As an independent artist, you’ve probably been told countless times that being on social media is important. But after a typical week involving some combination of writing, producing, rehearsing, recording, performing, pitching, booking, networking, and possibly a day job on top of all that, you only have so many hours left to dedicate to growing a strong online presence.
Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a full-time social media manager, it’s impossible to be active and engaging on every popular platform out there. So how do you decide which ones to prioritize when you’re managing your own music career?
The honest answer is that it’s going to be different for everyone, because it depends on where your potential fans like to discover new music, and how your existing fans like to connect with you. That being said, at the very least, you should keep your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages up to date. As you build your profiles, you will be able to discover where your fans are most engaged which can help you navigate the way you share content ongoing. If fans are looking for you, they’re most likely going to turn to one of the “Big Three” platforms first.
Facebook unequivocally dominates the social media world with 2 billion monthly active users as of June 2017. Love it or hate it, you’re shooting your music career in the foot if you don’t have an active Facebook page.
Besides having the ability to reach a highly targeted audience of your choosing, Facebook is an essential piece of your online presence. A growing, engaged Facebook following is a big cue to potential fans and industry pros alike that you're worth checking out and following.
If someone can’t find your Facebook page, the default assumption is that you’re not a serious or legitimate artist. Similarly, if they find a Facebook page with 42 likes that hasn’t been updated since 2013, they’re probably going to arrive at the same conclusion.
Two things we’d recommend taking advantage of as an independent artist on Facebook:
1. Ads Manager — this powerful and effective tool allows you to target your niche audience in ways that you simply can’t do on other platforms. And if you do it right, it can be pretty cheap!
2. Facebook Live — Facebook has been really pushing this feature, so live videos actually show up higher in people’s News Feeds than other types of content. Live streaming a concert or Q&A session is a great way to reach existing fans, as well as grow your audience around the world.
As a visual platform, Instagram is where you can get a bit more personal, reinforce your artist brand, and develop a more intimate connection with your fans. In order to switch up your content, consider sharing a range of posts such as behind-the-scenes moments, promotional images, and photos that show a casual, fun, or quirky side of your personality that your audience might not get to see otherwise.
Hashtags are the backbone of organic content discovery on Instagram. In fact, a study showed that Instagram posts with at least one hashtag in the caption average 12.6% more engagement than those without! If you’re strategic about the hashtags you use with your photos and encourage fans to use your artist hashtag, you can quickly get discovered by the right audience.
As you probably know, Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, which means that you have access to Facebook’s powerful advertising tools on Instagram as well. There are over 600 million Instagram users and, of those, 400 million are active every day. So besides organically growing your Instagram following, you can put a little budget behind your most important posts to make sure they get seen by the people you really want to reach.
When it comes to real-time communication with fans, Twitter has the clear advantage over Facebook and Instagram. Whereas on other platforms, posting several times a day can come across as excessive and annoying, it’s perfectly acceptable — and normal — to tweet regularly throughout the day.
Because each tweet is limited to 140 characters (give or take), it’s all about packing a punch in just a few words. Twitter essentially gives you a direct line to fans and anyone you might want to know in the music industry, so you have the opportunity to foster one-to-one connections by being direct, authentic, and more personal than you might be on Facebook.
Twitter has amassed 317 million monthly active users since it launched in 2006. Similar to Instagram, using hashtags on Twitter makes you more discoverable by niche audiences. But in addition to that, you can take advantage of Twitter lists to organize people into curated groups and keep track of what they’re doing — for example, music bloggers, similar bands whose content you admire, or industry tastemakers.
You certainly can incorporate additional platforms into your social media strategy like Snapchat, Tumblr, Music.ly, and others (and you should!), but as you can see, each of these “Big Three” social channels plays a unique and essential role in helping you connect with fans and get discovered. So, at the very least, you want to make sure you’ve got these up and going.
Interested in getting more useful artist tips straight to your inbox? Sign up to the AWAL Weekly!