Social media is changing. Which means so too are the ways in which musicians must choose to promote their music. Cue: Instagram Reels.
As Instagram’s answer to TikTok, Reels are one of the most recently added features and most-favoured features available to all Instagram users and content creators. In a world where video marketing key, Reels offers musicians the potential to make your music viral (yes, viral) on Instagram. All the while exposing themselves to a larger audience and converting virtual followers into real-life listeners and fans.
How to promote your music on Instagram Reels
As with anytime Instagram brings out a new feature, Reels are actively taking up more and more of the app’s overall viewing-scape and ‘Discover’ page. This comes down to none other than (yep, you guessed it) the algorithm (shudder). After all, Instagram has its own in-app marketing to do - which means for the foreseeable future, or at least until a newer or bigger development comes along, Reels will without a doubt remain at the forefront of the app’s most pushed out content.
What does that mean for promoting music on Instagram?
It means - strike the iron while it’s hot.
Here’s a whole video on how to get started using Instagram Reels!
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Video not for you? Keep onnn readin’.
What are Instagram Reels?
Reels are a type of short video content feature, very similar to IG Stories. They’re displayed portrait or vertical with a 9.16 ratio and can be between 15 - 30 seconds long in duration.
Once you create and upload a Reel to your Instagram, it will appear in the designated ‘Reels’ section of your profile.
Not only can you post a Reel to this special section, but you can also share your Reels to your main feed, as a Story and elsewhere outside of the app too (such as on other social channels).
Why should I use Instagram Reels?
One of the best things about using Reels is that they possess in-built viral potential.
They’re designed in such a way to filter out into the masses and get picked up by different audiences and virtual communities. While Instagram will initially only show your Reel to a small number of people (usually only your followers) as soon as people start to react to the Reel, Instagram will then show it to even more people and it’ll continue to grow and grow.
Reels also give you the ability to get creative with your content.
Fans can get tired of seeing the same old press shot pics, album artwork and so on. Reels come with an array of features - such as captions, filters, effects, music overlay options and more - which’ll enable you to produce content that’s a lot more diverse and outside the box, making Reels a really exciting new experience for your fans and followers.
How to add your music to Instagram Reels
If you’re already releasing your music to Instagram then it should already be available for you to select and use via Instagram’s music library. From here you’ll be able to automatically add your track to a Reel.
1. Open up your Instagram camera
2. Select ‘Reels’
3. Click on the musical notes icon
4. Search for your song and add it to the Reel
And if your tracks aren’t already available, you can distribute music to Instagram, as well other big platforms like Spotify, TikTok and Apple Music right now by signing up with Ditto Music.
Once you’ve created, uploaded and finished editing your Reel, always make sure you share it to your main feed as a separate post as well as in your Reels section. This will simply make sure it generates as much viewer attention and engagement as possible.
So now you know what reels are, why you should use them & how to upload one featuring your music, let’s talk about everything to consider when creating your very first Instagram. Reel. (eeep!)
Instagram Reels for Musicians: Tips & Tricks
1. Set a cover or thumbnail image
Every time you post a Reel, Instagram gives you the opportunity to select your own thumbnail image to display as the video’s cover image. This will be the image that appears on your profile in the designated ‘Reels’ section (as well as on your main feed) that we mentioned earlier.
The thumbnail image you choose could be the difference between someone watching your video or skipping past it. You want to project the best version of your Reel via your cover image to entice users to click on it & watch it.
Now most of the time your thumbnail might just be a still image from the Reel you’ve created. BUT - if none of the stills do your content justice, you should probably do an extra edit intentionally for the thumbnail image. Think about what your content is all about and communicate that directly in the thumbnail.
Plus, a good thumbnail image is also really important in terms of your music branding. If you want to maintain a strong and consistent sense of branding then you’ll want to take extra care to ensure your thumbnail image meets the same standard as the rest of your feed.
2. Add filters, text & stickers
Similar to TikTok, Instagram gives you the option to add text and captions to Reel videos. But Unlike TikTok, with video content on Instagram, users have the option to pause or mute their audio on the entire app natively, which means utilising captions is really important.
Maybe you’ll use the text to write ‘Turn Volume Up’ or a sticker that says ‘Turn Sound On’. Or use a cool AR filter to play with the visuals.
Whatever you do, make sure to let viewers know that they might be missing the best part of the content if they don’t have their sound switched on.
Even if you’re trying to deliver a specific message or idea, the content of your video might work just as well as if you’re explaining it via a caption.
3. Use hashtags
When it comes to making sure your Reels get picked up by Instagram’s algorithm (shudder x2), hashtags are where it’s at.
Hashtags can be added either in the caption of your Reel...
or if you want to feature more than the character count will allow, you can feature them in a separate comment below the Reel.
If you can use hashtags right, there’s a much higher chance that your video will get seen by the right audience. And that can lead to greater interaction, more engagement and potential new followers and fans.
Hashtags on Reels can be approached in 2 different ways:
1. By creating hashtags that are unique to your content; OR
2. By using relevant hashtags that are already trending.
The main point is to build a sense of community around your content, whether that’s creating an entire new community or tapping into one which already exists. So whichever method is most fitted to your own individual goals, go with it.
If you’re still unsure about which hashtags to use, why not try an online hashtag generator tool such as Ritetag or All Hashtag. Sites like these allow you to search a specific hashtag and see what content comes up to see if yours fits the realm. You might want to trial out some hashtags that are less used (in the 100s) vs. ones that are more used (in the 1000s). You’ll no doubt generate traffic from both kinds but it’s all about trial and error.
4. Dive into the archives
Not all of the content you feature on your Reels needs to be brand new material - you can repurpose footage & content from previous Stories, social media posts or music videos!
Don’t be afraid to sift through your archives and pull some content from different eras of your artistic journey and creative timepoints.
It’s especially a good idea to use content that’s already garnered positive feedback or lots of engagement. But you don’t want to merely repost it in the same exact form - make it different and fresh by adding music, text, an exciting caption and new hashtags. And just make sure it suits the style and consistency of your Reels and other online content.
Once you’ve repurposed it into a Reel, share it back to your Story and on other platforms as well.
Rinse and repeat.
5. Make content to entertain
The Reels that do the best on Instagram are the ones that favour fun and entertaining content. So when you’re crafting your one, really make sure it falls into both of these categories.
Begin by having a browse around to see what other content creators and musicians do in their reels. Then get creative and use these ideas to figure out how you can push out your own content in a diverse and unique way.
Here are 7 ideas of some of the ways you could inject a bit more creativity into your Reels;
1. Record a mini performance
2. Start a dance trend
3. Include a ‘Call To Action’; e.g. ‘Head to the bio to listen to the full song!’ or feature a link to your Spotify profile
4. Creative editing cuts rather than a one-shot sequence
5. Work with a music influencer to record a Reel for you and add your song to their video
6. Offer a sneak-preview of an unreleased song
7. Develop a challenge that’s inspired by the lyrics of your track
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you engage your audience naturally. Don’t bombard them with a whole bunch of random Reels narrating the launch of your newest release or the announcement of tour dates. Instead, take the time to see what your fans actually respond to and what they want to see.
6. Post at the right time
Choosing when to post a Reel is very much dependent on 2 things - your audience & your own schedule.
In terms of your audience, first you’ll need to find out what they want or expect from you in terms of regular content. You can usually find this out through trial and error, that is, posting at different intervals of the day or week, and seeing what generates the most engagement.
You can also use Instagram’s insights and in-app analytics to see when people are most active on your socials and if your engagement grows around peak times.
But ultimately - your own schedule will dictate how much or when you post Reels.
The main thing to remember is to stay consistent with your posts, whether that’s once a week or five times a week. People prefer high quality over quantity, so don’t burn yourself out trying to post below average Reels fifty times a week that won’t see or get the attention you’d hoped for.
Now you’ve got the entire run-down on Reels, it’s time to get online and start making some viral worthy content for your music. Have fun!