MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA YOUR FRIEND
You may love it or hate it, but the fact is, that being active on social media is a must if you are a professional musician!
There are surely many negative or critical aspects about it, but especially as an artist it makes it so incredibly easy to reach people, to stay in touch with them and to build a community around you!
I’ll have a few simple tips for you below, but the best tip I can actually give you is to be curious about different ways of promoting yourself and to keep yourself informed. For me it works really well to regularly listen to podcasts like the DIY Musician Podcast – often you get super interesting tips of professionals, hear about newest trends and you also might hear about different tools and softwares to create more creative and professional content!
Here my top 5 tips for social media:
#1 - Choose just 2-3 favourite platforms!
It can be very overwhelming to keep up with all the different services and way of connecting with people. You have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, Soundcloud, LinkedIn, Tumblr and a bunch more.
An absolute must is Facebook, as it’s the Nr 1 platform and the place where people will first try to find you.
Additional to that, my personal top 2 & 3 would be Instagram and Youtube, but it really depends on who you are and who your audience is. Some people have a huge appearance on Snapchat, others are doing really well with Twitter.
Why do I recommend to concentrate only on a few platforms? Because I want you to stay healthy and sane! Most of us experienced how much social media can affect us, how we always check for new notifications, think about content to share or even are unconsciously scroll the timeline until there’s finally the next notification again and something we can react on. We often feel it when it’s too late: this causes stress in our brain and distracts us from all the tasks we actually should and would like to do.
You don’t have to serve all different platforms, simply because people will like to follow a sane person with more valuable posts, and you’ll prefer to not feel burned-out because of all the different tools adding up in your mind. As a musician, you already have many functions and tasks to take care about – social media is probably one of the biggest part, so do it wisely and put effort into 2 or 3 platforms.
#2 - See yourself as a brand, but still be yourself!
It probably feels uncomfortable and unauthentic to you to think of the word branding in connection to yourself. Music is a very personal thing and it should be – branding on the other side reminds us of being corporate and impersonal.
So why do I ask you to see yourself as a brand? This has two reasons:
First of all, I think you should be very clear for yourself about how much of yourself you want to show, who you want to be to your fans. Some people feel very natural and good about sharing not only music-related information, but also more personal insights of your life. There is no right or wrong way of doing this, it really depends on what you feel good with – but it shouldn’t end up being solely about your private life, your cat, your dinner pics etc. People should be able to see you as a musician in the first place!
Secondly, I want you to see yourself as an artist! I mean, not just as somebody playing some tunes in your free time, but as a professional musician, who actually wants to do this for a living (even if you might be far away from that yet). I know many musicians who feel too insecure to take themselves serious as a professional artist. But how can other people take you serious, if you can’t?
Creating a professional looking brand/page on social media can definitely help you seeing yourself as who you are and who you want to be.
It might help to have a shooting with a photographer to get you some really nice, artistic looking pictures – this can be the first step for you to visualise that you are an artist who’s serious about pursuing this career.
Creating a brand ultimately means to have a red thread, a clear and coherent line of presenting yourself and to make your style of posts recognisable, which will help people to feel more connected and attached.
#3 - Make your life easier by having a strategy and a schedule!
From our private way of using social media, we are very much used to have intuitive posts and share information, photos, videos or links whenever something interesting comes up.
For your professional social media account, I strongly recommend to sit down regularly and create a weekly schedule of your posts – decide on the exact days and times (different times of a day can make a big difference regarding the reach), and also on the platform and kind of post. Not only that this will help to improve the engagement of the audience, but you’ll also feel less stressed when having a prepared schedule. You can easily schedule posts at least on Facebook, and you have a lower chance of forgetting to post for a while.
Let’s say you would like to post three times a week: which days and times make sense to you and your audience? Which posts would you cross link on different platforms? How can you have an interesting mix of posts?
One basic example could be:
Monday 4pm // Facebook + Instagram feed // photo content
Thursday 4pm // Facebook + Instagram feed + story // share music or video content
Sunday 6pm // Facebook + Instagram story // interactive post – include something your followers can react on
This is just one example of endless possibilities! Try to make the content and wording interesting and not too superficial.
#4 - Know the different formats on different platforms and how to use them
It might not be new to you that especially the video format and length varies, depending on where you post. Here the most important rules:
Facebook: you can share Youtube videos, but it doesn’t look great and the algorithm won't be supportive on this, compared to videos you upload directly on Facebook. If uploading directly, the video will start automatically when scrollng through your timeline and people are much more likely to stop and watch.
The best is to post videos directly on Facebook, but then add a link to the Youtube version!
Instagram feed: You can post videos with a length of max 1 minute, the format should be horizontal. This means, you can’t post a complete music video, but you can trim the video and choose the best minute of it. You could also add a text in the video and use it more as a teaser for the full version.
You can add the link of the full version to your Instagram bio, or you can make a sponsored post which will get people to any website link by clicking on the video.
Also never forget to post a video in full size, rather than as a square video, which will cut off the sides.
Instagram story: this tool becomes more and more important these days, you can reach a big audience here. These videos are up to 15 seconds short and generally vertical, in the way we hold our phone. This is not in the first line meant for posting music videos, but you can actually still post teasers of horizontal videos in a nice looking way, and you could for example cut your 1min teaser into 4x15 seconds and then post them as 4 stories - similar to this format:
Facebook story: functions pretty much like the Instagram story
Facebook cover video: this is another great spot to place a short video. The length has to be between 20 and 90 seconds and the format is horizontal, but slightly different than a normal video format. You can find several free websites and apps which will help you to easily design this.
Youtube: This is the one platform which features the classical horizontal video format and gives you the chance of uploading videos of any length. Here the most important is to add good metadata:
Artist + song title (sometimes extra info, e.g. “live at xx)
Links to other social media, website etc
Description about the video
#5 - Evaluate & repeat
Not only does social media make it easy to reach and build our audiences, but also it gives us easy to access insights about the audience and their demographics. This helps to know whom to target, and which market could work well for you. Generally a good rule for many things is that it works best to use something which works well and put even more into it – so in this case give people what they want and if they react specifically well on a certain kind of posts, give them more of it! But also thanks to the insights we can make sponsored posts or ads to reach a new audience, e.g. if you plan to play a few gigs in a country or city where you don’t have many fans yet, you should probably make some sponsored posts for exactly that location and think about how to connect more with people in that place before the gig.
Another tip I would want to give you – this is especially meant for the most important content such as a new single or album, or an upcoming show – feel free to repeat! You might think that this will be annoying to some people, but it’s simply not enough to introduce your new single once and then going back to other content. Think of billboards on highways – you most likely don’t really watch out for the information on it while driving somewhere, but you might know this effect of remembering some ads because you saw them (probably even unconsciously) many times, over and over again. Things stick to our minds after seeing them over and over again. Many people (myself included) often don't click on a new music video the first time it appears in the timeline – there is simply too much to click on and often I am not patient enough or in the right moment to dive into it. But maybe a few days later, after seeing this again and again, at some point I decide to finally watch it. So you would totally have missed out on that view if only posting once.