How to use Social Media if you’re a band or unknown artist

It’s 2012 now, artists are basically their own label if they choose to be and it’s fine climate to get heard. If you have the talent, all you need is a SoundCloud account and presence on the two major social networks: Facebook and Twitter. 

Chances are, you’re reading this post because I originally shared it on the social networks and either you or one of your friends clicked on it and maybe even shared it (thank you!). Another reason that you’re here because of Social Media is The Emancipation was written and the video was created as a result of collaborative social media. First and only record deal I’ve had that started as a Twitter DM – true story.

All that said, allow me to share some advice and mistakes I’ve made over the years so you can stop making them yourself. If I offended you, please let me know in the comments.

 

Stop all the cross-posting!

The biggest offender here is two-fold: feeding your Twitter to your Facebook or even worse: linking your Facebook to your Twitter and your Twitter to your MySpace to your ReverbNation to your Twitter.

@Twitter #language isn’t clickable/actionable in Facebook. Don’t import your twitter to your Facebook. Additionally, when you tweet often, your tweets get hidden in the news feed. Oh you had a big announcement? Sorry I didn’t see it, I didn’t click on the “See more posts from Twitter” in my News Feed.

I’ve seen the latter happen to where a post got tweeted 3 times: from MySpace, ReverbNation, and Facebook all with separate link structures (lnk.ms, fb.me, whatever RN does – this to Twitter looks like 3 separate posts, hence how they all came through). If you’re not gonna use Twitter – don’t. Nothing sucks more than trying to follow someone and their entire timeline is full of apps and truncated Facebook statuses repeated 3 times because they still use MySpace and are having another go at “the music thing.” Kill it with fire. 

Many people also have YouTube sharing turned all the way on. I don’t care that you added some How to Make Music video to a playlist. I really don’t. Nor do I care that you’re the mayor of McDonalds on Foursquare. 

This can happen within the same network as well, like for example Facebook Pages vs. personal profiles. On my way to work this morning, I was telling my sister about making this post and she told me to tell my friend Jessica to stop posting the same thing on personal page as her fan page. So there you go. Jessica, stop posting the same thing to your personal page as your fan page. I am your friend because I am your friend and I like your page because I like your music. All too often, I see DJ types on Facebook (you know, the ones who invite you to an event every time they spin even though you don’t live on the same side of the county as them – effective targeting) with like 5,000 friends and a Fan Page with 10% of that as Likes. You’re doing it wrong.

I break this cross-posting rule with two exceptions: 140 Characters of Text (no links, just words) and Media.

Sometimes I simply just want to update my status, and it’s something I want to say on both Facebook and Twitter. I compose it in a Twitter program so I can have my character count at or below 140 lest it gets truncated on Twitter and just looks like Twitlonger and nobody likes Twitlonger. It should be banned.

If I want to get more involved and maybe @mention someone, I’ll leave it as a tweet standalone or I’ll use the mentioning feature on Facebook then paste in a link to a post or a video that shows what I’m talking about – you’ll get more engagement on Facebook out of Links and Photos than you do out of pure text anyways. Format for your medium.

Media is the second exception here. You were going to post your newest track you just uploaded to Soundcloud everywhere anyways, you should let SoundCloud post it for you. God bless the guys at SoundCloud man, when you share a track, it is formatted to each networks medium and standards. 

Observe a tweeted favorite of Pinch and Photek’s amazing new track

The same track on Facebook and the track on Tumblr

On Twitter, the track is formatted with @mention of the artist, and the message is under 140 characters. Clear. On Facebook and Tumblr, you see cover art with a play button, and you don’t leave the network of your choice to listen. Brilliant.

Instagram is a popular photo sharing service and as of this writing, it’s only on the iPhone. Crazy that a network can have such a draw being tied to one device. I find it perfectly acceptable to post your filtered effected blurry live photos to Twitter and Facebook, especially because of Facebook’s new Timeline that kicks in Friday for bands – the photo thumbnails on Timelines are square and so are Instagrams. Not all of your fans and followers have iPhones, so we might as well get them in on the action using the social networks’ native commenting/replying functions. Also, more on Facebook Timeline for bands in a bit. 

Finally, under SoundCloud logic, you can totally share your YouTube and Vimeo uploads to the networks, but I’d be weary of much more connection than that. Please uncheck playlists and comments and maybe even likes. You might accidentally share your closeted M.I.A. Bad Girls obsession.

For Foursquare: You really should only “check in” to your shows. Tip: add your show to Songkick and you can check in to it:

For an even stronger explanation of why you should Unlink Your Feeds, click here: Unlink Your Feeds

Do Not Follow Everyone Back

An extremely common misnomer for joining Twitter is that it’s polite to follow everyone back. Trust me, you do not want to do this. You will get more followers by not sucking and being yourself. Be yourself. Don’t suck. 

You should follow your real life friends and your musical influences on Twitter if you just joined the service.

Soon, you will get followers. Look through each of them and ask yourself if you find that person interesting. If so, return the favor. You might have your first real Fan! That one person you never met in your life who loves your music – it’s the greatest feeling. Or you might get DJ Serato who wants you to followback so he can get to 1,000 followers at his next show down the street. Or you might get a really hot girl, but in reality she’s selling Walmart gift cards via a link that auto-DMs your followers. Oh yeah speaking of Auto-DMing – NEVER DO IT. EVER. 

Point is, be weary and chose your audience wisely. I follow about 300 people right now and I constantly add/subtract to it based on who piques my interest. If someone takes offense to you unfollowing, fuck ‘em. They weren’t your real fans anyways.

Don’t Overshare

Suppose one of your fans only follows 30 people. If you post on Twitter 10x times a day, it looks like your flooding the channel. Worse if you connect everything and you spent a day on YouTube favoriting puppy dog videos. 

A RT is not a reply. If someone says something nice to you, reply and thank them. Don’t be all

Thanks! RT @somebro You Rule!

You’ll look like a conceited ass.

This applies to Facebook as well. Facebook actually now recommends you post once daily, and five times a week.

“Like” it or not, all Facebook pages will shift over to the new Timeline format on Friday. The precious Like-to-Unlock landing page scheme is now gone, meaning instead of making fans jump thru hoops and give you a thumbs up to hear your stuff, you now have to win them over with your content. Make it good. 

The default view for Facebook Timeline for bands is “Highlights” this isn’t really editable right now, and with a bit of good reason – social relevancy. You can circumvent this by “pinning” a post to the top of your page for 7 days, or “highlighting” a photo or video and making it full-width (this is great for video premieres). But the rest is just based on who your fans’ friends are and how many likes/comments your fans left on each post. Tip: consider a Facebook ad targeted at Friends of Fans in your local city. Don’t post too often, after all Your Facebook is Not Your Website. Sporadically post the good shit and direct your fans to your website/landing page for more. Don’t have anything new? Let your fans know you a little better and post a video of one of your influences. 

Your Facebook is Not Your Website

Finally, like it or not the Facebook is the Myspace of 2006. Yes, it’s the first place promoters/record agents (if there are any left) go after your Website (ok, the latter may also check out your SoundCloud as well), but make sure it’s not where you’re sending people. You can control what you say and put on your website (remember how I said some posts are hidden if they don’t make a splash on Facebook?). Make it yours and make it look good. If you don’t know how, you can hire somebody. I built my own.

Make sure you have a website! It should be Your Name.com/.net and easy to Google. If you *just* started, buy this domain, make a site, then send all your Twitter and Facebook fans to it when you launch. This is a big deal! Make sure your music is first and foremost and DO NOT USE FLASH. SoundCloud makes a great HTML5 player and has an API for custom implementations (I use two – a full page Premiere on my front page and a small bottom-of-the-page-on-every-page player called Stratus – both based on open-source code by Lee Martin)

If you just don’t have the budget for a website you’re not out of luck. Try a service like http://flavors.me or http://onesheet.com. Here is my version of the former and the latter. Both of these sites aggregate existing social networks and media into one nice, branded page. And if you don’t cross-post, it won’t look like you’re saying the same thing all the time! 

Topspin and MTV look to be creating something similar and possibly bigger with Artists.MTV. Make sure you go to that link and sign up, you’ll get a free Topspin (what I use for marketing and e-commerce) account for 3 months!

In summary: Do not crosspost unless it’s a new track of yours, Do not follow everyone back to pad your following, Do not post all the damn time, and make sure you have your own website.

@rob_sheridan Excellent. But I feel like there should be a #5: Learn to use the correct “your.” Someone should tell the author.

— James Black (@Sesquipedalism) March 29, 2012

Thanks for reading, let me know how you feel in the comments!