This is the fourth part in our complete musician’s guide to building your online presence. In Part 1, I introduced the guide and gave some homework to give you background. In Part 2, I covered how to build your website completely on Squarespace. In Part 3, I talked about how to sell your music everywhere online to everyone. In this column, we’re covering how to set up your social media.
Last year, I gave this advice to musicians regarding social media: pick one. In that article, I urged you to “Stop worrying about the best way to get discovered.” I’d like to add to that and say, “Start worrying about how best to communicate and engage your audience.”
Too many bands (and brands and individuals) make the mistake of trying to keep up social media presences on every popular social medium. It ruins the whole experience for the people updating those accounts and the audience following them. Here are some short guidelines to help you get your musical social media presence in line.
Pick the right social media
You want to spend your energy in the right place. Pick the social media you can keep up. Pick the ones — as crazy as it may sound — that are fun for you to keep updated. The ones that are fun for you to use are the ones where you’re going to share the most engaging content. It’s fine to experiment and sign up for everything at first but you’ll figure out what really gets your attention.
As a side note: if you’re in a band, maybe the members can divide up the social media responsibilities. Maybe one person enjoys Instagram more than Twitter. Split ’em up! And if you’re a solo artist to whom it is all overwhelming, heed the advice I linked above: pick one.
Your fans are going to sense the energy you put into your favorite social medium and respond in kind. They’re also going to know if you’re phoning it in. Better to have one space that you’re excited to update than five that bore you.
Try to get the same name everywhere
You’ve probably already thought about this. It’s not imperative but it is good to try to get the same handle everywhere. You want to make it easy for your fans to find you wherever they may be.
Put the right content on each network
Once you’re on a social medium or a few, you’re going to have to figure out what works best on each medium. For example, a full-length song on video isn’t going to upload to Instagram. Instead of clipping it to the 30-second limit, consider creating unique video content for Instagram. Those are both more engaging for the audience there and they show you’ve put the energy into making something unique there.
Likewise, Facebook might work for longer videos or blog style posts that would benefit from comments from your audience. But Twitter might be better for brief comments in conversation.
Let’s review some social media sin
Social Media Sins
Don’t duplicate your content everywhere
While you’re considering the right content to share on each network, think about this: don’t share the same content everywhere. I’m speaking purely as an audience member here: man, is it annoying to follow a band on a couple of media and see the same post everywhere.
Don’t link updates from one network to another
Likewise, it is so annoying to open Twitter and see a tweet that is nothing but a link to Facebook. Nope, sorry, I’m not jumping from Twitter to Facebook to see a link you didn’t even bother describing. Use Twitter or Facebook or Twitter and Facebook but don’t sign up for a Twitter account and make it a pure feed to Facebook. That’s useless. People use the networks for different reasons.
Don’t post all at once
Along with those sins, there is this rule: don’t post the same update to every network all at once. I hate seeing the exact same content on every network and I also hate seeing it all at once. It’s extremely frustrating when a band I like posts the same thing everywhere AND breaks guideline #5 above. You know those accounts where you see their Twitter announcement about a show and right below it in your timeline a tweet that is just a link to Facebook announcing the same thing.
Don’t post to your personal account and your band account at the same time
Again, it’s so annoying to see the same post appear one after another when a person follows a friend and that friend’s band. Give it an hour or two before you post on your personal account.
All of these “sins” really amount to the same message to your audience: I’m phoning it in. Just as important as what you share and where, you have to think about when and how. Social media — as I’m sure you know as a user — doesn’t work by just overrunning people with updates. You have to give your audience something interesting at the right time.
In a future article, we’ll review some tools to help you figure out the when and how to share. For now, start thinking about the social media on which you’d like to focus and what you can share on each.