There are a plethora of social media platforms that you as an artist can use to freely (or cheaply) promote your music. It is because of these platforms that independent artists can reach their audiences more easily than ever making it possible for anyone (yes anyone) to establish a fan base; no matter what type of music you perform.
Yet it is the daily use of social media that many artists struggle with. Feelings of overwhelm crop up with all the tweeting, hash tagging, Facebooking, videoing and pinning that has to be done. All too soon social media becomes a chore that must be completed rather than an effective marketing tool that can help you build a relationship with your fans.
What’s more, artists are not seeing results from their efforts. Even if you post regularly and put some effort into making sure your posts are interesting, you are often rewarded with zero interaction from your fans and overall, your Likes and Subscriptions have been stagnating on the same number for months or creeping up at a tear-jerkingly slow pace.
So the big question is this: How do you succeed in social media and avoid overwhelm?
The answer is actually a lot simpler than you might think:
Pick one platform, learn how to use it effectively and use the others to promote that first platform.
Let me explain.
You are a finite resource in that you only have so much energy, creative juice and time to burn and if you are juggling the many aspects of being a musician in today’s music industry environment then it becomes not only impractical but near impossible to effectively use multiple social media platforms.
The reason is because each social media platform has its own set of rules (in marketing speak, we call these rules ‘Best Practices’); ways of operating within a platform in order to get the best results from your efforts.
It takes time to learn and fine tune these Best Practices and if you are not receiving much engagement and your followers are not steadily increasing then it is a good indicator that you still need to learn how to use that social media platform effectively.
I’ll take this concept a little deeper…
Posting is not enough.
Let’s say you use YouTube to create home videos of yourself singing cover songs to promote your music. You spend a bit of time setting up the camera and making sure you look and sound good. You might go as far as investing in some lights or a condenser microphone to improve the sound quality.
All up you’ve spent a good few hours and potentially some decent coin getting your video ready for posting. You eagerly upload it to YouTube and…. crickets.
Yep, your video gets a measly amount of views (many videos on YouTube receive less than 500 views) and all that effort is getting you nowhere. So what do you do? You hit up Facebook and post a few times there and get maybe a few likes and comments if you’re lucky.
Frustrated, you repeat the vicious circle, treading water, wasting time and getting nowhere.
I’ll say it again: Posting is not enough.
You need to learn the Best Practices for your social media platform of choice to get the most out of it. For Youtube, this would mean learning how to tag your videos to make them searchable, choosing the right keywords for your title and putting them in the right order (yes this makes a difference), uploading an appealing thumbnail, adding annotations to encourage subscriptions, making sure the description to your video is optimized for searchability. The list goes on.
There is a difference in the way you would use Social Media for your own personal enjoyment and they way you would use it as a business and essentially you need to become something of an expert at your chosen platform, hence why it is best to just stick to mastering ONE.
Social media is social.
In addition to posting content of your own, success on any social media platform requires interaction. This means commenting on other people’s videos, ‘liking’ their posts and building RELATIONSHIPS. That is ultimately what it is all about.
You want to spend time on your chosen platform to interact with other users. Meet them online and start a relationship by commenting on their posts in a meaningful way. (1)
To do this effectively it again, takes time and it is very well for me to say ‘you need to be spending X amount of hours interacting with people on social media’ but that just wouldn’t be helpful. Instead, I’m going to encourage you to think strategically about who you reach out to and how often.
As a starting point, pick two local bands or other non-musical creatives that are posting regularly on the same social media platform as you and reach out to them. Post an open ended question about one of their videos or tweets to see if you get a response and aim to keep the conversation going until a relationship is somewhat formed. Then stay in touch. If you just pick TWO local bands whose work you admire or whose music is similar to your own, then this becomes a lot more actionable and is likely to get done.
(1) NOTE: A ‘meaningful way’ refers to listening to more than one track and coming up with a question that shows the other band/ artist you are actually interested in their work. Just commenting ‘Great pic’ or ‘nice track’ is not meaningful and unlikely to spark a conversation.
Once you have established relationships with two local bands, try two more bands that are not local and repeat the process.
How does this help build your own fan base? Well, in many ways my friend.
Here are two examples:
- The other band’s followers may see the conversation online and check you out in the process.
- Friends book friends and so if the band is similar to you and is doing a show, they are likely to book you as a support act and you can play to their fans in person turning them into your fans as well.
The other thing you want to be aware of is remaining DIRECT TO FAN. That is, you are ultimately posting your content on Social Media for FANS and when one of them comments on your video, be polite and comment back just as you would in a face to face conversation. Try to keep the conversation going; it makes for excellent market research about what your fans really want or liked about your post.
All of this socialising will suck up your precious time; again this is why it is smart to stick to just one platform. Now if you are reading this and mentally comparing what I have said to big name artists that have thousands of fans over multiple platforms, then it’s not really a fair comparison. Those artists often have teams of people helping them. You probably don’t. Even if you can divide the social media up among band members, I guarantee there will be at least one member not pulling their weight leaving you to pick up the slack.
And if you’re now thinking that you will divide each social media platform up among each band member, think again. Instead of putting five times the effort into growing one platform you’d be dividing your resources and the results will speak for themselves.
Social media is entertaining.
Until the time comes that you are a ‘person of interest’ in that your fans want to know what type of cereal you eat for breakfast and whether you’ve got a hot date that night, your job is to ENTERTAIN via social media.
Yes people do want to be informed of your shows but they also want value for their follow. Give it to them in the same creative way that you would deliver at a live performance.
If you’re into YouTube, have a go at videoing outdoors with scenic backdrops to keep it interesting, try different angles, invest in some decent video editing software or use your other talents to come up with creative footage. Anything to keep your channel interesting and viewers coming back for more.
Your videos do not have to cost the earth. This is something that I recently realised for myself. I had tried recording home acoustic versions of cover songs but I just didn’t like the way they came out and so for a long while I didn’t post anything at all because I didn’t think it was professional enough and because I just didn’t have the budget to hire someone to do a music video for me.
Then I stopped trying to do what everyone else on YouTube was doing and decided to actually use my creativity. To show you what I came up with and what you can do with the help of a few willing friends, take a look at this video I created for free, using nothing but an iPhone and free Windows Media Maker video editing software. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI1LUlaE8-4
NOTE: This part of the process should actually be the most fun. If you really dislike having to come up with ideas for videos, then choose Twitter as your social media platform instead. The idea here is to avoid overwhelm, so if you don’t feel comfortable within a platform just leave it alone. You can still build just as large a following via Twitter as YouTube.
Set a schedule
The next step in your quest for Social Media glory is to set yourself a schedule; a routine of how often you intend to publish content based on your Platform of choice.
For example online marketers have proven that posting twice to three times daily on Facebook is the most effective while successful YouTubers post a new video at least once a week but definitely not twice a day as you would on Facebook.
However setting a schedule and sticking to it is, in my opinion, the hardest part of the process.
I have taken photos and recorded footage only to delete it because I didn’t think it was good enough and hence missed deadlines I set for myself. To be honest, I still haven’t got this step down pat but I am working on achieving more regularity and it is regularity that is the key to success.
Have a think about your favourite television show. How would you feel if it stopped airing once a week and instead went ad-hoc? You would probably become frustrated and the show would cease to be part of your weekly routine.
The same principle applies for your Social Media. No matter which platform you choose, there is an expectation from your audience for a certain amount of (quality) content that needs to be delivered on schedule.
So to wrap this up my main point is this: pick ONE platform and do it well. Base your choice on whichever platform you feel you will enjoy the most. If you like being in front of the camera, pick YouTube, if you have a killer home recording studio, go with SoundCloud, if you’re a Twitter addict, use Twitter.
Don’t feel as though you are ‘missing out’ on all of the other platforms. You can still use them but ultimately you want to have them promote your main social media channel. If you post a video on Youtube, share it from Youtube to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest but don’t start going into Facebook and worrying about organising a schedule of Facebook posts that you need to have done on top of your Youtube efforts.
Post regularly and set up a schedule that you can manage and stick to. This might be a video once a fortnight tops. No, it’s not quite frequent enough but you will be posting regularly and if you can ensure that what you do post is high quality (i.e. creative and interesting) then you are on the right track to seeing your efforts finally pay off in the form of an online following.
Use the following links to access Best Practice guides from your Social Media platform of choice.