If there are two things that have gone hand in hand since the development of digital media it’s music and social media. Social networking can be a vital communication and hype-building channel between musician and fans. However, these are two constantly evolving industries, and so keeping on top of marketing yourself can be both stressful and time consuming.
Social media is a community-building tool. That means that it should play right into the hands of anybody pursuing a music career. It doesn’t take a genius to recognise the importance of exposure and developing a fan base for musicians. Social networking gives you a platform that allows you to reach new potential fans, develop that base and keep them constantly clued in on new releases, gigs and news. However, a lot has changed over the past few years, and doing that well isn’t necessarily as easy as it once was.
The digital landscape is awash with people competing to be the next big thing, and many will stop at nothing to encourage users to back them. Therefore, just like any other business, social media for a musician requires nothing less than a careful and considered approach.
Focus your social media efforts
Before you get going marketing your music, there are few things you need to consider. Chances are that not being a fully-fledged social media manager you won’t have the time to constantly post, engage and interact across tonnes of different networks. The majority of your time is probably taken up by other things - things like writing music and playing gigs we’d imagine!
Sporadic posting can look a little lacklustre and a little bit amateur. If users think that you don’t put the effort in on your social pages they might subconsciously think that you don’t put effort into creating awesome music too and nobody wants that. Therefore it’s far better to identify where the majority of your audience hang out and spend time developing your presence their. A winning social strategy calls for consistency as much as it does quality content.
Which social networks should you use
Choosing the right networks depends on a number of contributing factors, including your genre, your location and your proficiency with each network. Back in 2015, musician come digital entrepreneur David Andrew Wiebe identified the top social networks for musicians as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, Bandcamp, SoundCloud and ReverbNation.
David’s points are awesome but we’d be inclined to say that out of these we feel the most appropriate are really Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the music networks. Unless you are a marketing guru, you probably won’t have much call for the others. We’d also certainly recommend that you consider adding YouTube and Snapchat into the mix, especially now that daily usage has overtaken Twitter. Soundcloud, Bandcamp and ReverbNation are important for obvious reasons that we won’t go into here, but the other three could prove incredibly lucrative in building hype and developing your fan base.
- Facebook: As the world’s biggest social network, you really should be on Facebook. Your Facebook page is the modern day equivalent of what a band’s Myspace was back in 2006 with the added bonus of an active user base exceeding 1 billion daily. That’s an awful lot of potential fans. A regularly updated Facebook page really is the bare minimum for any musician serious about getting discovered.
- Instagram: Instagram has the bonus of a seriously engaged following, and the persistently high rate of hashtags (you are allowed up to 30 per post and a minimum of 11 is recommended for higher engagement rates) supercharges discovery by new users. However competition is high and Instagram users are seriously aware of the follower to following ratio, so growth can be a task in itself. That said musicians are interesting people doing exciting things in cool places, which is exactly the sort of person that users latch onto. So that puts you in prime position for organic growth as your popularity grows across other network and media. The trick is to be completely human and show the full behind the scenes story - from songwriting, to collaboration, to studio recordings, right through to live gigs.
- Twitter: No matter what you might hear, Twitter still matters. It’s a great place to be human and get involved in conversations, be active and encourage interaction. It also gives you access to a whole host of different opinions that could (and also couldn’t) prove a great insight into what your audience likes about your set and what they aren’t so sure about. And now with Periscope, you can get people to livestream parts of your set and seriously expand your live reach.
- Snapchat: Snapchat has come a long way in past years. In terms of popularity among students it recently overtook Twitter - so if you are shooting for a younger audience (which a great deal of musicians are) it’s hardly worth overlooking. It is what it is - and what it is perfect for drumming up intrigue.
- YouTube: So although YouTube is technically a video sharing site and not so much a social network, it’s nevertheless played an integral role in the formation of some successful music careers. So-called “YouTube Musicians” seem to be everywhere nowadays - really these should be called “Social Media Musicians” as the majority owe it to a wide range of networks that they got noticed in the first place.
When it comes to your social media strategy, the most important things to bear in mind are that you need to be human, you need to be consistent and, just like your music, what you produce needs to be good. Deciding on the right networks and investing in them is just the first step - you need to be sure that you have a strategy that works for you.
Create your own social media workflow
This is a lot simpler than it sounds. Basically, you need to work out how each of your offline and online content is going to interconnect and flow into each other. Perhaps you want to do a snapshot of a new tune that you’re creating and share that video via Instagram, or you have a local gig coming up that you need to be sure is promoted well in advance - plan and schedule your content in advance so that you know it’s sufficiently marketed to your fans.
Think about how and when you naturally feel inclined to post, such as after a gig, and then think about whether you could benefit from retaining some of your content to post further down the line using scheduling platforms like Later, Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. This could help you to maintain that consistency we mentioned earlier.
Be sociable and get responsive
One of the biggest benefits about social media is that it gives you access to the views of real people. When you engage with and respond to your fans with your human, social voice you can encourage them to be your advocates. It’s the same for big companies, small businesses and self-employed artists - a human voice breeds human interaction which gets humans talking to other humans about something. That something could be your music if you listen and respond.
Developing social media dialogues on Twitter can also be great to get involved with. Interaction is often the cornerstone for growth, and people love hearing the opinions of people they respect. Voice your opinions on industry news and views, and you’re likely to see some good engagement in response.
Don’t feel you need to change your voice
Social media is about being social. Don’t for one moment think you need to alter your human voice. On the contrary, authenticity is what hooks users in. Be genuine, be conversational and be human. A great social media management company will do their best to emulate your voice in scheduled posts but you simply cannot beat your personal voice every now and then.
Invest in creating and sharing great content
You wouldn’t settle for a sub-standard demo, so it stands to reason that you shouldn’t settle for sub-standard content on your social networking channels too. Your header and profile photos should tell your story and reflect your noise/style. People want to see something professional - remember that new users who have no idea who you are hear your music through the eyes first.
The videos, images and posts that you send out should all be of a good standard. If you start to let that slip either by repeating yourself too much or not investing in it, you will start to annoy people and lose followers. A successful artists settles for nothing less than perfection; let that be your mantra for social media too.
Keep at it
As is the case with everything else in the music industry, success on social media takes persistence, drive and passion. If you focus on making it as much part of your day-to-day work as song writing or practice then you put yourself in the best possible place for success. If you’re a musician wondering how you can better make use of your social presence and have any other questions that weren’t covered here, feel free to tweet us @GiraffeSM. We’d love to help you out!