Social media has all but taken over the marketing and promotions industries. Using social media creatively and effectively is essential for the success of musicians, from major label pop stars to DIY indie bands. With a strong presence across social media platforms, modern day artists can conceivably tap into millions, even billions, of potential fans. Similarly, promoters, presenters, marketers and other professionals in the music business need to be savvy with the many forms of social media to keep up with today’s globalized sharing community and marketplace.
But many musicians shy away from “shameless self-promotion” through social media. It can seem daunting, not to mention uncomfortably egocentric. And the new generation of digital natives can, at times, tend to self-promote too much, saturating their social media to the point of turning off potential fans. So how does one navigate and make use of such a valuable promotional platform? The answer is market research, strategy and effort, just as with any traditional promotional campaign. The Frost School of Music’s online Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries (MBEI) strives to help students understand effective marketing and promotional techniques, integrating them into flexible, evolving social media application.
How Do Marketing Strategies Apply to Social Media?
Many think the modern world of social media marketing means having to develop entirely new strategies for promoting music. To some extent, that is true. Promoters (and self-promoting musicians) need to learn how to use the many different social media platforms and keep current on what techniques work best within and across those platforms.
But the fundamental marketing strategies used in successful social media promotion remain essentially the same. Take market research, for example. No matter the product, the seller and the promoter/marketer need to know what their product is and, specifically, who their target audience is (demographic, region, etc.) according to market precedent and forecasting. They should research what media and mode(s) of advertisement will reach that target audience most effectively. Furthermore, time of day, rate of promotional advertisements/events, and content length or style can all play an important role in the efficiency and overall success of a campaign.
The exact same parameters hold true for promoting through social media. Whether you are an agent representing a band or a musician promoting your own band, you need to know the intended target audience for your music or, more importantly, who will most likely want to hear your music. Targeting that audience specifically can help you get the best return for your time or financial investment in promotion. Research what social media platforms that target audience regularly uses and when are the best times to post to that platform for the most potential shares and reach.
Ideally, look further into what kinds of content your target audience responds to most favorably (auditory, written, visual, etc.), and create content in that vein to entice more fan interaction and loyalty. Maybe you are in an underground indie band and your DIY-centric fan base loves being part of the creative process. Involve and engage them. Have an album art contest for fans to submit to through Facebook. Use that contest to promote the upcoming record release. Unveil the winner at a pre-release show (which the Facebook contest will also help promote). Put up the winning cover art on Instagram and Twitter, linking to the artist/fan. Your fans share it with their friends, and your promotional reach grows exponentially.
How Can Musicians and Promoters Conduct Market Research?
So how do you research and conduct your social media marketing accordingly? It can seem daunting, but with the exponential growth of social media communities comes a corresponding exponential increase in big data available, as well as analytics tools. Numerous free or paid services like Google Analytics can help break down the vast amount of data from social media website traffic, trends, band website hits, etc., giving you actionable information.
You can use this data to figure out exactly what audience has reacted well to your specific genre of music and which social media platform(s) they primarily use. Or you can analyze it to determine what kinds of promotion and advertisement your target audience responds to most positively. Or, of course, you can go with the more traditional approach of finding a similar band and researching what has worked well for them.
What Are the Most Important Social Media Platforms?
The answer depends entirely on your target audience and all of their media consumption habits. Facebook reigns supreme, with a “community” of over two billion users worldwide. Interestingly, Facebook’s users are spread fairly evenly among age groups, so even those targeting senior citizens may find luck on the juggernaut platform. Plus, Facebook integrates video, images, link sharing, as well as short and long form text posts. So, with it, you can focus promotions using various kinds of media content toward different audiences who consume that specific media.
Instagram users are slightly younger, but the demographics are still fairly evenly spread. And, being primarily geared toward images and short video, Instagram can be very effective in getting important information to fans in an attention-grabbing way, as well as letting fans feel a part of your everyday life (or that of the musician you represent). This is even more the case now that Instagram implemented its “story” feature, a string of stills and short videos posted by users, drawing viewers through their day.
This story feature on Instagram is a very near approximation of Snapchat, used mostly by a younger population (and to good effect by promoters targeting younger audiences). Twitter is also a good medium for carrying fans through an artist’s daily experiences and thoughts in oft-posted brief format.
Overall, successful social media promotion is based on time-tested marketing research and techniques blended with current digital know-how. The above are just a few examples of how you can apply research and marketing strategy effectively to social media promotion. There are new social platforms popping up every year, so staying current can be tricky. But, when used creatively and intelligently, each one can provide yet another usable medium for promoting music to a particular market.
Learn more about Frost’s online Master of Music in MBEI program.
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