Do you use Instagram?
I’ve had an account for a while but it wasn’t until recently I dove all in to explore the possibilities. My own curiosities mixed with consistent questions about the platform from my friends and clients challenged me to collect and analyze information about the usefulness and value.
When I became CMO of UL Sounds, IG was a top priority due to its popularity. This has further driven my need to explore and experiment with the platform.
In this article, you will discover:
- who uses IG.
- how to find followers and get likes on your photos.
- resources and links to more info about marketing on IG.
- how to automate your marketing so you can make more music.
Instagram is Simple
Instagram is one of the simplest (and most popular) social networks available.
To use it you have to download the app to a mobile device (either phone or tablet). You canNOT use IG from your computer like you use FB or Twitter. For those not in the know… Facebook bought Instagram for approximately $1 billion in 2012.
- take, upload, and add filters to photos (and 15 second videos),
- like photos,
- follow people,
- send and receive direct messages.
- share your posts to Twitter and FB (personal profile OR business page).
However, unlike all the other platforms, Instagram does not allow active hyperlinks in posts or comments.
Do not let this discourage you though. IG is very popular, a lot of people use it, and we can take advantage of this for 1) branding, 2) awareness and 3) engagement.
Layout and Boomerang apps
More recently, Instagram has launched 2 sister apps: Layout and Boomerang.
Layout allows you to take multiple photos and arrange them in a collage for posting to your IG profile.
Boomerang allows you to make short video clips of moving objects. Essentially it creates looping GIFs from short video clips.
A video posted by J.Smo of BUNKS (@jedismo) on
Who uses Instagram?
The information I share below was published on Sprout Social, May 5, 2015.
Here are some key stats and demographics:
- 300 million users sharing over 60 million photos each day.
- 29% Female – 22% Male
- 53% of users are 18-29
- 28% located in urban areas, 26% suburban, 19% rural
- household annual income for users ranges from 30K – 75K
- 31% of users had some college, 24% graduated college, 23% high school diploma or less
The above stats did not mention anything about the amount of users who are under 18 years old.
From my observations (when in public places), teenagers and college-aged individuals tend to be scrolling through Instagram while the older generations tend to be using the Facebook app.
I’ve read several articles and case studies suggesting that the majority of teenagers (at least in the US) are highly active on IG on a daily basis. Just something to keep in mind.
Power of #Hashtags
When typing your photo caption, Instagram will display a drop-down list of the most popular hashtags once you type “#” and begin typing letters.
For example typing #chri will display a list including #christmas and any other popular tags starting with “chri”.
Advice about how many hashtags to use per post is mixed. Some say only use a few and avoid over-saturated ones. Others says max out and include popular and not so popular ones.
In my experience, use as many as you want but make sure to keep them relevant to your photo, video, and caption. I typically see more likes and/or comments on my photos when I use more hashtags.
There are also websites, apps and tools available to help you find the most popular hashtags relevant to your niche.
Simply search for “most popular IG tags” and you will see websites which group popular hashtags by category.
You can also check out my Instagram Limits Every Musicpreneur Should Know slideshow to receive a list of popular IG tags.
How To Find (Free) Followers and Get Likes
The following strategy I share can be adapted to any social network.
Instagram engagement is driven mostly by #hashtags. You do need to upload engaging photos/videos but you will notice immediately that posts without hashtags receive significantly less engagement.
Before I jump in, here are links to lists with ideas for finding followers on IG. Wikihow even has a step by step guide.
- 50 Free Ways to Increase Your Instagram Followers via Forbes
- 10 Simple Ways To Get More Instagram Followers via HuffingtonPost
- How to Get 1k Followers on IG via Wikihow
Finding Followers using Hashtags and Likes
The simplest way to dive in and start finding followers is to:
- follow other people.
- like their photos.
- comment on their photos.
Before you start blindly following and liking you need to
- Know Your Audience and
- Know IG’s Limits.
Knowing your audience is the most important thing to understand.
Imagine your ideal fan is sitting in the room with you. Write down their interests, dislikes, personality type, fashion style, music choices, favorite colors, favorite foods, favorite books, and anything else that would make this person your “ideal fan”. This list of traits describes your core target audience.
The best way to demonstrate this (for IG marketing purposes) is to share the most recent hashtags I have been targeting. These tags represent the audience I am trying to reach and engage with on Instagram but they also represent small pieces of who I am as a person.
My stage name is J.Smo and I am an alternative Hip Hop producer/emcee. These are the tags I target for this IG profile.
- #hiphop, #realhiphop, #hiphophead #hiphopmusic #hiphoplife #hiphopbeats #hiphopjunkie #undergroundhiphop #Hiphopnation
Outside of being a Hip Hop head/artist, I am also an indie musician, CMO of UL Sounds which helps indie musicians, and I coach indie musicians so I target:
- #indiemusic #indieartist #diymusic #musicians #songwriters #diymusician #musicpreneur #artistpreneur #studiolife #tourlife
I also like Star Wars. Since the new movie is all the rage, I have been targeting:
- #starwars #starwarsnerd #starwarsforceakakens #starwarsdaily #jedifamily
Other tags relevant to my audience, UL Sounds, or my coaching business would include:
- #art #graffiti #marketing #nowplaying #rock #folk #americana #spotify #itunes #tennessee #sacramento #california #westcoast #bunkstyle #mtmfriends #ulsounds #myjam #songs #instamusic
If you want to get personal, some relevant tags would include:
- #family #kids #children #parenthood #education #culture #anthropology #space #nasa #mars #travel #coffee #beer #technology #gadgets #hiking #nature #landscapes
Search Hashtags, Follow Users, Like Photos
Once you’ve decided the most relevant and valuable hashtags, the next step is to use the search box in Instagram to find photos with those tags.
Once you have a stream of photos with your selected hashtags to scroll through:
- like photos,
- follow interesting people,
- leave comments.
The author of one article I read calculated that he received approximately 6 followers for every 100 photo likes.
This ratio appears to suck but when you consider how quickly you can like 100 photos it really isn’t that bad.
Regardless of their findings, the easiest way to get people following you, liking your photos, and leaving comments is to simply engage in those activities with other users of IG.
You can also use Instagram’s Explore tab in order to find trending and popular photos as well as explore collections based on popular/trending hashtags.
Additional ideas for finding followers and likes
- promote IG on your website and other social profiles.
- use popular hashtags on your photos to increase possibility of being found in searches.
- QUALITY beats quantity.
- this report suggest the Mayfair filter is most effective for marketing.
- be consistent (post same amount of photos per day at same time(s) each day).
- use apps like Latergramme, Hootsuite or Crowdfire to schedule your posts.
- tag people in photos when relevant.
- tag your location (if you’re not concerned with privacy).
- use an app like RePost to share photos from friends and followers.
- follow all your FB Friends on IG (they receive a notification when you join and connect your FB account).
- use quotes in your images.
- build communities around special hashtags, organized promotions, or contests.
Don’t forget that genuine engagement is the most natural and best way to build a following online, no matter the platform.
Paying for Followers, Likes, Engagement
*Links to services mentioned below are affiliate links and I will earn kickbacks.
Since the book I’m working on concerns the concept of “Pay for Play”, you know I am going to touch on buying followers and likes.
There are a few legitimate services but I am going to mention the one I have used and know works. This is obviously something for more serious marketers and promoters.
FastFollowerz – Followers, Likes, Daily Engagement
- Buy (Fast) followers ranging from 100 for $4.99 up to 500,000 for $2499.
- Buy (Targeted) followers ranging from 100 for $29 up to 10,000 for $499.
- Buy Daily followers ranging from 10/day for $29/month up to 1,000/day for $499/month.
- Buy Likes (for 1-5 photos) ranging from 50 likes (1 picture only) for $1.49 up to 25,000 likes (spread over 1-50 photos) for $119.
- Buy Automatic Engagement ranging from 50 likes/day for $9.99/month up to 20,000 likes per day for $1,399/month.
- Buy Comments ranging from 5 for $2.99 up to 2,500 for $399.99.
- Buy Custom Comments starting at 5 for $4.95.
If you go this route, you will save a lot of time and energy finding followers but you will have the challenge of turning those followers and likes into meaningful engagement that brings value back to your music and your brand.
Automating Instagram Marketing
What if I told you it was possible to automate the process of searching hashtags, liking photos, and following others in order to generate engagement on your IG profile?
It definitely is and I have found a few services which have built platforms to make this happen.
Instagress was a great tool and helped us build multiple Instagram accounts over the last year or longer, but this valuable service has been shut down (as of April 2017). Instagram has amped up their fight against automation tools so be careful with any services or software that offers to automate likes, following, or comments. Boostgram, the service mentioned after Instagress in this article, is still active. The site FastFollowerz.com, mentioned above, still sells IG packages.
Instagress is currently the service I have been using to automate my IG marketing. The best part is their time-based pricing plans which make the service affordable for indie musicians like you and I.
With Instagress you can automate:
- Likes targeted by 1) hashtags 2) followers of @username OR 3) followings of @username
- Comments (custom) with same targeting.
- Follows with same targeting.
- Unfollows based on where you followed user from (through Instagress or another platform).
Without going into a full tutorial on how to use Instagress, here are some features of the service:
- Main settings include: Activity Speed, Media Source (tags, locations, usernames), Media Age, Media Type, Minimum Likes Filter, Maximum Likes Filter.
- Advanced Filters include: Minimum comments, maximum comments, user relation filter, user profile, minimum followers, maximum followers, tag + tag, tag+location, tag+username
- Comments: Don’t comment same user and your list of custom comments
- Follow: Follow source, don’t follow same users, don’t follow private users
- Unfollow: unfollow source, unfollow who don’t follow me
- Tags: your list of relevant hashtags
- Locations: list of targeted locations
- Usernames: list of targeted usernames
- Blacklist: you can blacklist users, tags or keywords
- Auto-stop: you can set the software to stop running based on Likes Counter, Comments Counter, Follows Counter, Unfollows Counter, Timer and Stop If No Activity
Boostgram is very similar to Instagress but instead of reasonable, time-based pricing, they charge $99/month.
I ran the 3 day free trial on 2 accounts and was very pleased with both. However, $99/month is not something I’m willing to pay for this service. I would rather pay Instagress $9.99 for 30 days.
Instagram is a popular network and a powerful marketing tool. It’s simplicity and ease of use makes it a go-to app for many users of social media platforms.
With most of their users falling into the younger generations, this is a crucial platform for reaching a younger audience.
Also with the rise of automation services and other premium applications available for Instagram marketers, it is obvious the network is continuing to grow as a marketing force.
The services and tools I have shared are working for me so it is only natural I share with you so you can enhance your IG promotion and overall digital marketing strategy.
No matter which path you choose to build your following and gain likes on your media, remember that genuine engagement wins every single time.