Putting the Social in Social Media: Do’s and Don’ts for Musicians

Although I was unable to attend this year, I did attend the CD Baby DIY convention (which I highly recommend) the last 2 years in a row. A great deal of info and insight into the “New” music biz, but it might as well have been called the CD Baby DIY Social Media for Musicians convention because that pretty much IS the New Music Biz… Social Media. That being said, most musicians are trying their best to make use of various platforms and find their way to stay afloat amidst an ocean of other musicians doing the same. To help you be more efficient and professional as a musician, here are some Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media. Since I like to always end on a positive note I will go with the Don’ts first.

1) Don’t Send Spammy Messages

Don’t send random people or people you don’t yet know messages like “Hey check out my stuff” with a link or even worse…just sending a link to a song or video without any introduction, explanation, or reason especially if they haven’t asked for it. Yes, I know as musicians we ALL want everyone to hear our music and throw it out there to as many people as possible but that is basically just Spam. If I were selling cars and just sent you a link without you knowing me to sell you a car would you be receptive to that? Probably not but that’s pretty much what is being done when you just message a short copy/pasted message and a link or a link by itself.

At least take the time to start a conversation with the person or an introduction to you and your music. Think about it, you are asking someone you don’t know to take time out of their day to listen to your song or watch your video. Isn’t your song or video worth you taking the time to give someone an enticing reason to check it out?

2) Don’t Follow To Unfollow

Don’t “Follow” just to get Follows and then un-follow people. I’m not sure which marketing Einstein in the world of buying Follows thought this was a good idea but it’s just not. The days of gaining Industry attention just because you have a Zillion “Likes” or followers is gone. Even companies that pay for endorsements are much more interested in your audience ENAGAGEMENT not so much how many Likes/Followers you have. Those things can be purchased (Not a smart move) but engagement is REAL. There had been a trend on my Instagram page over the last few months of me getting follows from many musicians only for me to find they then un-followed me once I followed them back.

Not only does this make you look unprofessional and only about yourself but how can you engage with someone when you are no longer following them? I’m not sure why companies that charge to get you followers and then unfollow people think that’s smart marketing? I even got a DM on Instagram from such a company that said “we get you more followers and then automatically unfollow them for you” to which I replied… “Well that’s pretty Sh***Y…” I never heard back from them. But it is. Again, the key is engagement. Build a legit audience of people that want to be there and that you want to be there. On that note…

3) Don’t Buy Followers

Don’t buy Followers. Here’s the scenario, you get an IG follower, you go to their profile and they have 23.3K followers, they are following 86 people and have 4 posts…yeah, that looks authentic (I say with utmost sarcasm). Yes, it does look a little better if you have more followers than people you follow but something that extreme when they only have 4 things they have posted is obviously fishy.

4) Don’t Get Political

Don’t get Political on Social Media… the exception being if you are a Political type of musician and that is what you write/sing about. It would then be part of your identity or brand. Social Media has unfortunately become a burning ground for hateful comments that often lead to name calling etc. and as an artist the idea is to bring as many people as possible into your musical world not alienate them and unfortunately few things will turn someone away faster than a political disagreement. Even if a fan agrees with your viewpoint another fan may not and posts can often quickly lead to hatred among one fan to another so you have to ask yourself, is that something you want to encourage? Probably not. Best to keep some personal things personal which is the perfect segue into…

5) Don’t Rant

I am guilty of this and probably we all are to some degree. Whether it’s a 4am on a Saturday night after “a few too many” type post or just so upset at something you have to let it out somewhere, Social Media is usually not the place and more often than not you will end up regretting it and wishing you hadn’t… been there done that.

6) Don’t get overwhelmed

Again, I am very guilty. It’s time consuming, there’s so many platforms, it’s hard to keep up with but in the “Do” section I will offer some tips to help with this.

OK, enough of the don’ts lets go out with a positive bang! Here are some things to do to help make Social Media work better for you.

1) Do Consider All The Options

But that doesn’t mean you have to be on all of them. Are you mostly a visual musician? Then YouTube or Instagram might be better for you. Not such a visual artist but you have a way with words? Maybe Twitter is a better option. Is your musical demographic more middle-aged to older female… possibly Pinterest? A big mistake I made and many make is trying to be all things to all platforms. Yes, in a perfect world that would have the most reach but do you really have time and want to devote that much time to try to keep up with all that? Try different platforms and see what works best for you.

2) Do Pick The Right Platforms

Pick the platform(s) that work best for you. There many (too many in my opinion if you look at even just the most popular ones) but they don’t all work the same and they won’t all work the same for you. Obviously, Facebook is the big one but as far as a personal page, you can only have up to 5000 friends. I am always maxed out and that’s where most of my engagement takes place is on my personal page so at this point, I’ve found it doesn’t work all that well for me for promoting my music. I’m maxed so I can’t gain new “friends” on there… enter the next Do…

3) Do Have A Facebook Artist Page

Artist pages have no limit (that I’m aware of) regarding followers. If you’re already active on Facebook, they are a great way to increase the number of people you can connect with. The problem with an artist page (for me anyway) is that engagement seems to not be as effective and FB is constantly pushing you to “Boost” your posts which personally, I don’t recommend. Most will tell you it’s pretty much a waste of money and if you were going to go that route, a Facebook Ad would be much better use of your money.

4) Do Be Yourself

Rock Stars of decades ago always had a “mystique” about them. They were unattainable. Not anymore. With Social Media everyone knows what everyone else had for breakfast, whether they want to or not. Even if you’re trying to create a persona, be genuine about it. It’s way too easy with Social Media for people to find out when something or someone’s not real.

5) Do Make It Easy For People

If you want to direct your listeners to your music, other Social Media sites, or be able to contact you, make it easy for them. Have links posted where they are easy to find. Instagram only allows one link but you can use an easy free tool called Link Tree (https://linktr.ee/) which allows your one link to link out to other sites. If you do message someone to check out your music or a video (again, engage or introduce first) be sure to INCLUDE the link. This may sound obvious but just last week a new follower on Twitter sent me a nice message asking me check out his video and I was actually going to but he didn’t include a direct link to it? Think about that, he’s asking me to take time out of my day to watch his video which I was going to do but now I have to search for it?

Never give anyone in the industry or your fans a reason to say NO. The Internet attention span is so short that asking someone to search for YOUR music is not only taking more time out of their day but also giving them the opportunity to get sidetracked in doing so. Always make it as easy as possible for the listener, your fans, and especially anyone in the music biz. You are asking for their time and for them to do you a favor.

6) Do Direct Your Audience To Your Website

You do have one right? You’re not JUST relying on a Facebook page are you? What if Markie Z decides he wants to sell FB and it changes or heaven forbid gets shut down? You have more control over your own website and very importantly, it’s much less likely someone will fall down a Social Media Rabbit Hole on your website than they would on YouTube. Yeah, I fall down the YT Rabbit Hole almost daily. Also, your own website is the easiest way to…

7) Do Get Email Addresses

Something that’s not so easy on Social Media but can be done. An email is the easiest, most direct, and most effective way to communicate with your audience. All Social Media platforms have their limitations. A personal email gives you total control of how you interact with your listeners. Twitter and Facebook allow you to post links, (although FB doesn’t like it when you link out to YouTube) but Instagram does not. Email allows you use links, embed images, and can have much more of a personal touch.

8) Do provide something of value

The statistics change daily but think of how many hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. How many musicians there are on Facebook and Instagram. Why should someone choose your page over the countless thousands of others? Because you give them a reason to. Provide valuable content and I don’t just mean your music for free. Give them other reasons to come to your page and want to be a part of your musical world. There is a ton of free music out there and obviously more videos on YouTube that can be watched in a lifetime. Why should they choose you? Because you are providing content that covers one of the four E’s of Social Media Content… Educate, Empower, Entertain, or Engage. To paraphrase Field Of Dreams…if you provide this, they will come. Does your music do one of these four things? If not, add some other content that does to bring people to your music.

9) Do Engage With Your Following

The last “DO” is the last “E”…ENGAGE. Yes, I know I have mentioned that already a few times but that is the most important of all. Engage with your friends, fans, followers however you wish to refer to them. Why is this SO important? Remember MySpace? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Why did it fall by the way side when there were so many musicians using it? Because it basically became a billboard for “hey, check out my stuff”. It was not a platform set up for engagement. All other popular current Social Media is, and engagement is how you truly bring people into your musical world. It’s also how your followers get to know you and most importantly build up trust. Engaging goes both ways. There is a lot of talk these days about Social Media “Influencers” but you don’t really influence someone because you have a lot of “Likes” on your wall. You influence people by the conversations you have with them because at the end of the day we are not “Likes”, we are not “Followers”, we are People.

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