The top row on Instagram excites me. I check Instagram more often & only bother scrolling down the feed once a day, if I don’t forget. I’ve previously explained how Instagram’s Snapchat-cloned Stories functionality represents a great marketing opportunity for artists. Now I want to signify its broader importance to music, and social media in general.
⚠️ You should be paying a lot of attention to Instagram Stories
Remember Facebook back in 2007-2010? Back when people were still posting Facebook updates in third person?
Back then, Facebook was so compelling to just post stuff to. It was useful and fun, despite having to write status updates in third person being kind of awkward.
People would post a lot. Interaction would be high. Much of what people were posting was public. Then everyone’s family started to join. Random people from different moments in your life started adding each other. And more recently I’ve been getting more friend requests from people I know professionally than LinkedIn invites.
Facebook is not fun anymore.
Facebook is useful, but it’s not fun. People are more careful about what they choose to post. And now, people who have been using the internet since the 90s are reaching retirement age. Your family is going to be on Facebook all day; watching you.
Just posting quick thoughts on Facebook makes no sense anyway. My Facebook used to be full of “anyone want to grab a drink tonight?” but now you can’t be sure if that message even gets seen by friends. Facebook is not a timely medium anymore. If you want to do ‘spontaneous drinks’ with random friends, you better post a status update 2 days in advance.
Instagram used to be fun
The thing people used to say about Instagram, was that that’s where all the young people fled as their parents and other relatives started using Facebook. It was fun, because it was actually instant: you had a sense of what friends were up to. The filters made it easy to make decent photos and have them look ok, or artsy, or whatever.
But over time, people grew aware once more that what they post is there to stay, started feeling self-conscious, and a lot of the fun faded.
Fun is why people create
When people are having fun they interact, they dance, they talk, they laugh, they share, they kiss, and they open up. This is why Facebook was so good: people were mindlessly posting things because it was fun. Then they became self-conscious. This is why Instagram was so good, but then people became self-conscious. And this is what Snapchat absolutely nailed with their ephemeral content.
I doubt Snapchat invented the idea, but their timing of launching an app where users can share moments that expire every 24 hours was perfect. Their augmented reality filters gave people a way to keep sharing, to keep creating, even when they were uninspired. Super fun.
How Instagram became fun again
Facebook, which owns Instagram, tried to buy Snapchat, but their offer was declined. I guess the Silicon Valley version of “if you can’t beat them, join them” goes:
“If they won’t join you, copy them.”
So that’s what they did.
Instagram became fun again. Their filters are slowly becoming better, but Snapchat still has them beat: it doesn’t really matter. Instagram has this ecosystem of personalities that are looking to get discovered, looking to bind audiences to them, and Instagram is a great way to get new people to find you.
You use image posts with hash tags to get people to find you (and those lame auto follow/unfollow scripts). Instagram models also use Tinder‘s Instagram integration: they just go match with a lot of people and then some of them will convert to Instagram followers. And then, through Instagram Stories you keep your audience engaged with you, at least once every 24 hours.
How I’m using Instagram Stories
I tend to watch all of my friends’ stories. I’ve never really cared for following personalities or brands on Instagram, but most of my friends do that, and they also check those stories.
I post videos and photos to my stories basically daily, and often 5 to 15 a day. You don’t worry too much about what you post: it expires, and if it’s bad you know that people can just flick through stories fast anyway. This gives incentive to create powerful content too: you know it has to be fun from the first second, and you know having some diversity makes people come back to your stories often.
Things I post:
- ‘Moments’: being in the office on Sunday, travel, having lunch with friends, nice views, parties, etc.;
- Hints: previews of what I’m working on (I actually added the title of this article to a story);
- Calls: “anyone want to join me for…?” — it really doesn’t matter what the picture that goes with it is, as long as it’s fun and doesn’t confuse. I was looking for someone to join me to IKEA and I put that call in a pic with graffiti.
- Time-lapse vids: these are a really fun way to put a lot of content in one short story and communicate action, e.g. moving from the office to a party on Friday;
- Vids of vids: fits into moments, but basically if you’re at home watching artsy YouTube videos, weird Japanese commercials, memes, whatever, you can post quick snaps of that too — it helps with diversity & it’s FUN;
- Creative: doing funky stuff with the filters, pinning surfers 🏄 to foam in the bath tub while the water flows, reality distortion like Hyperspektiv, using Pantone‘s photo app, etc.;
And then there is music.
Why I’m using Instagram Stories to share music
In that context, using Instagram Stories to share music makes so much sense, it’s so much fun.
When you post a 4 minute YouTube video to Facebook, nobody listens. Ok, maybe that 1 dude that always reacts with a lot of emoji, but nobody else. When you insert a short clip combined with an interesting visual into your Instagram Stories, you have a captive audience.
I wrote about Instagram Stories last month, and I don’t like repetition, but I’m so excited about this: the web is about doing what gets you the most attention, and the highest quality attention. I don’t know any other medium, other than my newsletter, that gives me a better type of attention than Instagram Stories.
And my newsletter is basically professional. So if it’s just about friends, then Instagram Stories is the best for me.
Plus people engage! Instead of acknowledging you by clicking a meaningless like button or heart icon, they actually reply to your public stories. With words! Like human beings!
They’ll say: “wow, that’s such a cool track, I didn’t know you were into that too!” or “did you know they have a concert soon?” or “what is this? can you send me more of this?”
Media changes music
The record changed music. MTV changed music. Then the internet changed music by allowing the emergence of global undergrounds. The playlist economy changed music because producers now optimize tracks to lower the skip rate, bringing the vocals into the first few seconds of the track.
The Stories format could further affect music, because it stresses the importance of making an impact with a song, even if people hear just a few seconds of any part of it. Good music has that already, so fingers crossed: we’ll see much more great music made.
Follow me on Instagram: @basgras