Social media for artists is a multi-faceted tool; first and foremost it is almost entirely free marketing and promotion of your art. Beyond that it is a vehicle to interact directly with your fans and break down longstanding communication barriers that have existed between “celebrity” and the rest of the world up until this point in time, as well as a way for you to develop your artistry, branding potential, and who you want to be in the music industry. Like it or not, it is almost impossible nowadays to become successful in music without utilizing social media and your social media presence.
The music industry has always been competitive, but nowadays with social media being accessible to all and the most predominant marketing tool that artists, both baby and superstar (and all in between) have at their disposal, figuring out your niche is paramount to building a successful and long-lasting career. In a world where music is only becoming more and more accessible, having a brand identity is key. Social media should be seen by artists as a way they can establish that. Put simply, think of it as a means to show off what it is that separates you from others in your genre and give fans an idea of who you are beyond your music.
People are overwhelmingly fed up with perfectly curated content, and a musician is not an influencer. An artist should aim to keep their social media as much in their own hands as possible. Platforms like Tik Tok and functions like [Instagram] stories have afforded users the ability to be a little more raw and a lot more honest. Take advantage of this. Tease music ideas you are working on, things that inspire you, stories behind the meaning of your songs, even your favorite coffee, these are all things that will interest your audience and help them develop an investment in you and, subsequently, your music.
You should be using your social media as a way to bring fans into your world. Show them your process in real-time––your sessions, behind-the- scenes of touring––give them those snippets that previously only major artists putting out concert tour DVDs were capable of. Beyond giving your audience an idea of what your life looks like in and outside of your music, your social media should be a gateway to establishing a connection with fans that 10 years ago wasn’t possible to attain. Keep fans invested by engaging and responding to them and listen to their feedback. They are the ones consuming your music, after all.
When starting out as an artist, you need to make as many people aware of your existence as possible. Quality over quantity matters. Paying attention to analytics and algorithms are nauseating, but necessary when utilizing social media as an artist. You might love a certain type of post you put out, but it simply does not resonate with fans. Use back-end numbers as a way to understand what it is your audience wants to see more of (or less of) from you. Stay consistent in your posting but figure out what your fans respond best to and develop that. Creating content that people enjoy and engage with is a better way of gaining traction and building awareness around you than mindlessly posting for the sake of it.
Find Your Best Platform
Not all artists are created equal, and neither are all social media platforms. Figuring out which one is the right fit for you is extremely important, and it might not be Instagram. I work with an artist who is in the top five biggest artists on Tik Tok and had 15 million plus followers on IG. We have another artist at our company who has a huge presence on Reddit. Establishing where your fans lie and where you will have the best success in terms of engagement will inevitably help bring attention to your music, which is the ultimate goal.
Cross Promotion and Collaboration
You can’t build a social media presence without some degree of external support. Showcasing collaborations with other artists or working with other accounts is a great way to do this. It’s the new version of the old-school “follow for follow.” On the music side of things, the fans of other artists you work with will be introduced to you and your music, and vice versa. On the personal/branding side, storying the startup soda brand you drink can lead to exposure on their accounts, once again bringing awareness to your platform and leading people to your music. Don’t think of it as selling out, think of it as strategic.
Anyone in, or trying to be in, an influential/public-facing role should be very aware of the impact their social media could have on people who look up to them. More often than not, posts and content will be looked at by people who idolize them so it’s important to recognize that responsibility as a role model, whether an artist thinks of themselves as one or not. That is not to say one needs to censor themselves to an extreme degree, but they do need to be conscious of who their target audience is and what they should or should not encourage or endorse.
Similarly, keep in mind that words can be twisted, consider what you post before you post it and if it has the potential to offend anyone, even without mal intent.
NASTIA BARKAN is the day to day manager for artist, songwriter and producer Charlie Puth, working point across all aspects of his career, including his social media strategy and presence. Find out more at friendsatwork.com.