If you want to make music, it’s pretty simple. Get into the studio, write some lyrics, add some killer beats and put it all together. For most artists, though, sharing music with fans is as important as creating it in the first place. Social media accounts, utilized effectively, can be your most powerful tool for transforming casual listeners into devoted fans of your music. Don’t believe me? Next Big Sound’s 2015 music industry report tracked 14 billion follows, likes, and new stations added on social media, and over 1 trillion streaming plays online — in just 6 months. Listening now?
Convert Followers Into True Fans
Running an account for your brand is a different ball game from sharing thoughts with your friends. Social media promotion for your brand takes time, dedication and resources. If you’re just starting out and any one of these is limited, start with the basics to get your Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, and Instagram account looking professional.
First, optimize your profiles with a high-quality background image, short-and-sweet bio, and crucial info that fans need to know. Use features like a Pinned Tweet on Twitter to keep important news like an album release date at the top of your profile. Make sure your images are professional. You’re not just selling your music. You’re selling the entire package of yourself as an artist, so don’t get sloppy with visuals. If necessary, hire a photographer or designer so that you’re representing the best version of yourself.
That professionalism extends to your posting schedule, too. Beyoncé can make waves by dropping a surprise album, but mere mortals like us need to give fans a heads-up. Release new track samples, event updates, and other info on a predictable schedule so fans know when to expect fresh content.
Social Media Best Practices
Once you’ve got your accounts ready to go, use your social media pages to garner a personal connection with your fans. The more fans feel invested in you and your music, the more likely it is that they’ll make it out to a show or buy merchandise.
Start by understanding what your fans want from you, and what you need from them in return. Emerging artists may focus on raising awareness of their music. If this is you, concentrate on targeting brand-new fans. Artists who already have a growing fan base need to strengthen that connection. Fans start coming to your feed for news and exclusive content. They want to feel a personal connection, so give them an inside look at your music and life.
A few practices to get more eyes on your music include:
- Use relevant hashtags. Make your posts searchable, and see how your thoughts tie in with trending topics on social media.
- Cross-promote with other artists. Music is a competitive industry, but there’s room to share the stage. Rap fans listen to more than just Jay-Z, right? Working with other artists and producers to share music can give you both a wider audience than doing it all on your own.
- Ask for shares or retweets. Not for every post, of course, but add a call-to-action when you share your next performance date. Followers can help get the word out to a bigger audience.
Artists focusing on building a deeper connection with fans should try these tips:
- Get a conversation going. Use polls or live Q&As to get fan feedback and answer questions. If someone tags you in their own post, respond! Sharing their excited review of your latest single gives you free publicity and gifts them a minute in the limelight. It’s a win-win.
- Mix text, image, and video posts. Keep your feed interesting by changing up your posting media. Sneak peeks at album art, a short video of a behind-the-scenes moment, and text posts with helpful info or a fun challenge make your feed a fun spot to check out. Kendrick Lamar’s visual-heavy Twitter feed keeps 8.7 million followers checking in.
- Be about more than music. Chance the Rapper has spoken out about violence and criminal justice reform in his hometown of Chicago, and even got President Obama’s ear. Does your band’s message tie in with a political stance? Are you obsessed with finding the best diner food when you tour? Pick one or two topics so your feed doesn’t get too off-track, and let fans see you as a person as well as an artist.
Whatever your social media goals may be, review the results of your efforts. Check your stats consistently to see which posts led to more engagement, followers, or song downloads. Keep improving your social media content strategy, and you’ll learn more about how to successfully build a loyal fan base.
Networks Artists Need — And Which Ones They Don’t
One serious downside to social media is how time-consuming it is to develop your strategy and post on 27 different platforms. Fortunately, you don’t need to open an account on every social media site to get fans. The top pages music artists need are:
- Youtube: The video giant has launched many an artist’s career, from The Weeknd to 5 Seconds of Summer. Add lyrics to the video description, so fans who remember the chorus but not the title can find you.
- Instagram: Next Big Sound saw monthly Instagram follows skyrocket from 51 million to 283 million between June 2014 and May 2015. The most successful Instagram accounts tend to have high-quality images and a signature visual style, so choose a color palette and style that will define your feed.
- SoundCloud: A SoundCloud profile is a must to showcase your best tracks. Since this site doesn’t have as many users, you’ll want to plan how to cross-post with a larger platform to attract followers to your page.
- Facebook: With a daily average of 8 billion video views and 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is an essential social media platform for artists. Changing algorithms can make it harder for artists to get on the top of followers’ feeds. You may need to set aside some advertising cash to spend here, but the reach can be more than worth it.
Artists who want to go above and beyond should consider setting up a platform on these nice, but not necessary, sites:
- Twitter: Surprised to see Twitter off the main list? Here’s the thing: Only about 328 million of Twitter’s 974 million accounts are truly active. This site is worth it if you’re ready to commit to a frequent posting schedule. Otherwise, don’t bother setting up a dead account.
- Snapchat: Shawn Mendes and Us The Duo built fan bases and even got record deals through their attention-grabbing Vine videos. If you’re targeting a young crowd, you may find your fans here, so think about using Snapchat Stories to connect with Generation Z. For most people, though, this app isn’t the main one they use, so it doesn’t need to be your top pick, either.
- Tumblr: With a relatively small number of users and high level of effort required to get your content noticed, this site is optional for most artists. Use curated tags to keep posts organized, and don’t be afraid to get vulnerable: Tumblr has features that can help screen out hateful comments.
Have you had success on social media using any of these tips? Or do you have any more advice to share about making the most of Facebook, Twitter and other platforms? Let us know in the comments!