10 Instagram Tips for Musicians

A lot of musicians have something of a love/hate relationship with social media. You know that you have to do it, to engage with your fans and build your audience, but maybe you’re a little skeptical about its increasing omnipresence in your life, or you find that your creativity is being stifled when you’re attached to your phone 24/7.  

Instagram is one of the newer platforms, and a lot of artists actually love it. It’s a great tool for growing your fanbase, networking with other artists and sharing creative and innovative content. But like all platforms, there are some tricks to be learned with Instagram to make sure you’re utilizing it to its full potential. And yes, this includes getting your head around the dreaded algorithm. We’ve put together a few tips to help you engage with the 500 million people who use Instagram every day. Love it or hate it, you can’t afford to miss out on using Instagram as a method of self-promotion.

1. Define Your Goals

A lot of brands, musicians included, take a scatter-gun approach to social media, posting randomly across multiple platforms without having a clear strategy in place. But all social media platforms are tools of your trade, and you can’t use them properly unless you’re clear about the end goal. 

Ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve. Are you trying to increase awareness of your band or your individual music, if you’re a solo artist? Do you want to network with other musicians? Or are you trying to make sales of records or merch via Instagram? (Some bands do this really well) Whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, you need to think about that first, before you get things set up. It’s harder to reframe your social media footprint later on, when you’ve already been pushing out posts sporadically for a few months, without a clear vision.

2. Is Your Profile Optimized?

You’ve only got 150 characters to play with, so you really have to make each one count! You need to choose your words carefully, to tell people about your vision and your music, and impress upon them all the reasons why they should follow you and engage with your content! Of course, it’s an annoying cliché, but it’s true to say that first impressions matter, on your Insta profile just as much as the first song you play at the start of a gig. You need to hook them in with your words, to convey what you and your music are all about.

Securing the right handle is really important and you might want to familiarize yourself with Instagram’s trademark policy to make sure you’re not violating anyone else’s trademark. It’s also useful to be clued up on this in case someone else has a go at stealing your name! 

You also get a few other opportunities on your profile to show what you’ve got going on. You can add your website, contact information, and a ‘call-to-action’ button option, which gives visitors to your page a way to interact with you directly via Instagram. Don’t miss these opportunities to share valuable information, not only with your fans but also with the algorithm.

3. Do Some Research – Check Out Your Favorite Artists! 

It’s great to follow other musicians and engage with them proactively (more on that later), but you can also learn a lot from other people who are doing it well. 

Follow people who are nailing it, and learn from them. 

A great example is Emily Dolan Davis, a drummer who has played with The Darkness, Tricky, and Bryan Ferry. Her Instagram account features a range of content about her life on the road with various artists and her own initiatives, including training courses for professional drummers. It’s inspirational and upbeat and perfectly curated, with an impressive array of “call to action” buttons at the top, too. 

Don’t plagiarize other artists, but there’s value in doing your research. What hashtags are people using? How much are they engaging with their followers? There’s no harm in closely analyzing how other bands or artists similar to you are using Instagram and finding some inspiration there.

4. Plan Your Content Breakdown 

How you pitch your content will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. Higher profile bands can get away with posting content that is a little bit more distant, for example, photos of them on tour, album covers, and setlists. U2 has 2.4 million followers on their Instagram page and their posts are almost exclusively high-level – archived tour footage, virtual and streamed shows, and the odd political post, as of course we would expect from Bono. There are definitely no photographs of anyone’s breakfast, or videos describing their songwriting process, with their dog in the background. 

But if you’re still trying to build your audience, you’ll probably need to reveal a bit more personality to build your following. You’ll need to be thinking about a mixture of engaging personal posts, promotional content, and more general music-related posts. This will begin to build your grassroots following and help to drive engagement. 

5. Engage – and I Mean, Actually Engage! 

This isn’t just about “liking back” or “returning comments”, although those are both valuable strategies in their own way. By viewing engagement as purely transactional, though, you miss the opportunity to really connect with artists who are producing in the same genre as you. You could be just a few clicks away from a great collaboration or an inspirational relationship. 

So, by all means, make sure that you comment, like, and follow reciprocally. This will mean that your interaction is visible in the notifications of the other account, which may lead them to engage with your page and follow you. If you comment, try to make it longer than just a few words; generic comments like “thanks for your comment,” or “great picture” could identify you in the algorithms as a spammer and make your content less visible. 

There’s a lot to think about here, so it’s actually easier to just be genuine in your interactions with other accounts. It’s great to communicate with other people on social media in the same way that you would talk to them in real life, by showing genuine interest in what they’re doing and trying to build a meaningful relationship. If you’re doing that, you can’t go wrong.

6. Frequency of Posting – Choose Quality Over Quantity 

It may well be another cliché, but in the Instagram world, quality trumps quantity. It’s not like Twitter, where you need to post as often as possible to prevent your content from being lost. On Instagram, there’s a risk that you might end up irritating people if you post too often, and this could lead to a loss of followers. 

Less frequent content, which is high quality and visually engaging, is always going to glean more engagement than super-repetitive and frequent fluff. It’s better to be mindful about your posts than to churn out content with no real thought or strategy behind it.

7. Think About Your Identity on Instagram 

A lot of musicians don’t want to think about themselves as a brand, but many of the rules about branding apply to artists too. There’s a ton of research that shows that the use of color and design has a strong influence on brand recognition and can influence purchasing decisions. So if you want people to engage with your content, then make a purchase (or even stream) decision, you need to think about this stuff – whether it’s about buying your album, purchasing concert tickets, or whatever call to action you are trying to encourage. 

A consistent look on Instagram will help your followers to recognize your posts within their feeds and will lead to more engagement. 

Twenty One Pilots are a great example of this strategy. Their posts during their album promotion cycles are always a uniform color scheme; black and yellow, and black and red. It makes their posts recognizable and distinctive and shows a strategy that has been thought about carefully before implementing.

8. Happy Hashtagging! 

Some people love hashtags, and some people roll their eyes right into the back of their heads when they think about them. However you feel about them, you need to handle them with some care. Use them too much and too indiscriminately, and the algorithms could punish your account. But careful use of hashtags, after research, can help new audiences discover your content. 

Keep hashtags relevant to your post, and make sure you vary them across different posts. And don’t overdo it! One or two per post is enough, with a few more sprinkled into your comments.

9. Go Carefully With Your Captions 

While Instagram is primarily a visual platform, the caption area gives you an excellent opportunity to express yourself, so you shouldn’t neglect this. It’s good to try to keep your voice consistent across posts if possible. You can use the caption area to go into quite a lot of depth, as you have up to 2,200 characters to play with. 

National Geographic is a great example of an account that uses captions to their full potential. Remember, though, that only the first two text lines are visible without tapping “more.” So try to get your key points across early in the caption.

10. To Synch, or Not to Synch? 

Let’s go back to that whole love/hate thing about social media. Should you synch your Instagram with your Facebook and Twitter accounts? Or should you try to tailor your content specifically to each platform? 

It’s going to depend on how much time and energy you want to dedicate to your social media presence. 

To help with this, we created echopunch to schedule and strategize your content across various platforms in a fraction of the time it would typically take. 

In addition to the typical scheduling features other social media management platforms have, our campaign wizard will help you create a meaningful connection with your audience, boost fan engagement, and help you think in terms of an overall strategy. No more living post-to-post.

Create a free account and try echopunch today at https://echopunch.com