Navigating social media as an independent band or artist is a subjective effort, like anything else in your DIY endeavors. Still, there are methods commonly regarded as either successful or unsuccessful, and in the latter there are types of posts typically agreed upon as mistakes. Taken to extremes, these errors can cost you more than just followers. You could lose fans – like, IRL. We've compiled four of the most prevalent – and most easily avoidable – social media faux pas below.
1. Unsuccessfully tackling controversial topics
We aren't saying you absolutely cannot address heavy subjects, but we do believe you should not do so carelessly. If you want to publicly take a stance on any issue, that's your right. Just make sure your intentions are true, and that in trying to spark a healthy conversation or raise awareness you're not inflammatory or offensive.
A few things to consider before posting:
- Who are you speaking for? Don't forget that what you say on social media is a reflection of your entire band, not just you. Even your label, booking agent, and folks at the venues you play can be associated with your statements.
- Where are you posting? If you've seen ever seen a contentious Instagram conversation, then you know some platforms are better suited for debates than others.
- What are you posting? If you think you're being offensive, you probably are.
2. Neglecting to use social media on a regular basis
Your online presence is paramount in growing and maintaining your fanbase. Bands don't have to use every platform available, but failing to use any of them is a giant missed opportunity. Instagram accounts with only two images posted and dusty Facebook pages with timelines that offer no current info are unlikely to warrant a follow or a like. If you're struggling to keep up with your accounts, try this schedule.
3. Making boring posts and updates
Yes, posting flyers and links to upcoming shows is important. You should always keep your fans updated on where they can see you perform next. The best social media accounts, though, offer followers more than that.
We've compiled a list of topics to post about other than your music here. Some highlights and extras:
- Your day: Share something funny or interesting that happened to you or a member personally. Post a link to another band's music that you think your fans will love. Share a local event that you're attending but aren't performing at. If all else fails, post a photo of yourself or your band with a cat or two.
- Articles and memes: Sharing articles you think are interesting or images that made you laugh give fans insight into your personal tastes. It's also a good way to engage followers, because they'll likely comment or repost.
- Creative contests: People love free stuff, and social media is an ideal medium for growing your following while also showing appreciation for your existing fans. Get inspired to start your own by checking out some of our favorite contests here.
4. Overdoing it
The most common mistake in this area is to inundate your followers' feeds by relentlessly posting about your upcoming show. Make an announcement, post about it sporadically for a few weeks, and then post again the day of the show. Don't get overzealous!
Other too-much techniques that could annoy your fans:
- Using a bajillion hashtags: Tossing out hashtags for every aspect of a post is silly. And broad tags are often meaningless. I mean, #music – really? Choose viable hashtags that people will actually click on.
- TMI: We want personal tidbits. Keep the semi-nude selfies to yourself.
- Selfies: Yeah, we had to mention this twice. They're nice to see here and there, but don't post three or four a day.
- Excessive check-ins: Don't check in at the recording studio every day you're there. Fans might be excited to know you're working on a new release, but an initial check-in and one the day you wrap up will suffice.
- Retweeting everything on Twitter: Sharing too many tweets from other people can detract from your own.
Get even more social media pro tips:
- 5 Key Elements of a Comprehensive Social Media Strategy
- Why Pre-Planning Your Social Media is Essential
- 5 Simple Social Media Etiqette Tips to Live By
- How Much is Too Much? A Guide to Sharing Just Enough on Social Media
- 5 Ways to Promote Your Music on Social Media Without Annoying People
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.