Anyone who has spent any time at all on social media (on any channel) will quickly find that it is extremely easy to get lost in the shuffle or lose your way. The Internet and the ever-increasing multitude of social media channels available in recent years presents both exciting opportunities as well as unique challenges. If you’re looking to use social media to increase your following, it becomes imperative, therefore, to try to establish some form of strategy, leading to some kind of “blueprint for success” :).
In this article, I will outline some “global observations” based on many years of experience working within social media as well as the music scene, followed by a brief synopsis of thoughts on some of the biggest/most popular social media channels, individually.
I will start off by presenting to you what I would consider to be THREE BIG “SECRETS”:
1) YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE AMAZING, UNIQUE QUALITY CONTENT
(something that really “stands out in a crowd”). You can’t expect to be able to achieve success in a field as crazy and competitive as the music business by just “doing business as usual.”
THE CONTENT, PRODUCT, OR SERVICES YOU ARE OFFERING MUST BE SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE WANT OR ARE INTERESTED IN SEEING/BUYING. This is the case actually in any industry, music or otherwise, and whether you are a label, promoter, online shop, anything.
So, if you want to “get more followers,” sell more digital downloads, get more streams, or more visitors to your website, you have to make sure this is the case for you, that what you’re offering potential as well as existing users is exciting to them.
It all starts with having great content, whether it’s the music or web page you’re presenting, as well as HOW you present it. If you don’t have that, then you have to figure out some way to create it.
2) YOUR ULTIMATE SUCCESS WILL COME TO BE DEFINED NOT BY ANY SINGLE RELEASE, SOCIAL MEDIA POST OR MIX, BUT BY HOW THE TOTAL BODY OF YOUR WORK IS PERCEIVED
Though it may be tempting to wonder sometimes, “man, I really don’t see why my latest EP or DJ set only got xx plays, while that one I did last year got xxxxx plays!” I’ve been there myself with Electrofans…
The number of plays/views you get on a track or social media post is typically a function of a few different things:
– how often it is shared or re-posted
– if it is posted by a popular account or artist (for example, if a major-name DJ or artist for some reason mentions your track, you can count on getting a big response)
– in the case of a streaming platform like Spotify, if you can get your track included in a PLAYLIST by an artist or record label that has a lot of followers.
But don’t fret if any one single post or release didn’t get the numbers you were hoping for or expecting, as long as you are heading in the right direction overall. Peoples’ individual tastes vary, plus maybe the time of day or even time of year you made the post can have an effect on performance and engagement. What matters is the overall view people have of you, your work, and your channel.
3) Ultimately it comes down to FINDING & CULTIVATING YOUR BASE OR AUDIENCE
This may be hard to do – and will probably take some time, but it is very very important. Figure out where to find people who would be likely to dig your music or artists, hang out where they hang out from time to time, observe, and learn. Using Facebook Ads, you can choose to create an ad and show it to customized groups of people (such as people who like certain artists, DJ pages, categories of music, or people in certain geographic locations). And once you have your audience in place, find out what they want: ask them directly on Facebook or Twitter (ex: “What do you guys think? Should my next mix be techno, trance, or edm??”), do polls, or surveys…. (and of course study your analytics or social media stats to see what your most popular posts are, what actions people took on those posts, etc).
Consider setting up a mailing list to keep your most devoted fans up-to-date with your latest news and new releases. E-mail still has a great deal of power and usefulness in terms of cutting through the clutter (especially in our age of social media saturation), if used correctly, and not over-done.
OK, so now some bullet points…
DEFINE WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO YOU – IN YOUR OWN TERMS
As the old saying goes, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there,” which, in the realm of social media, can very well mean a “road to nowhere” or spinning your wheels if you’re just throwing up post after post randomly.
*Establish what exactly you’d like to accomplish through social media
(it’s ok for this to be more than one thing!)
Is it: achieving more sales, downloads, or plays? Getting more exposure for a new artist act? If you’re just starting off as a new producer or label, it might be more *to get the word out* about who you are and the fact that you’ve just started up. Then, eventually, have your social media posts be strategically directed toward a broader goal.
FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE
In order to grow your label or business, and increase your social media following, you really have no choice, YOU’VE GOT TO GET THE WORD OUT, and that means “getting in people’s face.” It’s very important (and sometimes a bit tricky) to do this in the right way, without OVER-DOING it… When overdone, this can potentially backfire (see point below); you definitely do not want to annoy people or re-post duplicate content repeatedly.
So what is the optimal number of times per week/day/month to post?
Ultimately, you will have to determine this for yourself, through a process of trial error, but personally I would say a bit more often is better than less… More posts mean more potential touch points with customers, fans, or industry contacts, as well as more opportunities for people in, say, different countries or time zones to see your posts. I’ve noticed that some of the biggest edm/electronic music blogs or websites post anywhere from 3-5 times a day on average, and just yesterday I saw an interview with the COO of Rolling Stone magazine where he said they are up to 70 posts A DAY!! Find what works best for you, but remember, “Don’t be a stranger” and “you’ve gotta be in it to win it!!”
Oh and one other point I thought I would bring up regarding “balance:” instead of always having your posts be “one-way,” or “bulletin/announcement style” (ex: “Check out our new album! See this mix or event here,” etc) try to engage your followers and be more conversational in tone with them from time to time. “Show your human side” :). Ask your followers what they think about certain things, what do they prefer….. This can be your opportunity to be more personable and have a dialogue with your fans. (BT, I’ve noticed, has been doing this quite a bit recently on his Instagram/Facebook, featuring a number of videos of himself in his new studio with his synths, taking a walk in nature expressing some personal thoughts, etc).
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
This is a big one!!
When it comes to defining/measuring your success or progress, although, sure, it is often very useful to have a look at other peoples’ accounts and see what/how they are doing, ultimately I feel that it is more important to measure your progress or success ACCORDING TO YOUR OWN TERMS. There will always be certain DJs, producers, or labels that have a ton of followers, while others may not have all that many, but are still releasing amazing music and are highly respected.
QUALITY over quantity (this really is true)
**What you are really looking for is a sufficient number of quality followers**
People who are sincerely into you, your music or label, your artists, and what you’re doing musically 😉
IMPORTANCE OF WORKING WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
(“the power of the network”)
You can only go so far by yourself, at some point you need to align yourself with the right partners who can help you jump-start your pathway to “the next level.”
ETIQUETTE AND MANNERS STILL MATTER
Even in this “strange new digital world,” etiquette still matters. Just as in “real life,” in social media and in the online world, it’s important to be a part of and contribute back to your community as a whole. Share other peoples’ posts, check out what they’re doing, and learn more about your scene. You’ll find that it will not only help them, but also yourself (and improve your reputation greatly as well).
YOU CAN’T PLEASE ALL THE PEOPLE NONE OF THE TIME
You have to take some risks, i.e. any single story, news item or topic you post about will invariably be appealing to some, but may turn off others… Or, if one of your followers thinks you are over-posting, they may unfollow you. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is just part of the process; as long as your overall growth is on the uptick, you know you are moving in the right direction, and you will ultimately get closer to your goal…
Keep in mind that, by engaging in “self-promotion” TOO much, you will inevitably lose some of your “followers,” BUT DO IT ANYWAY, just don’t OVER-DO IT. Eventually, through a process of trial and error, and measuring your response rates (Google Analytics, FB engagement stats etc), you can determine the optimal balancing act….
KEEP THE EMO DOWN TO A MINIMUM
I know I’ve covered this before, and I also know myself this can be a difficult one :). As people who make or are involved with music, we are artists of a sort, and we can get very personally attached to our work, as well as emotional about it (creative people in general I feel are likely more sentimental than average). As a professional or in a business sense however, it is important to look at things a bit differently, and to not take things personally. Keep in mind that in order to succeed in this crazy space that is the music business, you will have to consider terms such as marketing, advertising, “customers,” economics, and budgets, which is typically quite a separate thing from the actual “fun, passionate, and exciting” part of music… You will also have to look at your music more as a “product,” if you want to actually make money at it. This is just something you will have to do in order to succeed, but remember, it’s worth it if fundamentally you love what you do :).
One other point:
When publishing, sure you are human, and it’s perfectly fine to express your honest opinions once in a while, but try to keep in mind that it’s important to maintain a sense of professionalism.
ALL OF THIS IS GOING TO TAKE *TIME*
REMEMBER: IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT!!
This last point you will eventually come to realize is an absolutely VITAL one to remember. With cultivating any business, and perhaps even more so within the music sphere, this is the case.
It can be frustrating to put all the time and work into not only your music, but also your social media efforts, only to see your follower count go up, then down, then up and down again….
There will be MANY ups and downs, so it’s very important to stay patient and also to pace yourself! (keep in mind too that social media, marketing and advertising, important as they are, are just one part of your overall path to success)
. . . . . .
In closing, be realistic yet remain optimistic, and don’t
ever stop reaching for your dreams!! (As Casey Kasem once said, “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars…”)
– – – – – – – – – –
MAJOR SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS
Now I will share some of my thoughts and observations on social media channels individually. Each one of course has their unique characteristics as well as pros and cons.
As more and more people are now realizing, Facebook is a channel that has further and further reduced its overall viability for people seeking to grow their social media following, in my opinion, at least for people (likely within the music space) who do not have deep pockets or a huge advertising budget.
With, what I’ve noticed, is an average reach of around 2-5% of your total audience organically for any given individual post (see above), Facebook page posts seem less and less valuable in terms of trying to reach your audience.
Some important points to keep in mind:
Facebook still has value for direct one-to-one connections, and Facebook Groups, which can allow you to have nice conversations with your core base of followers and help you cut through the clutter.
To me, definitely seems to have a much higher “signal-to-noise” ratio than FB, although I’ve still noticed a high degree of followers who un-follow (part of the territory I guess). Twitter has, overall many fewer features than Facebook, which I think contributes to the fact that it can feel lighter and much “less bloated to use” than Facebook, which is so over-saturated with offerings and features.
I also kind of feel like maybe Twitter has a higher “industry” value for the music space…
Some important points to keep in mind:
– Make use of Twitter “Lists” to help you organize your post feed.
– You can’t edit a post you make on Twitter, so be sure to double-check your tweet before posting! (always copy the tweet just in case something gets screwed up when it goes live lol). If you need to fix your tweet, what you will have to do is create a new one, then delete your previous tweet.
– character limit
Well, this one still has the “cool factor,” in my opinion, and is where a great number of people are. Using Instagram can be a great way to both connect with your existing fans, as well as reach new followers through strategic use of hashtags.
Some important points to keep in mind:
– Since Instagram posts are image-only, and not text-based, VISUALS ARE EVERYTHING… For better success on this platform, be sure to have high-quality, high-res images, and also be sure to vary up the color scheme throughout your feed!!
– For people in the music space, making use of a one-minute video sampler or teaser is a really important thing, I think.
– Make use of Instagram “Stories….” to appear at the top of followers’ home screen (as well as potentially reach new followers!) **Use judiciously, but use!**
Obviously, for videos, or maybe teasers, also well-put-together mixes or premiers, YouTube can be a good channel. (Some people do prefer to discover music on YouTube as well, so it could be a good idea to have some content here)
Already the current de facto for music DJs and producers for live streaming, I would say. I prefer it to YouTube personally for watching live streams (the comments are less obtrusive for me than on YT).
Some important points to keep in mind:
If you stream often, your followers will get a nice notification right on their phones (if they have the Twitch app), each time you go live.
Can’t say as I have personal experience using this platform, but from what I have seen, it consists entirely of VIDEOS of up to one minute, per each post (think: a platform based entirely of Instagram/Facebook “Stories”)…. I don’t really get into it, but I know it has gotten really popular lately.
Some important points to keep in mind:
– Popular with a younger audience
– I don’t know, maybe I could see it having value for music peeps (creating video samplers? Short intros about something?), but as I see it, you can already do this on Facebook or Instagram.
ONE LAST POINT
*If you don’t yet have a presence on all of the main social media channels, you probably should, or at least consider it :). 1) You can extend your reach to an even greater number of potential fans, 2) People who mention you in a social media post and are looking to tag you or mention you may well be looking for you on that given platform when they make their post announcing you! (such as myself :). Make it easier on them and be sure to have an account on all the major channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at least). 3) I feel it can look more professional having a presence on all the major platforms.
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