How to Use Instagram to Build Your Fan Base
Considering how visual music is these days, it should come as no surprise that Instagram is a powerful tool that every musician should be using to engage with existing fans and build your fan base.
You may know that Instagram started as an app for people to share mobile photography. However, it has expanded into a large and powerful social media platform with 700 million active monthly users. That’s an impressive number – and one that illustrates why Instagram is the place to be if you want to promote yourself.
Here are some tips to help you use Instagram effectively.
#1: Use Hashtags Wisely
The hashtags you choose to use with your photographs make a big difference in terms of how many people see your content. Hashtags that are trending get seen by many more people than obscure hashtags, so it’s important to choose wisely.
One idea is to latch onto community traditions like Throwback Thursday (#tbt) to make yourself part of the Instagram community. You can also scan trending topics and use those, but be cautious. Don’t use them unless you’re sure what they mean. The marketing world is full of cautionary tales of companies who made mistakes by using hashtags insensitively.
You should also take a look at locational hashtags. If you play a popular venue, tagging it with their handle and a relevant hashtag can help you attract more followers.
Another option is to create your own hashtag. You can start by creating one with your band’s name (or your name if you’re a solo artist) and use it whenever you post. You can also create hashtags for particular events, for upcoming albums, and anything else that you think might help attract followers and fans.
#2: Follow Other Musicians in Your Genre
It’s also a good idea to follow other musicians in your genre. Their fans may end up being fans of your music, too, and if you engage with them and comment on their photos, fans may check out what you’ve posted, too.
When you follow other musicians, don’t aggressively pitch your gigs or products on their pages. Simply respond, like, or leave a comment. Be low key about it, but also, be knowledgeable about their music and what they’re doing. Fans will notice.
#3: Follow Music Publications and Venues
Many music publications and venues have Instagram accounts, and following them can be a great way to connect with people at every level of the music industry. For example, if you strike up a friendly rapport with a music critic, you might be able to get them to review your new EP. If you connect with the booking manager at a hot venue, it might give you a leg up when the time comes to book your next tour.
Here again, it’s important to be subtle. Don’t go crazy asking for favors right off the bat. Instead, just be friendly and engaged, and then see what happens.
#4: Host a Contest or Giveaway
Instagram is the perfect place to host a contest or giveaway, particularly one that asks fans to share their own photographs. Here’s how to do it:
1. Pick a prize that will appeal to your fans and to potential fans. The best prizes are music-related. You don’t want to give cash away because you may end up getting hangers-on who aren’t really likely to buy your music or go to your shows. A free tee shirt, CD, concert tickets, or a backstage pass all make great giveaway prizes.
2. Create a special hashtag for your giveaway. The benefit of creating a hashtag is that it enables anybody who sees your post (or related posts that are tagged with it) to enter your contest easily. Make sure that the hashtag has your name and some key information about the giveaway in it without being too long.
3. Come up with precise rules for the contest. You need to include a start date, an end date, limitations on what prizes you’ll be giving away, and any other information that may be pertinent.
4. Post your call for entries and let it get some traction before you pay to boost it. The more organic traffic you get, the more successful your boost is likely to be.
5. Boost your post to reach more people, using what you know about your fans to reach a wide audience.
6. As entries come in, share the best ones with your followers to build excitement.
7. When the time comes to award prizes, do so in a timely manner and make sure that the winners get their prizes immediately.
You can give people who didn’t win honorable mentions by sharing their entries after the fact.
Instagram marketing can help you connect with fans on a whole new level. The key is to share compelling images and to use the tools available, such as hashtags and contests, to grow your following.
Using Instagram can be a good way to attract the attention of a manager, too. Click here to get our eBook, Music Management for Indie Musicians.