The Musician’s Introductory Guide to Social Media

intro to social media
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As a new artist or band on your local music scene, social media marketing should be your bread and butter. It’s free, it’s easy to reach your targeted audience, it provides instant feedback, and you’re already familiar with some of the most popular channels, like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. I’ve picked a few of my favorites to help you figure out which channels will be best. I’d pick two and try to build an audience on them, any more than two and you’re begging for abuse.

Facebook

Logo Name URL Usability Audience
Facebook Logo Facebook facebook.com
Great

Fair

Overview of Facebook

Facebook is great for communicating with your fans, if you have any. It is currently the largest social networking site on the planet, at 1.49 billion users, so it’s easy enough to start building an audience by recruiting your friends and family as fans, then ask them to recruit their friends and family, then ask those new fans to recruit their friends and family. It’s not a very good social network for organic growth, however, since so much emphasis is now on paid advertising. You will need to bring your fans with you or convince your friends to do some recruiting for you.

One of the strengths of Facebook is that you can turn every show into an event and invite all of your fans, plus your friends that aren’t already fans. You can also use Facebook for networking with other bands, which could lead to more shows and fans—you can easily find pages for active bands most anywhere in the world. Fan engagement is typically higher on Facebook than other social networking sites, and sharing photos, videos, and music is really easy.


Twitter

Logo Name URL Usability Audience
Twitter Logo Twitter twitter.com
Good

Great

Overview of Twitter

If growing your audience is of high importance to you, as it should be, look no further than the microblogging platform called Twitter. You can easily use Twitter to organically grow an international following pretty quickly—the average Twitter user has 208 followers. Don’t get too cocky about your following on Twitter though. How many of those Twitter fans are coming to your shows, buying your merchandise and music, or even engaging you in conversation? That’s where Twitter falls short for most musicians.

The good news is that, even if your Twitter followers seem to be ignoring most of what you share, each update may reach another person who wants to engage in conversation, buy your music, or come out to a show. Look for those diamonds in the rough and love them for being different.

Twitter makes it relatively easy to share videos, photos, and music. The bad part is that in a few minutes, your shared media is buried on feeds of people who follow you. So, repost stuff often, but not too often or risk losing many of your followers.


Instagram

Logo Name URL Usability Audience
Instagram Logo Instagram instagram.com
Fair

Fair

Overview of Instagram

Instagram is about 300 million users strong now, with about 70% of those users outside the United States and 70 million photos being shared each day. The downsides to Instagram are in the design and audience—the Web browser version is very limited in capabilities and the largest usage demographic, at 41% of users, are 16-24 years old. For some bands, this aligns perfectly with their target demographic, but if your band is mostly playing bars or festivals, you are probably targeting people ages 21-29, not 16-24.

If your band is targeting the right demographic for Instagram, however, there are some significant benefits to using this social platform. For these bands, the “usability” and “audience” ratings would be higher than 2-stars. Storytelling through photos and 15-second videos is a powerful approach to staying connected to your fans. You can recruit new fans through you’re use of the right hashtags. And you can even get fans to recruit their friends by tagging the band in their photos of your latest show.


Google+

Logo Name URL Usability Audience
Google+ Logo Google+ plus.google.com
Excellent

Fair

Overview of Google+

The main benefit to Google+ is the feature-rich interface. It reaches about 38% of the U.S. market and only makes up about 3% of social sharing worldwide. For bands that religiously use YouTube for uploading videos, however, Google+ shouldn’t be overlooked. Of all the social networking sites, Google+ plays the nicest with YouTube videos, which makes sense now that Google bought YouTube in 2006.

While you may decide not to use it as your primary social network, Google+ has grown into an all-in-one solution—similar to Facebook. You can create and manage events, share photos, videos, and music, and even take polls. It’s not a bad social networking site, by any means, it’s just not as big as some of its competitors.


WordPress

Logo Name URL Usability Audience
Wordpress Logo WordPress wordpress.com
Excellent

Poor

Overview of WordPress

If you don’t want to buy a domain for your band’s website right away, wordpress.com is an option that will cost you nothing. You can create your own place on the Internet, even without coding skills. There are thousands upon thousands of free themes available to use, and plugins can be used to display upcoming shows, embedding videos, and pretty much anything else that you might like to add.

Blogging platforms are great for storytelling, sharing photos, content marketing, displaying videos, social commenting, online merchandise sales, and music sharing. You will need to bring all of your own fans though, as it will take a lot of time and work to increase organic reach on search engines—the reason WordPress only receives 1-star for audience. When you’re ready to invest some money in a domain, you can use a free plugin to download your database from wordpress.com and install WordPress (download it from wordpress.org) on your domain to get up and running quickly.


Media-Sharing and Brand Growth Sites

One thing you probably noticed is that this introduction to social media sites doesn’t include media-sharing sites, like YouTube and SoundCloud. Sites aimed at providing tools for brand growth, such as ReverbNation, are also not included. They are not included because, even though many of them offer social features, they are not primarily social media sites.

Musicians should still use these services, but it’s best to focus on building a dedicated fanbase on social media platforms before worrying about how many people are watching your YouTube videos.


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