It’s been reported that in 2021, social media usage grew at an average rate of 13.5 new users every single second. If we do the math, that’s 48.960 new users each hour, 1.175.040 new users each day, and more than 420 million new users a year. Currently, an unbelievable amount of 4.62 billion individuals across the world use social media.
Social media strategy
Creating an effective social media strategy is the most important first step for every independent musician and we cannot stress that enough. A proper social media strategy should outline your social media goals and objectives, define the strategic steps and tactics you’ll use to achieve them, and identify metrics that you’ll track to measure your progress and growth.
There are particular points that each social media strategy should cover:
Defining your goals and objectives
Establishing your brand
Determining your target audience
Scheduling and drafting a content calendar
1. Defining your goals and objectives
Goals and objectives are the fundamental part of a social media strategy or any strategy. They should clearly define what it is that you want to achieve with your social media performance and should be the denominators of your success across the networks.
Whether it’s selling more merch and tickets and having more fans coming to your gigs, or targeting a wider audience and increasing your music streams (which doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive), it’s important for your goals to be SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Keep in mind that the more precise your goals are, the more you’ll be aware of your performance, and the better you can track it.
SMART by iMusician
2. Establishing your music brand
Whatever content you create and share with your followers, mirrors a lot about you as a musician and individual. The brand that you establish for yourself as a musician as a part of the social media strategy is quite a difficult concept and has a lot to do with self-awareness and how well you know yourself. Branding should definitely cover points such as the tonality of your voice in the captions you write; your visual identity; your values and what you stand for; the kind of story you decide to craft of yourself and how you get it across; and much more.
The way you represent yourself across social media will ultimately help you attract the right audience that will be able to relate to you and create a deeper bond with your music. You can gain more knowledge about branding in our guide on how to build your brand as an artist.
Tip: If there’s something you should focus on in establishing your brand, it’s authenticity. When speaking of branding, 90% of consumers state authenticity is an important factor in determining which brand they like and support. Being authentic will resonate deeply with your fans and enhance their loyalty to you and your work of art.
3. Determining your target audience
Speaking of the right audience - who are they? It’s crucial to learn everything you can about your fans and followers, both existing and desired. Social media platforms should give you access to reliable analytics providing insights into audience demographics and behavior.
Such information should eventually help you create an audience persona, which represents your target audience and deepens your understanding of its demographic values, interests, goals, and behavioral intentions. Keeping a particular audience persona in mind will help you create desirable music content across social media platforms and maintain a tone of voice and direction adjusted to the people you’d like to reach. An audience persona can include information such as name, gender, age, location, occupation, education, hobbies, and more.
Tip: Treat your audience persona as a real music fan! Give them a name, write down their personality traits and try to describe them thoroughly. What language do they speak? Where are they from? What music genres do they like? The more details, the better!
Audience Persona for Social Media
4. Scheduling and drafting a content calendar
You’ve probably heard it a few times before and may hear it a few times more but consistency really is key. That’s because a regular publishing schedule will lure your audience into coming back for more. A content calendar may help you not only to stay persistent with creative sharing on social media but also distinguish between different types of content you create for various channels.
Generally, you can divide your content into three main categories: personal, professional, and promotional. Professional content would center around photos or videos from gigs, photoshoots, or music video shoots while promotional content would focus directly on music marketing. You can also choose between different forms of content - such as photos, videos, reels, etc. - depending on particular features of social media platforms. In 2021, short-form videos were considered the most effective social media content by 85% of marketers.
Planning and publishing
Now that you know what social media goals you want to achieve, what your music brand and target audience are, and what your scheduling strategy will be, it’s time to move to planning and actual content publishing. Following are some important points to pay attention to when you’re about to create and share your content.
1. Quality over quantity. Or not?
Although the quality of content you post definitely matters, the statement ‘quality over quantity' is not necessarily true. In fact, both factors may play an equally relevant role for you and your music promotion. While quality is what makes your content trustworthy, brand-representative, and beneficial to your followers, quantity is crucial for awareness, visibility, and audience exposure, reach, and engagement.
It’s also important to take into account that each platform differs and therefore a different approach is needed. While content quality is definitely a determining factor on Instagram, TikTok values consistency and ‘keeping up-to-date’ with the newest hits. More low-quality posts showing the latest trends will generate more views and engagement than a few highly-produced videos.
The ultimate goal is to balance a great use of words, creative ideas, visuals, and information together with a good amount of exposure. Be therefore cautious of over-posting! Posting too much can, sooner or later, start annoying your followers and eventually lead to a drop in followers and engagement.
2. Exploring different social media platforms
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and more - with an extremely high number of monthly active users, all these platforms offer the possibility of great exposure to you and your music. It’s therefore worthwhile to spend some quality time exploring their characteristics, capabilities, and features.
The fact is that you can't effectively use and benefit from every platform available. It’s important to find out which platforms fit the best your needs and strengths, as a creator, and focus your time and energy on these. This way you can produce quality content in a way that represents your music brand and resonates with your target audience. You can also use various analytic tools to measure your performance across different channels to confirm or reconsider your choice of platforms over time.
Social Media: Which platform suits your strategy the most?
3. What are hashtags and how to use them?
Hashtags can be defined as words preceded by the hash sign (#) that make your content more discoverable and help those individuals interested in your topic to be able to find it. They connect a piece of content to a particular topic, theme, or event and thus make it more visible to and accessible by those who don’t follow you. This can then help you grow your target audience and gain more engagement valuable to your field of interest and expertise, which is music and the specific music genre you play.
One of the key factors in terms of hashtags is their relevance. It’s important that the hashtags you use are not ambiguous and are specific to your content (but not too specific as it will be then difficult to find them). You should also avoid general hashtags of huge popularity, such as #followforfollow #followme, #photooftheday, or #instagram. To analyze prospective hashtags and find the right ones, you can use websites such as Hashtagify.me, RiteKit, or Hootsuite. You can also monitor what hashtags your competitors use as well as analyze the performance of the hashtags you’ve used in your previous posts. Eventually, if you already have a list of hashtags that prove to perform well, you can consider using other hashtags related to those.
Last but not least, you can use so-called branded hashtags in the form of you or your band’s name (i. e. #thefireband for the ‘The Fire Band). Such a custom, unique hashtag will allow you to build your music brand identity on social media and will provide a way to engage with a wider audience, open discussions and conversations, promote your releases and merchandise, or run social media campaigns.
Key facts hashtags on Social Media
4. Social media content scheduling tools
Content scheduling tools will help you with something we’ve mentioned before and that’s remaining consistent and keeping up with your content calendar. Such tools will allow you to schedule your content for particular platforms of your choice in advance meaning you don’t have to do the posting manually. You simply choose the dates (days and times) when you’d like to post and add your content in the appropriate sizes and dimensions.
Using content scheduling tools will also leave you with more time for making music, creating content for your socials, or interacting with your followers by responding to their comments, reactions, and DMs.
There are plenty of social media scheduling tools available, such as Hootsuite, Monday, Buffer, Falcon, or Loomly. Out of these, Hootsuite, Monday, and Buffer come with free plans. Hootsuite is by far the most popular scheduling tool with over 18 million active users. It offers five different plans and lets you choose and connect to more than 20 different social networks.
Content Scheduling Tools Social Media
Listening and engagement
Social listening and engagement play a significant role in a successful social media journey. Not only that they help improve the overall user experience when in interaction with you but also provide valuable information on the newest hot trends, industry insights, prospective competitors as well as potential collaborators in your genre. There are a few things you can do to enhance your social listening.
1. Make your followers’ user journey simple and enjoyable
An important factor in the user experience in any field is simplicity. Regardless of what content you create and how you manage your social media accounts, make it as easy as possible for your followers to connect with your music and follow your journey. You can easily do that by using links leading to your music releases (on Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, etc.), your website, or important gigs and events coming up. Make sure that everything you want your fans to know, see or listen to is up on your profile and easily accessible to everyone.
Additionally, if you have merchandise to sell, make use of the selling features on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. Although social media are not traditionally selling platforms, they tend to serve as a gateway to purchases with an increasing trend in users purchasing products directly on these channels.
2. Actively communicate with your fans
Community management is key when it comes to audience engagement. By actively responding to comments, questions, shares, likes, and direct messages, you enable the relationships with your followers and target audience to enhance and prosper over time.
It may be beneficial for you to consider social media primarily as an effective communication tool leading to valuable interactions and conversations. Community management may additionally have a significant impact on your followers’ commitment to your account and their loyalty.
3. Follow current trends
A relevant part of social listening is also discovering and being up-to-date with current and upcoming trends. It’s impossible (and maybe even harmful to your brand as a musician) to follow them all but knowing what’s in among social media communities can help you utilize your creative strengths and build content that may resonate better with your audience.
Social media trends for musicians to follow in 2023:
The continuous rise of TikTok
Reels (short-timed videos)
Streaming on social media - live performances or Q&As
Do you promote your music on TikTok?
4. Create gated content
Gated content is any content you create and provide that your audience can access only after taking a particular action. It can be submitting their contact information, or just following their Spotify account and/or pre-saving their track. Such content can be a newsletter with special information on new music releases or concerts coming up; an exclusive teaser from your latest music video; or a booklet providing early access to your newest merch or ticket sales. it’s important that this exclusive content is for free and not hidden behind any additional costs for the followers.
The general purpose of gated content is to create a feeling of exclusivity and to initiate users’ interest in the music you produce and sell. It also enables you to communicate better with your fans and gain additional insight into your audience giving the information they provide. Such data can further be utilized for establishing your audience persona or planning future campaigns or events.
Social media analytics
Tracking and collecting data is crucial for any successful social media strategy as well as individual campaigns. Data analytics can help you analyze and measure metrics such as the number of views, likes and shares, reach, impressions, and engagement, which are indicative of the success of your performance.
Furthermore, as mentioned before, you can get valuable insights into your audience, both current and desired, to get to know better who they are, where they come from, and what age categories they belong to. There are also other metrics that are rather focused on the behavioral patterns of your audience as well as their interests, goals, and social media usage intentions.
The overall data you get can demonstrate how effective and efficient your social media strategy is; whether your values and music brand are represented well across individual platforms and if, actually, the networks you’re using are suitable for you. You can also discover the best times to post and analyze your potential competitors.
Each social media platform provides its own analytics tools (Facebook Insights, TikTok PRO Analytics, Instagram Insights, or Twitter Analytics) but you can also easily gain insights from content scheduling tools or other marketing data providers, such as Hootsuite, Buffer Analyze, or Sprout Social or HubSpot and Sendible. They usually come with various price packages, including, in some cases, a free one.
Social media advertising
With the 4.62 billion active users around the world, social media provides an incredible amount of opportunities and prospects for advertising. Generally, there are three main types of social media advertising. You can either have posts that pick up views naturally (‘organic posts’), pay money for your posts to increase their views (‘paid advertising’), or earn content in the form of comments, likes, and shares that have been given to you free of cost (‘earned advertising’).
Since it’s becoming more and more difficult to reach success entirely with organic posts, paid advertising may provide an effective solution to that problem. It is a fast and direct way to reach the audience you want - either target an entirely new group of followers or expand the existing one. As all current platforms offer advertising opportunities, it’s crucial to choose those that play the most prominent role among your target audience and are suitable for the content you create.
Generally speaking, while TikTok is mostly targeted by teenagers, Instagram tends to be most popular with millennials. Twitter is then greatly used by young men between the age of 24 and 35, and Facebook, with its high number of monthly active users, attracts a wider audience with varied demographics. However, you can simply start advertising your content on networks where it has performed well organically and continue exploring from there. Additionally, practices such as A/B testing can further help you discover which platforms, as well as forms of advertising (photo ads, messenger ads, IGTV ads, etc.), are more suitable for you than others.
There are many more ways, other than paid ads, you can promote and advertise your content as well as your music on social media. You can also do various social media collaborations with other musicians, grow your number of followers by interacting with other artists and musicians or get more followings and engagement through gated content.
Advertising on social media
Future of social media
Social media is very clearly a phenomenon that has had a huge impact on both casual users and public figures and businesses and has evolved at an incredible pace. With continuous technological development, we will see more upcoming social media trends and ever-growing.
According to experts, we can expect that wearable technology, as well as augmented reality and, eventually, virtual reality (the metaverse), will play a significant role, if not the main one, in the development of social media and will, in course of time, make creating and sharing content easier than ever before. In regard to music, this can open new possibilities and opportunities for musicians to not only promote but also create and perform their own music.
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