We live in an online world that’s so huge and all-encompassing that it’s easy to get swallowed up by it. This inevitably causes much confusion by the average artist or musician, since it’s easy to spend a lot much time online without ever having your fan base, music or merch sales increase. And let’s face it, it’s usually a lot less fun trying to constantly update your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and/or Google+ accounts when all you want to do is make some music.
One of the problems is that most musicians are online with no idea about how to use the various platforms for promotion. In my book Social Media Promotion For Musicians, I outline multiple ways to improve your online efficiency while increasing your fan engagement and music sales. Here’s a quick overview of the latest strategy designed specifically for anyone in the music business.
Step 1. You Need A Website
Unfortunately, a website many times gets overlooked as an integral piece of your digital promotional life because there are so many other platforms that you can use as your online focal point. Having only a Facebook page or Tumblr blog, or relying on another social network as your central focus, has a number of potential flaws, not the least is control of your message.
Your website is the only place online where you can totally control the look, feel, and content, and it’s the only place that you have multiple ways to display a wide range of content as well.
If you depend on a social network for your online presence, you’re ceding control to an unknown, unseen force that can change it’s will at any time with no regard to your online well-being. That's why it's imperative that you don’t count on a single social network for your total online presence or even your total social media presence. If you rely on an external network, sooner or later you're going to get burnt. It's the nature of the Internet to constantly change, and it's too early to get a feel for the life span of even of the largest sites and networks.
Step 2. You Need A Mailing List
Your email list is a major component for marketing to your fan base. It's widely overlooked, since most artists believe that their Facebook friends and Twitter followers are enough, but your email list allows you to reach out and personally connect with the fans and control your message while you're doing it.
A well thought-out email blast allows you to:
- Engage your fan on a one-to-one basis
- Design the communication without the particular constraints of a social network
- Add a call-to-action to get people to your gigs or to buy something
The best part is that the fan has actually invited you to send something by actively opting in to your mailing list. They expect you to email them, and if you send quality content, welcome it when you do.
Step 3. You need a YouTube Channel
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is definitely worth a heck of a lot more. That’s why YouTube is one of the most powerful networks available for marketing an artist, band, or brand. It’s now the number one place online where people discover new music, and it’s actually the number one place that many age groups consume music as well.
YouTube has the ability to visually reach so many people in such a short amount of time that you can almost consider it as a social “force multiplier” (to use a military term) that grows in power every day, but there’s a lot more to it than posting a video and hoping that it will go viral. Indeed, having that happen is like winning the lottery, but in reality, a video doesn’t have to have a million views to be effective, and it doesn’t have to be a produced music video either. Simple lyric videos or videos with just the music underneath a picture of the artist are so effective that even major record labels release songs that way now.
Step 4. Pick Another Social Network (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+).
You can’t be everywhere at once. Even if you could it could take so much time that you’d never have any time to make music, which is what we’re trying to avoid. In order to decrease your online work load, pick one of the following:
- Regardless of how you feel about Facebook, it’s worth having a presence on it if for no other reason than it’s easy proximity to lots of potential new fans. If you’re just starting out, you might want to start with a personal page instead of a fan site though. It can be embarrassing to have a fan page with only a few followers, and a personal site is a way to gain some momentum before you make the leap.
- The people that dismiss Twitter are the ones that aren’t aware of how to use it for promotion. It’s extremely powerful for attracting new fans and keeping your current ones instantly informed, and music related tweets are especially powerful on the platform. Hint: always include a link for more information (preferably to your website) and a hashtag for the most effective promotion tweets.
- Google+. Google+ is not yet an absolutely necessary network to participate in, but its Hangouts On Air feature works particularly well for anyone in the music business.
- Other networks. If you find that your fans or potential fans seem to favor another network (like Instagram, for instance), that’s one that you should consider spending some time on. How do you know that? Just ask them!
The idea is to pick a social network and get really good at using it before you add another one. On the other hand, if you’re already on several networks, don’t abandon some in favor of others, especially if you have followers. Try to stay as active as you can while placing more of your effort on the one you find the easiest.
Step 5. Use A Social Media Broadcast App For Updates.
An app like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite is one of the keys to streamlining the posting process so that you save time by making what you do online more efficient. It allows you to schedule posts so they drop at the best times for your fans to read, and gives you the ability to watch the activity from most of your social platforms in one place.
Step 6. Send All Viewers To Your Website.
The key is to make sure that any viewer on any network is aware that you have a website and knows that it’s the main repository of information about you. That means that any links that appear in a social post should point back to your site, and that all email list subscribers go to the same master list.
Step 7. Get Third Party Help When You’re Overwhelmed.
At some point social media management may get too complex for you to maintain, and third-party help is needed. This is usually a good thing, since it means you’ve progressed to a point that things are so massive that you can’t keep up. Furthermore, a company that specializes in social-media management can keep you current with new tools and techniques that you might not be aware of. Even when outside help arrives, remember that you’re still the one that drives the bus. Be sure to take part in all strategy discussions, but leave the actual facilitation to the company you’ve hired.
Having a sound social strategy is the key to being successful online. Not only does it save you time that can be otherwise spent on creating, but it can increase your fan engagement and reach as well.
Producer/engineer Bobby Owsinski is one of the best selling authors in the music industry with 23 books that are now staples in audio recording, music, and music business programs in colleges around the world, including the Deconstructed Hits series, Social Media Promotion For Musicians, The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook and more.
He’s also a contributor to Forbes writing on the new music business, his popular blogs have passed 5 million visits, and he’s appeared on CNN and ABC News as a music branding and audio expert. Visit Bobby's music production blog a t bobbyowsinski.blogspot.com , his Music 3.0 music industry blog at music3point0.blogspot.com , his Forbes blog at forbes.com/sites/bobbyowsinski/, his podcast at bobbyoinnercircle.com, and his website a t http://www.bobbyowsinski.com.
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