Effectively promoting your music on social media doesn’t need to be complicated. However, it does require you to adopt the right mindset and put the work in. Here are 21 game-changing tips for effective social media promotion as an independent band or artist:
1. Adopt The Right Mindset
Before we dive into some of the more practical tips, we need to establish the correct mindset for effective social media promotion. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You are owed nothing: Many independent bands and artists mistakenly think that working hard on their music automatically entitles them to floods of engagement. The fact is that making music does not entitle you to other people’s time and attention. It’s your job to provide value to the consumer, not the consumer’s job to provide value to you.
- The music alone is not enough: Whilst the music itself will certainly act as the cornerstone of your project, it’s not the only thing that matters. Your audience will expect a wide range of content on a regular basis.
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint: Social media success takes sustained time and effort. Whilst you’ll have to work on it every day, it’s possible that you won’t see any real results for the first few months. Adopt a long-term view and practice delayed gratification.
2. Be Selfless
As previously mentioned, many independent musicians feel they’re owed something purely because they’ve written some music. As a result, their social media promotion comes off as inherently selfish. They’ll often resort to begging others to listen to their music, expressing how much a listen would mean to the band or how hard they’ve worked on it. The fact is that no one cares about you unless you’ve given them a reason to. ‘It would mean the world to us if you checked out our latest single’ essentially translates as ‘we think you should spend three minutes of your time fuelling our egos’. Whilst this might not be the message you intend to portray, this is exactly how it’s received by your audience.
Your job as a band or artist is to actively better the lives of others through art and culture. As a result, it’s key to take a totally selfless approach to social media marketing. Place the needs of audience & industry before your personal needs and tailor you content to best-benefit the consumer.
3. Craft An Unmistakable Visual Identity
Indie Panda breaks identity down into two key aspects:
- Sonic identity: The identity portrayed through your music (such as the genre and signature traits).
- Visual identity: The identity portrayed through the cultural and personable aspects of your project (artist personality & lifestyle, artwork & branding, fashion sense etc.)
As outlined in the first tip, the music alone is simply not enough; fans connect to visual identity just as much as sonic identity. Here are a few pointers on honing and leveraging your visual identity on social media:
- Be personable and authentic: Taking a personable and authentic approach to social media marketing will allow your audience to trust and connect with you.
- Communicate your interests and opinions: Often times, fans will want to support artists with a similar background and personality to themselves. Leveraging your interests and opinions is a fantastic way to take advantage of this.
- Ensure your branding effectively represents the cultural and personable aspects of your project: Think how your promotional pictures & artwork could effectively represent your genre, lyrical content, personality and lifestyle.
4. Exude Star Quality
Whilst this is can often be a bitter pill to swallow, people buy into other people rather than products. Fans will generally want to support and follow artists who they can admire and look up to. As a result, audience & industry seek good-looking, charismatic & entertaining musicians. Here are a couple of pointers on crafting and exuding star quality:
- Look great: Looks do matter in the music industry. No matter what your target market is, it’s essential that you look appropriate. However, if you’re targeting a more mainstream market, looking attractive will certainly give you an edge. If you’d like to know more about how to leverage your looks for industry success, check out our dedicated article.
- Leverage your individual personality: As previously mentioned, people are more likely to buy into other people over products. Exuding your individual personality on social media is a fantastic way to appeal to your target audience.
5. Allocate A Distinct Role For Each Social Media Channel
All-too-many bands and artists update their social media by copying-and-pasting the exact same piece of content across every channel. This is a problem for three reasons:
- It’s spammy: Seeing the same content over and over again across multiple platforms will train your audience to automatically tune out from your content
- Your overall social media following won’t grow evenly: What’s the point of following you on Instagram if you’re posting the exact same content as you do on Facebook?
- It fails to take advantage of each platform’s unique features: Each social media channel has a distinct set of unique features that can be leveraged throughout your marketing. Failing to tailor your content to each channel limits your ability to do this.
Here’s an example of effective social media role allocation for a live show:
- Facebook post announcing the show
- Instagram post promoting tickets
- Twitter Q&A on the day of the show
- Instagram story updates during the show (tagging the other bands on the bill etc.)
- Spotify playlist the day after the show (featuring songs from each band that played)
- YouTube Vlog a week after the show, featuring behind-the-scenes content from the show
6. Create A Diverse Range Of Content For Each Channel
In today’s throwaway social media culture, users expect to be constantly engaged and entertained. As a result, it’s important to consistently create a diverse range of content. This has two main advantages:
- Caters to a diverse audience: Different people value different forms of content. Posting a diverse range of content allows you to cater to as diverse of an audience as you possibly can.
- Keeps your audience on their toes: Posting a diverse range of content will give your audience a valid reason to engage with everything you post.
7. Engage & Promote Other Industry Operators
One simple way to really stand out from the crowd on social media is to engage and promote other industry operators. These can include other bands and artists, radio stations, bloggers and promoters. If you actively promote other industry operators without directly expecting anything in return, you’re essentially planting a seed that has the potential to flourish over time. Here’s my foolproof guide to effectively promoting and engaging other industry operators:
- Create a hit list of suitable operators: The key word here is suitable. Make sure that the operator you’re targeting is suitable for both your style of music and the size of your fanbase. Whilst this might seem an obvious point, I’m consistently amazed by how many bands and artists get this wrong.
- Become an active fan of each operator: Engage with their content and share it on your own social media channels. It’s important to do this without directly expecting anything in return. In other words, don’t push your music on them at this stage. People will see straight through you if you’re not being genuine.
- Pitch your project: After a few weeks of engaging and promoting an operator, you might consider pitching your own project to them. When doing so, make sure you include all relevant information so the operator won’t have to go searching for anything.
- Follow-up and sustain your support: After you’ve pitched your project, it’s important to keep engaging and promoting the operator. This shows genuine interest and can lead to further opportunities.
If you’d like a few more pointers on how to effectively promote and engage other industry operators, check out our article ‘How To Submit Your Music To Radio Stations‘.
8. Follow The 60/30/10 Rule
The 60/30/10 rule is a phenomenal social media marketing technique designed to maximize interaction & engagement:
- 60% of your content should be engaging content. This could be an interesting picture/video or a post that leverages an interactive tool.
- 30% of your content should be shared content. This is usually content that’s been curated by other industry operators.
- 10% of your content should promote your own work (music, gigs, merch etc.)
The reason the 60/30/10 rule works so well is because it forces you to provide maximum value to both audience & industry. Therefore, audience & industry will be much more likely to provide you with value in return.
9. Post On A Consistent Basis
It’s crucial to post social media content on a consistent basis for two reasons:
- It keeps your project relevant: As previously outlined, people expect to be constantly engaged and entertained on social media. In addition, you’re in competition with other industry operators, brands, influencers and cat memes. Posting content on a consistent basis will ensure your project stays relevant.
- It allows your project to grow at a steady rate: Posting relevant, engaging content on a consistent basis ensures consistent growth.
10. Run Competitions & Giveaways
Competitions & giveaways are a fantastic way to promote yourself at low-cost. Giveaway items might include merch, handwritten lyric sheets or gig tickets. Here are two key tips for running an effective competition or giveaway:
- Ensure it’s well-targeted: You’ll want your competition or giveaway to strongly appeal to your target audience. That way, you’ll be able to retain their attention once the competition or giveaway has passed.
- Incentivize social sharing: Encouraging users to follow your social media channels or share one of your posts serves as a fantastic source of promotion.
11. Find Your Own Voice
In other words, provide content that users simply can’t get elsewhere. This significantly strengthens your online presence and allows you to stand out from the crowd. Instead of blatantly copying what other successful bands and artists are doing, try and come up with something totally unique.
Finding your own voice also enables you to play to your strengths, meaning the content you create will come across as both sincere and convincing.
12. Ensure Your Branding Is Consistent Across Your Entire Social Media Presence
It’s essential to make it as easy as possible for your audience to find you across different social media channels. There are two main branding aspects that need to be consistent across every channel:
- Your username: I can’t express the importance of picking a single username to use across each of your social media channels enough. It can be immensely frustrating for both audience & industry to have to scour through various social media channels trying to find you.
- Your profile picture: Give audience & industry the confidence they’ve found the right artist by using the same primary promotional picture across each of your social media channels.
13. Have Your Own Website
Many independent musicians mistakenly think that social media has eradicated the need for a dedicated website. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A dedicated website offers several key benefits:
- You have full control: Whilst social media is a necessary aspect of independent music marketing, you’re essentially relying on a platform you have absolutely no control over. A social media channel can (and will) publish an update that could severely hinder your reach or strategy literally overnight. Whilst Facebook pages once had an average engagement rate of over 60%, it has since fallen to less than 2%. Having your own dedicated platform allows you to control what content people see, when they see it and how long they see it for.
- It exudes professionalism: There’s no doubt that having your own website lets audience & industry know that you’re serious.
- It serves as a rendevouz for all your activity: A website allows you to display all of your online and offline activity in one place. It’s far easier to direct people to a single comprehensive resource rather than five separate social media channels.
- It cuts out the middleman: If you’re using a third party to sell gig tickets or merch, you’re probably paying that third party a cut of your earnings. Selling on your own platform cuts out the middleman and allows you to keep a greater percentage of your profits.
If you’re looking to get started with your own website, you’ll have to go through a hosting service. I’d thoroughly recommend Bluehost, who offer hosting options from under $4 a month and include a free domain and SSL certificate. If you’d like more information on building an optimizing an effective website, check out our article ‘Do Bands Need Websites Anymore?‘.
14. Build An Email List
An email list is an essential, yet vastly-underused aspect of independent music marketing. An email list has two key advantages over social media platforms:
- You audience is more secure: This point goes hand-in-hand with having your own website. Whilst email still isn’t your own platform, it’s much less susceptible to drastic updates in the same way social media channels are.
- Your audience is more tailored: Whilst your email audience probably won’t be as sizeable as your social media audience, those who sign up are showing a significant level of interest in your music. In addition, they’re granting you outright permission to sell to them. Email lists are a fantastic way of announcing and selling new music, merch and gig tickets.
If you’re looking to get started with building an email list, I’d highly recommend industry-leader MailChimp.
15. Interlink All Of Your Social Media Channels
This might seem small, but it can significantly improve the user experience on your social media channels. Interlinking your pages allows potential new fans to quickly find and follow you across your entire social media presence. This helps your overall social media following grow at an even rate.
16. Make It Easy For People To Listen To Your Music Quickly
This is one that consistently seems to escape independent bands and artists. It’s immensely frustrating for users to have to scour through your social media channels to find music to listen to. Depending on the social media platform, it’s well-worth pinning music to the top of your page or at least having music within your five most-recent posts.
17. Leverage Interactive Tools
Interaction is a huge part of social media success. Most social media platforms feature fantastic interactive tools, such as Twitter’s ‘Retweet’ feature or Instagram’s story stickers. If you get your audience into the habit of interacting with your day-to-day social media content, they’ll be much more likely to interact with your call-to-action content.
18. Use Video Where Possible
Video is one of the best tools you can leverage on social media for two primary reasons:
- It’s engaging: Video engages both the auditory and visual senses, whereas text or images only engage one or the other. In addition, the brain is much more likely to retain visual content.
- It leverages your visual identity: Video is a fantastic way to communicate your visual identity, allowing your audience to form a personal connection with you.
19. Leverage ‘Searchable’ Platforms
One problem with traditional social media channels (such as Facebook and Twitter) is that your content will often be buried forever a couple of hours after it’s posted. Leveraging ‘searchable’ platforms such as Google, YouTube or Pinterest allow each piece of content to receive sustained engagement over the course of several years.
20. Use Pictures As A ‘Track Record’
Your social media channels essentially act as a CV for both audience & industry. When potential new fans land on one of your social media channels, they’ll expect an extensive backlog of content. Similarly, an industry operator will expect to see content that shows you’re an active and successful band. Posting pictures of each show, rehearsal and recording session will actively communicate both your work ethic and level of success.
21. Reflect & Review On A Regular Basis
It baffles me just how many independent bands and artists continue to make the same mistakes over and over again without thinking to try something different. It’s vital to regularly reflect and review your social media strategy for two reasons:
- To adapt to platform changes: Social media evolves constantly; what works well today might not work at all tomorrow. In addition, social media channels regularly introduce new tools and features which you can create new content for.
- To strengthen your strategy: Regularly reflecting on your social media strategy allows you to leverage your strengths and remedy your weaknesses.