STEP 1: Setting Up/REVAMPINg your account
I'll guide you through:
Clarifying the purpose of your band's Instagram account
Start using the Google Sheet I've made for you
Quickly defining your brand as a band
Choosing your username and name
Intro to Telegram Messenger, join our Chat Group and Engagement Pods
A few quick-starter tips to start growing your account today!
Converting to a business account
Creating a killer bio, as well as choosing the most beneficial bio-link
DIY Music Marketing Bonus: How and why to grow your email list
You will find a reference number (1.0, 1.1, etc.) at the end of each heading. Should you have a question or a comment, please reference the number to clarify where in the guide you are referring. Also, use the number to remember where in the guide you left off.
Visual examples are displayed in this right column. Find a corresponding number and text underneath.
Overall purpose and goal for your
Instagram account (1.0)
Our goal is for potential new fans, managers, labels, promoters, and tastemakers to discover you through your Instagram page, and for your current followers to be engaging with you, coming to the shows, listening to the music, signing up for your email list and telling others about you.
Think of your account as your constantly evolving EPK. That means it should tell the Instagrammer who you are, where you’re based, what you have going on right now, what you have accomplished in the past, what's coming up, and what media have already featured you. Also, you MUST have press photos and your music easily found.
DO A QUICK CHECK: Looking at your account, will I easily find a press photo? Or some kind of high-quality photo that truly represents your band - and that you own the rights to? Someone might want to share it! Like me.
ANOTHER QUICK CHECK: Can I easily check out your music? Say I'm organizing a showcase (which I am, btw) and someone's recommending your band to me. If I go to your band's account right now and I want to hear what you sound like, will I easily be able to listen?! Unfortunately, in maaaaany cases, the answer is no. Don't let that be you for another second! When someone visits your Instagram account (yay!), let's make damn sure they can easily check out the killer music you put so much time, money, candy bars, blood, sweat, and tears into making.
EXAMPLE: See screenshot 1. The band Single Girl, Married Girl (@singlegirlmarriegirl.band) grabs my attention when they mention their song is featured on Spotify's Indie Acoustic playlist! They perfectly link to their Spotify account, which hits on the song they are referring to ("Starlight"). Spotify is where they have chosen to lead all streams to build their numbers. The Instagrammer doesn't actually need to have a Spotify account to get a sneak listen. But who does not have a Spotify account today?
1. Great use of bio text and link for me to listen to their music!
If your band already has an Instagram account, great! Let's make it the best it can be and grow it fast.
If your band does not have an account, you can either set up a brand new one or if one of the band members have an existing personal account, you can turn it into your band’s account (and voilà! Your band’s already got a chunk of followers!).
Should you still need a band name, here's a Band Name Generator.
Take a look at the corresponding Google Sheet I've made for you, called Northerly Agency Instagram Subscription Service. It can only be viewed, so download it as an Excel document by clicking: File --> Download as --> Microsoft Excel (see screenshot below).
I also recommend converting the Excel document into your own Google Sheet. Open Google Sheets Home (logged in to your Gmail account) --> Open file picker (button upper right) --> Upload --> Drag and drop the downloaded .xls document called Northerly Agency Instagram Subscription Service (see screenshots below).
Now, you can share the document with the rest of the band to delegate tasks.
APP: Download the Google Sheet app so you easily have access to it at all times! AND, start a folder on your phone where you collect all your Instagram related apps. See screenshot 2. Creating an organized workflow is so so so important.
Of course, you can also choose to mimic my templates in your notebook, if you prefer.
2. With the Google Sheets app, you can access your notes at all times!
Also, download the Telegram App.
YOUR BRAND (1.2)
I will briefly be talking about your bRand (not band). I want to make sure you establish a clear brand identity, otherwise, your potential fans will be confused and they will not be able to connect with you. So, I want you to keep your brand in mind with every choice you make as you're working on your Instagram account.
EXAMPLE 1: Are you a singer/songwriter who is also an actress and a fashion designer? If you truly want to establish yourself as a musician, I want you to have an Instagram account dedicated to you as a musician. Only that. You can have a second account for your acting career with headshots and a third for your fashion blogging. I will help you with your music career.
EXAMPLE 2: Where in the music scene do you belong? Are you a punk band that honor DIY values? Are you a folk singer songwriter who focus on projecting political awareness through your lyrics? Are you a glam pop star with an interest for style and makeup?
Let's right away clarify who you are as a brand by choosing 8 words that best describe it.
EXAMPLES: loud, cute, political, catchy, dreamy, dark, girlie, glamorous, pop, funny, serious.
TO DO: Now let's open the Google Sheet and look at the tab "My Brand" and write down your 8 words.
If you need help figuring out our brand, you can book sessions with me to assist you.
Your Username (1.3)
Your username (also referred to as your Instagram handle or your profile link) should be the name of your band, though it can’t have any spaces. Here is where many go wrong: it should be easy to read/understand because this is the name Instagrammers see when you engage with them (commenting on their post, liking their post, and when you start to follow them).
Consider using . or _ to separate the words to make your username easier to read and recognizable.
Add music or band at the end, to clarify for Instagrammers that you are a musician or band right away. I don’t suggest adding the word official because it does not point towards music. You could officially be an actor, and I don’t follow actors. I follow bands and musicians. As do music fanatics, and they are definitely potential fans you should be targeting.
EXAMPLE: If an Instagrammer get a notification stating “@lukeelliotmusic started following you,” they know this is a musician, not just a random stranger. I will ask you to follow accounts who don't know who you are, and they are more likely to check out your profile and follow you back when seeing (from your username) that you are a band.
BEFORE AND AFTER: Screenshot 3. @sgmgtheband. Huh? Who? But @singlegirlmarriedgirl.band you can understand!
Your username can be changed at any time, so change it now if you think you can use it a better one!
IMPORTANT NOTE! If you change your username, make sure you also update the connected platforms, such as Facebook, your website, your email signature.
3. This band used to have the username @sgmgtheband. That did not help them with name recognition, so they switched to spelling out the whole band name. Even though it's long, it's still easy to read and they now get their band name out to the world.
Your Name (1.4)
This is your band name, and it can be 30 characters (including spaces). You can also change this name at any time.
TIP: You can piggyback on keywords your target audience use when searching accounts and hashtags related to you! So, if you are a punk band called Fake Fakes, you can name your account “Punk band Fake Fakes” and bam (!) when someone searches punk (they are most likely your target audience), your account might come up!
EXAMPLE: I added the keywords Music DIY to my account name, so it can come up when someone is searching for DIY Music or just music or just DIY (see screenshot 4).
HOW IT WORKS: The search feature is based on an algorithm, so the more accounts the person searching ‘punk’ has in common with you, the more searchable you become. That also means, the more followers who are in your niche, the more searchable for your target audience.
QUICK CHECK: How searchable are you? Does your band name and username drown because it is not unique? What can you do to make it more searchable?
TO DO: Now that you have decided on your @username and profile picture (maybe you changed it, or maybe it stayed the same), it's time to set up your Telegram account!
WTF is Telegram? Let me explain it all:
4. Someone (algorithmically close to me) might be searching for music PR or promo - and find my account.
Telegram: the basics (1.5)
Download the app Telegram Messenger to your phone (free). You'll see it in screenshot 2. This is a communication app, similar to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Kik.
Why Telegram, you ask? This is where the Instagram-behind-the-scenes-action happens! Now you know. Oh, there's one more reason. If I invite you to join your 37th Facebook group, I'm just not gonna get your attention, right? Keep your Instagram communication and action via Telegram to better separate it from the rest of the clutter.
Register for an account: Enter the name (not band name, but your actual human name, so we know who we are speaking with) and phone number of the person in charge of your Instagram account. Your username should be the same as the one you use on Instagram. Write a sentence about your band in the bio.
NOTE: Each membership allows one Telegram account's access to our Chat Group and Engagement Pods. If you are more than one person handling your band's Instagram account, you can share the Telegram login. Should you run into any issues sharing a Telegram account, please email us.
In your phone settings, I suggest you allow notifications. If it gets too noisy, you can mute the individual groups as needed.
Now, you're ready to join our group. Search me up on Telegram (@EvaWagner) and give me the code "Strawberry Fields Forever" and I'll add you!
Inside the Chat Group:
At the top of the screen, you'll see a Pinned Message: My last updates, questions, and challenges will always be pinned to the top for you to stay up to date even if you don't check in daily. You will also receive a notification every time I add a new Pinned Message.
To reply to a message or delete your own message: Hold your finger down on the message and the options to do so will appear.
You can also tag the username (@) of the account you are communicating to/with. Not limited to just one.
Feel free to post relevant screenshots and photos to the group (with questions, looking for feedback, etc). All shared photos, links, and documents can be found in our Shared Media section.
It is important that our network is a positive, supportive and tolerant environment for all members. We reserve the right to remove any subscriber from our service and network who are behaving negatively towards our community.
Video: Quick intro to Telegram
SHARE: Share your starting point with us if you want! Take a screenshot of your account and post it in our Chat Group on Telegram.
quick starter tips (1.6)
Here are some quick tips to get you growing today, all of which I will be going through in detail later. For now, I'm keeping it simple:
Constantly collect content. What I mean by that is you should always be on the lookout for something to take a photo of and post about. Collect quotes. Make videos (1 min max for Instagram). All the time, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. You are gonna need lots of material, because I'm gonna ask you to post 1-4 times a day! That's every day.
Use 20-25 relevant hashtags and a geolocation. Add them at the bottom of your caption text. As you are creating your set of 25 (see screenshot 5), think like this:
What hashtags might a potential fan actually search? Your picture might be of you asleep over the mixer at the recording studio. But will #sleep #passedout #boy #Wednesday #lol #snoring #workingtoolategoodnight do you much good? Will anybody search those hashtags? Nah.
Make several sets of relevant hashtags, don’t use the same ones over and over. A good idea could be to set up 3 sets and use them in a rotation.
Engage! I'll keep using the word engage. What I mean is for you to like posts, comment on them and follow other accounts and repost (share other accounts' posts). Instagram’s algorithm favors accounts that actively engage on the platform, meaning, the more you are logged on and engage, the further out your post will reach (aka the more people will see your post). Don't expect others to engage with you if you don't engage with them. Respond to all comments you receive on your posts as soon as possible, at least within the hour. This further boosts your post because the algorithm loves conversations.
Join our Engagement Pods! In addition to our Chat Group, we also have our own Engagement Pods on Telegram! What are Engagement Pods?
That's where we collaborate to like, save, and comment on each other's posts to hack the algorithm! Entering your posts in an engagement pod is perhaps the most important factor to growing your account.
Click here if you want to get started right away!
That's a good start, and again, I'll explain it all in more detail throughout this guide.
5. A random page in my Notebook app. I have lots of sets ready to go. Make yours!
Business account (1.7)
Set up (or convert to) a business account (instead of a personal). Instagram will ask you to link your Facebook fan page, however it is not mandatory. You can select “Skip,” and Facebook will create a page for you, that you can claim at a later time if you wish. You can claim your Facebook page in Instagram under, “Options,” scroll down to the header that says “Business Settings,” and you will see the option there.
Did you know Facebook owns Instagram?). Your Facebook page should have the category Musician/Band which will be added to your Instagram bio (as the two are connected).
Why a business account?
This clarifies that this is an account for your brand (band/musician, not a personal account).
You can (and must) add your location so it's easily seen in the bio.
You are given a priceless analytics tool, see screenshot 6 (I'll teach you all about analytics in Step 8).
You can advertise if you want (in this guide we focus on organic growth only, so I will not cover advertising).
I believe (after much testing) that you can get away with using more strategies through a business account. Instagram penalizes accounts that don’t behave organically, however being a business, your algorithm might be a bit more lenient I have found, probably because Instagram understands that you are looking to grow your business, not just to show your exes how great you are doing. I'm not judging, we all do that, right? Or is it just me?
ADD YOUR LOCATION: On Instagram, add the location where you are based. Push the Edit Profile button, under Business Information go to Contact Options, then add your location.
Did you know that there could be many paid opportunities lost when a band doesn't include where they are based? You can collaborate with local businesses and brands! When a local bar is putting on an event that would be perfect for your band, they need to see that you are local! If you don't include your location, you might be based in a Norwegian fjord. Local businesses and brands often want to work with local bands.
Many local podcasts/radio/blogs want to support bands from the local music scene.
Tons of bands on tour are looking for local bands to support their shows!
6. With a business account, you can study your analytics. I'll guide you through that later.
Profile Picture (1.8)
Your profile picture should be the same one on all your digital platforms and should stay the same for every campaign - or if your band's timeline is not based on campaigns, how about keeping your visuals the same for 1 year - so it becomes recognizable.
The profile picture should also be both eye-catching and represent your brand.
Bio text (1.9)
GOAL: Your bio should persuade Instagrammers to hit follow, to become interested in learning more about you, and to click the bio-link. Think of your bio as your “elevator pitch.” In other words, who you are and why we should care, in a sentence or two.
Definitely include your musical genre. Your location should be already included at the bottom (as explained above). When Instagrammers look at your bio, they should immediately understand who you are, so they can decide to follow you. If an Instagrammer is unsure or confused, they are more likely to not follow you, or worse: unfollow you (Eeek!). You only have 150 characters (spaces included) so be smart about every word (and emoji).
TEMPLATE: Try answering these questions:
What is your genre?
What are you all about and what makes you different from the others?
Mention something you are proud of or currently advertising (e.g., your new single or your next show)
Where do you want to lead traffic? Include a call to action (CTA), meaning you're clearly telling the Instagrammer what to do.
EXAMPLE: Look at Andrew Kirell's bio explaining both his interesting day job (he's unique), describing his genre (tear-in-your-beer alt-country rock n roll), where he is based (Brooklyn, New York), includes a call to action ("Take a listen") and a link to music. See screenshot 7.
ADD YOUR BAND NAME AS A HASHTAG: As of March 21 2018, you can now add hashtags and usernames (@) in your bio! I want you to add your band name as a hashtag, that way when Bob Boilen stumbles across your bio, he may click on the hashtag and find more content of you, maybe lots posted by your fans! Also, it tells your fans what hashtag to use when posting about you and where to find more content of you. If your hashtag don't have many posts yet, start using it in every post! More on how to grow your hashtag coming up in Step 4.
You can also add a username in your bio, which could be your record label or another related account. The other account will be notified of that you mentioned them in your bio, and they can choose to remove it.
IMPORTANT: Change your bio as often as needed to have the info be up-to-date. If you/your publicist/your mom/whoever spends time and money on sending out a press release, why isn't the news also presented in your Instagram bio, which more relevant people might read (than the press release you sent out)?!
Break up your sentences so the text looks nice, clean and very readable. It is now easy to do with the recent Instagram update!
7. Andrew Kirell's bio explains his interesting day job, describing his genre, includes a CTA and a link to music. And I see where he is based.
Where do you want to drive traffic from Instagram? Think about it like this:
Ok, Instagrammers are (in most cases) on their phones just surfing a little to relax, connecting with other Instagrammers, staying in touch with their community - or just killing time. They are not reading the news, discussing politics or doing heavy research. In other words, this platform is more lighthearted and chill, therefore Instagrammers are not in a mindset to focus/read a lot. Is this the time when you want to read an interview on your small screen? Maybe, but probably not. You might be proud of your interview with Paste Magazine, but wouldn’t you rather suggest a link that increases the chance of someone actually clicking on it? In fact, you can add your write-up to your bio instead:
Paste Magazine said we were the freshest take on modern punk they’d heard in years! Click link to check out video for new single "If I Die Trying!”
Switch your bio-link as often as you’d like, depending on what you are pushing. When I say "pushing" I mean what you are focusing your attention on (promoting or growing) at them moment. It could be a new release, an upcoming show, a new music video, your recent Paste Studio session, gaining more followers on Spotify, or perhaps growing your email list.
If your link is long and scary, I recommend using bitly.com or prettylinks.com (to convert your link to a smaller one). This makes your bio look cleaner.
QUICK CHECK: Test your bio-link to make sure it leads to a page that is optimized for cell phones.
Include a CTA (Call To Action, remember?) in the bio text. Again, this means telling the Instagrammer what to do, which increases the chances of him/her actually doing it. In this case, we want them to click the link.
Keep the CTA simple in the bio. Skip the "Please click the link, we'll be eternally grateful!" I love bands that are grateful, but as a call to action in your bio and posts, it should be straight to the point.
EXAMPLES OF CALL TO ACTION:
Click the link to see my new music video loved by Pitchfork!
Get our daily tour diary by clicking the link below!
Link to your newest music video/video session/TV performance! If nothing is new, choose the one you are most proud of and best represents you (even if it is older). People love watching videos on Instagram (limited brainpower needed!), and it’s one of the best ways for you to showcase yourself to potential fans.
Link to a specific page on your website where we can listen to your music.
Link to a landing page where one can subscribe to your email list. That is never a waste; however, you need a good plan to get people to subscribe – more on that coming up in the BONUS section below. Also, if you don't link to your music here, make sure I can easily find it in your posts or highlights.
Creating a Linktree link for your bio can be a good idea if you have more than one link you want to send traffic to, see screenshot 8. However, be careful! Don't give them too many options!
Link to an interview or anything else text-heavy. Too hard of a sell to an Instagrammer, unless it’s your lover.
Your website's front page. It’s too vague. If I say to you “check out my website!” – are you tempted? No. Boring. You can, however, link to a specific page on your website, such as where your sick music video can be viewed or your music can be streamed. That I like.
Ticket link at any other times than when you have posted about the show and included the call to action "Get your ticket today! Link in bio." But once that post has run its course, change it back out. An option could be to instead, use a Linktree link where you can push the Instagrammer towards both your music video and the ticket link.
8. Check out Linktree if you want to push traffic to several links.
You have to take advantage of the Highlights feature! See screenshot 9. It is easier to click on your highlight than your bio-link (which transfers you out of the Instagram app). These are Insta Stories that you can place permanently in your bio as a button. I will be talking you through this in Step 7, so skip for now if you are not familiar with Stories, Live, and Highlights.
A quick tip for you who want to tackle this right away: Choose 4 announcements or topics (can be more than 4, but the first 4 are the most visible. E.g., Live, Listen, New Album, Tour Dates, Press, Music Video, Tour Photos. You have to figure out what you want to showcase! If you are great live – you HAVE TO have a highlight called "Live" where you gather great clips from your live performances (so you're ready when promoters and booking agents enters your account!). If you are really proud of your new music video, make it a highlight. You can only have a 15 sec video clip, but that might be enough to get a tastemaker interested in you. Yay! And a with a little bit more creativity, you can add many 15 seconds clips together. Fun!
SHARE: If you want, take a screenshot of your bio and drop it in our Chat Group for feedback! Our eyes might catch something you did not see.
9. Take advantage of the Highlights feature! I'll explain how it's done in
why and how to Grow your email list (1.12)
If this is new to you, sign up for a newsletter platform, such as MailChimp.
WHY BOTHER COLLECTING EMAILS? You rent your Instagram account; you don't own it. Tomorrow Instagram might announce that you now have to pay for your account, resulting in your followers canceling their accounts. Same goes for Facebook, of course, and all other platforms. But not your email list. It's yours to own and use as you please. No one can take it away from you. So, digital platforms come and go; however, people’s personal email addresses seem to rarely be traded out!
Plenty of studies find that the best way to reach people is through their inbox!
LEAD MAGNET: Consider using a lead magnet, also know as a click bait. This is something of value to the audience you are offering to increase chances of him/her actually taking action.
Change your lead magnet to push various “offers.” Potential subscribers are going to be tempted by different things.
You need an irresistible offer. Know your audience! What do they want?
Think about a band you like. What would you sign up to get from them?
EXAMPLE OF "LEAD MAGNET":
Click the link below to receive a free canvas bag!
Click the link to download a free copy of our intriguing tour journal!
BAND-LETTER: Ask people to sign up for your band-letter (it’s a newsletter, I just like to call it a band-letter. You might not always have a whole lot of news, but you should still email them, and I’d rather get a “band-letter” than a “newsletter” even if it is the same thing). The problem is: how will you convince them to sign up? “Sign up for my newsletter!” does not work. Those who do are already supporters. You have to think of a lead magnet: something of value to offer the subscriber. If I sign up, what’s in it for me? What will I get? How about using:
Contests to win free tickets or backstage passes
Exclusive videos made by the band members
Weekly tour journals
A shout out on the band’s social media
Free or discounted merchandise
A video where Lisa does a headstand and Paul eats super sour and juicy lemon. In other words, be creative! Btw, are you salivating? ;)
I do recommend that you make the letters cool and valuable so your subscribers will actually enjoy them and maybe even reply to you. If a subscriber finds your letter to be of no interest, aka spam, they will unsubscribe.
If you want to learn more about email marketing, book consultancy sessions with us!
checklist. before moving on, make sure
At least 1 press photo is posted on your account that's easy for me to find
Anyone can easily listen to your music from your account
You've joined our Chat Group on Telegram
You've decided on 8 words that describe your brand
You've chosen the best username and name
You've upgraded to a business account if you did not have one already
Your location is clear through your bio
You've written a clear bio text and included a call to action
You've chosen the most beneficial bio-link
You are using the best profile picture
Now, if you want, take a screenshot of your bio and drop it in our Chat Group for feedback!