Using Instagram to brand your music and sell merchandise
Did you know that some music influencers are now charging upwards $25,000 for a single instagram post? It's actually become the norm rather than the exception on instagram.
With over 800 million active users, Instagram is a powerful platform that carries massive value for brands. When you develop a niche audience, that impact becomes very powerful.
People actually make purchases based on influencers’ recommendations from clothing items to tech. In addition, consumers have ranked Instagram influencers at the sixth most effective at influencing purchases.
The growing popularity of Instagram influencers may have made you consider becoming one too. If this is something you’ve been thinking about, but were unsure how to proceed, read on because I've got an amazing strategy for you to follow to develop your following, build community and be able to monetize that influence.
1. Choose a Niche
To become an Instagram influencer, the first thing you need to do is find a niche that suits your personality. This needs to be something you’re passionate about. Something in which you have a good deal of knowledge and interest. Just because someone else is doing something and is successful, doesn’t mean you should too.
It's always best to start by writing down what kind of music you make and look for a supportive narrative that best supports that genre, style and the look of your brand.
Answer these questions:
1) What is my latest album about?
2) What kind of genre am I creating music for?
3) What kind of instruments, programs or tools am i using to create the music?
4) What are the theme colors for my latest album?
5) What is my latest album/ songs about?
6) What do I stand for as an artist?
7) What kind of social activities match my personality and brand? (think about the narrative politics, religion or inspiring struggles you've over come.
8) Are there any charities you are raising funds for this year?
9) Hobbies and extras possibilities: Are you into cooking? Sports? Healthy lifestyle? Fashion?
Thes questions will help you understand your narrative and give you a base for the content you will be producing for your instagram page, stories and IGTV Videos.
Your Instagram posts should reflect whatever truly interests you and not some random stuff.
Not only should you be posting music video and sound samples, you need to paint an impactful picture that tells a continual story to enchant your fans and build anticipation for your future posts.
Your niche might even be a combination of different things, as long as they’re not random.
Here’s an example of an Instagram influencer whose niche is Music, Travel, fashion As you can see, her Instagram feed has a good balance of posts relating to all of these.
2. Create a Noteworthy Bio
Once you have decided on your niche, you need to start fine-tuning your Instagram account. The very first thing that you need to focus on is creating a bio that immediately catches people’s attention. It should talk about your story in a way that engages people.
Remember, it’s one of the first things that a brand or a potential followers sees on your account. So if you want to become an Instagram influencer, make it noteworthy.
Influencer and travel blogger Helene Sula has a compelling and attractive Instagram bio. In the name field, she has cleverly included “travel blogger,” so that her profile shows up for such searches. And in her bio, she tells her story of how she moved to Germany to explore Europe leaving everything behind. Except for her pups and her husband. Now, isn’t that noteworthy?
3. Share Your Stories
If you think you can become an Instagram influencer just by sharing photos, you clearly have it all wrong. The captions that go along with those photos are as important as the photos themselves. Use them to tell your stories and connect with your followers on an emotional level. Give them a reason to trust you, follow you, and engage with you.
However, in your quest towards engaging them don’t forget to be genuine. Because that will be easily seen though. Instead, share your personal stories in a way that your audience finds interesting yet authentic.
Check out this example of an inspiring story from a travel blogger. She talks about how she continues traveling with a pre-existing medical condition. You can see that the post has a pretty high engagement rate which means it was well-received by her followers. And brands attach much greater importance to engagement rate than the number of followers when they collaborate with influencers.
4. Make Your Instafeed Appealing
This is one of the pre-requisites if you’re trying to become an Instagram influencer. Not only should each of your photos be visually-appealing but also adhere to an overall theme. This means that all of your photos in the feed should look good against one another.
Many Instagram influencers follow a particular style of editing their photos so that the color or composition is uniform. You can use tools like VSCO or Lightroom to edit your photos or just the built-in filters in Instagram. But make sure that your photos are taken in high-resolution and plenty of light to make them look really good.
Beyonce does a great job with this by planning to release posts that are similar in groups of 3, 6 or 9. They look really great together and encourage people to view her entire profile often instead of just one post they see in a feed. It also makes her page memorable.
If you were to surprise your people every morning with fresh content, they would get trained to come by and engage with you.
5. Post Content Consistently
Posting content consistently is another crucial prerequisite to become an Instagram influencer. Most influencers on Instagram post daily. However, some of them post a few times in a day or even a few times in a week.
Studies have revealed that an increase in your content posting frequency can boost engagement rates. However, when you decide what your posting schedule needs to be, make sure that you choose wisely. Because it needs to be something you can stick to. Setting an unrealistic goal to which you cannot adhere will not help you in any way.
If you find sticking to a schedule difficult, you can schedule your posts with tools like Buffer, Planoly, Preview, or Ripl. These platforms allow you to create your content in advance and set the dates and times for posting. So you don’t need to do it yourself, but your content gets posted automatically.
Preview is free for use and so is Planoly for 30 photos per month on a single Instagram account. Buffer allows you to schedule upto 10 posts for free across any 3 of your social accounts. Ripl offers subscriptions starting at $9.99 per month.
Hootsuite has a great paid plan that allows you to schedule posts across all your platforms.
Another great thing to consider is just posting during active hours to increase your chances of higher engagement, schedule posts when your followers are most active. If you don’t have an idea yet, you can take a look at my favorite times to post on Instagram to start here:
Monday: 11am - 5pm
Tuesday: 6am : 8am - 6pm
Wednesday: 6am : 9am - 6pm
Thursday: 6am : 8am- 9pm
Friday: 6am : 8am - 6pm
Saturday: 8am - 2pm
Sunday: 10am- 6pm
If you have a business account, you can see which days and times have the most engagement. Since brands differ, it may not be the same as our chart above.
6. Choose the Right Hashtags
Hashtags are important because they enable your content to be found by other Instagram users. Instagram allows you to use a maximum of 30 hashtags on a photo, and I recommend using them all. But what kind of hashtags should you choose?
Remember that hashtags having high search volumes aren’t necessarily good for you. Because high search volumes imply high competition too. So the chances of your post being discovered using those hashtags is bleak.
Instead, choose hashtags that have decent search volumes that maximizes your chances of appearing in the top posts. Ideally, use a combination of hashtags varying in search volumes from above 10,000 to 1 million. But definitely, not more than a million.
For example, this post by an influencer uses the hashtag #adventurecouple. This is the top post for this hashtag having search volumes of more than 44,000.
7. Get A Business Account
If you’re serious about becoming an Instagram influencer, you need to let the seriousness show. And nothing does a better job of doing this than having a business account. But what are the benefits of switching to a business account?
The most important benefit is that with a business account, you get access to insights. You’ll be able to see not only your follower demographics but also which posts are getting better engagement. You will also be able to see the days and times which give you the best engagement.
Follower demographics are very useful when it comes to pitching to brands for collaboration. Because numbers speak louder than your photos.
The other advantage you get with a business account is the ability to run ads. You can promote one of your posts if you want, in order to get some additional engagement.
8. Leverage Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are probably the biggest thing right now on Instagram. One way to get around the decrease in post engagement is to expand your posting in another area like stories.
More and more users are joining this bandwagon. In fact, more than 200 million Instagram users are using them every day. This makes them a perfect weapon to grow more followers and gain visibility.
Even people who aren’t your followers, can discover you from Stories. By adding hashtags or location to Stories, you can be discovered by more people. And if you have 10,000+ followers, you can include an outbound link using a “swipe up” option on Stories.
Instagram Stories offer a variety of engagement opportunities, including the newest Poll feature.
You can even tag others on your Stories and give a shout out to other accounts. This is not only a great way of building relationships but also growing your following. Because those accounts are likely to return the favor too. And this means you get more visibility.
The algorithm takes into account all actions of engagement like replying to a Story or sending a Story to someone. The more engagement, the likelier your posts will show up in the feed.
Here's a great example of something that Drake did on his page to increase engagement and utilize stores.
During an event he posted a bunch of pictures from the same event using the same theme filter and then added additional content to stories like video from the event speaking with his friends and included a live stream that got his page that organic reach and promotional boost utilizing the most active followers to get his feed into an even larger audience.
9. Engage Meaningfully
Social media is all about people and how you engage with them. Engagement is one of the most important factors to help you become an Instagram influencer.
If you’ve been on Instagram recently, you’ll notice you probably haven’t received as many likes or comments as you did a year ago. When the Instagram algorithm was adjusted from chronological to algorithmic, many people worried engagement rates would drop.
Instagram is favoring the moments you care about most, much like how Facebook’s algorithm operates.
When someone comments on your photos, make sure that you reply to them. Also, return the favor by liking and commenting on their content.
Much like the previous suggestion, Instagram Live videos are another way of engaging with your followers. The video is bumped up in the Stories feed and your followers might also receive a notification if they opted in.
Here’s a checklist that you can use to increase your post engagement:
- Include a call-to-action in your caption
- Post at a time you’re likely to get maximum engagement (Use insights if you have a Business Account to find the best times)
- Host giveaways and contests
- Use polls in Instagram Stories
- Follow similar accounts and engage with their content
You can use the “Explore” option on Instagram to find content that you can engage with. Also, you now have the option of following hashtags so that relevant content shows up in your feed.
Captions that ask questions or provide a call to action can help start some conversations with your followers. But don’t stop at asking the question. Be sure to reply to comments and continue the conversation, otherwise, your followers might stop engaging.
What's your favorite place to catch the sunset?
Who's your favorite rock star?
What's at the top of your bucket list?
10. Tag Relevant Brands and Contact Them
There are actually two stages towards becoming an Instagram influencer. The first, of course, is to grow your followers organically and engage them. The second, and probably more important for some, is to make money as an influencer.
So, once you have been able to grow your followers above a thousand and have decent engagement, start your outreach. The easiest way is to tag relevant brands on your photos to put yourself on their radar. Sometimes brands even feature such photos on their Instagram account giving you greater visibility.
You can also send direct messages to brands you think would be relevant to your niche. Especially, if you have seen them collaborate with other influencers like you. Work on a pitch that talks about why you are reaching out and what you can offer them. I’m not saying it’s easy but you might be pleasantly surprised at the responses.
You can even join platforms like Grin, InsightPool, HYPR, InfluencerBay, TRIBE, and TapInfluence to find and connect with relevant brands. Some of these platforms need you to have a certain number of followers to be able to participate in campaigns.
All the big accounts do it but here's a sample of what a typical branded post looks like:
11. Do Not Buy Followers
This is a rookie mistake I’ve seen so many Instagrammers make to pave an easy road to success. Paid followers are no good to you. If you want to become an Instagram influencer and make money, organic is the way to go.
Yes, I know it’s not easy and it certainly won’t happen overnight. But hey, there’s no easy road to success. Paid followers can be detrimental to your growth because these followers won’t be engaged enough. So your follower count will increase without any substantial increase in engagement.
The result? It will affect your engagement rate big time. Thus reducing your chances of collaboration with brands.
12. Overnight success
It’s true that you cannot become an Instagram influencer overnight. You will need to be patient and make sure to follow the above steps. It might take a few months, but trust me, you will definitely start seeing results. I’ve seen and helped quite a few individuals land brand partnerships within a few months of following these. And there’s no reason why you can’t do so as well.
Can you think of any other tips to become an Instagram influencer? Let me know in the comments below. And if you’re looking for some personal guidance on becoming an influencer, get in touch with me now!
13. Invest in a Photographer or Videographer
There's 2 ways of going here. You can hire someone to create content for you that's really high quality or you can learn to use what you have really well. Either way you have to commit to publishing amazing content or you just won't stand out in the masses of people who are fine tuning their craft.
Quality reigns supreme on Instagram. When most of the app’s real estate is taken up by visual media, it makes sense to hire a professional if you need one. Your photography needs to be eye-catching and designed for storytelling.
Instagram video posts are now on auto-play at the time I created this course so using videos gives you a slight leg up in grabbing those who are browsing their feed.
14. Contests & Giveaways
One surefire way of increasing your engagement is to run an Instagram contest on a regular basis. Consumers love free items and it creates a little goodwill in your fan community. The frequency and rewards can vary, but the idea is to increase engagement and brand awareness.
I also think that hosting a contest makes you work harder but even if you have alot of followers make those prizes AMAZING or you'll really struggle with it. Give away something of great value and work that hard into the daily effort to let people know about it.
Run the contest for 3-5 days on the first post on your profile and spend 100% of your time out there telling people that your having a contest to win .... If the prize is amazing, no one will turn it down.
Just remember that after the contest is over, most people are using a cleaner app that auto cleans people who are not following them back and are not active so it's a numbers game but count on loosing some people that your not able to stay in touch with or you don't follow back.
GIVEAWAY: I'm giving away this awesome.... to one lucky follower who win it: "like" this post, Follow me, & tags 3 friends for a chance to win this .....
Winner will be announced on Friday @ 5pm et. (only US shipping is available)
15. Jump on trends
Whether they are fleeting hashtag trends or making holiday posts, timeliness is an important factor in the Instagram algorithm. This is not to encourage you to participate in every viral meme. Instead, choose the ones that are most applicable to your brand and test a post out with it.
If it doesn't work for you, delete the post so you don't waste a valuable spot on your profile with something that isn't working.
In the holiday trend, gift collections are often posted to promote music bundles and special gift items that can boost your revenue.
16. Join an INstAgram pod
I have a massive instagram pod community that I have managed to setup over time. If your reading this, you are probably already a member but if not then reach out to me on instagram and I'll tell you how to get into one. www.instagram.com/JacquelineJax
The idea of an Instagram Pod is to let everyone in your group know when you’ve posted. Then ideally, everyone visits the post and likes it. The post receives a bump in engagement in the first hour it’s online and is interpreted as a good post by the algorithm.
To do this effectively, you’ll need to find some like-minded individuals, hopefully in your industry or with a similar follower base. Everyone also needs to be committed to the pod so all the accounts are receiving their due attention.
17. Instagram Ads
The downside of algorithmic timelines is that you need to boost your posts when they’re time sensitive and you have no engagement. But boosting posts does not typically create nor nurture engagement. It will get a post in front of more eyes but garners likes more than comments and subscribers.
That's why I don't use the boosting tools unless I have a product for sale that has a high profit margin and already tests as a favorite seller.
If you have an event you’re promoting or a product that you want to talk about at a certain time, Instagram Ads are an option.
Ads now offer a wide variety of goals and targeting options. You can learn more in our helpful guide to Instagram Ads.
I do not cover Instagram ads in this course as it's not typically a sustainable way to go with the costs driving so high, I prefer to show you how to grow organically and in a way that will help you build community and strong relationships with your followers.
Collaborations with other artists who are similar to you will really help you get more targeted followers. It helps to rain awareness by putting you in front of an already active following.
For musicians, you can take pictures together, make collages, create an album of images and tag each other or even collaborate on a song together.
You can also address each other in story posts. Anything really that tags the other person and gets an effective call to action into the eye line of your followers is a successful collaboration.
I also like it when artists do giveaways across several instagram accounts to cross promote all the followers to join everyone in the giveaway. I went over that in #14 above.