Gone are the days of easily marketing yourself on social media for free or poster bombing the entire city (or at least not in a way that is easily achieved). It's becoming increasingly difficult in this day and age to generate the desired level of audience engagement without sinking some serious coin into boosting posts, or paying someone else to do it for you. Here are some basic ideas you can implement into your marketing strategies as a new band to get the most out of your social media presence.
1. Use each platform for its intended purpose
While there are plenty of other platforms that can be used to great effect, the main places that people will be expecting the bulk of your online presence to be are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Simply speaking, the basic functions of these four platforms are community engagement, photo sharing, discussion board and video sharing respectively, and it is important to use each one for what they are designed for. It can be done, but using Instagram as a place for discussion and sharing your videos to Twitter is not the most productive way to ustilise these tools to maximise their efficiency.
Concentrating on being consistent in the way you use each of these outlets will allow you to have the most control on how audiences interact with your content, and enable you to more easily cross promote. Uploading a short snippet of video to Instagram to direct your fans to your YouTube channel or using a discussion on Twitter to better inform how to approach your posts on Facebook is the best way to play the game.
2. Plan your posts ahead of time
This point and the following one are quite closely related. The further ahead you plan out what you are attempting to acheive with what you post to socials, the more you will be able to maximise their usefulness. Quite often bands will simply think "We need to post about this new merch run" without really considering the reason why they should. The answer should be "Because we need to make people aware that we have some new items to sell," but you need to consider what you are actually trying to accomplish before you try to develop a method of doing so, and not the other way around.
Planning out what your next steps are will allow you to see the bigger picture of what the current priority of your band is at this moment in time, and allow you to use these social media tools to make your goals a reality. Being on the back foot will make it increasingly likely that you barrage your audience with boring or uninteresting content, and with people's attention spans growing progressively shorter, it's a good way to quickly cause them to lose interest.
3. Spam won't achieve anything, other than to annoy people
So you've just gathered together a group of friends to create some music that you're super excited about – great. Is every person on your friends list going to share that same level of excitement? Most likely, the answer is: Absolutely not. The age old phrase of "Big things coming soon" is an ever-present reality, but that doesn't mean you should say it every few hours.
If you dont have anything important to share with people currently, you're probably better off not mentioning anything at all. If you're worried that you've been inactive for too long, that's fine, but devise a way to show that you are still alive and kicking in an interesting way, without sharing things purely for the sake of it.
Additionally, sending a copy-pasted message to every person you know telling them to check out your band is also more than likely going to annoy them and cause them to go out of their way to avoid it, as opposed to gaining some much needed exposure. It's really important to make sure that you are focusing on creating engaging and interesting content before you start trying to hassle people about it, and forcing it down people's throats is not going to achieve the results you're hoping for.
4. Monitor your insights and analytics closely
The one aspect of social media that remains completely free at this point in time is also your most useful tool: Analytics. Every time someone clicks on, views or comments on anything you post, each of these insights are immediately tracked and available for you to analyse to your heart's content. Paying particular attention to when and where your posts are gaining the most engagement can help you to maximise the impact of whatever important information you have to share with your audience.
Posting something at 2PM on Tuesday when most people are at work is very unlikely to yield the same results as it would have done at 7PM on a Sunday when most people are at home on their computers. Being aware of how your audience is interacting with you and running test posts or looking back at previously successful posts will enable you to develop better strategies. This way, when you have something important to announce, such as a single release or an upcoming show, there's a much better chance your audience will actually be paying attention.
5. Pay attention to artists who are killing it on social media, and never think that you know best
If you notice that a particular artist is getting a huge amount of attention online, it is almost never by chance. The meticulous planning and analysis we've been discussing here are almost wholly responsible for being able to maintain engagement. It's important to identify what it is that these people are doing well, and find a way to adopt these tactics in your own promotional strategy in a way that works for you.
Lastly, don't ever think that you know everything or have your marketing strategies completely down pat. There will always be someone who has more experience and knowledge than you do. Always be on the lookout for new and different ways to approach what you've been doing, and listen to and learn from anyone who has been in the game longer than you in order to use what they have to say to evolve your approach to promoting your band.
An open mind and the ability to think outside the box will enable you to give the music and content that you spend so much of your precious time, effort and money creating to the people who will appreciate and enjoy it.
Image via Nicolas LB.