Morgan Pappas has a versatile career as a performing musician and business entrepreneur. After receiving her Bachelors of Arts from NYU and Masters of Music from Aaron Copland School of Music, she launched a freelance music career that was quickly propelled by her global links through modern-day communication. Recognizing social media's ability to connect individuals and grow extensive platforms to reach audiences, Morgan found that she could use her marketing skills and social media expertise to help others. After working with several artists and small business, she has designed systematic approaches to building successful social media campaigns.
Morgan is currently a Resident Flutist at the Flute Center of New York, Tour Manager for the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass Band, acting as a U.S. Manager for several international flutists, and working with private clients to help build, promote, and manage their social media platforms.
How has Instagram affected your flute life and personal brand? How many years have you been active on it?
I started using Instagram in 2014, around the time that I began my Masters in flute performance. With all of the hours spent practicing for lessons, preparing for orchestra rehearsals, and studying for exams, I felt that I needed a creative outlet outside of conservatory, and Instagram provided just that. I found a world of musicians to draw inspiration from and connect with. Suddenly, I had a virtual audience listening to my videos, reading about my musical journey, and providing encouraging feedback. It was the biggest audience I had ever performed for, and it gave me a sense of professionalism and confidence that I might not have received from a conservatory degree.
I have met so many fascinating and wonderful people through Instagram; many of whom have become close friends, colleagues, and even employers. I have received global performance opportunities--such as Italy, Morocco, and Mexico-- through the connections I have made through social media, and I have been offered sales, marketing, and management jobs that I might not have been on the radar for otherwise. Ultimately, social media has been a common thread throughout all of my professional experiences out of college.
What are Some Tips to Improve Your Presence on Instagram?
The best way to improve your social media presence is to (simply put) be social and genuinely engage with others. Posting regularly is key to maintaining and building an audience. Your followers are following you for a reason: they want to see content from you. Creating a schedule of daily posts and Instagram stories will help keep you accountable for the material you release. There is a plethora of apps that can assist with creating a schedule and even implement the posting for you.
Get to know the times of the day that your followers are most active. The best way to do this is to use the Instagram “Business Insights” to see which posts have the highest engagement. The majority of Instagram managers have found that lunchtime, from 11 am – 1 pm, was their best time to post on Instagram, followed by evenings from 7 pm – 9 pm (EST). However, every account is unique. Do some tests alternating posting times to see what works best.
In addition to posting regularly, it is essential to maintain a consistent vision. A lack of cohesiveness will only distract from what you are trying to promote. The ultimate objective is to maintain a voice and aesthetic. I like to think of an Instagram account as a magazine: each post needs to have a unique message but still relates to all of those before. Consider committing to a color scheme, layout theme, and perhaps map out a mood board. Several applications allow you to plan your feed out in advance so that you know what it will look like once everything is posted. Decide who you want to narrate the account and stick to it. Keep the conversation friendly and light, but professional. Having these anchors of consistency will help guide the process of creating and sharing content.
Make sure you are always looking sharp. Don’t put content out into the world if you have the slightest fear that it doesn’t represent the aesthetic that you want to uphold. Ultimately, you want the content that you create and release to maintain the authentic spirit of “your brand” while upholding high standards of quality. Consider exploring applications that can help you edit your content or, depending on your goals, hire someone to build content for you.
Take risks! Just because everyone is doing something on social media doesn’t mean you have to follow the trend. It is good to be different and take a unique approach.
Lastly, and perhaps most important, be authentic and engage with your community. Always be yourself even if it means opening up to the vulnerability of sharing your craft with the world. Afterall, we are expressive human beings. We have the gift of sharing music, and social media is merely a portal that allows us to engage with an audience effectively. Connect with similar accounts because it will not only help your account get more exposure, it will also provide you with opportunities to build meaningful connections that may help further your career.
Describe the role of "influencers" and how they can help expand reach.
“Influencers” have become a crucial element in social media business models. An” influencer” is someone who already has an extensive follower base, generally catered to a specific niche. They are valuable to a company, brand, or product because they have an established level of trust from their followers. Flute Center of New York, for example, successfully employs several social media influencers to help promote their brand. Flutists such as Joanna of “Just Another Flutist” on YouTube, or Gina Luciani of Instagram support Flute Center of New York by providing a code to their followers that allows them certain store perks such as an extended, free trial and extended warranty on the purchase of a new flute. They also create content and review flutes so that customers have more resources to understand the different flute brands and become informed consumers. This is a game changer for the business as it allows us to reach new customers and have more online exposure through minimal means.
Is Instagram just a millennial thing? Do you think there is a steeper learning curve for the older generation, and how to overcome it?
Absolutely not! Some of my favorite accounts on Instagram have been created or managed by non-millennials. One thing that is so great about social media is that it connects all generations of people. I have met some fantastic musicians through Instagram that have become mentors and continue to inspire their audience through their experiences and contributions to the flute and music community.
There is always a learning curve with technology and staying up-to-date with applications. Of course, younger generations might adapt to this with more ease because of the familiarity with technology being part of the majority of their lives. That being said, this is something I struggle with as well, and I make an effort to follow social media publications that share the advances and newest trends. I also have no problem asking for help. There are so many talented social media bloggers who are more than happy to share their tricks and secrets. I’m always glad to help a fellow flutist learn more about the platforms so that they can feel comfortable sharing their content successfully.
Sometimes posting and engaging with followers every day can be exhausting/overwhelming. How do you find a balance between online and offline?
This is something I am hyper-aware of. I currently manage between 6 and 8 social media accounts per month and find myself on my phone quite frequently. Staying organized is key. Utilizing applications that help plan and draft posts, and even using the notes section of your phone, can ease the stress of scrambling to put together a meaningful post.
For most musicians who are handling their own account, I recommend carving out some creative time each week to record, take pictures, edit, and write blurbs. Keep these in the drafts section so that it ready to be posted when you are prepared to share. Regularly engaging with your followers and community on social media is important, but so is finding time for creative exploration. This might mean taking a conscious break from social media. It is also important to be aware of how much time you are spending on your phone. Don’t get sucked into the abyss of constant scrolling. Set specific amounts of time for your routine so that you don’t waste energy watching the same videos over and over (or procrastinating from practicing!)
In the past ten years or so, marketing oneself and one's brand has rapidly changed due to social media. Where do you see it in the next ten years?
It’s incredible what has happened in a mere ten years! I believe that Instagram will continue to grow with more features. I do not see this platform dying out anytime soon as the company releases so many updates and advances that keep it exciting, unique, and help businesses/ artists/enterprises proliferate.
What can flute brands and musical instrument brands be doing better on Instagram, in your opinion?
The flute community is one of the most active instrument communities on social media. I have run accounts for brass players, string players, and composers, but nothing quite compares to the strength of the flute community. So, it is quite surprising that many flute brands and companies have not (yet) taken advantage of this active market on social media. I believe it is only a matter of time before many companies will realize that they can mobilize this vibrant, international community of flutists on social platforms. This also applies to college flute studios. I have seen a rise in activity over the past few years, but one thing that I have noticed is that the quality of content is crucial. The most effective branding comes from high-quality content and authentic engagement. A flute brand is not just selling a flute, they are selling the vision of a future of many concerts, auditions, lessons, hours of practicing, rehearsing with friends, all with a specific flute-- and thus there has to be an emotional connection to the brand. Having ambassadors such as brand artists who are also social media influencers (or at least highly active on social media) is a great start. Trevor James was highly effective with this notion. I genuinely believe that the alto flute market increased significantly over the past few years because of their use of social media influencers as alto flute artists. They created a “TJ Community” that many flutists and musicians could relate to and actively watch daily on Instagram. I am curious to see how other flute brands and manufacturers will use social media to help promote and build their brand.
Any advice to give to flutists who are new to Instagram?
Just be yourself! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of high-quality content and flute playing available on Instagram. Use it as a resource for inspiration but don’t allow it to dictate your vision or artistic merit. Make sure you are using Instagram for positive reasons and remember that you have an audience so be careful what you decide to share and how you decide to conduct yourself. If you want to showcase your music, remember that it is a professional resource that can help shape and define your career. Enjoy and make connections, even friends, but don’t let negative people get to you (there will unfortunately always be these people in life!) Cross post on other social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to help build your brand and identity. This will help tap into various audience markets and increase exposure. Most importantly, engage with others and don’t let ego take over your account. Join the conversation and become a member of the online flute community!
For more information on Morgan’s social media marketing and management enterprise, please visit www.MorganPappasNYC.com.