In the modern world where innovation is at an all time high, there is little more important for a business than publicity. Conducting business in your life as a musician can be tiring and stressful, but with social media right at our fingertips, if you want to be seen, it is easier than ever to generate attention.
Instagram is one of the most important platforms of this generation. With 1 Billion active users and its visually engaging format, it is one of the easiest social media platforms to grow an audience on and spread your message.
So how to get started?
1. Understand Your Audience
Before I delved into the Instagram game myself, I was an Instagram user for around five months. Despite the fact that I mainly followed fitness and art accounts rather than guitarists at the beginning, this time was incredibly useful because I got used to the kind of posts that attracted my attention and kept me engaged.
If your business is based on your own work (as it most often is with artists and musicians) it is important to remember that you are the perfect example of your audience. The things that you like, your prospective audience will enjoy as well.
Pay close attention to what you find annoying or irritating online (too many giveaways, spam style posts) and make a mental note to avoid presenting your page in that way.
Eventually, knowing your market will also involve following the posts from people in the online circuit you wish to engage with and applying the same process. Whatever you are interested in, people will be interested in too.
2. Understand What YOU Have To Contribute
So much of Social Media these days is self promotion, especially in the classical guitar world. In fact when I log onto Facebook, every other post is a picture expressing gratitude for winning a prize in a competition or a photo from a festival where people express their joy at meeting ‘old and new friends’.
It is great that people are having a great time! But, it isn’t the most pleasant thing for our self esteem to see how well people are doing all the time. When we post something like this, deep down (and maybe not so deep down) we know that people in our field will be slightly envious.
You can’t build an audience on envy. Building an audience on social media means adding something positive to people’s lives, offering shared success over personal success.
So if you are going to stick around in this world for long you will need to pursue success in the field to its own end and work out what you have to give to others, rather than what you want to get out of it.
3. Understand Your Statistics
Once you open a business account on Instagram you will be able to track a number of statistics on your page, use these to maximise your potential online by understanding who is engaging with your page when and where.
The chances are that as a musician your audience will be in all corners of the earth, this is one of the most crucial elements in shaping your content. Your content should be useful to all of your audience, not just the part that lives in a small city in Spain.
Only posting to promote concerts is one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to creating useful content and engaging an audience. Most of the world won’t be able to make it, choose instead to post videos from the concert, photos with captions dedicated to explaining your concert experience or things you have learnt.
4. Be Consistent
Inside all of us is a desire for order and familiarity, so it is no surprise that online the most successful content is that which fits an existing frame. Create a theme that people can get behind.
Whether it’s videos of you practising, performance videos, beautiful pictures, make sure that what you are doing is obvious enough that people know why they follow you. Not only does it make your followers’ lives easier, it also simplifies what your goal is online, which makes less work for you in the long run!
5. Call Your Own Shots
When it comes down to it, the most important thing about building an online presence is that you are happy with it.
Whilst social media can give us a warped sense of reality, whatever you put online can be seen by anybody, including real people that you actually know. Never post something that you would be ashamed of your mum, your kids or your boss seeing (future or current, things online now are there forever).
That being said, pandering to other people’s preferences is unlikely to make you happy. Try to focus on a professional middle ground between the things you like and the things you think others will respect.
After all, the person spending the most time on your profile is you!
6. Use All The Tools Available To You
Instagram are constantly introducing new elements into the game to make the app easier to use and more fun.
To keep your Instagram profile current, it is important to make use of at least some of the new features; just by adding a story each day, or a video on IGTV once in a while, you can cut through the same old algorithm and reach new audiences.
The stories feature is particularly important because it allows your audience to mediate how much you spam them(!). Stories is a good place to talk about your day/feelings/travels, whilst keeping your feed looking more magazine worthy.
7. Roll With The Algorithm
Whilst we shouldn’t be put off by numbers and post things that make us happy, if we really want to grow on Instagram it is important to look at how the algorithm is treating us by checking our statistics.
Big apps like Instagram survive through people spending as much time as possible using them. So it makes sense that every now and again they upgrade the system so that the things that are working get more natural air time.
In my year and a half of using Instagram as a business profile I’ve seen the rise, fall and re-rise of video as a medium, so don’t worry if your strategy is going out of fashion, it will probably come round again.
Just try to be aware of the things that are working and the things that aren’t, go with the flow.
8. Pay Attention To How Your Feed Looks
This sounds simple at the offset, but it’s probably the most important thing about Instagram and should never be forgotten. You may have the most beautiful captions under the sun, but Instagram is ultimately a visual platform.
When people visit your profile they will see the sea of images before delving into any of your actual posts. Try to make your photos as high quality as possible, and if you’re posting a video, remember to select a good cover image!
9. Talk About Things Happening NOW!
Instagram — Instant Telegram. INSTANT! Caption or no caption, the average time spent looking at an Instagram post is 7 seconds. Focus on what is happening now.
However cool it might sound, save the ‘something exciting in the works’ for when you have the thing right there for people to take. Just finished recording a podcast? Wait until it is out.
A little hype is great, but don’t spend your audience’s attention all on the hype before they can get their hands on your product.
10. Engage With Your Audience
Hands down the best thing about having a platform on Instagram is the people you will get in contact with.
The world is full of people as fanatical about the geeky things as you are, and this platform will let you share your nerdiness with those people even though they may be displaced all across the earth!
Respond to comments, appreciate the lovely DMs, check out people’s posts, the Instagram guitar world is a really great place to be, use it!
Embrace the love and the hate, social media is here for a good time, not a long time!