I visited CyberPR the other day and read their article, “Are You Guilty? – 4 Ways Indie Musicians Are Killing Social Media.” While reading their article, (which was actually a guest post written by my friends over at Middle TN Music), I found myself challenged about my use of Social Media. We as a collective community of musicians make a lot of mistakes when it comes to social media and some of these offenses can even be considered downright SPAM! While I agree with most of what is said in the article, I’ve come to the belief that in order to get results on social media, you must employ a balanced approach and fill your social media profiles with posts in three major areas: Community Building, Brand Messaging, and Straight-up Marketing – in that order.
If you don’t have a good balance of all three while focusing heavily on the first, you’re doing it wrong. Why? Because social media whether you use it personally, for your music, or for your business, was intended to be a place online to build community, organically. It is for people to talk about opinions, thoughts, concerns, share photos – basically a place to come together to share life interpersonally. You being a brand, doesn’t absolve you from these unofficial rules of engagement. Your main strategy on social media should consist of embracing these things. Your brand messaging and marketing, while very important should come in second behind community building efforts.
Are you talking about current events? Are you sharing your genuine thoughts on the CMA’s (if you’re a country music artist)? Are you asking for ideas from your fans about your next album or song? Are you posting pictures/video from your recent practice sessions or studio sessions? Are you sharing your favorite recipe for the holidays? Are you sharing music you love from your artist friends? Are you asking your followers what their take is on the latest controversy? You should be posting things that will encourage your fans and followers to engage with you. And, you should be replying to their posts and comments by name.
The good news is, social media is very forgiving. You can become a social media spamming pariah in very little time, but you can also turn things around just as easily and start to see fast results. So, let’s do our part to save social media by accepting this 5 Point Social Media Community Challenge. Your fans and friends will thank you and as a result you most likely will start to see them posting and engaging more with you. Once you earn their respect and interest, they will reward you with clicking through to your links, listening to your music, coming to your shows, and buying your merchandise. The key is to build the relationship first. After all, good relationships are the bed rock of indie music success, why not take this concept where it will flourish the most? In social media!
Challenge Point 1: Post everyday consistently 1 to 3 times per day at different times per day using this formula:
(70% Community Building + 20% Brand Messaging, + 10% Straight Up Marketing)
If you are only posting once per day, then that means 4 to 5 days you’re posting community engaging stuff, 1 to 2 days you’re posting brand messaging stuff, and no more than 1 day per week is straight up marketing and promotions. If you really need to promote more than once per week, then challenge yourself to post more community building stuff to off-set your promotions.
Some topics in each category might include:
Community Building: Your thoughts on current events. Taking a poll to see who your fans think will win the Grammys. Asking for help with a problem. Sharing personal issues you’ve overcome recently. Posting a picture from your last practice. Posting a quote that touched you. Talk about what’s trending. Be the first to report on something that is trending. Share weird show/road stories. Talk about what you did on vacation. Share about a fan who has inspired you. What are you doing personally to help the community? Get your fans to join you in a pledge or donation drive. What are your hobbies? Likes? Dislikes? What interesting things have you tried recently? Highlight a fan’s business or work. Share how you are enjoying your city or a city you are visiting while on tour (bonus points for being able to tie in your next show here without coming off as overly promotional). The list goes on, but you get the picture. Talk about regular old life stuff.
Brand Messaging: Share your latest blog post. An update or details on your upcoming album or tour. Share your latest promo pictures. Lyrics to one of your songs. Share what awards you’ve won or been nominated for recently. A recent song/album review or blog feature. Your latest YouTube video.
Straight Up Marketing: I’m sure we all know what goes in this category. But just for good measure… Listen to this. Watch this. Come see my show. Vote for me here. Read this. Click here. Do this and that and me, me, me.
Challenge Point 2: Respond to more than 50% (or every) comment on your posts.
The idea here is to encourage engagement. If people see that you are consistent in responding to your fans, then they will be more inclined to comment on what you have to say, share their thoughts and experiences, and like and share your posts. The more people engage with you, the more exposure you get among your current fans and among their networks. Also, when it comes to Facebook, there is an algorithm that assigns relevance to your posts. If people are not clicking, liking, sharing, or commenting with your posts, then your posts will not be served up as much in news feeds. Facebook wants to fill people’s timeline with things that are “relevant” so that users will keep coming back every day. So, it would be in your best interest to stay relevant, whatever that means in Facebook terms. Check out this solid article, From Single Grain about the Facebook algorithm and how Facebook determines relevance, for an in depth background on the subject.
Challenge Point 3: Develop a strategy that utilizes each social media entity the way its users do.
All social media platforms are not created equal. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. are each used differently by its users for different reasons. Twitter seems to be more for up-to-date real time posts, such as “I’m heading in to my audition now, wish me luck.” Facebook is “Let me tell you a story and see what you think.” Instagram is, “Look at some of these interesting pictures from my last tour.” Each platform is made for something very specific. Figuring out what that specific is and using it as such, is half the battle. The idea behind this step is to create and plan different strategies for each social media platform you are on. This will help you leverage the purpose of the platform to achieve the best results.
Challenge Point 4: Update, beautify, and customize.
Use every feature available to communicate your brand. For Facebook, use the cover photo section to post an awesome band promo shot. Use the tab sections to include third party apps such as Bandpage, Mailchimp, or Reverbnation. Run sweepstakes and contests (more on this below). Is there an interactive app you can use? Can you have people take a quiz that will determine what member of your band they are most like? Make your page a wonderland of goodies for people to engage in. Give them an excuse to spend time on your page doing fun things. If you don’t know how, start here and discover 30+ apps you can use to diversify and make your FB more vibrant.
Challenge Point 5: Develop a conversion technique.
Because you are a brand and your main objective is to market and promote yourself, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Just because it’s a social network meant for networking socially, doesn’t mean you should stop promoting yourself. After all, you’re still a business. That’s the beauty of a good conversion technique. It convinces your fans to follow you off of social media, onto your website, and onto your mailing list – the place you want them anyway. This is where you can do most of your promoting and where your promoting can be most effective. If you can convince them to come over to your website, you take them into your domain to an environment you control. If they sign up to your mailing list they are agreeing to and asking to hear from you. You have now converted them from a social networking bystander to an active fan doing things in your world run by you, not Facebook or Twitter. Your conversion technique helps you find the gold at the end of the social network rainbow, true fans. Do you have one?Your conversion technique helps you find the gold at the end of the social network rainbow, true fans. Click To Tweet
In simple terms, a conversion technique is anything that captures e-mails. Here are some examples:
- Giving away a first-cut of your next album to the first 20 people who e-mail you.
- Sending people to a landing page on your website that captures e-mails in exchange for something free.
- Hosting a Mailchimp or e-mail capture app/tab on your profile page.
- Hosting a sweepstakes for tickets to your next big show. To sign up they must enter their e-mail address, and whatever other information you want.
- Any contest that involves them sending you an e-mail.
This 5 Point Social Media Community Challenge is intended to promote a genuine sense of community between you (the artist) and your fans. With a real community, comes real relationships, and a solid fan base. After committing to this challenge you will start to see changes in the way people interact with you immediately, but you will also see over time that you are getting more engagement, more consistency, and thus better return on your investment of time. Be consistent and watch.
How are you utilizing social media? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.