Instagram is a photo sharing social network that has experienced explosive growth over the past year. Only available on iPhone, it allows users to take a photo, do some light image editing (cropping, framing, rotating, and applying filters), and post it for their friends to see. They can also post the photo to Twitter, Facebook, and a growing number of supported sites. Over 10 million people use Instagram. And the service is only a year old.
Hundreds of millions of people look at the photos when they’re posted to the different social networks. And musicians are starting to take notice. Justin Bieber is using it (check out his photos here). Snoop Dogg is using it (check out his photos here). And a lot of other musicians are jumping on board.
So why is this important for musicians to know about? First, a word about social networking in general. Engaging in social networks isn’t always easy. Some musicians don’t like the idea of having to post all their thoughts and activity to Twitter, and others don’t like the responsibility of keeping content fresh and up to date on their Facebook page.
For some people, social networking isn’t natural and takes away from the focus on their music. My advice has always been if you can’t make social networking feel natural, then don’t do it. Your fans will know when it’s not genuine or it’s forced, so find another solution. Maybe that’s solution is hiring someone to manage your social network presences (and being clear it’s not you managing it, but a representative).
Other times, that solution is finding a tool that does feel natural and then share content from that tool through social networking channels. YouTube and Soundcloud are great examples of more natural tools. Musicians can record a new part of a song and post it to Soundcloud, or shoot a quick video of them on the road and post it to their YouTube channel.
For a lot of musicians, this is part of the creative process of writing and performing music. Clicking “Share to Twitter/Facebook” isn’t a lot of extra work, and it enables them to take advantage of the additional promotional channels without having to manage those channels.
So, back to Instagram. Most musicians carry a camera with them on tour or in the studio. Many also carry a smart phone, many of them iPhones. To take advantage of this additional promotion channel, musicians just need to download the free Instagram app, take a photos and every so often post one or two to Instagram. When they post, click share to Twitter/Facebook and before long, they’ll see a following starting to develop on Instagram. It should feel very natural, and will be a visually creative way to engage with fans through another creative outlet.
Many social networks come and go. Instagram seems like it’s going to be around for a bit, and I’d encourage bands to take notice and give it a try. It’s fun and engaging, and I suspect that you’ll find yourself posting to it more than you think.