We all know how important Instagram has become for musicians who want to promote their releases. Providing a much more streamlined, clutter-free experience compared to Facebook and Twitter, it’s a great place to put your music in front of people.
This is no secret, and almost every musician will have an Instagram account they use to promote their music. But So how can you stand out and give your music the best chance of exposure and engagement on the platform? Let us give you some pointers.
Think about the basics
Let’s go back to the root of everything.
What are you trying to do on Instagram exactly? You’re trying to get people to listen to or buy your music, either on the platform, or on a music streaming service, or download, or record store. But how do you do that on a platform where you only get a second or two to grab people’s attention? And one where the sound is muted by default in a lot of the places people might find your music?
We’ll look at Instagram’s different areas and posting formats, but ultimately, it’s all about making an impression immediately with your visuals. On Instagram, your visuals are as — or maybe even more — important than your music. Think carefully about your ideas for content and whether they would stop you in your tracks, or your scroll.
Which performs better on Instagram: photo or video content?
If you’re going to post a static image, it needs to be something that’s going to provoke strong enough intrigue for the viewer to take an action and go and listen to your music.
If you’re going to post a video, studies show you need to grab people’s attention within the first three seconds to get them to stay, but it also needs to be it has to be something that will keep the viewer hooked for the duration of the video. People are much less likely to watch a full a 60-second clip of some artwork with the track playing alongside it than they are something with an evolving visual or narrative. You could even use a short snippet of the video for your track’s Spotify Canvas. Find out more on how you can upload a Spotify Canvas video for your music.
Of course, you don’t have to pick one or the other as you’ll be wanting to post about your release multiple times — but it really helps to understand the intention and behaviour that the success of different post types is built around.
Which video editing apps should I use to make Instagram posts?
Some apps that can help you create great video content:
- – iMovie
- – TikTok
- – Invideo
- – Adobe Premiere Pro
- – Adobe After Effects
- – Videoshop
- – Groovo
All artists can benefit from learning how to edit video, even with a basic app like iMovie or Videoshop. You can also even use TikTok’s video editor and export the file to your camera roll to upload on Instagram.
The more you learn about different functions in the software you’re using, the better your ideas will become about how to best harness them. Sometimes a combination of different apps will give you what you need, exporting from one and importing to another and adding layers of effects until you get what you need.
If you’re using a lot of text in your videos, creating transparent slides in for your videos in basic presentation software like Keynote or Powerpoint and exporting them as PNG files to be overlaid on your video. This can sometimes be a much more flexible and less fiddly process than trying to use the app’s text function.
Show your process
People love getting an insight into the creative process of an artist. Find ways to show what went into the making of a track, from the inspiration behind it to the production / recording process. Be generous and share the knowledge of techniques you’ve used to make it sound great or different. Film yourself whenever you’re making music, or rRecreate the making of the track with a live recording. of you remaking the track or reworking it live (Oor simply playing it live if you’re a live performer). Take pictures of your lyric sheets and favourite bits of kit that went into the making of a track. Bring your track to life so it’s more than just 3 minutes of music on Spotify. If people are more invested in the story, the music is more likely to make a lasting impression on them.
To Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability on social media. Creating a facadefaçade on social media that everything is perfect on Instagram is detrimental to everyone’s mental health, and people always appreciate hearing that their favourite artists face the same problems in their creative journeys as they do. So show the struggle behind your creative process. Don’t be afraid to talk about self-doubt. Find ways to build a more emotional connection with your audience by giving them the full spectrum of the creative experience. Be authentic with what you post and don’t try to be someone you’re not. Help people understand why who you are and why the experiences you have lived and the influences you have soaked up make your music sound the way it does.
Who can help me make interesting Instagram content?
Websites like fiverr.com offer an amazing directory of creative people around the world who can help you create engaging content. From people who will dance and lip sync to your track to animators, video editors, graphic designers and all manner of performers, there are thousands of people out there who will create content to your brief for a small amount of money. If you don’t have the skills you need to bring an idea to life, websites like these can be a huge help.
Does using new Instagram features get your more reach?
When a new feature launches on Instagram, don’t shy away from it because you don’t understand or because it’s yet another thing to keep up with. Instead, lean into it and experiment with it and see how other people are using it. Every time Instagram launches a new feature, it upweights the reach of posts using that feature because it wants people to embrace it. So whatever new feature they are trying to push, use it heavily. At the time of writing, Reels are its latest major update. Obviously, you still need to make sure your content is engaging and that it’s suited to the functionality of the new feature.
There is also evidence to suggest that the algorithm rewards people who continue to use as many different features as possible — meaning you should keep up a healthy mix of posts, stories, stickers, interactive features like quizzes and questions, IG-TV uploads, Instagram Live streams, Reels… the works!
When is the best time to post on Instagram?
First of all: there is no perfect time to post on Instagram. Peak engagement times vary from account to account, depending on where that account’s followers are based and their behavior. There is no ‘one size fits all’ here.
The two key drivers for being seen by followers are recency and existing engagement. Recency means that Instagram will deliver your story to a good chunk of your followers in the hours after your post it, to test out how engaging it is. Then if it gets a lot of engagement quickly, it will continue to serve it up to more of your followers, creating a virtuous circle. So you need a tactic that harnesses both of these elements.
In terms of the time of day, think about where the bulk of your followers are who might engage in your content. Posting a bit earlier on in the day for the majority of your followers —followers — say between mid-morning and early afternoon — gives you a good chance of being seen by a good chunk of them. The algorithm will detect iIf it gets good engagement within its first few hours of being live, and if it does then you will have a better chance of being displayed in the feeds of followers who are active on Instagram further away from your posting time (either because they are in a later time zone, or because they don’t check Instagram as much, or because they’ve had a busy day!). If you post at night in the time zone of most of your followers, it’s going to be harder to get that follow-through.
In terms of the day of the week, it really depends on your release schedule and when you need to launch things. It’s also worth thinking about people’s habits during the week. Mondays aren’t great as people are catching up on work. Friday afternoons aren’t great as people are finishing work and usually stepping away from devices to be with friends or family. Weekends can be a great time to post as there is much less competition from brands and less people actively pushing things, and people are generally a bit freer — although they are less likely to be at a computer or been needing music to listen all day to work to, so it might not be the best time for promoting new releases.
If you have a Business or Creator account on Instagram make sure to dig into your account insights and look at the times of day and days of the week that your followers are most online.
Find a theme
Themes can help your content stick in people’s minds. This can mean using certain filters or editing apps to add borders or frames to your uploads to give them a consistent visual aesthetic, or creating regular content strands that keep people hooked over time. For example, you could make Mondays the day you share a track that’s influencing you, or make weekends the time you post behind-the-scenes content of how you made certain tracks, or do a live video every Wednesday.
And if all else fails… selfies!
We all know that people love a (good) selfie. Look through your Instagram Insights and you’ll likely see that many of your best performing posts are selfies. But don’t just post the same old photo of your face; try and find new, interesting, creative and relevant ways to incorporate yourself into your photos. The same goes for videos too.
Spinnup can get your music on Instagram as well as on Facebook and TikTok, giving users access to your tracks to use in their uploads.
Looking for more Instagram inspiration?
Check out our piece on using Instagram to promote your music
Read our guide to social media promotion for musicians
Find more advice on Instagram Live streaming here