Social Media Guide for Music Professionals
In general talking about social media and how to use it effectively leads to long discussions and the opinions are always divided. But there is absolutely no discussion that it provides you with the tools to show your work and to engage with like-minded people. Like-minded can be your mum, spouse, friends, but also fans and, most importantly… other professionals.
In this blog post, we want to share some valuable ideas and best practices with you. It’s not about how to become a social influencer or how to gain 10K+ followers in 1 month. Instead, we talk about using social media organically. To get you started and rethink your social presence, without the pitfall of becoming an overly time-consuming exercise. Creating organic (real) connections will help you in your musical process and grow as a music professional.
What social media can do for you
What do you want to achieve as a music professional? You want to make (more) music, find and attract new talent, get more gigs, want to get signed, connect with fans, find inspiration, inspire others, build relationships, sell your work, get more work and/or trigger collaborations are some typical answers. It can be one or more of the above, but the fact is that you have to make people acquainted with your work first. And social media is one of the fastest and easiest ways to share your content. And now is one of the best times to share your creative work and take others into your process of creation.
IT’S ALL ABOUT VALUE
Traditionally artists have been trained to regard their creative process as something that should be kept for themselves. They would work on their masterpieces, waiting until they have a magnificent product to show (like an album) before they connect with an audience. Those times have changed! Austin Kleon, the author of the book ‘Show your work’ explains it well:
“Artists love to trot out the tired line, “My work speaks for itself,” but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work affects how they value it.” – Austin Kleon
We all know that the art of making music is magical, but at the same time, the struggle is real. It’s not like every song just came overnight, your fans and other music professionals know that too. That makes you real. So why hide this? Try to share bits and pieces of your work, to engage with your audience and see how they react. It gives you an idea if you are on the right track and you might gain some new ideas and inspiration alongside. But most important, your followers feel connected.
YOU THE BRAND
You are a brand. I know, this might sound very uncomfortable, but everyone is if you like it or not. You are a personal brand, even when you interact offline in daily life. But don’t think in terms of marketing. Think in terms of connecting, inspiration and collaboration. Branding yourself helps you to find your tone of voice and to connect with the right audience. When people get to know your work (what you obviously want) and if they like it, they WILL try to find you online in order to establish a connection. Especially through social media channels. So it’s not a matter of not doing it but more of how to do it right and of course without stressing yourself out.
Do’s and don’ts with social media
You don’t have to apply them all, but they do help you to maintain a steady social presence.
IT’S ALL IN THE NAME
Social media is the new search. Even though Google is still the key player, social media channels are the next preferred choice, especially for the younger generations. So do make sure you can be found. People expect you there! I remember someone saying the other day: “If a potential fan can’t find you, then they’ll stay a potential fan forever.” I guess that pretty much sums it up.
There are two different names to consider: your name and username. Both need to make sense. Think about what people would search you under and make sure that is your name.
Your username is important for your ambassadors; the people that want to @mention #hashtag or simply tag you. Think about the people you collaborate with, the club you’ve played, your label, the famous artist that loves your work, your fans or even the brand that wants to endorse you. Make it easy for them to trace and include you. If people can’t find your social media links (which will change after reading this post) they may assume it’s something obvious and type it in directly.
KEEP IT REAL, JUST BE YOURSELF
What does your online presence say about you now? When looking at your social media profile, ask yourself this question. What is the story that visitors (can) create in their mind when going through your profile? Then rethink if that’s the message you want to bring across. Remember that humans like to interact, especially with other human beings and even more when they have something in common. Tell your story.
Abbey Road Institute graduate Bob is going places!
(text continues below the image)
Besides showing pictures of yourself in the studio, on stage, with other artists, etc, it’s also nice to show a bit of behind the scenes pictures and background information. Your pet, your favourite pizza, the piece of art that inspired you to write a song, the new trick you figured out in your DAW, or the people or other artists that inspire you. The latter is very important. Because we-are-all-inspired-by-others. Sharing your inspirations is of great value to your followers. Besides that, great things can come out of it too. Just think about the times that artist A tells that he is such a big fan of artist B and B actually knows A and loves the work of A and eventually they start working together. It happens more often than you think…
Or post a picture of an unusual recording/performance location, like Abbey Road Institute graduate Dieter and his new project:
(text continues below the image)
View this post on Instagram
Playing in a pool! We felt really at home in this setting…maybe #windstilmusic is #poolmusic 😉💦🎹 as long as the electronics stay nice and dry! Thx, @living_pool_rotterdam for inviting us to play a fun gig in such a unique space!⠀ ⠀ #windstil #windstilmusic #artdeco #architecture #ohyoufancynow #kunstroute #oostelijkzwembad #beatrixbad #owlswho #kunstroutekralingencrooswijk #artinrotterdam #artinapool #pool #piscine #zwembad #kunst #muziek #music #poolparty #rotterdam #rotterdamisrad #triphop #jazz #blues #hiphop #art
People want stories. What about an artist or producer that wants to work with you or an active blog that wants to write about you? It’s never about your music alone, it’s also about the person behind the music. Show who you really are. So instead of thinking about it too much, just share what you love.
“Don’t be a genius but a scenius” – Brian Eno
But don’t let it stress you out. This is the point where people can get super stressed about their posting scheme. How many times should you post on social media? There are many theories about it. If you want to make your channels highly engaging, you can find the answers online. But if once a week is good for you, then do it once a week. Do what feels right for you. But don’t flood your channel with 10 posts at once, people find that a bit annoying. Around 2 posts per week is a nice frequency to start with and to get the hang of it.
Things that help: Create a structure. For instance, think in Themes. This could be topics like: ‘in the studio with’, ‘creativity’, ‘food’, ‘my inspirations’, ‘events’, ‘tricks’, whatever makes sense to you. Sit down, give it some thought and write down somewhere between 3 to 5 different themes. Then schedule these different themes in a calendar or weekly overview. That helps you to focus on what kind of content to produce and reduces the chance to get panicked.
You can use social media scheduling tools like Buffer, Hootsuite or Sprout Social to schedule your posts. That means you don’t have to be on your social media every day (please no) but you can sit once a week and schedule all your posts. This will help you to get rid of the daily anxiety of posting. The bigger ones are paid versions, but some have free versions and there are free alternatives to explore. You can also think about a Facebook page instead of a profile. A page gives you more features like scheduling, statistics and boosting your posts for little money.
Spread your content over your channels. Don’t post your content all at once on all channels. Which bring us to the next…
CHOOSING YOUR CHANNELS
Facebook, for instance, has a very broad audience, Twitter is popular amongst media and bloggers and bigger in countries like the US and Japan, Instagram has a strong follower base in the age of 18-35, etc…. Do a bit of research on which channels your target audience is using.
Mention your other accounts in your social media profile(s) to make sure your audience can find you and choose where they want to follow you.
Then… Divide and conquer! Your followers can follow you on all your channels, or you can make specific channels worth following based on people’s interest. For instance, you can decide to use your Instagram to show behind the scenes and sharing short stories, your Youtube to share tips ‘n tricks, your Twitter to interact with the media, Snapchat to give an inside look into your life not shared anywhere else, Soundcloud to share your music or podcasts where you interview collaborating artists and/or Facebook for sharing general content. Remember: you don’t have to be on all channels, but creating a bit of focus per channels helps to keep things structured for yourself and your followers.
Nevertheless, every now and then it’s good to share your social post on your other channels. For example: If you post to Instagram, share the post on Facebook. If you post to Facebook, link to that post in a tweet. It will make your posts count to all of your audiences.
KEEP THE SOCIAL IN SOCIAL
It is key to maintain a healthy level of activity on your main social networks. Don’t just post, but engage! Reply to comments, ask a question, start a discussion and check it regularly as you would do with your email. This will boost your social media presence and engagement.
SPEND A LITTLE MONEY
You might be a little hesitant about spending money, but even with a little cash, you can extend your reach. Do spend it on the right things, on content. Boost a post or picture (for this you need a Facebook Page); have a photographer take some nice shots for your profile picture and header image; master your tracks to let them stand out of the rest on streaming channels. Focus on content, It’ll pay off down the road! Don’t go buying followers, that’s definitely not recommended. Here’s why.
Awesome picture of Abbey Road Institute graduate, Janice
(text continues below the image)
View this post on Instagram
This lil dreamer PASSED HER FINAL EXAMS @abbeyroadinstnl! One year ago I could barely imagine myself working as a creative in the music industry, and now, I will be: music producer & audio engineer with a diploma 👩🏻🎓. The best thing? The graduation ceremony is at @abbeyroadstudios in London! . . . . . . 📸: @sparfis_media #musicproducer #audioengineer #recordingstudio @rupert_neve #neve #abbeyroadinstitute #producerlife #studiolife #womeninmusic #dreamcometrue #cellist @the_wimn @soniccitystudios
DON’T OVERDO IT
Of course, you can promote your work, but don’t make every post a promotional one. You don’t want to bombard visitors with your “selling posts”; this can actually push them away from your page or channel. Take the 70/30 rule in mind: 30% is promotional, 70% is story or content from others. Sharing content from others is very valuable. Especially when you’re sharing information that is useful to your audience.
Don’t go all big brother, sharing your whole personal life. You do have a life that’s yours.
VIDEO CONTENT WORKS
It’s not always very comfortable to see yourself on video. But it works! Even short snippets of what you’re working on, bringing your audience into your creative process. This way you also build expectations amongst your audience, waiting for you to release the tracks they’ve seen you working on. Making them part of your journey. They will thank you for it by buying the final product. And let’s be honest, we all like to have an inside look into someone else’s life. We’re all curious creatures.
HUNTING IS POISON
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that likes and followers are nice, but worrying about the amount is poisonous. Hunting for more is a whole different ball game. That’s the turning point where Social Media can become addictive and will work against what you stand for. Make it part of the creation process. And don’t expect that everyone will see your posts. The algorithms don’t work that way. Don’t work too hard to beat the algorithm. Still want to know: Why is your content not interacting?
MAKE IT FUN
…and don’t become too sensitive for recognition in the form of likes and the number of followers. Not when they are lacking nor when they come in high numbers. Keep it real, don’t let your self-esteem be dependant on what others think of you, positive or negative. Stay on track and be yourself. That will create meaningful connections, both personal and professional, online and offline. And that’s when the fun and magic really happens!
References & more info:
Will Smith taking it to the next level in Social Media, explaining about finding his voice.