under your profile in their own section.
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. Swipe up allows you to ask your followers to follow your other socials, send out a link to buy your new song or album on iTunes, etc.
Tip: Instagram has now rolled out the link button feature to all Instagram accounts – so you can add links to your Stories that send people to your website, iTunes, Spotify, etc. You can even add your own enticing CTA text on the button itself.
To learn how to use Stories to their highest potential, you can read our guide here.
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!
Instagram Live has expanded live-streaming to allow those who wish to go live to do so with 3 others. When you go live with others, you and your guests’ followers will be notified. Fans can cross-pollinate, giving you the opportunity to grow your reach. Read more about it here.
Lastly, you can now schedule Lives. While you were always able to schedule posts, this new feature creates a distinction between scheduling Lives, Feed posts, and Stories. As a creator, you can schedule as many Lives as you wish and they will all appear on your profile as a banner. Anyone who visits your profile can see you have an upcoming live-stream and can even subscribe to be reminded about it.
There is also a new monetization tool that videos, specifically live videos, can be given badges by fans and viewers. Badges are virtual donations that allow fans to show their support. For creators, badges are a way to increase direct fan engagement. You’ll be able to see your earnings and who’s contributing throughout the livestream. With this information, you can personally thank your fans for their continued support. Learn more about badges here.
Since TikTok has taken over the world of social media, Instagram has hopped on the bandwagon by adding their Reels feature. These are 15 second short-form videos. They are much more likely to show up on the Explore Page than other posts. Instagram’s algorithm favors Reels, so it’s a great way to get noticed. Plus, they’re fun and engaging for your audience.
Instagram has also added a new “reply with video” feature to the comments on Reels. You can now respond directly to a comment with another video, which will help you up your engagement!
With reach constantly increasing and decreasing, Instagram has come out with Subscriptions to give creators a way to generate a more stable income. Subscriptions will make generating income far more predictable for creators. There are 3 versions of subscriptions:
- Stories: you can share exclusive content on your Stories with your subscribers and this story will be portrayed by a purple ring
- Live: you can choose to go live exclusively for your subscribers where only they can join
- Badges: your subscribers can comment on Feed posts and DMs and gain recognition by having a purple indicator on their comment/message
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. 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:
- Charities/causes that you care about – #unicef #childfund
- Family – #bro
- Your pets/animals – #grumpycat #puppy
- Other music/musicians, shows you go to, etc. – #musicmonday
- Your upcoming events, premieres, etc. – #livemusicNYC
- Your creative process – #coffeecoffeecoffee
- Food – #COOKIES
- Your hometown/where you live – #nyc #brooklyn
- Nature – #outdoors #dirt
- 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 layout a visual story for yourself. Instagram is a great place to figure out what you want your brand image to be. 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!
To get more tips on marketing and publishing, check out Ariel’s latest book Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity