(By Sunny Stuart Winter for SunnyStuartWinter.com )
So you're a band or artist that wants to grow a large, authentic social media following? Read on...
Still in its infancy, social media is constantly undergoing change. Due to it's ever-evolving state, that advice you were given a year or two ago is probably out of date, especially if you got it off YouTube from one of many 'experts' tipping you to spam-follow users to grow your following 'because it looks good' to have lots of followers.
Please, for the love of God, don't.
I receive dozens of emails every day from upcoming artists (and I will eventually reply; please be patient) who, along with generic genre descriptions that generally feature the same phrases will also include "we have X amount of followers on Twitter / Facebook / Bebo". Now this might have held some value in years gone by but those in and around the Music Industry are now savvy to spotting true fan communities. It's not about the number of followers you have on Facebook or Twitter (those can, and often are, bought), it's about engagement with your fans, how many are talking about you online and MOST IMPORTANTLY, how many are turning up to your gigs?
Paying punters checking out your live gig performances are the ONLY true indicator of how popular your band is.
How To Get Your Voice Heard
I know how difficult it is to stand out, to have your voice heard in an online room of constant noise, but your time (and money) can be used far more wisely than mass following strangers, sending out automatic DMs or constantly trying to sell your music.
It’s all about the relationship now. The general rule is an 80% / 20% split3 on social media whereby only 20% of the time should you be looking to sell your music, with the majority of the time being an expression of your personality, talking casually with followers, asking them questions about anything but your music, discussing the things that you care about and sharing content that is inherently ‘you’.
When you create a true relationship with authentic followers, you have a stronger bond and one that, when you invoke the 20% of the golden rule, will often lead to them actually wanting to take an interest in your music.
Everything about you and your music is your brand. If potential fans only see you selling your music without offering insight into the people behind the music, with one-way dialogue, those potential fans will never convert to a reality.
Why Less Is More
One click on your followers and I can tell instantly if they’re authentic or not. And I’m certainly not the only one. Dozens of nameless profiles with few posts indicate you’ve paid for them and that is an immediate turn off. Just a simple click through of some of those that follow you will prove to me whether they’re legitimate, whether they’re likely to turn up at your shows or whether they’re just another number.
If you have money to burn, use it authentically using Facebook or Twitter ads. Yes, your follower count may not go up as much as you buying 1000 fake friends, but… they’re real, they talk back... hell, they might even come to a show or two.
What you ideally want is social media users telling their friends to follow you. Do you think that’s more likely when you spam them coldly, or when you engage in conversation with them and they connect with the ‘real’ you?
How To Win Followers & Influence People
I’ll keep this succinct and to the point. I hope this helps. If it does, tweet me @sunnynorwich to let me know. If it doesn’t (or if you have further questions) …tweet me @sunnynorwich and let me know:
Ideally, try to post something at least once a day on the different social media platforms (but it’s okay to miss a day here and there).
Photos and videos do much better than text-only tweets these days.
You’ll need to spend money on Facebook to grow a following on there because of its terrible algorithms (either that or have some very dedicated friends who will invite people on your behalf and turn on notifications).
Comment on Twitter’s trending topics (and others’ conversations who are already tweeting about it) for an easy way to start new conversations with potential followers.
Once you’ve built up an authentic following, don’t be afraid to occasionally ask for others to retweet your most important content to get it out further. Just don’t abuse their kindness or you may end up losing them.
There are some great tools out there to help you manage your social media. I really recommend Buffer for scheduling content and analysis.
As always, this whole blog is written for the good of the scene, to give bands and artists the knowledge and ideas to be self-sufficient and reach their potential. I don't make money from this blog, I just want to help create a thriving global music scene. If you have found this blog post interesting, taken away some tips or have generally thought it to be worth your time, please share it on social media and tag me in. The more people reading this, (hopefully) the more people it will help.