1 out of 7 people on the planet have use Instagram or at one time or another registered and account.
Instagram is a strategic platform. It’s a science. Gaining followers on Facebook is a lot easier than Instagram. They are two very different platforms, even though Facebook owns Instagram they have to be treated separately.
To ensure that your profile represents who you or your artist is, MAKE SURE the link in your Instagram bio actually works! You wouldn’t believe how many artists lose out on sales due to broken links that are not tested beforehand.
The only links that are “clickable,” on Instagram are in the BIO and Story (this can be used in the SWIPE UP) feature. You have to either be verified by Instagram or have 10k+ followers to enable the SWIPE UP feature.
The links in your BIO are interchangeable. Most people leave their website in place at all times or change the link to a new album release/Youtube Video they want their followers to watch.
Getting Verified on Instagram
Getting verified on Instagram is nearly impossible, but it happens. Most of the time you have to be a celebrity, a well known brand or know someone who works at Instagram to get approved for verification. They are much stricter with verification than on Facebook.
Recommendations For Getting Approved on Instagram
Over the years, with the artists that my company represents, Windsong Entertainment, only one artist was approved without direct contact with Instagram or one of our publicists contacting Instagram on our behalf. The reason this artist was approved is still unknown to us, even though he is a famous singer-songwriter. He was denied about 6 times in the past, before they finally approved. Sometimes you just get lucky. You can submit for verification every 30 days, the same is for Facebook.
Another frustration is to see fake accounts pop up where people are pretending to be you or the artist you are representing. This is one of “things” Instagram looks for as a reason to verify or not verify an Instagram account. We currently have an artist on our roster who is a famous actor, and see scam accounts regularly. We report the accounts to Instagram and nothing happens, he still can’t get verified on the platform. Even though he is verified on every other social media platform. Frustrating.
About a year ago, we represented an unknown artist for a short period of time. As we looked at her low number socials, we were surprised to see her Instagram was verified. She had 800 followers and was only verified because her cousin’s best friend worked there.
Let me put it this way, you would have to know someone who knows someone’s cat who knows someone’s fish who happens to be on the desk of someone who works at Instagram. It’s like winning the lottery three times, back to back. It’s not impossible, just less likely. But, it does happen.
Primarily, the best way to get verified is through a publicist OR network your way to someone who works at Facebook/ Instagram.
Do yourself a favor and hire a publicist for a minimum of three months. This can cost anywhere from Free to $20,000. The average cost is about $750-$3,000 a month. Networking is cheaper, but if you really want to get verified, save up and budget for a publicist or a PR company.
Each post on Instagram has to have a distinctive look. Make sure that you use the same filter every time you post or no filter. Just try to maintain the same style of creativity/message that you are posting. This will allow fans to instantly recognize your account. Take the time to view what you are posting. Most of the time fans are mindlessly scrolling through their feeds. (We are all guilty of this).
Be Active on Instagram: When it comes to being active, liking posts in a random way isn’t likely to achieve a great deal. But if you do your research, you can make likes work really well for your artist. Take a good look at your competitors/friends on Instagram. It’s likely they have been doing this longer and have more experience. Their fans are probably your target market, so follow them.
If you are acting as a social media manager for an artist or a brand, read the next few lines two or three times in a row.
Make sure, absolutely sure, that whoever you follow on behalf of an artist or brand, that you get approval first. Representing their brand and personal interests is always #1. Do not follow people who do not line up with their beliefs or values. If you are not sure, ASK. Have them write down a list for you to reference. It is not a sign of weakness, it will show that you want to learn more about them as a person/brand, and in turn, will help them succeed in their careers.
Hashtags: Hashtags help people navigate through millions of posts to find what’s relevant or of interest to them. Research has shown that using up 20+ hashtags is good, but don’t go beyond that. (It will look like spam). You can use up to 30, but each hashtag counts. If you put random hashtags without researching each hashtag to see their reach on Instagram, your post will not be noticed by your target audience/demographic.
Ex: #music has over 100 million tags (This is incredible!) #coolmusicinstagram has 100 tags. Big difference. You can research the most used tags to maximize your exposure in the search bar of Instagram. Do not use RANDOM TAGS, DO NOT make up your own unless they are branded, you will reach no one.
You may not get it right straightaway, but if you can find hashtags that are both popular and pertinent to you or your artist, you’ll get instant access to an engaged audience. Some hashtags have seen virtual forums growing up around them — niche communities that will be interested in you.
How to use Hashtags on a post: Putting hashtags at the end of your post keeps things tidy. Make sure to use periods with each space to make sure they are down at the bottom.
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Hashtags should be at the bottom! People are less likely to read your post if they are crowding your description. Hashtags have to be done manually, you cannot use Hootsuite or any other platform when it comes to Instagram. We have not seen a platform successfully integrate with Instagram yet. You must DEVOTE time to each post. Typically it takes about 5–10 minutes to create hashtags, you could make breakfast in the same amount of time.
Branding Your Own Hashtags
Each artist or business uses their own unique hashtag to make it easy for themselves and fans to find their posts.
Example: Let’s say the artist is named Prince. Each post would need to have #Prince or #PrincePurpleRain. It’s a tag linking back to that specific account, super important! You can use up to 4–5 core hashtags to make your own and define your brand/artist.
Picture + Video Quality Control: Make sure your pictures look amazing. Be ruthless — edit them, dismiss anything that looks poor or is blurred. PEOPLE will not look at them! Find an editor or an app that can fix these issues. Also, use layout and angles, The Instagram Layout app is really good for creating interesting montages, especially if you want to post a sequence of images or show a step-by-step guide.
Response on Instagram: Instagram is — or can be — a two-way dialogue, so ask your followers to respond to your posts. You, of course, then need to respond to any comments — it’s all about active engagement, not just having a passive following.
Plan Your Posts: You have to plan your Instagram activity. You cannot randomly post things like on Facebook. They must be PLANNED. Set up a rolling three-month content plan for all your social media, and allocate time to curate images, captions and hashtags.
Track your Posts
Google Analytics will show what traffic and conversion you’re getting from Instagram. If you have an Instagram Business Account you have the added bonus of Instagram Insights, which shows how effective your posts are. Look at this a few times a week to get an idea on the latest trends and exactly what types of posts your fans are engaging with.
Instagram Advertising = More Visibility
Instagram advertising works really well for businesses and artists. No matter how tight your marketing budget may be, it’s well worth dipping your toe and seeing what traction you can gain for your business. There are four formats to choose from — from a simple single image to a 60-second video — and with a choice of banners for your call to action, it couldn’t be easier to start advertising. The typical budget can be anywhere from $20 — $100,000 a month. It’s money well spent! You can advertise in news feeds, stories, banners and more!
The surest way to get your content in front of a new audience is to run an Instagram ad. You can use that information to target your ads based on:
Location: State, province, city, country, etc.
Demographics: Age, gender, and language.
Interests: Such as other accounts people follow and apps they use.
Behaviors: Both on and off Instagram.
Write great captions: You cannot neglect your captions. Your brand voice is just as important as your brand look. Like your visuals, it should be consistent across posts. Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters long, so you can use them for everything from a quick quip to detailed storytelling. That said, only the first two lines of text appear in news feed without tapping more.
Since people tend to scan captions rather than read them thoroughly, you want to get all the important information into those first two lines.
We recommend the following Instagram caption lengths
Organic posts: 138–150 characters
Instagram ads: 125 characters
If you’ve got more to say, go ahead and say it. But make sure the extra text is worth it. Your caption should be relevant, entertaining or informative, compelling, and on-brand.
Don’t neglect Instagram Stories
Half of businesses/artists on Instagram use Stories. And they’re getting great results: A third of the most viewed Stories are posted by businesses. Stories are a key part of a good Instagram marketing strategy.
Instagram Stories disappear after just 24 hours. Followers expect them to be more real and raw than your curated Instagram feed. They provide a great opportunity to connect with followers and build relationships.
Tell a story: Have a message in mind, even for this in-the-moment format.
Get interactive: Use Stories features like polls and questions.
Aim for personal connection: Stories are a huge driver of Instagram direct messages that help build follower loyalty.
Use a call to action: Don’t rely on the small “swipe up” Instagram overlays for outside links. Use text to tell followers why they should swipe.
Be consistent: Like your Instagram feed, your Stories should align with your brand voice and aesthetic.
Use Stories Highlights and Covers to Boost Your Bio
You can create highlight albums to preserve your top Stories content, so it doesn’t disappear after 24 hours. Your highlight albums appear right under your bio, and you can create custom covers for each.
Used effectively, this adds a whole extra component to your bio, giving potential followers loads more information about your business and why they should follow you on Instagram.
Try Instagram Shopping
If you have a business profile, you are in luck! Why? Access to Instagram Shopping. This feature, which is not available for personal accounts, allows you to sell products directly from Instagram posts and Stories.
Since you can’t link from Instagram posts, this is a huge deal for brands/artists.
It’s easy to set up shoppable Instagram posts and Stories. 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month.
Posting at the right times on Instagram
Did you know that the best time to post on Instagram varies based on your industry? It’s true. Researchers analyzed over 300,000 posts from 11 different industries and found that there really is a best time to post, even though Instagram feeds are no longer chronological.
Here are the best times to post for the music industry: The highest traffic times were Tuesday and Thursday, 12 to 3 p.m. Posting is an art, the recommended amount of posting is 4–5 times per week on Instagram or every other day, you must keep followers engaged or they will drop off, it’s crazy, but they do! Other posting times include, 10am, 2pm, 5pm, 7pm, 10pm PST.
Try an influencer partnership
Working with an influencer can help to build your credibility while exposing your brand to a new audience. One easy way to get started with influencer marketing on Instagram is to ask them to share one of your posts, collaborate on a contest or send them your merchandise to wear and have them tag you.
SUMMARY: Growing an Instagram following takes time and dedication. You can treat it as a part-time or full time job, it’s up to you. Whatever you do, DO NOT buy followers, this will only lower your engagement and not reach REAL people who can make you REAL money. Your posts should be 50% business and 50% personal. Find a passion to share with the Instagram world, research others who are doing what you want to do and have fun while doing it. If you aren’t having fun, then what’s the point?
ABOUT LIZ KAMLET
Liz Kamlet is a top music industry professional. Her clients have sold over 100+ million records, 2+ billion streams, 50+ million social media followers, and won/been nominated for multiple Oscar and Grammy awards.