Today’s music business allows artists to communicate, interact, and sell directly to their audience like never before. While many artists and bands use social media randomly, according to author Bobby Owsinski, not having an overall social media strategy results in ineffective promotion and wasted time. In the second edition of Social Media Promotion for Musicians: The Manual for Marketing Yourself, Your Band, and Your Music Online, Owsinski gives detailed tips for exploiting social media. Here are his six steps to successfully plan your online strategy.
- Make your website your main online focal point. Make sure that all your important information is curated there and that it’s easy for a site visitor to find. Among the important elements of a successful site are: a name that’s easy to spell and remember, a design that reflects your brand, and content created for search engine optimization (SEO). Content should include an “about us” or biography page, contact information, the ability to subscribe, a press section, booking information, and social media connections.
- Create accounts on the “Big 4” social networks.
Facebook—Regardless of how you feel about Facebook, you still need a presence on it for no other reason than its 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. A personal site is a way to gain some momentum before you make the leap.
Twitter—People who dismiss Twitter likely 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.
YouTube—Videos are such a major part of any musician, artist, or band’s online presence that you need your own channel to exploit them successfully.
Instagram—Instagram participation is not yet a necessity, but it’s growing and has a number of unique features that work particularly well for the music business.
Other networks—There are a ton of other social networks and many of them might deserve your attention at some point. There comes a point where the amount of time invested versus the potential outcome just doesn’t balance out. This is why you should probably stay with the previous four networks, or even just a few of them, until you’re really comfortable. Then, you might decide to take on another one. The only exception would be if a big portion of your audience is on a particular network other than the “Big 4.” In that case, you might want to substitute that network for Instagram.
- Use a social media broadcast app for all your updates. An app like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite is one of the keys to streamlining the process. It saves time and makes what you do online more efficient.
- Develop your social media sites so they all feed viewers into your website. The key is to make sure that any viewer on any site is aware that you have a website and knows that it’s the main repository of information about you.
- Be sure that email list subscribers from all sites go to the same master list provider. Different mailing lists don’t do you much good if you have to create a separate newsletter blast for each one.
- Find third party help when you get to the point where you’re overwhelmed. As your popularity grows, at some point social media management may get too complex to maintain and third-party help is needed. This is usually a good thing, since that means you’ve progressed to where 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 are still the one who drives the bus. Be sure to take part in all strategy discussions, but leave the actual facilitation to the company or person that you hired.
Today, having a sound social media strategy is the key to successful promotion. The order of importance of your online components should be: website, mailing list, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram, blog. The order for social networks may shift, but your website and mailing list should remain the most important.
Bobby Owsinski covers each of these components to your online strategy in-depth in the second edition of Social Media Promotion for Musicians: The Manual for Marketing Yourself, Your Band, and Your Music Online, available at BobbyOwsinski.com.