Expert Music Career Advice For DIY Musicians

The Essential Guide to Instagram for Bands

shutterstock_264286310Image via Shutterstock

A version of this article originally appeared on Soundfly.

 

I know what you’re thinking. Another social media account to stay on top of? Will I ever have time to actually play music instead of just posting about it? Instagram has climbed the ranks of relevant social media tools for artists simply by being a vehicle for videos and photos, which statistically have the most hits and reach over text posts on Facebook and Twitter. So here's my guide to quick and easy Instagram account management for bands.

1. Follow, follow, follow

🙌🏿💓📲

A photo posted by 🇸🇱BadBoy ChiChi💕Blood Orange🇬🇾 (@devhynes) on

 

I had a friend at BKNYLive manage our social media accounts over the summer. One of the first things he did was target our potential audience by mass following followers of the Instagram accounts of similar bands, music blogs that covered our genre, record labels, etc. He followed about 2,000 accounts and within a few weeks, we had close to 1,000 new followers.

2. Unfollow

If you’re concerned about your follower ratio, there are lots of sites like Unfollowers.com that will unfollow non-followers for you. But be warned: some of these sites can leave your account vulnerable to hacking and might not be worth the trouble. Instagram also tends to recognize when these tools are being used and can sign you out automatically as a result, which is a pain. I tend to go through manually and unfollow any users that seem irrelevant (i.e. Ruby’s Jewelry Store, sexychatgal6969).

3. Generate content

we're weird. photo cred @caseymathewson

A photo posted by MADAM WEST (@madamwestmusic) on

 

There are lots of different views on content generation. Some folks claim that you should only post musical content of your band — rehearsal recordings, show pics, etc. A great practice is to hand your phone off to a friend or significant other before you play a set, and tell them to snap away while you play! You can pick and post the best shots and video snippets later. Personally, I use my band’s Instagram as a personal account — photos of my dog get a lot of likes, and each time a new user likes a photo, they might check my profile, which includes a link to our music and a short bio. I also take a lot of photos of friends’ bands and tag them with their Instagram handles, which not only promotes other musicians in the community, but exposes our account to those bands’ fans.

4. Promote

We blitzed Instagram with a ton of promotional videos before our album release and got a lot of hits on our site as a result. You can also post screencaps of press coverage (link to the article in your caption or bio), album covers, merch (include pricing or any promotional deals and a link), and links to wherever your music is streaming. Hit 1,000 plays on Spotify? Post a screen capture! Same goes for funny fan posts to your FB page, flyers for shows, and music video shots.

5. Mix it up

I took a look at Taylor Swift’s Instagram to get an idea of content creation for a large following. Along with photos at shows, Taylor’s Instagram includes selfies, childhood photos, and cute animal pics. She uses Instagram much the same way I do — a combination of music-relevant posts and a behind the scenes look at her daily life. For a more band-oriented look, I scrolled through Gogol Bordello’s account, which looks like it’s managed by the band’s representatives rather than the band themselves — it’s mostly professional photos of shows and promo flyers.

Another great photo by our friend @danadistortion from NYE. gogolbordello

A photo posted by Gogol Bordello (@gogolbordello) on

 

Don’t be intimidated by large acts’ polished accounts — just do what works for you and your budget! Of course, if you're in the position to pay someone to manage your account, or even for professional photos (which you should have regardless), do it! Visual content is your most valuable asset when creating your online presence — my band’s recent shots got excellent mileage on Instagram and our other social media accounts. If you or any members of your band are photographers or creative types, check out the Antlers’ account, which is full of landscapes, arty nudes, and pretty filters.

Vanilla in Manila?

A photo posted by The National (@ntnl) on

6. The best times to post

I try to follow a few simple rules when posting. I post about once a day (I don’t want to blitz my following too much) and try to post at peak traffic time, which can vary, but generally abides by this handy guide (2:00 to 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays). Consider your audience; are they based in a different time zone? Are they high school to college age, meaning are they in class most weekdays? You can test your network’s peak traffic by posting at different times during the week to see which posts get the most mileage.

 

So what are you waiting for? Get posting – it only takes a second! And if you get addicted like I am, try out photo and video editing apps like BoomerangHyperlapse and Aviary to spruce up your shots. If you need a follower to start you off, add me @madamwestmusic, and I’ll be sure to follow back.

 

Learn more about engaging fans through Instagram:

 

Sophie Chernin is an NYC-based songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. She is the co-founder and manager of the alt-soul band Madam West. Sophie identifies as a musician despite her current full-time job outside of the music sphere — her passion for music and promoting artists she loves drives her every moment of every day.

You make the music. We help promote music.