A lot has changed since the first photo was shared on Instagram in 2010. With over 1 billion monthly active users in 2021 and more than 995 photos posted per second across the world, Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for worldwide communication. That being said, if you want to make sure your music reaches the masses, you have to stand out among all the millions upon millions of other accounts that belong to popular influencers, brands, and, most importantly, bands. Here are a few music promotion strategies that will surely come in handy.
In This Article
- Open Up
- Finding New Fans Through #Hashtags
- Make Your Followers Feel Involved By Including Them
- Interact With Other Artists
- Driving Organic Engagement: Surveys & Questions
- How Often To Post
- The Different Kinds Of Posts
- Photo Feed
- Network On And Off Instagram
It’s very easy for promotional content to be quickly swiped away. If you want to establish a bond with your fans, make sure your posts in no way resemble a commercial or advertisement (at least not most of them). Share updates on the writing process. Post silly things of you or your bandmates driving around or simply hanging out. Share snaps of you all playing live. Don’t be too serious all the time, unless you have cultivated that as your specific brand. Make your page as much about your and those in your group being real people as much as it is about the music.
Being open and fun will make your fans feel like insiders instead of onlookers. Now more than ever, people are using Instagram to come together after a period of being away from each other. People want to laugh, to find their next favorite song, and they want to feel included, even if it’s only online. The more your audience feels like they could have fun hanging out with you, the better.
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FIND NEW FANS THROUGH #HASHTAGS
Hashtags might seem a bit desperate, but when employed correctly and intelligently, they can be very useful. Whenever you post anything on your Instagram, make sure to write a few choice hashtags below. This can be in the description or possibly as the first comment. Either works! Don’t use too many, as the platform tends to penalize that type of behavior, but don’t be afraid to select some popular or hyper-specific ones that will lead strangers to your post. These might be as simple as your band’s name or the title of a song, or perhaps the genre, a lyric, or maybe even a challenge that’s happening on the site.
MAKE YOUR FOLLOWERS FEEL INVOLVED BY INCLUDING THEM
It used to be that giving away tickets or free downloads was the best way to get fans to share your music and help spread the word organically on social media. Now the currency is your fans and friends being seen themselves, so these days you can see popular indie artists like Phoebe Bridgers sharing posts uploaded by her fans, usually about her music or regarding their gigantic fandom and how nerdy they think they are. This grows the fanaticism and love for an artist and creates a community of fans who can talk to each other and geek out over your music. The Beatles had a huge fan club, now Phoebe Bridgers does, and they have their own jokes and aesthetics. Time to build your online fan club!
Get fans to use a #hashtag specific to your band and have them wear your shirt or sing your song. Then repost it to your stories. The thrill your fans get keeps them coming back for more and wanting to share your content as it is released.
INTERACT WITH OTHER ARTISTS IN YOUR NICHE
This era is more about collaboration across the internet than ever before. When The Postal Service recorded their only album through emails in 2002, they could’ve never anticipated how it would influence a large percentage of the music that would be created decades later.
Don’t spend time trying to get famous people to notice you. The next stars are you and your peers on Instagram making music and putting it out there. If you’re a solo artist, reach out to other artists who are on your level, in your sort of style and feel, and have the same number of followers as you roughly, or one step up (if you have 500 followers, try to reach out to people with 400-750… or 1000-9000, etc.).
If you’re a band, reach out to other groups in cities you want to travel to and play with. Try to set up things for the future. These organic, grassroots connections are always the ones that lead to the best, most satisfying experiences on the road.
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DRIVING ORGANIC ENGAGEMENT: SURVEYS & QUESTIONS
To get people to follow and interact with your music and videos on Instagram, it is important to drive organic engagement with your audience by using some of the many widgets the platform includes in its stories section. Things like filters can be funny, and the face changing add-ons have been used consistently by some artists to remind everyone who follows them that they are just like everyone else.
Two of the best tools to drive this organic engagement are the survey and question features in stories.
With a few clicks you can create a survey that features two options, and artists have found all manner of creative ways to use this simple widget to take advantage of human nature and the way we can’t seem to help ourselves from making our opinion known. Some do battle royales for favorite band member. Others do surveys regarding what song from a new album should be a single. Many acts ask legitimate questions targeted at helping the band order new merch or figure out where to tour next.
The question feature is very useful as well, because you can ask your audience a question and then they will share their answers, which makes everyone feel very involved. It’s open-ended, unlike the survey, and can pull people into your world by asking for their voice and making them feel valued.
You can also turn the question feature around into an Ask Me Anything (known online as an AMA). Inviting your audience to ask you anything they may want to know is vulnerable and forces you to open up in either a serious or funny way.
Whichever style you choose, either way, these widgets drive viewership and demonstrates to Instagram’s music algorithm that your active and that your followers are engaged, which only helps you become more visible on the app.
HOW OFTEN TO POST
Instagram’s algorithm used to be such that it wasn’t helpful to post a lot. Back then, posting too much would lower the amount of people who would see what you’re sharing to try to “even out” the exposure of each account. Those days are long gone, and the current algorithm still reacts to grossly oversharing (5 photo posts a day), but is way more forgiving and rewards regular and consistent posting.
Instagram itself suggests posting to your photo feed once per day, while some tech writers say most successful brands post 1.5 times a day. So that means uploading something between 7-10 times a week, but there’s more than just the original photo feed to consider if you want to get noticed…
THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF POSTS
This isn’t the Instagram of 2015 anymore. You’ll have a hard time getting noticed only posting photographs in your feed. Posting across Instagram’s multiple modes of sharing—stories, Reels, IGTV, and then the photo feed—is the key to doing the social platform right.
Most experts suggest you post 5-10 stories every day. What you do in your stories is up to you, and you are usually restricted only by your creativity. Talk directly to the camera (AKA your fans), post photos, share content from other accounts, include music, apply stickers and GIFs, have fun with the many filters and add-ons…the options are really limitless.
Some artists, such as Ben Gibbard, have chosen to only use the stories feature, but this is mainly reserved for bands who have reached a very high level of success and can afford to be choosey. For your group, a better bet is the 5-10 benchmark, though when you have a live show and get lots of good video and photos, it is ok to blast your stories with 20-40 short stories. (AMA’s are also a time when it’s ok to blast your stories feed).
Some bands completely rely on this technique, especially younger ones. Ultimately it’s up to you to determine what your audience likes and adapt to that.
If you want to know what kind of content is performing well in your stories, or at what point people stop watching, look at the audience of each upload. In the bottom left corner of every Instagram story, you will see an image and a number. You can click this to see who’s been tuning in, as well as how many fans in general are watching. If your first story gets 150 views and they all get about the same number until the tenth, you’re posting the right number. If the first gets 150 and by the fourth you drop to 80 and then by the tenth it’s around 17, maybe post fewer and change up the content.
Post a few Reels a week. They’re only 15 seconds long and are Instagram’s attempt to match TikTok, just inside the already-existing platform. Be quick and humorous, or catchy and focused on the music. Some people like to post teasers of new songs being played in their bedroom, meme/joke-like content that responds to something in pop culture moment, or even something very curated and edited. What are the different types of music videos you can post? The key to Reels is the algorithm gets them seen WAY MORE than any other post.
When just getting started (and perhaps even beyond that point), when singing little teasers of new material, a do-it-yourself feel is fine. You can use your smartphone and just prop it up against something. These don’t have to be fancy! Others go a little further with special lighting and a stand. The key is to make it feel cozy and like you’re just hanging out and sharing a new tune with a close, trusted friend.
Another option is to play around with memes. In a lot of cases, bands repost their TikToks on Reels as a way to spread them further. You may very well see the watermark of the TikTok video behind Instagram’s own branding. It’s nothing to worry about aesthetically and is par for the course now.
However you decide to use Instagram’s Reels feature, just make sure you’re active! Their short length makes them very watchable, while the platform’s algorithm favors those who engage with the feature.
Post 1-2 IGTV videos a week. These are harder to make, as they’re longer videos, and that means more time and effort.
IGTV clips don’t usually receive the same traffic that Reels do, but they’re still an important piece of the puzzle. Many bands designate certain types of content just for IGTV, such as interviews, behind-the-scenes looks at recording or playing live, entire song performances, and more. Some artists reserve IGTV for videos in which they speak and do not sing. Others just play covers on IGTV. It has its own role, and you can tailor it to your purposes.
The key when posting IGTV content, just like with Reels, is to make sure you click the box enabling it to be posted on your main feed, as it will be dispersed with your photos. As stated before, this is not the Instagram of 2015, and that means a feed made up entirely of photos is not going to engage the highest number of people possible.
7-10 a week. Photos with people do better than objects, vistas, or your food, so post the members of the band. Let people see how cool they look and how beautiful they are, inside and out. Photos with a face or faces as the focus of the photo do better than full body images.
Vary your posts between all kinds of angles of your band making music, hanging out, traveling, and reaching out to the audience. Always make sure to share the posted photo as a story after it’s up on your page to direct people to your main feed.
NETWORK ON AND OFF INSTAGRAM
Make sure to cross post between apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and other platforms like Twitch or Clubhouse. The bigger your presence, the more chance people can find your music and link each other to your stuff. Get your band’s instagram bio in order, and then focus on the most common chain of importance: creating content for stories, Reels, and photos on Instagram, but also to repost TikTok videos into your Instagram stories section. This cross-pollination will connect your audiences and hopefully grow your numbers across them all.