My last blog post sat you down, threw the social media puzzle in front of your eyes and then explained why the cookie-cutter cardboard shapes in front of you are necessary to your career as a musician. Now I’ll show you how to put that puzzle together so that you can hang the finished product up in your “career gallery” to attract the most people to the fantastic show that is you!
For some artists, social media is their closest ally. To others, it’s like the first time they played an instrument. They have the tools but not a clue where to start. My goal is get those of you who fall into the latter up to speed so that you are operating as part of the first group. If you follow these 5 steps, you will be off to a running start!
5 Steps to Building and Leveraging Social Media.
- Establish your top 5 social media platforms and create accounts. Link accounts together, then focus heavily on one.
- Link to/create a dedicated headquarters webpage.
- Ensure the look and feel of all platforms is coherent.
- Build your following, then engage and converse.
- Do what you do best. Be creative!
1. Establish your top 5 social media platforms and create accounts. Link accounts together, then focus heavily on one.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from musicians about social media is that they don’t have enough time to sit around updating 10 social media outlets. They would rather be creating good music that speaks for itself and let the fans come to them.
Reality Check. Every other musician in the over-saturated market feels the same but the ones getting attention know how to use social media to promote their quality work and engage with the fans that follow.
As a marketer, I can tell you to put every effort into the social media platforms but lets face it, your going to nod your head yes as many times as it takes for me to stop telling you that and then very quickly forget. If you’re an established artist, I’m sure your label has told you multiple times to get more involved with social media. How about a compromise? If you don’t have any social media presence, find FIVE social media platforms that will benefit you. No need to go for quantity just focus on the quality you put into them. For example, Linkedin may not exactly help you build connections the way that Twitter or Facebook will. Then, choose one platform to get heavily involved with and do it well!
Social media is becoming very integrated; it is easy to connect accounts so that content updated on one is automatically pushed to your other platforms. On top of this, tools like Hootsuite accomplish the same but from a centralized program. Now this doesn’t mean ignore the ones you don’t use daily! For example, You Tube doesn’t really integrate well with other platforms but as an artist, it is a great way to share performances with your fans. Keep an eye on all and don’t let one slip into obscurity like a bad single.
Odds are, you are on at least one of the major social platforms already, whether it be for personal use or not. Start there and expand outwards. I highly suggest setting up a Twitter account or leveraging the one you have already in more efficient ways. Twitter is perhaps the easiest and most controllable platform to engage and converse on with your fans. Here is a list of platforms musicians use in the music industry:
1. Twitter 2. Facebook 3. You Tube 4. Reverb Nation
5. Instagram 6. Google + 7. Myspace 8.Tumblr
9. SoundCloud 10. Last FM 11. Bandcamp 12. Pinterest
13. Grooveshark 14. Vimeo 15. Sound Tracking 16. Flickr
My top 5 picks for musicians just starting out would include Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Reverb Nation, and Instagram. These are just suggestions, remember to choose 5 you feel would benefit you most.
2. Link to/create a dedicated headquarters webpage.
Step two can be relatively simple or time-consuming depending on where you are as a musician (established musicians skip to step 4). Link your social media pages back to your headquarters. Yes, this means adding those little social media icons to your webpage. More importantly though, integrate links to your social platforms in good doses across your website. For example, have a page for your videos that link to your You Tube channel or put a side bar on your homepage that shows your latest tweets. While social media serves as a way to engage and converse with fans, the secondary purpose should be to drive people to your webpage where they can find all your info, merchandise, tour dates, etc. Think of your headquarters as home base and social media as outlets that funnel people to home base. If you don’t have a webpage, then quickly solve that dilemma! I won’t go into detail here about how to do so because that is a different beast entirely but a good place to start is a free WordPress site.
3. Ensure the look and feel of all platforms is coherent.
The next step is what marketers refer to as IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications). Simply translated, make sure all your platforms look and feel the same. This includes your website. You don’t want your fans to look at your Facebook page and see the main photo as your first album with a short bio underneath, then click on the link to your website and see it plastered with your second album and a different bio. Keep the look, feel, and language across all platforms consistent so that potential fans don’t think your sending five different messages.
4. Build your following, then engage and converse.
Now the fun begins! Time to build interest in your music. Yes your music sounds great but how will anyone know that unless they hear about you? Start by following all your family and friends, this is a good base to tap into as they can now spread the word and link back to your social media platforms. Be bold, go out and follow people on twitter! Search the followers of musicians who sound similar to you but have larger followings and then actively follow some of them. If people don’t follow you back after a week or two they are not interested, un-follow them and continue. If this sounds tedious, it is! However there are applications that will do it for you, simply search Google. More importantly, hammer your social media handles every time you play live. If you send out emails to your fan base, include all the links to your social media platforms in the signature. Even go as far as making a business card that includes the handles along with contact info for the artist/band to easily hand out. Got stickers? Throw them on there as well because who doesn’t love stickers?
Now we get into what I wrote about last week. If you’re an established artist, pick up here. Engage, engage, promote, and then by God engage some more! Talk with your fan base and create conversations with them. Ask a question, engage with the responses and make your fans feel as though they can reach you. Thank your fans individually when you get the chance, trust me, it will go a long way. Take pictures of your life, especially at times and places fans never get to see like backstage, onstage or in the studio. Use social media as a window into your fantastic life for the devoted following. Make and share videos from live shows, stripped down acoustic songs at home, or funny band antics on the road. Make yourself seem human but also entertaining.
5. Do what you do best. Be creative!
Now for your strong suit, creativity! You pour plenty of it into your music, lyrics, and stage presence. Why not try throwing a little towards building your following? In this arena, the more creative, the more attention thou shall receive. The question is simple, how can you interact with your fans over social media in ways that go beyond simple conversations, re-tweets, and Facebook likes. The answers to that question will take your fan base engagement to the next level. How about some examples to clear up any uncertainties in air for all you head scratchers out there?
Probe your audience for ideas. Take to the social media world and ask your audience for ideas about anything from live show antics to cover art for your next album or Facebook timeline. Getting those who adore you directly involved in your career strengthens the fan relationship. Not to mention, it unlocks a sea of creativity for free and you do minimal work.
Give new fans a reason to connect to social media. I was at a Sick Puppies show last year and they deployed a great tactic on multiple levels. During the show, they stopped, got their cameras out, and ran around stage snapping pictures of the belligerent screaming crowd. Then, they announced that if you went on to their Facebook page, found yourself in the pictures they took of that nights show, and tagged yourself you might win some free swag from the band. Not only did this drive traffic to their social media outlets but it also took the audience into the artist’s life and gave them a view they wouldn’t normally have, as I talked about in number four.
As Musicians metaphors are sometimes easier to understand, so here is one I mentioned at the beginning. Think of your career as a musician as an art gallery. Further, think of each work of art you hang up in the gallery as a different aspect of your career like the music your record, your live show, your social media presence and so on. You want to hang the best works of art in your gallery to attract the biggest audience so don’t skimp when it comes to creating them. Yes, as your gallery grows in popularity people will surround you that can make those works of art even better, but you have to start somewhere. Besides, if you understand the basics of these principles at the beginning they will serve you greatly well into an established career.
Remember, just as the music you create is constantly evolving and is never fully finished, so are your efforts in the social-sphere. Take on the social environment with your new knowledge and conquer!
If you have a foot there already, what tactics do you use to reach out to fans and engage them?