The Biggest Mistake Musicians Make With Social Media
I think we can all agree that social media marketing is a challenge, but there is one big mistake that I see far too many independent musicians making with their social media. That mistake is being totally reliant on it as a home for their audience. In this post, I want to tell you why this is a such big issue and how you can overcome it.
As an artist, your biggest asset is your audience. Without them, nothing is possible. If your entire presence as an artist relies on social media, or even worse, one social media network (lets use Instagram as an example), you do not own your audience, Instagram does and they can take it away from you anytime they like.
For example, a few years on Facebook, if you posted something to your page, your entire following would see it in their feed. Seems logical. However, in recent years (I think the big change was in 2015), Mark Zuckerberg realised he was leaving money on the table and decided that in order to show your page's post to your entire audience, you would have to pay for ads or a boost. Suddenly, businesses were only reaching 10% of their following organically if they were lucky. As I'm sure you're aware, Facebook are now implementing the same system on Instagram and getting reach on your posts is becoming harder and harder, so if you're completely reliant on it to connect with your fans and get your music out there, you're shooting yourself in the foot and taking a huge risk. You're essentially renting an audience that they can take away at anytime.
So how can you make sure your audience is under your control? Here are four ways...
Spread Across Multiple Networks
As a bare minimum, make sure that your online presence is spread across multiple social media platforms. This way, if one of them is lost or becomes ineffective, your audience can easily find you elsewhere. On top of this, try to keep an eye on any up and coming platforms to stay with social media trends. Social networks will come and go, just like Myspace disappeared years ago and TikTok is on the rise now. This still doesn't mean you own you audience, but it gives you some security.
Grow Your Email List
An email list is by far one of the most important and most fruitful tools you can use to communicate with you audience, but it's one that the majority of independent artists are missing.
Here are some reasons why an email list is so great:
Most of your Instagram followers are bystanders. They don't engage with your posts or listen to your music because they either don't see it (due to the algorithm) or don't care enough. Email subscribers are fans. They have put in a small amount of effort to subscribe and give you their contact details, because they care about what you're doing.
You own the audience and you have control. Nobody can take it away from you.
There's no algorithm in the way. All of your email subscribers can see you newsletters and announcements and if they don't like it, they can just unsubscribe.
Social media platforms come and go, but people rarely change their email address.
Now, you may be thinking "Why would somebody want to sign up to my email list?" Well, if you put it as plainly as that, they probably won't want to. You need to entice your audience in with something valuable and free. It could be a ticket to watch your exclusive live stream, a special music video on a private link, or a piece of merchandise. Figure out what your audience wants, and give it to them for free in exchange for their email address. Once you're up and running, try to deliver consistent, valuable content to their inbox. Don't just straight up advertise your music, entertain them and make them feel part of a community. I'd recommend using Wix or Mailchimp to get started with this!
Promote Outside of Social Media
With Instagram, Twitter and Facebook playing such a big role in our modern day lives, we often forget about the real world and I see a ton of talented musicians, who totally disregard any promotion outside of social media, when it's equally (if not more) important. Obviously gigging plays a bit role in this, but also, you can team up with local businesses (more on that here), put up posters (seems old school, but if you go about it the right way it can be a winner) and just talk with other local musicians about your music and theirs. The New Consistent has been doing an amazing job of this with his latest release "Turn Off All The Screens", teaming up with HMV Birmingham, Cow Birmingham and putting up posters across the city.
You also need to be targeting the right people. Aiming all of your promotion at individuals on social media is a bad use of time. Instead, you should invest your time into targeting influencers, bloggers, radio stations and playlist curators, who can spread your music to a wider audience.
Make Full Use of Spotify
Where are people ultimately listening to your music? It's probably Spotify, so you need to make sure that you're putting as much effort into your profile and Spotify marketing as possible. Make sure you're pushing your music to playlists everyday and that your artist page is full filled out with amazing pictures, a snappy bio, your upcoming gigs and playlists of your own.
Back in August, I woke up to find my Instagram profile completely deactivated, with no way of getting it back. My audience of 3.5k followers was gone overnight due to either getting hacked or a fault in the system. Thankfully, I had my email list, word of mouth, other social networks and my amazingly helpful clients to soften the blow and by the end of the month, I was already back up to 500 followers and there was no drop in my website traffic. If I had relied on that profile, like so many do, I'd have been in big trouble.
Go away with this situation in your mind and ask yourself What will I do if my social media is wiped tomorrow, what will I lose? Make sure you're doing everything you can to make this a non issue. If it happens to me again, or if the algorithm suddenly changes, I'm not too worried because I've taken the steps above to ensure that I own my audience and I can keep delivering for them no matter what happens.