By Anne Deeter Gallaher
Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram give music artists some powerful communication tools for branding, promotion, and public relations. If you’re a new music artist on tour and building a fan base town by town and bar by bar, congratulations! There’s no better time to strengthen your brand and develop a loyal fan base. With every post, video, picture, and tweet, you’re creating a powerful Digital Tattoo—an indelible image just like its ink counterpart that’s nearly impossible to remove. That’s why it’s so important to consider the strategy behind sharing your content and to develop social media business goals even before your first publishing or artist development deal.
To make sure that music labels, industry reporters, entertainment bloggers, and fans are benefitting from your content, here are 11 tips to help you hit high gear.
1. You are who Google says you are. Your resume and one-sheet are now trumped by Page 1 of Google Search. An amazing 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. What will fans find? Google yourself regularly and set up Google Alerts with your name, and your name misspelled, to monitor your reputation. In nearly every case, your “owned” media—the content that you create on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube—will appear on Page 1. Social media gives you the power to grow your fan base, sell your music, discover what merchandise sells best, and tell your back story.
2. Create a Facebook Fan Page, Instagram, and Twitter for yourself and/or band. Fans connect and engage much more readily with authentic artists—the ones who are posting and tweeting as themselves. It’s good business to seek public relations and social media advice before you begin building a digital community. It takes time to build a fan base one tweet and post at a time, but investing in a strategy of organic social growth will be sustainable over your career. Whatever platform you choose, post as yourself, even if you have to limit your posts to a few per week. When posts and tweets are in the third person, it can be a barrier to fan engagement. Blake Shelton’s Twitter profile bio says, “You’re getting the real Blake Shelton BS straight from Blake himself.” He does add that occasionally a team member will tweet, though the majority of the conversation is from Blake.
3. Show your personality. Are you a fisherman, a hunter, a surfer, an Irish step dancer? Take the fans off stage and into your life for a glimpse of who you are. What blows up a Facebook post? A picture of an artist with a baby, a pet, or wildlife! Use these channels to give fans a fuller picture of who you are and more reasons to relate to your music and buy a ticket to a show.
4. Be generous in your shout-outs to others and offer help. The late Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Your connection with fans is based on emotion. A tweet from a music artist to a fan is personal and powerful. Taylor Swift’s Instagram account is a great example. She will randomly comment on her fans’ Instagram pictures and leave heartfelt messages or funny comments. She has 9,544,696 followers on Instagram, and she unabashedly tells her fans how grateful she is for each one of them.
5. Pack your Twitter bio with some business punch. If a record label searches you online, what first impression will they find? Start with a great picture. The Twitter bio is the new elevator speech and will show up on Page 1 of Google search. What do you really want to define your brand? Use hashtags. Add your college, your associations, your music genre, your hometown and state. Are you a runner, love Cross-Fit, active in #CMchat? Put it in the bio. Have a favorite charity? Put it in the bio. And add a link to your website on all your profiles.
6. Add Instagram to your arsenal. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, use Instagram pictures to connect with new and broader audiences. All of these channels appeal to different audiences. In one study, Instagram delivered 58 times more engagement for big brands than Facebook. Experiment with the channels that resonate with your fans.
7. Define your target audiences. Who are you trying to reach? New fans, a specific geographic region, an untapped market, potential brand sponsors, booking agencies, record labels, industry professionals, reporters, bloggers? These targets are looking for different messages. Make sure you have strategic business goals in mind in addition to growing your fan base.
8. Power up with traditional press. Use Twitter to find radio stations and newspapers in the towns you’re touring in. If you’re on a radio tour, ask a band member or friend to take some video and pictures during the interview, so you can give a shout-out to the DJ and station. The power of social media is that the conversation is now in your hands. Make some media at every tour stop. Think press releases are dead? Use the newswire (there is a fee to subscribe to news services) to announce your tour or an award or an event that you’re headlining. You can hyperlink all your social media channels and YouTube channel so the media have an immediate feel for your brand, your energy, and your music. And be willing to come in early for a live TV interview or stay late after a concert to talk with entertainment reporters. All of this organic content should be parked on your website and serves as powerful Google juice.
9. Add all your social media channels to your website, your blog, your business card (yes, you read that correctly), and your email signature. Make it very easy for fans and media reps to find and connect with you. Give your business cards to everyone you meet—at writer’s nights, private gigs, interviews, CD release parties, and business meetings. Unbelievably, not every contact you make will have an iPhone, but they will appreciate a business card for easy reference.
10. Don’t just collect followers, engage them. When artists say, “Follow me on Twitter, and I’ll follow back,” it ignites even more passion and loyalty in the fan base. Social media is social and involves a two-way conversation. Blake Shelton is a master at it, and when he retweets a fan it stirs a flurry of OMGs and Favorites in response.
11. Create hashtags and join chats. Hashtags can identify your tours, specific venues, and events. In addition to creating your own tour hashtag, find the music chats and PR chats that will help you grow your fan base. Jessica Northey (@JessicaNorthey) has tapped into the heart and soul of country music with her weekly Country Music chats #CMchat and brand-new #CMchattys Awards. Every Monday at 9pm E, #CMchat sets Twitter on fire with inside information from the best and brightest musicians and industry professionals.
Keeping fans up-to-date and engaged is the foundation for a successful music career. Whether you’re a hometown band, a newly signed recording artist, or an international touring act, your digital tattoo is your Director of First Impressions. Make it a great one!