The 2021 Instagram Growth Strategy for Artists

Instagram is an ever-developing beast and its changing algorithms make it challenging to stay on top and build solid growth on the platform.

If you hadn’t heard, the platform has recently made some changes, so likelihood is, there’s some things you could be doing to improve your strategy and grow your Instagram this year.

Is this the type of Instagram growth you’d like to see?

Imagine the scene, every post you put up gets a ton of comments and likes, your DMs are overflowing and your stories are being watched. Maybe you drop a link when you release a new song and immediately, fans will be redirected where YOU want them to go. It could be to YouTube for your video, or Spotify or Apple Music for your streaming.

This is exactly what the correct Instagram growth strategy can do for you. It’s easy to promote when you have that audience there. 

This article will walk you through the changes to ensure that you, as an artist, can get on top of the algorithm and experience Instagram growth through proper engagement with your fan base.

Your Instagram feed is different now

I’m sure you have noticed that your Instagram feed is no longer in chronological order based on the time people upload.  

Instead, it shows posts based on how often you engage with that person and how likely you are to engage with that post.

Another change is that you get suggested content and people to follow when you get to the bottom of your feed. It differs slightly whether you are viewing on a computer or mobile device.

Instagram’s algorithm is pushing out accounts, and they are getting engagement, which can mean huge potential Instagram growth for artists.

Our revised 2021 Instagram growth advice

Now, a piece of advice you may have heard us repeating a lot through our posts and videos is to post frequently on Instagram stories, at least three times a day.

With this new algorithm, our advice has changed. Instead of consistently posting, you need to post with the reason of engagement.

This means posting on every part of Instagram: your feed, IGTV, Reels, and stories. But remember, the focus should be on quality, not quantity.

Instagram’s algorithm is now based on the comments, how often you are getting shared, and your story’s replies.

Suppose you continually make posts that give little reason to engage. In that case, less engagement will mean that Instagram will not push your account to as many people. In other words, it’s deemed fairly ‘pointless’ to the algorithm.

So, if you have to choose between quality and quantity, pick quality. In an ideal situation, you want to do both because Instagram judges based on your complete profile, not just one post.

If you get posts that don’t perform as well as the others, don’t delete them thinking Instagram will stop pushing your account out.  

The algorithm is not just based on one post! If you put out post after post that doesn’t get engagement, then your whole profile score will drop, and that’s when they will stop pushing you out to a wider audience. You have to experiment with your content anyway and in all honesty, you’re not going to hit a home-run with every single thing you post.

We know that a lot of artists have experienced a drop in engagement when using Instagram. This is likely to be the reason why.

Essentially, your posts need to more engaging. We’ll explain how you can do this further down in the article, but for now, take an honest step back from your own content and ask yourself if you would engage with that piece of content if you found it on your feed.

Instagram growth using Insights

An excellent way to secure more engagement on Instagram so that more posts are pushed out to a wider audience is to utilise Instagram Insights.

While Instagram states that it doesn’t matter what happens in the first 30 minutes when you post, it certainly doesn’t hurt to get social proof for your post.

Let’s look at it this way: if you post when your audience is most active, you are going to get a few comments off the bat, which sets the ball rolling. People are more inclined to comment when there are other comments there.

With Instagram Insights, you can see what time of the day your audience is most active. It might be that you find your audience is in a different timezone to you; for example, you are from the UK, but your main audience is the US.

You can use scheduling to ensure that the post goes out at precisely the right time, even if you are asleep!

For our own Instagram account, we use an app called Later to schedule posts and stories easily.

Using videos for Instagram growth

Experimenting with videos is a great idea. Instagram has actually said that pictures and videos do get treated the same and pushed out on the feed equally.

However, you are 4 times more likely to have a video put on the Explore page than an image. The Explore page is key for discovery, especially for musicians.

Videos mean that people can get to hear your music, hear your voice, capture your essence, and essentially, get to know you better.

We really encourage you to explore more videos, as too many artists’ Instagram accounts are feeds full of static images.

Keep your Instagram growth real

Although this is not a new change, Instagram has commented on it, making it a huge deal!

Fake interaction is a big no-no!

If you have ever (or are still using) ‘follow/unfollow’ strategies, have been part of an engagement pod, or have paid for likes or comments – it has to stop!

Instagram has stated this will not help your reach; in fact, it is likely to do more harm to your account than good.

We’ve had many artists come to us saying “look, we have this amount of followers. Why aren’t we getting more engagement?” When we dig a little deeper, this is usually the reason – Instagram has ‘shadowed banned’ them for receiving fake interactions.

So, PLEASE avoid fake engagement for the sake of your success and growth on Instagram. 

How to create REAL engagement on your Instagram account

It is essential to focus on engagement. Here are our best tips that will help you incorporate better engagement into your Instagram posts:

Captions

Create captions that encourage people to comment. This could be a question, using humour, or involving the viewer in some way. People LOVE to give their own opinion.

Think about how someone can comment on this, especially if it’s an image of you playing live or a general artist picture. How can you include the viewer?

Stories

Stories are the best possible place to get engagement on Instagram, as they are viewed more often than the actual feed.

Suppose you are at the top of your viewer’s list. In that case, this can only be achieved by having a continual relationship with them as they view and comment on your stories.

Try to become known for quality stories that ask for an opinion, perhaps on a new riff or some lyrics. By doing this, people are going to interact more with your stories. 

Contrast this with a random picture of a guitar – which would you rather interact with? Maybe you can appreciate the picture, but it doesn’t persuade you to interact necessarily.

Pushing for engagement on stories is reasonably easy because if you’ve given a good narrative through your story, then people will automatically feel inclined to comment. 

Don’t Forget About Instagram’s Extra Bits

Instagram has many other features to encourage interactions, like polls, questions, stickers, and gifs for that element of humour. Alternatively, you can utilise the array of stickers that Instagram has on stories.

Instagram growth and YOU

When you think about it, Instagram is literally made for artists. If you have become concerned about your Instagram growth and reach, this article has hopefully given you the reason why.

Take a look at your Instagram marketing strategies and Insights and determine whether it is time to change up your Instagram game.

As every artist and their audience is different, we can’t tell you exactly what to post. But we can tell you to experiment with your content until you find something that works for you.

If you found this blog helpful, you can read more music marketing articles here, follow our tips on Instagram or check out our advice videos on our YouTube channel.

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