*Image of Bandzoogle members Flagship Romance Instagram feed.
With social distancing mandates still in full swing (in many places at least), it’s more important than ever to keep the conversation going on your social media channels. Whether you consider yourself a well-versed Instagrammer, or someone who wishes they had a magical genie to make it all go away, I’m here to help!
Let’s start with some Instagram basics to ensure you’re getting the most out of using the platform.
Getting acquainted with your data
First, you’ll want to make sure you are set up with a Professional account so you’re able to track stats and analytics on your page; in contrast, a Personal profile does not give you access to these metrics. This can be easily adjusted in your account settings.
Once you’ve made the switch, you can easily access this data by clicking the menu icon in the top right, and selecting “Insights,” which will provide detailed information about your content, activity, and audience. This is invaluable for musicians so you can keep a close eye on what’s working and what isn’t with your sharing efforts.
Using Stories vs. posting to the grid
The next thing you’ll want to do is get a handle on Instagram “culture.” For quick, one-off updates, use your Story. That’s the Snapchat-like feature that posts quick photos or videos which expire after 24 hours, accessible by clicking your circular profile picture. This tends to get way more engagement than your average grid post, so use this for more “live” or time-sensitive content.
You can see stats for your stories from the same analytics page mentioned earlier, or by opening up your Story, clicking the bottom left “Seen By” text, and then clicking the bar graph icon which will display data on interactions and discovery. You’ll be able to see how people are reacting to your Story posts, including which types of actions are being taken, how many accounts you’ve reached, the number of new followers that came in, and so much more.
Stories are a great place to promote new releases, show something you’re currently working on, and engage with followers through the use of included features like polls, quizzes, Q&A’s and more.
For posting on your Instagram grid, this is where you put the “good stuff”—things with better staying power. On these posts, you’ll be able to utilize clever and informative captions, hashtags, and high-quality images and videos; all in order to create a well-curated page that looks attractive to anyone who stumbles across it.
To recap, post daily updates to your core community via your Stories, and use the grid posts to attract new followers.
Learning to love the algorithm
As a musician, you really want to use this platform to the fullest extent, and challenge yourself to maintain it the way you would anything else that’s important to your music career. Regular, thoughtful posts will help you grow and engage your fanbase, increase your listenership, get more people out to your shows (whether in-person or online), and create more fans of your music!
Remember, Instagram is a tech platform, and it works off an algorithm. The more you post, the higher the engagement, the more fans (and potential new fans) will come across your stuff organically! The platform prioritizes what its algorithm perceives as engaging content, so it will bump that up in search results or feeds for your followers, based on who is interacting with your page and/or posts, the effectiveness of certain hashtags, and cemented connections with other users.
Instagram’s overall goal is to keep the time people spend on the app as high as possible, so they try to ensure that users are getting lots of what they like to have put in front of them, based on their tracked usage data.
So then how will people who don’t know your music find you? And how can you end up on a potential fan’s discovery page? Well, it’s all in the posting strategy.
I know it can be hard sometimes to generate consistent content. What should you share? When should you share it? What hashtags should you use?
Don’t fret, because we’ve put together a basic, sample weekly posting schedule for you. You can use this calendar to generate some ideas and adapt them to your own content and audience right away. Check it out:
A sample posting schedule that you can use to generate a calendar that works for you
#MondayMotivation - Post something inspiring in your Story. For example, how you got started, growth stats from an old release compared to a new one, or @Mentioning another artist who inspires you.
Post a preview - Share a photo or video of something you’re currently working on that’s slated for release soon. It could be a new song snippet, music video clip, or preliminary details for a tour schedule.
#TuesdayTip - Share a tip from your process. You can talk about why you use thinner gauge strings for certain songs in your repertoire, or a favorite plugin you can’t live without when mixing your songs.
Promote a past project - Send some love to past collaborators by @Mentioning them, sharing or linking to an old song or project in your Story.
#WednesdayWisdom - Share a little-known fact about yourself or link to something educational or inspirational by @Mentioning another artist or brand.
Share something from behind the scenes - Post a personal photo or video of a past or present work in progress. A video from a recording studio session, rehearsal, or soundcheck is always cool for fans to see!
#ThrowbackThursday - Share an old photo from when you got your first instrument or played your first band show. This is a great chance to let fans get to know you better, and also give them a good laugh!
Show off your workspace - Fans love to see how artists work and how their favorite songs came to be. Post a snapshot of your home studio set-up or practice area to your Story to share where some of the magic happens.
#FridayFun - Post something fun you’re doing in your Story! It doesn’t always need to be promotional all the time, so use this space to have fans get to know your true personality.
Offer a weekend special - Give thanks to your fans by offering them something like a coupon code for your online merch store, presale access to your upcoming shows, or a free song download when they sign up for your email list.
#SaturdayNight - Share what a Saturday night in your life looks like. You can be home shredding, supporting a fellow band’s show, or just kicking back watching the latest viral show on Netflix. This is another good chance to personalize your page and share what you’re up to in real life on your story.
Post song lyrics or a favorite quote - Quotes are shared a lot on social media. They can express a ton about how you’re feeling, or just offer your audience a chance to reflect on something momentarily. You can post quotes from other artists and authors, or quote your own lyrics and explain a bit about what they mean.
#SundayFunday - Sundays are usually a day to recharge or get ready for the week ahead for most of us. Post a photo or video in your Story and utilize the embedded music feature to simultaneously promote your music along with it!
Engage your fans - Post something that communicates directly to your fans. Ask what their favorite song on the album is, which city they want your band to come to next, or who they would love to see you collaborate with.
Keeping a schedule like this allows your fans to stay connected with you, and creates habits and routines that form stronger bonds. More consistent posting eventually leads to more quality interactions, resulting in more listens and shares—in order words, what we all want!
Keep an eye on your data and do a debrief at the end of each month to see what’s been working well and where you’ve seen substantial growth and improvements. Instagram is an amazing (and free!) resource to share what you do with people all over the world in real time. So get your calendar in order and let’s grow this thing!
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Christine Elise Occhino is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for the music business. In addition to being a vocalist herself, she is the Founder & CEO of Lock City Music Group, and the Founder & Executive Director of Hope in Harmony, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uses music to help and heal those in need. Christine holds a BM in Music Business & Management from Berklee College of Music, and is a member of the Grammy Recording Academy, ASCAP, and Berklee College of Music Alumni Association. She also currently hosts the music-based web series & podcast, Soundbytez.
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