As a musician living and working in the 21st century, at some point you’re going to have to use social media to promote your music, a gig, your band, or all of these in some combination. Universities and music colleges are slowly catching up in their provision of education in these areas, but in some cases the advice on offer barely stretches to ‘use social media to promote your music’. Not helpful.
There’s lots of social media advice freely available the web, but this can be quite vague at times and is often aimed at businesses, so it may not feel entirely relevant. So, where do you start? Here’s a brief, non-exhaustive, musician’s guide to Twitter and specific tips on how to use it to promote your music in an effective way.
Try setting yourself a goal of four-to-five Twitter interactions a day. This might seem like a lot, but given that the lifespan of a tweet is quite short, this level of activity spread throughout the day will help to keep your account visible to your followers. This doesn’t mean you need to (or should) tweet about your own music all day – these interactions can be anything from retweeting or a colleague’s tweet to getting involved in a Twitter conversation.
Ultimately, you want users to follow you because they value the content you’re posting, so you should balance self promotion with the posting of other interesting content you’ve found on the internet. This will increase other user’s interest in your account and increase the chance that they’ll see your account as a resource that’s worth following – solely posting your own promotional content can put users off.
Don’t forget to use hashtags (#) increase the chances of your tweets being discovered organically by other users. The hashtags you use should be relevant to your tweet but also broad enough for other users to discover it. For example, say you’re posting about a gig you have coming up with the John Doe trio in West Hampstead, you might want to use #jazz #gig #westhampstead rather than #JohnDoeTrioGig. It might seem obvious, but it’s quite a common Twitter mistake.
Also, when retweeting other user’s content, you have the opportunity to add a comment about the retweet so make sure you use this. You want to add value and tell your followers why they should checkout whatever you’re retweeting so they don’t just skip it.
A quick note on links: you can of course use an URL shortener (like bit.ly) when posting links, and this can certainly help to keep your URLs neat and tidy. Bear in mind, however, that some users prefer to see where the link is taking them and there is no benefit in terms of number of characters taken up in a tweet as Twitter considers all URLs to have the same length. Worth a thought.
Where possible, include an image whenever you’re tweeting something from your account. This may be obvious, but tweets with images have been shown to significantly increase user engagement when compared to similar tweets that are plain text.
If you don’t have access to decent image editing software, or aren’t particularly confident using it, there are lots of free tools out there to help. Canva and Visage are two popular online services to help you create images for your social media posts, and there are many more.
When using these tools, spend some time playing around with the various styles and fonts that are on offer so you can see what might work for you. These tools can be a brilliant timesaver, but when used without much thought they can turn the best social media profile into an incoherent mess. Pick a font or two and stick with these. Also, make sure that you’re using content-appropriate images, preferably of you/your group. Consistently combining these images and the font(s) you’ve chosen will allow you to build a style that will slowly become associated with you.
If you’re considering upgrading to a premium account with one of these providers, weigh up the cost of this against something like a Photoshop subscription. This can be bought for as little as £9/month which is almost comparable with Canva’s $12/month subscription. There’s a slightly higher learning curve involved, but it’s clearly a more versatile piece of kit.
It’s more than likely that your schedule will go through peaks and troughs, so you may not always have gigs coming up or album launches to promote. How do you maintain interest on your account during these periods? Generating content ideas is actually far simpler than you might think as there are lots of places to draw inspiration from.
The first thing to consider is whether any of your old content can be recycled. As mentioned earlier, the lifespan of a tweet is quite short, so it’s quite conceivable that many of your followers might miss a post the first time round. Checking out Twitter accounts that have large followings and a seemingly endless stream of content, you will probably find that the content is reposted at several points throughout the day – there’s no reason you can’t do the same.
In terms of generating new ideas, you could tweet:
- Content from industry news/blogs for content that interests you
- Photos from rehearsals
- Things you’re practicing
- Ideas you’re exploring musically/compositionally
- New albums/music you’ve discovered
- Gig/recording/learning throwbacks
Five interactions a day, everyday. How are you supposed to fit that into your schedule? Fortunately, there are several tools that make this ongoing task more manageable by allowing you to schedule tweets for specific dates/times in the future. Hootsuite is one of the most popular, but others are available. The best way to manage these is to set aside an hour a week to schedule your upcoming posts for the week, then check into Twitter occasionally to follow up or (re)tweet other content.
Consider working up a plan ahead of any gigs or major events such as album launches. You’ll want to mention it occasionally in the months leading up to the date, then increase the frequency of these posts in the weeks/days immediately before the event. Spending an hour a week scheduling your posts will give you the time to create a plan for these events, too.
The last piece of advice is simply to get started. Lots of musicians wait until their first album launch or a major gig before they setup their Twitter account, or leave it dormant until shortly before – this is often too late to make these last minute efforts useful. Get going as soon as you can and use these tips to start building your following so that when you have something you really want to shout about there are plenty of users waiting to hear it!