Photo Finish: Gigs Through Instagram

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For Matt Majikas of World Record DJs in Fitschburg, Mass., using Instagram is not about getting gigs at all—at least not directly.

“It’s about building a portfolio to show future clients,” he says. “I’ve received many compliments about it. It’s free and a great way to showcase your dancefloors, lighting, etc.”


We reached out to club and mobile DJs from across that nation to ask how they’re using Instagram to promote their businesses.

Is it an important part of their social-media-marketing portfolio? Has it helped them generate gigs?

“I use my Instagram (@SignatureDJ) to promote all the weddings I do,” says Jay Friese of Signature Sounds in Warren, R.I. “I use a ton of targeted hashtags to drive views to my content, and have booked two wedding receptions through brides who have seen my images based on the hashtags I used.

“I use local hashtags such as #Newportweddings as well as wedding specific hashtags such as #heasked and #isaidyes.”

Sharing content using hashtags has worked well for Jason Jani, of SCE Event Group in West Long Branch, N.J. He says connecting with people who are friends or “friends of friends”—or are interested in a specific tag—has allowed his company to grow its network and attract people who are interested in their services.

“Instagram is heavily used by the 25-to-35-year-old target demographic, and that’s the age group where most of my company wedding clients fall,” Jani says. “Creating unique hashtags for venues, services and events have allowed us to slowly build a universe of followers that we’ve been able to retain over the years.”

Although Jani doesn’t claim to have booked many events directly through his use of Instagram, he says it’s definitely a major marketing platform.

“I love Instagram because it’s visual and allows us to visually connect with people,” he says. “I feel like we’re in an age of people who read less and scroll more. And when you can connect with someone with visual content, they’re more often likely to check out the text or call to action—following, going to a site or clicking a link in the bio, etc.

“It most certainly has generated events and built opportunities for different facets of the business.”

For Artem Lomez of NinetyThree Entertainment in Roxbury, N.J., Instagram is not atop his social-media priorities, though he says it can be a nice touch-point to have with those who follow him on that platform, including other vendors.

“It allows for my brand to remain within the users’ mind and sight,” explains Lomez. “It has indeed helped me connect with other vendors, but I don’t view it as a platform that will generate events.

“I believe our business still heavily relies on word-of-mouth and referrals, as opposed to how nice your photos and videos are. I also feel that it could help garner interest for your brand, which would lead potential consumers to continue exploring your brand by jumping onto your website or other social media pages.”

Down in Silverhill, Ala., Jason Bishop of Code3 Entertainment has spent a number of years working in print, television and radio journalism, so he has a lot of experience in promoting messages.

“Instagram is a new landscape, and I think it’s a necessity to harness the power of social media to connect with our customers, fans and prospective clients,” he says. “I only post my best photos to it, and I make sure to network with my couples and vendors, and then we all tag each other.

“And I do get referrals from my linked vendors—especially photographers.”

Being located on the Gulf Coast, Bishop says the landscape features a backdrop like no other, which is perfectly suited for photos posted to Instagram.

“Our sugar-sand beaches, emerald waters and hand-painted sunsets,” he says, “all lend a hand in creating the backdrop for a wedding that many brides have dreamt of since they were small princesses.”

During consultations, Jani urges his couples to create an Instagram hashtag exclusive to their event. “The simpler the better,” he says, “so people can remember it later.”

When setting up the big day, Bishop says couples will often have a sign on their sign-in table with their Instagram hashtag so guests can tag and share their photos with the couple.

“From our vantage point as wedding DJs, we’re in a prime position to see just about everything,” says Bishop. “This gives us the ability to capture great moments and share them instantly—not only with the couple, but with those who could not make it. This shares with the world the fairytale as it unfolds.”

Over in the Midwest, K.C. KoKoruz of Chicago’s Keith Christopher Entertainment Group says they use Instagram the same ways they use any other social-media platforms.

KoKoruz says his company posts a variety of interesting special event-related photographs which include their DJs in action, décor lighting and the like.

“Anyone can create jpegs with pictures and text,” he says. “However, paying to promote it to specific audiences can be tricky, since a jpeg can’t contain more than 20-percent text. But since Instagram is owned by Facebook, a person can utilize all of the audience-targeting available via Facebook— age, gender, relationship status, geography and interests.”

With 90-percent of Instagram users under 35-years old, there’s no question that wedding couples are indeed on Instagram.

Blake Eckelbarger (DJ Sticky Boots), of the syndicated mix-show The HyperMiXx, is known to be on the forefront of all things digital. He’s been on Instagram for over four years.

“It’s become very important to me as both a branding tool and also for building a connection with potential clients, especially younger fans who will be clients in the future,” says Sticky Boots, who also operates The Music Place in South Bend, Ind.

“My Instagram account (@DJStickyBoots) is a great way for me to give people a look into my life, while still showcasing what I do professionally.”

For Eckelbarger, more and more of his target audience is now on Instagram, and are much more active with it than with Facebook.

“Facebook is still a powerful platform to post information that, if someone is looking for it, they can find,” Eckelbarger says. “But Instagram is a great way to have a real-time personal connection with followers.

“However, I really think the best way to build that relationship with followers is to not constantly post about your gigs, or your mixes, or your business, but instead to just post interesting things about your life and what you’re really like as a person. Then occasionally you throw in a subtle promotion to let people know they can hire you.

“This is the reason I keep my Instagram just for DJ Sticky Boots rather than a company name—it keeps that brand forefront in followers’ minds and keeps the connection warm and personal, not cold and corporate.”

Sticky Boots says he’s a firm believer in making our audiences part of our social media, so he utilizes Instagram heavily with wedding hashtags, the bride and groom’s personal hashtags, and actively encouraging people to connect and tag him at events.

“I try to focus on people in my event-related posts, rather than gear,” he says. “Probably 95-percent of my followers don’t care at all about my lights or turntables or speakers, but they do want to see themselves and their friends and then share it.

“What better way to show that you can rock the party than to show people actually on the dancefloor, having a blast?”

Eckelbarger says it’s imperative to make sure all Instragram content is real and true to a company’s brand, and to focus on building real connections with real people on social media.

“I think today’s social audience—especially the younger audience—is becoming more and more savvy as to what’s real and what’s fake on Instagram,” he explains. “You can easily buy followers, but it’s so easy to spot: If a DJ has 10,000-plus followers, but is only getting 100-200 likes on each post, for example, that means no one is looking at them.

“I’m still in the early stages, but building my audience on Instagram has already paid off from people seeing the energy at my events and reaching out to find me for their own. They see what I do for my clients, get to know what it’s like to work with me, and want to have the same experience for themselves.

“As my audience grows and matures, I expect even more conversion as my fans who are kids today will be brides, grooms, and corporate decision makers tomorrow.”

Back up in the Northeast, Gregg Hollmann of Ambient DJs in East Windsor, N.J., says Instagram has been the top focus of his company’s social-media-marketing campaign for the past two years.

“It’s also the most personally enjoyable platform, providing a creative challenge to telling a story through visual media that effectively brands our company,” says Gregg. “At present, our Instagram account (@AmbientDJs) has about 1,200 followers, and we average 30 posts per month.

“Posts are skewed towards the weekend, when parties occur, and also to special days of the week such as #MusicMonday and #WeddingWednesday. Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase our work and maintain top-of-mind awareness among past clients, event pros, banquet hall managers and even fellow DJs.”

Hollmann says some of the keys to building a successful Instagram campaign is to optimize your brand (“Make sure your selected images are telling the proper story”), be consistent (“By consistently showcasing photos from events, you demonstrate that you’re a DJ who’s in demand”), create collages (“Rather than posting six separate images from a wedding, I often create a collage with the best images of the night arranged in an artistic fashion”), and don’t forget that Instagram is a two-way street (“Using Instagram to promote your business is great, but don’t forget to like, comment and share other people’s posts. Strike up conversations that lead to doing real business”).

After 13 years with a small DJ company based in Massachusetts and as a nightclub DJ in Rhode Island, Joseph Anthony decided to form his own business—Joseph Anthony Weddings and Events in Providence, R.I. In order to promote his DJ company, he says he typically posts images from his events.

“As I post, I utilize pertinent hashtags such as #riwedding or #photobooth or whatever else is relevant,” he says, “From there, it’s all about seeing people like the picture or comment on it. The more that happens, the more exposure your posts get.

“Sometimes people are searching on hashtags and that will actually drive your images into their feed, and I’ve actually had a couple of bookings from people who have found me on there.”

Anthony says the other key to utilizing Instagram successfully is to follow other vendors, and to engage them by liking and/or commenting on their posts.

“It helps build community while also getting more reach,” he says. “You just have to be genuine and/or connective about it—not just posting on someone’s stuff strictly for the exposure. People can see through that quickly.

“To be honest, I even find myself following other DJs. I can’t help but to give them compliments when they do cool stuff. I guess I’m weird like that, in that I’m a huge fan of community over competition.”