To get the most out of Instagram for your band, here are a few tips:
With its various photo filters and many challenge groups, Instagram was the first major social media platform to encourage users to play with their photographs. Feel free to explore their filters (or use one of hundreds of photo-editing apps) and participate in challenges; get creative with your shots, trying new angles or styles. You can even share a short video clip of your most recent gig or slideshow of images from a trip or event. Bonus: the video or slideshow should feature your band’s music.
Save your staged photos for album cover art. Instead, post photos your fans can relate to, photos of you and your bandmates doing ordinary things. Whether it’s a snapshot of a massive burrito from an all night diner while on the road or a behind-the-scenes look at band practice, your fans will love you a whole lot more if you can show them just how “normal” you really are.
They say that “a picture speaks a thousand words”, but a caption can summarize it beautifully. Make sure to add captions to your photos to help your fans know what they are seeing.
Hashtags are key to helping random users discover your account. Just add the hashtags to the caption of your photo using the number sign (#) and a searchable keyword description of the image without spaces (#houseparty, #livemusic, or #thekickstour2014, for some example). Do follow Instagram etiquette, though; make sure your hashtags are relevant to your picture.
Unless you’ve got your own personal photographer, chances are you won’t have time to be shooting all of your photos by yourselves. Ask your fans to take pictures of your band at gigs or take pictures of themselves hanging out, listening to, or imitating your band. Have them upload their photos on their own Instagram accounts and tag you to get more traffic your way. If their pic is phenomenal, you might consider reposting it; be sure to give them credit, though. Also, be sure to tag other users (bands you’re performing with, venues you’re at, or fans you’ve met) if they’re in your pictures.
Sync your accounts
With Instagram, posting photos directly to your other social media platforms is easy. As a word of caution: be sure to check your default settings and the active account (if you have a personal account and a band account) prior to posting to keep from sending a picture to the wrong crowd.
In the end, Instagram delivers what your fans want. Sure, they like your music, but they want to feel like they know you. Why not hand them a photo album to thumb through?
Have you used Instagram? Was it a personal account or one for your band? Did it affect the size or quality of your fan base?
See also: Music and Social Media: Promoting Your Act, Music and Social Media: Facebook, Music and Social Media: Twitter, Music and Social Media: MySpace, Music and Social Media: YouTube, Music and Social Media: Google+, and Music and Social Media: LinkedIn.