The Do's and Don'ts of Social Media: A Musician's Guide
Updated: Oct 28
No matter what you think of social media, it is a good advertising tool and a great way to reach fans to increase your fanbase. However, as an artist this needs to be done in the right way. Over the last few weeks I have had many discussions regarding artists who are not doing it the ‘right way’. This being the infamous ‘follow, wait for a follow back, then unfollow’ trick, shameless plugging in their DMs or, my favourite, having their ‘Manager’ send a follow up direct message asking for feedback.
We have asked artists, industry professionals and fans what their Do’s and Don’ts of social media include. The amount of feedback we received was quite extensive so I have tried to group them together as much as possible:
DO put the ‘social’ back in social media
Social media is about being social - Interact and support others as much as possible. You can make some incredible friends through social media, especially if you're an artist. By supporting other artists and others in the music industry, you will meet people who can offer you great opportunities, and even some you can offer those opportunities to. Tell your whole story and share your life as well as your music. Use social media as a backstage pass, show supporters the behind the scenes stuff.
DO be consistent
Consistency is key with many things but with social media, ensure that you stick with a rough timeline. Decide on how much and what you want to post. You can choose to not be too active and only talk about the music if you wish, but remain consistent. Find your own way of relating to your supporters, and don't be afraid to be personal and open about your life, you are human after all. However, if you prefer to remain professional, go for it! Whatever you decide to do, keep it consistent.
DON’T be impossible to find
Find a username that's simple and available across ALL social media platforms. Having a simple username will make it so much easier for people to find you. Don’t make it really complicated or understandable only to you. You also don’t want to have a hundred different names as it’s confusing and difficult to portray when promoting yourself at gigs.
DO understand each platform
You can reach fans through many different social media platforms. Some will follow you on all platforms whereas others will stick to one they feel comfortable with. This can be said for artists too! You may find that you are more susceptible to one particular platform or enjoy being a part of one of those platforms - if you prefer eye-catching visuals then Instagram would be best for you, however if you like to have some banter with fans, Twitter is the one. Additionally, not everything you post has to be indelible; many of these platforms now have an option to create stories that are purposely for posts, pictures or information you do not want to save onto your grid or page. They are designed to ‘self-destruct’ after 24 hours and are especially good for artists and can be used creatively - it is a great place to share sneak peaks of songs or behind the scenes images for upcoming reveals. It also saves the grid or page for the highest-quality posts, allowing for more engagement.
Stay active on all socials but stagger times to post the same content on all platforms, this way you can increase engagement throughout different times of the day with the maximum amount of followers. Link accounts to make this easier, you can also schedule posts through a social media planner. You can download apps such as creator studio, Hootsuite and booster to help schedule posts, check the format and ensure all relevant information is on there before posting.
DO utilise video content
On most social media platforms, people interact with videos much more than they do with a wordy post. There are many ways to create effective video content. While shooting a music video, have someone else film stuff behind the scenes and get a photographer to capture candid pictures. These can be used as teasers to releases or promo material. Live videos from gigs are also a great way to engage audiences. Posting music videos are preferred to just posting a link, people like things to be visual. If you have a video release lined up then post a teaser clip with a countdown, fans will be looking forward to it and share it to their followers.
DON’T buy followers
There is no need to buy followers, keep things organic. You want real people who will spend real money and invest their time on your music in order to help grow your brand. If you have thousands of followers but are only getting a couple of likes per post then people are going to realise this isn't real or organic - enhancing engagement is just as important as the numbers that are associated with your accounts. This will cause them to lose faith in you as an artist. Don’t force it or follow people just to unfollow them again. This will not gain you a fanbase.
DO keep it fresh
Social media is an extension of your brand and it is vital that this gets a refresh as often as the rest of your brand does. Every so often don't be afraid to reboot your media presence and start afresh. Keeping it fun will have a big impact on engagement. If you are short on time then a quick story showing your day-to-day activities would work great. Something simple like a clip in the studio, a snap of your songwriting material, heading to a coffee shop or hanging on the beach would look fantastic until you are able to post your next artfully arranged post.
Another top tip is to keep it short, Twitter has a character limit of 280, which allows for brevity, snappy tweets and to the point messages. However Facebook and Instagram don’t. They may allow for more detail but it doesn’t mean you have to give ALL the detail. Pick out the most important parts and make them punchy. This will keep followers engaged.
DO spend a little cash on marketing yourself
Social media is a good, free marketing tool but don’t be afraid to spend a little money to give yourself that extra boost. You can pay to boost posts on Facebook and Instagram so that they are seen by your targeted audience. You might consider hiring a photographer to take press shots which can be used in your next PR campaign. Invest in your hard work, even if you don’t have much right now. It will pay off!
DON’T be 'spammy'
DON’T continuously share self-promotional posts with the annoying ‘buy my music’ plea’s that makes your supporters feel like they are only there for one reason. Social media is full of those already and if people already follow you, it is likely that they buy your music anyway. The same can be said for sending direct messages to your followers with music links. Although, when releasing new music, it might be something you send to those closest to you however, it can become frustrating. Fans are more likely to invest time into you when they feel they relate to you as an artist.
Don’t tell tastemakers to ‘check out your SoundCloud’ in the first conversation, or at all really! Music industry professionals and fans will discover your music through getting to know you and as a result, will be more susceptible to listening and sharing your music. Don’t force a version of yourself that doesn't exist, this is one way to attract the wrong kind of followers you want. Decide how much of yourself you want to share, you can choose not to talk about certain topics without being a fake version of yourself.
DO check in with yourself often
Always remember that not everyone is going to like you (this is true in any industry) and some people won't be willing to follow your journey. Make sure that you take time out, centre yourself, and don't feel you have to comment. If necessary, have a look at how other artists handle negative comments. Surround yourself with people who support you and your music and remember BE YOURSELF!
We would love to know your thoughts.
Join the conversation on @scarletrivermanagement.