It's no shocking revelation or mind-blowing insight that a thorough and clean social media presence is key to your success as an artist in today's industry. The DIY and indie communities have always been really great at either manning their social channels, or at least understanding that they need to increase their visibility. Many artists, however, may put in the work, but don't see the results that they wish to see.
A huge part of what I do in music marketing is digital profile consultation. I look at an artist's entire digital presence, point out just what might be stunting its growth online, and advise him or her on how to improve reach. Below are a few consistent factors that I see from artists who tend to stunt their growth, reach, and overall presence online and on social media.
1. You have too many self-promotional posts
I often feel like a broken record talking about content, but what you post on social media is just as powerful as your music itself. While fans may interact with your music on their streaming devices and at live shows, most of your fan interaction is through your social media posts. This is the place where fans have that direct line with you, so you need to ensure your messaging is top-notch.
Let's go back to the 70-20-10 rule, which touts having a mix of posts that build your brand (70 percent), posts that network or bring attention to others (20 percent), and then posts that self-promote (10 percent). As stated in this formula, posts that build your brand should make up the highest portion of your social media outlets. These are photos of you in the studio, videos of you thanking your fans for coming out to a show, or sharing articles written about your work or your genre. However, that 10 percent – the self-promotional posts – often make up the greatest number of posts on artists' profiles. These are the constant "buy my EP," "check out my new video," and "stream my mixtape" type of messages.
The key to an engaging and interactive presence is this mix of content. It needs to be a bit of your own personality mixed in with fun posts, and then promo content, too.
2. Your content isn't engaging
Let's talk about Facebook's algorithm in a very simplified way. If your post isn't engaged with, it gets pushed down to the bottom of your fans' newsfeeds, or in some instances, it's only shown on a select few timelines. It's not until the post is liked, commented on, and/or shared that it actually gets visibility.
And while Facebook is the most notorious channel for content visibility, every channel is dependent on engagement. Twitter is so real-time that for a tweet to have long shelf life and be seen, it absolutely must be engaging to get retweets and replies. Similarly, Instagram, another very real-time channel, has to have great content that makes fans want to comment, or else in a few minutes it'll be miles down someone's feed.
Tumblr has reblogs, Pinterest has re-pinning, and so on – the bottom line is that your content must be engaging and shareable for it to survive and get noticed.
There are various ways to garner engagement. One is simply to have high-quality photos, fun and entertaining videos, and insights. Another is to ask questions to your fans, and outwardly reach for feedback. For example:
- "Here's a sneak peek of our latest single – let us know what you think in the comments!"
- "Which is your favorite song on the album? 'Sirens'? 'Atlas'? Or another? Let us know in the comments!"
- "Who do you think is the hottest rapper on the radio right now?"
All examples of ways to straight-up ask your followers to engage with your content. This is key to being seen, shared, and heard by many.
3. Your posts aren't consistent
Or worse, your channels are underused. I often tell this story, but I'll share it again for good measure. I had a great R&B artist who was making some great traction with her newest single. However, I had noticed that when googling her name, instead of her newly designed website showing up or the news articles that were written about her, the number-one search result was an outdated Myspace page from a good five to six years ago.
The Myspace had old photos, raw and unprofessional demos, and it just wasn't a good look. The artist said she had been meaning to update it, as well as a few of her other outlets. But the issue here is that even if it's a "popular" outlet such as Instagram or Twitter, if you're not actually using it, your best move is to close the account until you're ready to dedicate the proper time to it.
Having unused social media channels is a huge turn-off to media, labels, fans, and other influencers. Also, with social media scheduling tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite, or even Facebook's built-in scheduler, there's little excuse to not have a consistent presence online these days.
Ensure that you're posting on social media on a weekly basis, and that you're being engaging and open with your fans.
4. Your posts are too consistent
It's totally possible to post too much on social media. Now, this applies more to those promotional posts because fans generally are okay with fun, interactive posts that aren't too "in your face," but posting too often can come off as spammy and absolutely can lead your fans to clicking that "unfollow" button.
Ensure that your posts are well spread out, and that you take an authentic tone when dealing with fans. No auto-responders on Twitter, and no post after post trying to push your EP.
5. You're scared of ads
A lot of artists are scared of dealing with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter ads because they're worried they'll be expensive, or they're intimidated about how to run them. But if you just go and click around the ad managers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you'll see that they're very user-friendly tools. Give it a go!
Promoted posts on Facebook, TrueView on YouTube, and Twitter's promoted accounts and tweets are very useful to artists and can give you a good boost for very little money.
6. Your tone is too salesy (or just bad)
You never want to come off as too salesy in your posts, or even too pushy. Similarly, you don't want to come off as too brash, aggressive, or unfriendly.
Sure, your band's image may be a bit on the tough or badass side, and that's fine to broadcast through your social media. Just know how to toe the line of getting across your messaging and reaching your fans without just coming off as kind of a jerk or over-the-top.
Fans want to see more of you in a personal setting, so be sure to word your posts in a way that's engaging (per what we discussed earlier) but also written in a way that's easy to read, spelled correctly, and written well.
These are just a few best practices on how you can grow your social media channels. If you have any others, feel free to throw 'em in the comments! And if you're interested in a consultation of your entire digital presence, be sure to contact me via the link below.
As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com.