Social media marketing by Matt Ottewill (March 2014)

There are a great many social media channels, but for a recording musician we recommend creating and operating these four as a minimum ..

Facebook (create a specific musician related page if you already have a personal profile)
Twitter
Google+
YouTube

Ideally you would operate just a single channel, but because of the differing demographics of each, you will risk losing out on interaction with possible followers. Facebook caters for a younger more social audience, Twitter subscribers are generally older and more interested in business, social issues, culture and art.

When you create a Google account (required for setting up a YouTube channel or AdWords account) you will be ‘encouraged’ to create a Google+ account. Google+ is growing in popularity so you may as well go ahead and create one.

You should customise and brand each channel carefully with a relevant title, accurate description, biography, background image and profile image, and enable any social media integration available (YouTube allows this).

You may also wish to create a Soundcloud profile, but we are unconvinced that they send the right message about you as a professional and individual artist. Much better to host preview and free mp3s on your own site.

You can use social media to achieve a number of objectives ..

  • engage and connect with your audience
  • announce gigs, releases and events
  • embed follow, share and subscribe buttons in your website pages
  • advertise products
  • drive traffic to your website or shop
  • increase your visibility
  • build reputation
  • run promotion, discount and offer campaigns

Engage and connect with your audience

Many fans prefer to follow an artist rather than subscribe to an mailing list because they don’t have to share their email address. However, this implies an interest without commitment. Ideally you want your audience to follow you on social media, share your posts and the content from your website and channels, and join your mailing list.

Many artists have discovered that focusing on encouraging likes and followers, and posting multiple times each day, has taken up huge amounts of time and not been successful in converting user to customers. Certainly, if you follow a policy of responding personally to every post, you will not be able to keep up when your channels become successful. You may therefore need to establish a policy. You may decide to use your channels just for announcements, or make it clear you post just once a day, or direct follows to your blog. Whatever you do, you should post at least once a week.

Don’t forget to reward loyalty by responding to frequent users or offering incentives and freebies. Also, don’t just respond to conversations about you, initiate them by showing your interest in others.

If you are a beginner, don’t be afraid to ask family and friends to get the ball rolling, follow and like you and share your content.

Posts - messages, comments and tweets

Here’s some useful advice that many recording musicians have found increases the effectiveness of their posts ..

  • put any call to action links towards the beginning
  • short posts get less clicks, so write a bit more
  • don’t use long paragraphs, divide your posts into nice short easily digestible chunks
  • publish your posts towards the end of the afternoon and evening (for your followers) when they have more time and are ready for distractions from work
  • publish more posts towards the end of the working week and at the weekends
  • ask for re-tweets (“pls RT”)
  • don’t publish multiple messages (especially tweets) all at once, spread them out, perhaps one per hour

Announce gigs, releases and events

Social media is an excellent platform for news. You should consider creating announcement specific landing pages at your website and include links to them in your posts. At the very least you will want to provide a link to a new YouTube video, a venue box office, or your iTunes store.

Embed follow, share and subscribe buttons in your website pages

Make it easy for your audience to share your content by adding and enabling share plug-ins to your website, blog and channels. We would recommend using a widget tool such as Add This (http://www.addthis.com). It’s simple, speeds up page loading time and provides analytics and metrics data.

If you prefer, you can embed and configure plug-ins individually. Here are some useful links ..

https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins
https://about.twitter.com/resources/buttons
https://developers.google.com/+/web/
https://developers.google.com/youtube/youtube_subscribe_button

Social media channel ads

Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to advertise to promote your profile, pages and posts/tweets. It is unclear how valuable these services will be for musicians, but paying for more likes and followers who don’t convert to customers or email subscribers is not a good use of your marketing budget, so if you road test a campaign, analyse the results carefully before rolling it out long term. However, you may feel there is some commercial value in having large numbers of likes and followers who do not convert to customers, because they demonstrate your popularity. How you measure the value of popularity other than by sales, is more challenging.

Twitter (http://ads.twitter.com) allows you to advertise to try and gain more followers or promote an individual tweet. Because tweets can be regarded as text ads, you could promote a tweet that announce your new album, with a link to your merch store (eg iTunes). You can choose geographical location, gender, a daily spending limit, maximum campaign budget, and a maximum bid amount for each follower (which you should set lower than Twitters suggestions, at something like US 20 cents / UK 15p).

If you are going to promote a tweet (promoted tweets), publish it first so you can select it from the list in the dashboard. Promoted tweets are identified as promoted tweets on the page where they appear. You will pay for clicks on any links they contains and when they are initially re-tweeted, but not when they are subsequently shared or clicked on.

Although a tweet can contain a link to a subscribe form for your mailing list, you can use a new feature called a “Lead generation card” whereby your tweet incentivises a follower to join your mailing list. Effectively the tweet works as a sign-up form. Better still, it integrates with Mailchimp, so new subscribers are automatically added to your list.

The click through rate (CTR) on Facebook ads is tiny compared to Google AdWords. Facebook users aren’t looking for products, and ads are an example of interruption marketing. However, in theory the data Facebook keeps about its users should help ads to be targeted and effective. So if you think you music will appeal to those that have stated in their profiles that they love Adele, then buying an ad that appears on their page which says “If you love Adele, you’ll love this too” may be effective.

Use a social media management tool

We would recommend using social media management tools such as Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com) and TweetDeck to post to multiple channels simultaneously. They will save you time and ensure consistency, but be careful not to auto-post the same content to all your channels all the time. Don’t assume your audience has subscribed to just one of your channels.

Finally, you should only devote time to social media marketing once your content, SEO, and SEM is working well. Social media is a long term game. Think of it more as a means of maintaining your customer base. Good SEM will have a far greater impact on your sales.