First a disclaimer: I am not an influencer, a social media guru, an internet whiz kid, nor do I run any massive social media channels.
But: these days if you want to do anything you have to have at least a rudimentary understanding of your primary shop window – social media.
Alternatively: you have to have access to a teenager who can do all this for you with a surly look on their face and a big sigh everytime you ask them what they’re doing. In reality you’ll skip the teenager if you’ve any sense and do it yourself.
Lets face it as a musician you’re unlikely to sell much physical product these days. I’m sure that out there someone is shifting great piles of CDs and vinyl records but it isn’t your average DIY musician. Your ‘product’ is likely going to be on a streaming service such as Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube and it’s highly unlikely that anyone will actually download any of your songs.
Another thing you might as well face is the fact that unless your surname is Kardashian you’re unlikely to have millions of social media followers. If you work at it then you might end up with a few thousand and if you’re really lucky some of those people will be fans and supporters of your music.
There are thousands of YouTube videos that will all tell you that if you follow a few simple steps you’ll be inundated with people hanging off your every word desperate for your next release. But it’s the modern equivalent of snake oil salesmen, all they’re doing is hoping you’ll watch the video until the end and subscribe to their channel.
Building a social media following takes time, effort and above all persistence. You have to follow people, hope they follow you back, remove those who don’t follow you back, post onto your channels day after day and repeat, repeat and repeat. There is no short cut I’ve found but if you work at it then slowly you might end up with a decent following who engage with you and make it all worthwhile.
If you’re really lucky you’ll have a few people who constantly ‘like’ what you post. I’m very lucky to have a few such people and they make my day – you know who you are and thank you very, very much. You genuinely keep me sane.
I’m not on all the social media channels because I haven’t got time and because some of them aren’t, in my opinion, worth bothering with. These are my thoughts on the few I’m on:
Facebook. I’ve got nearly 5,000 ‘friends’ and I post regularly, certainly every day. It produces minimum feedback and little meaningful engagement.
Twitter. I’ve got close to 1,500 ‘followers’ and I get a lot of Likes and some feedback, certainly more engagement than Facebook but if you ever want to truly despair of the state of the human race then wallow in Twitter for a day, your head will never be the same again.
Instagram. Again, I’ve got nearly 1,500 ‘followers’ but in my opinion Instagram is largely a waste of time. For example, until you get 10,000 followers you can’t post links that actually work. Every time I post on Instagram I get a host of people, usually from the sub continent, telling me I should use their kind services to promote the post/song/whatever. I spend more time blocking these parasites than doing anything useful on Instagram.
LinkedIn. I’ve got nearly 2,300 ‘followers’ on LinkedIn and to be honest this platform works for me. I look at it as Facebook for grown ups. It’s true it’s a recruitment tool but I find that virtually all the people I engage with on LinkedIn are great.
YouTube. I have the stunning total of 46 subscribers on YouTube. This is the channel I’ll be devoting more time to once I can work out how to fit it into what I want to do.
So, at best it’s a mixed bag but it is an audience of sorts and certainly I can reach more people with one post than through a week of pub gigs or open mic nights.
If you’re doing something on social media that’s working please let me know and I’ll share it with everyone else.