How to beat the algorithm and grow your social following as an artist

The algorithm isn’t your enemy.

If you learn and understand the algorithms used across platforms, you can even use them to your advantage to get your music in front of a larger audience than ever. But where do we start? In the video above, we discuss key tips and techniques (also summarized below) that you should keep in mind when posting content to any of your artist profiles – while we’ll specifically be looking at Instagram and its unique algorithm, many social media platforms employ a lot of similar practices.

1. Create high-quality content

Everyone always says, “make good content” – but what exactly does that mean in practice? In the eyes of the algorithm, “good content” is a post that keeps your audience on the platform longer. One way to achieve this is to always include a prompt or question in your caption, as opposed to solely making a statement. A portion of your audience will stop and take the time to respond to your question, and from the algorithm’s perspective, this makes your post a successful piece of content.

And even beyond the quantitative side, interacting with your audience and building relationships with them is a great experience in itself, too. Don’t be hesitant to respond to your followers’ comments or say a thank you to those who are regular returners; this can make the experiences of both being an artist and following an artist much more rewarding.

2. Consider promoting your posts

Let’s face it – while we may not love the idea of spending our money on these platforms, using the “Promote” feature can be a highly effective way to reach new eyes and ears. Even if it’s just a few dollars each, consider promoting your posts, especially those that are tied to new releases, announcements, etc. For a much more in-depth guide, check out this article we recently created on promoting your music using social media ads.

3. Engage with new profiles

Don’t just publish your latest post and immediately sign off – whenever you have a moment, try to do your own exploring and engage with other profiles as well. In particular, focus on regularly interacting with new profiles, as the algorithm will think that you’re ‘friends’ or have related interests, and in turn, start serving them your content.

Building this habit of active exploration is also great for your general creative growth as an artist, as it encourages you to discover new musicians, brands, and other sources of inspiration on a daily basis. Even if it’s in the back of your mind, don’t solely engage ‘for the algorithm;’ rather, take the time to be an active consumer and learner, and if something was genuinely interesting or exciting for you, try to leave a thoughtful comment instead of just an emoji.

At the end of the day, social media comes down to being a numbers game, and luck will inevitably always be a factor – however, hopefully these tips will help you better understand the algorithm and beat the odds. Do you have any questions about a topic covered in the video, or any gems of your own that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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March 17, 2021

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.