instagram 101

Instagram 101 for Discogs Sellers and Record Stores

Social media is, for better or for worse, a necessity in modern times — especially in the era of COVID-19, when it helps to have a digital presence. If you’ve already decided to get on board, you might as well embrace it and make the most of your time.

While Facebook and Twitter are effective if you can find the right audience, they can sometimes feel like shouting into the void (or in Twitter’s case, at bots. Instagram, with its simplistic image-focused presentation and dedicated shopping function, is your best bet. By using the right content and hashtags, you can cut through the noise and showcase your wares to Instagram’s very active and vibrant vinyl community.

#Vinyl on Instagram

Instagram’s worldwide reach is humongous. The most popular vinyl-related hashtag is — you guessed it — #vinyl, which boasts 25.6 million posts accrued over the past decade since Instagram launched. Using multiple hashtags per post is a great way to expand your posts’ reach, so here are the top five vinyl-related hashtags per post as of December 2020:

It’s also worth noting that some of the lesser-used hashtags may work to your advantage, as you can directly hit specific vinyl communities:

Keep in mind there is a maximum of 30 hashtags per post.

Promoting Yourself on Instagram

Vinyl’s physicality is its biggest asset when it comes to Instagram. While streaming may be the default for IG’s primary demographic (ages 18 to 24 with ages 24 to 35 close behind, FYI), there is no magic or joy in sharing a Spotify screencap, especially with its pitifully small album artwork.

Even the plainest LP covers feel bold and eye-catching in comparison, which is, of course, precisely what you want on Instagram. There are many ways to self-promote your shop, and they don’t take too much time or effort — just some exciting stock.

Sorting through your shop’s new pile is an effective way of showing off stock.

There’s always the classic aerial view grid.

Share whatever you’re spinning at the moment.

You can show off your eye for design with unique poses and imagery.

Don’t forget to promote any in-store exclusive events.

And let’s see your store! Including the outside …

… and the inside.

More Unique Approaches

Memes, memes, memes! I assume most people know what memes are in the year 2021, but if you don’t, they’re basically funny internet pictures. Even if you only have the most basic image editing software available, they’re pretty easy to make. There are even sites that have easy to edit templates!

Just remember to be creative and funny.

Thank your customers for popping a mask on and making the trek out. Are you getting the warm fuzzies? Me too.

Posting about your store’s rich history or unique story is a sure-fire way to get people’s attention.

Keep It Clean

Your main goal while using Instagram is simply to take some high-quality photos. If you’re using Instagram on your phone, you should already have a camera that is perfect for what you need. With some nice framing and lighting, you got yourself an Instagram-worthy picture. Be sure to select a high-quality picture or brand logo for your profile picture, too.

Geo-tagging those pictures is an easy and unobtrusive way to quickly share your store’s address in every post. To do so, before you share your post, use the “Add Location” option. This is another way to cut through the noise and let potential buyers know exactly where you are and what you offer, especially in record store-heavy cities like New York City or Tokyo.

Tell a Story

Instagram Stories — short snippets that only last 24 hours before being permanently deleted — can be a valuable asset if you’re willing to put in the effort. Because of their quick turnaround, stories are a great way to advertise flash deals and events. They can also be the outlet for any silly, random, or more personal moments that wouldn’t be fit for permanent placement on your main Instagram feed. Don’t forget that hashtags and geo-tagging can also be used in IG Stories!

… and Business Is Good!

Setting up your profile as a business account is highly recommended if you plan on using Instagram to its fullest, though delving into the analytical side of things may be a bit much to keep track of regularly. Still, there are some clear advantages to this free option, including the ability to add URL links to your stories (though links in picture captions are still disabled) and opening-up Instagram’s robust advertising and promotional features.

An important point to remember is to link your store’s site — whether it be your own site or your Discogs store — in your profile’s biography, as well as include any pertinent information such as your address and shop hours if you’re a brick-and-mortar. Utilizing the business profile option also means you can give potential buyers more ways to contact you outside of IG’s messaging system, such as directly linking to your email address, phone number, and address in Apple Maps or Google Maps.

Conclusion

If these feel like obvious suggestions … well, I can’t lie, they are! But that’s the beauty of Instagram. It only takes a few minutes to show off your store’s unique stock. Instagram can get you in touch with both your local vinyl community — especially in these times when in-person interactions are at a minimum — and the worldwide vinyl community full of eager listeners.

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