There’s a famous internet marketer who has a simple mantra. He says spend 20% of your time creating. Then spend the remaining 80% promoting it. A lot of people follow this advice. As a musician and songwriter, I can’t hate it enough.
I am not here on this earth to do promotion. I am here to create music. I don’t want to spend my limited time setting up marketing campaigns. I want to create things. Like you, I’m a creative person.
In any 5 day week, I want to spend it all creating music. I understand there are other tasks I need to do. For instance, I need to get that music heard. But the less time I’m away from creation the better.
The famous marketer’s vision for my week is spending a measly day on my music, then 4 days promoting it. Ugggh. Really? Imagine telling Michaelangelo to cut his creative output by a fifth. Then spend the bulk of his week handing out leaflets.
So I’m not up for any of that. What I want from Michaelangelo is a life filled with creating as much art as possible. What I want from you is as much music as possible.
I say all this because I want to be clear about the aim of this article. I will not be telling you to “hustle.” I will not be telling you to be a full time marketer who does the odd bit of music on the side.
I will be telling you a strategy that ensures that you spend as little time as possible doing marketing. I will be showing you how to build an effective marketing campaign with the least time possible. And without spending a penny on ads!
When you apply these tactics, you will leverage the power of the internet. You will learn how to engage your current fans and how to find new ones. Best of all, these tactics draw upon your natural creativity as well as being music focused. Musicians were not created to do admin!
These are the methods I use myself for my own businesses, both music and coaching. When I put these tactics in place, my traffic doubled within two months. Yet the time I granted for my marketing didn’t increase much. That’s an astonishing return on investment.
The benefit for you is that you will be able to
- discover new fans
- turn current fans into super fans
- increase traffic to your website
- capture website visitors into email subscribers
- get more listeners for your music
- increase your income from music
- devote the bulk of your time to creating more great music
So get ready. Here is how to build an effective, ongoing social media campaign – without ditching your music to do it! Settle yourself in for this one. It’s a monster post, full of actionable advice.
The Key Principle
A lot of musicians spend a lot of time on social media, whether that be Facebook, Twitter or something else.
Yet most do not have a clear strategy. I see musicians doing aimless engagement. In other words, they are keeping in touch with their supporters, which is good. But they are not following a clear strategy, which is not so good.
I also see musicians sharing links to other people’s websites. Again, this shows some engagement. But any clicks benefit somebody else, not you.
You could spend less time getting better results. It would be better if your online activity drove people to your website.
When you engage with just chat, there is no tangible end result. When you share links to other people’s websites, there is a tangible result for somebody else.
Following the method I am about to outline, you will engage your supporters so that YOU get the result.
Your engagement should always involve a link back to your own website. Only when people visit your website can they
- hear your music
- read your latest news
- buy your music
- buy your merch
- discover when you are playing live
The goal of your marketing efforts is to always seek to bring people home to YOU. Unless they do that, you’re just a fleeting Tweet passing their news feed.
So think of your website as the hub of your marketing operation. That’s your HQ. Your shop window.
Now think of your social media presences and your email list as your salespeople. Their job is to bring people back to your HQ.
It’s as simple as that.
The point of your Twitter posts, your Facebook posts, and your email list newsletters is to “sell the click” to your website.
Every time you do that, you get a website visitor. Every time you get a website visitor, you have a potential sale, or a potential email list subscriber.
Getting people to sign up to your mailing list is key for three reasons:
- they have asked to hear from you so they are potential super fans
- you can keep in touch for next to nothing
- it’s quick to reach them all – at the press of a button
So you can see that it’s important to gear all communications towards getting website visitors.
But to do that, we need to give them a reason to click. That reason is: Interesting content!
You Are HBO Now
I see musicians as more than players of music. Musicians have always been story tellers. Whether we use words or not, our goal is to take people to emotional places. We seek to tell stories. We portray what it means to share the human condition, and its many struggles and joys.
The 3 minutes of your song is just the final production. People want more than that. They want to understand it. They want to hear why you wrote it. They want to know the struggle of creating and recording it. They want to know what inspired it, and why you made the artistic choices you did.
The song doesn’t just tell a story. It is the subject of another story itself.
It’s your job to tell those stories too. About your music. About you. About what you stand for. We are content creators now.
We have a platform to put our songs on a pedestal. To make the songs the star. To draw back the curtain on our own creative processes. To stand up for the things we are passionate about.
These are the things that turn fans into superfans. You are HBO now. You no longer just make music. You tell your story, and the story of your songs.
I will come back to this in more detail later. I want to give some examples of the content you can create. I want to guide you through the different content formats you can use too.
But for now, understand that being HBO is your job now. And it’s an exciting job. Because you can unleash your passion for your music and your songs like never before.
The stories you tell are at the core of your marketing efforts. It’s all about the content you create. Getting access to that content is why people will click your social media messages to visit your site.
If you think that sounds like work, don’t worry too much. Firstly, it’s all about the music. You’re still a story teller. You are not changing from your rock clothes into the corporate suit of a marketer.
Second, every bit of content you make will keep on bringing new fans to you forever. You’ll see how when we get to the promotion strategy.
Finally, you can batch your time creating this content. You can create a bundle of it at once, then schedule it for later publication. It doesn’t take long to create, and will work for you forever.
There is more on this inside the full course. If you’d like to go into this topic in more detail, click here for more information.
Who To Create Content For
One of the big mistakes when creating content is to have no idea who you are creating it for.
Think of a magazine editor. Writers submit ideas to that editor all the time. But the editor knows exactly which ideas will suit the magazine’s readers. The editor understands who the magazine is for.
In the same way, you need to know who you are creating music and content for.
Here are the 2 key groups you need to create for:
- Your fans
- Your fans’ network
A technique I use for helping me decide what to create content for is to imagine I’m buying a gift for my fans.
So I forget the music for a moment.
Then I’ll make a mind map focused on the stuff they like to do. Are they bookish? Are they bikers? What are they interested in?
Scribble it down. Spend some time on this as it will guide you with content ideas.
If you don’t have fans yourself yet, find an artist who is most like you. Their fans are your most likely fans too. So do the exercise on them instead. You’ll get the same results.
The mind map will also give you a good insight into their networks. If they like obscure movies, you now know that they attend independent cinema. If they love skateboarding, then you know they are hooked into the skateboard scene.
Just like the magazine editor, you now have vital information about what to create. This ensures you will get the kind of site visitors who will likely want your music.
What to create
You already know a lot about your fans, their interests, and their networks.
Check the mind map of interests. Simply note down which of those things that you’re interested in too.
You now know what would be fun for you to create, and fun for them to view or read. These are the topics you will be creating content about.
These topics are the area of maximum interest for your potential fans. And you can talk about it from a place of shared interest. Focus on these topics.
That’s the first half of your content strategy. Easy huh!
The second half of your content creation strategy relates to your fans’ networks.
This gets juicy because these are usually organisations of some type, like stores or businesses.
So they will have a social media presence of their own.
Now let me ask a question. When you’re featured in a news article or blog post, do you tell your friends and followers about it? Do you link to the article so people can go to it and read it?
Of course. Who wouldn’t want to share the fact that someone has written about you and praised you!
Well guess what. The people who run those businesses are just the same. They don’t have a rock band. Their business is their rock band. So when people say nice things about them, or put them in the spotlight, they promote it like mad. Just like you do!
Creating content about people in your fans’ network will get you a load of free traffic. It will interest your current followers. Better still, the organisation will be tweeting the hell out of it. So it will drive other people to your site who are just like your fans! These are your people. They just don’t know about you yet. With this strategy, they soon will. Perfect!
Reaching out to support others is a virtuous circle. It helps them. It helps you. It builds relationships that might come in useful if you ever want to seek sponsorship. And of course, people are more likely to share their friend’s posts. Giving them this kind of contact and support makes you a friend.
We already have a ton of content ideas with these two methods. And we’ve not even looked at your music yet. As I mentioned before, each of your songs is a story in itself. Tell it.
The writing of it is a story. Tell it.
The recording of it is a story. Tell that.
What you believe in or stand for is a story. Share it. Find the reason why people would connect to you. Why are you their champion?
Whatever that might be, shed some light on it.
And remember too – most people are not musicians. Just doing what you do is interesting to them. Let them behind the curtain.
What type of content to create
When I talk of content creation, many people assume that I mean blog posts like this one.
There are a lot of advantages to blog posts. For instance, the text means it’s easier for Google to pick up on search terms.
But it’s not the only way.
If you’re comfortable writing, then by all means write.
But there are other ways to do it if writing is not something that appeals.
Video is super easy to do these days. The video quality doesn’t need to be perfect. Ironically, audio quality is much more important.
One technique I use is to do 3 minute interviews with myself. You can even ask supporters to send in questions. Or just invent them yourself around a song.
Then I post the video on my blog and promote the blog post on social media.
I could do the same by performing a song direct to camera.
The great thing is that you can record direct to YouTube so there’s no post production to eat up your time. It’s ready to share the moment you stop recording!
Google likes videos too because it owns YouTube. So it pushes mixed content in its search results. Internet researchers have shown that you are more likely to end up on page 1 of Google with a video than an article on the same topic.
Some people like to do podcasts. Others will share drafts of songs, or remixes in audio files.
Those who enjoy using their cameras like to do photo updates too.
It’s up to you. You can focus on what suits you and your fans best, or you can offer a mix and match approach. There’s no right answer to this.
Whatever you enjoy enough to create consistent content is the best choice. Keep it fun, or you’ll get fed up and stop doing it.
This content is the lifeblood of your marketing. Without it, you’ll have no good reason to bring people to your site.
The side benefit is that every piece of content gives Google users another chance to find you. Plus, the more you create, the more Google views you as a trusted site which helps your Google juice too.
How often to create it
Imagine if your pal calls you up and says “Come and look at my guitar!”
If it’s the same guitar she has had for 12 years, do you go dashing round to look at it? Of course not.
But if it’s a new guitar you’ve not seen before? Sure!
It’s the same with your content. People are much less likely to click on a link to see something that they’ve already seen.
If you don’t create new content, then your followers will only be seeing old stuff. So your click rate will drop.
You need to keep producing new quality content. The more you do that, the more visits you’ll get to your site.
But how much is the right amount?
The mathematics of this mean that the more the merrier. If you’re a total content machine and you produce a ton of the stuff, then great. You won’t find me telling you to make less of it.
But I prefer to look at this question in a less dogmatic fashion. You are a human being, with other calls on your time. Creating new music for a start!
So I take the view that a consistent something is better than a consistent nothing.
Most content marketers will tell you that once a week is just fine. So that’s a good rule of thumb.
But find your sweet spot. Understand that it’s the lifeblood of your operation. Give it that level of importance.
But at the same time, don’t set yourself up for a fall.
Start off trying to do something once a week. If that feels tough, then drop back to once a fortnight. Or if you have more to say and you’re having fun, go twice a week.
Find that place where you know you put out consistent content and feel okay with it.
And remember, you can always batch it like the soap operas do. Create a load of it, and drip release it.
A Final Note on Content
A lot of musicians take their inspiration from current affairs. I want to tell you it is best to create content that is not so time limited.
In the next section of this strategy, I will be showing you ways to keep recycling your content forever. You can’t do that with time sensitive content.
If there is a song of yours that has a link to something topical, by all means write about it. That makes total sense.
But in the main, think evergreen. Create content not just for today, but for 5 or even 10 years time.
Everything you create today can still be working for you, bringing in new fans, for years to come.
The principle is to do the work once, yet get the fruit forever.
How To Get Them Clicking
In a moment, I’ll show you how to promote it. But remember that your email list and your social media acts as a salesperson for your content. Their job is to “sell the click.” When someone clicks to your website to see the content, that’s the “sale” achieved that gets you a new visitor.
In this section, I’m going to make the job of your social media tools a lot easier.
One small aspect of your content has the biggest bearing on how many people click it. The headline.
Some headlines are better than others. Some turn readers off. Others get readers clicking. There’s a whole science behind it. Headline writing is a skill and a well paid trade in itself.
Improve your headline and you will increase the traffic to your website.
Here’s some tips for getting a great, clickable headline.
1. List based headlines
The headlines that generate the most clicks are list type headlines. You will have seen many of these. For instance, 7 Ways To Make More Money. 3 Simple Steps To Sleep Better. 5 Tips To Flatter Abs.
Use a list type headline for your content, and you will increase the amount of traffic you get from it e.g. 3 Things That Went Wrong When Recording Our Album.
2. How to headlines
These are headlines that start with the phrase “How To…” They promise that the article will show you how to do something. These are common too. That’s because people are more likely to click them. You’ll see plenty of examples around. In fact, this post follows this type: How To Run Effective Free Social Media Campaigns For Musicians.
3. Ask A Question
I remember an old joke when I was a child. Someone asked me “how do you keep an idiot in suspense?” I said I didn’t know. Their punchline: “I’ll tell you later!”
Story tellers know that the one thing humans can’t resist is a knowledge gap. It’s a device that all the best fiction writers use. In fact, even the poorer ones use it. Ever stayed with an awful film just because you wanted to know what happened? That’s because the writer has asked a question in the story that you need an answer to. That’s the knowledge gap at work.
Ask an interesting question in your headline and people will click to get the answer.
Now To Promote It!
So you have regular content with great headlines. You can now bring a real purpose to your promotion. No longer will you be sending aimless messages into the Twitterverse. Or directing traffic to other people’s websites.
You will now be driving visitors to find out more about YOU.
When it comes to promoting your content there are several channels to market it too. All are free. Let’s go through them.
Your email list
These are people who have asked to hear from you. They are eager to get news from you. Whenever you have fresh content, send them a short email to let them know. Include a link to that piece of content in the email.
This will be a huge source of your traffic. Ensure you have a way of collecting email addresses from visitors to your site. Your list is a priority. It is the only promotion channel that you actually own.
That means it is the only promotion channel that you have direct access to your subscribers. Things like Facebook policy changes don’t impact you here.
Your Facebook Fan page followers
These are people who have clicked Like on your Facebook fan page. They have asked to stay in touch via Facebook about any news from you.
Your Facebook Personal Profile
This is your own Facebook profile where your Facebook friends are. I always share my content to my Facebook profile, and ask for a share.
Many of my Facebook friends have become fans of my music. Indeed, many of my fans have become Facebook friends. So it makes sense to share your content here.
Your friends are rooting for you too. Many will share your content to their own friends out of solidarity.
Your Facebook Group
Few musicians have Facebook groups so this might not apply to you yet. But I find them a great way to engage fans. If you don’t have one, consider setting one up.
In my estimation, about 10% of your mailing list will join your group right away. Then it will grow over time.
You can see how one works by joining the free Be Your Own Record Label FB Group here.
Facebook keeps the reach of posts to your Fan Page low because they want you to buy ads. It is currently estimated that only about 6% of your FB Fans will get to see your posts.
That’s not the case with Groups. When we post in a Group, everybody can see it.
Your Twitter account
Post your content to your Twitter account. Always ask for a retweet by putting “Pls RT” (meaning Please Retweet) at the end of each message.
Internet researchers have reported that this simple request results in more retweets. Retweets and FB shares are the key way for your content to spread beyond your current circle. So always ask explicitly.
Look out for influential people who follow you. By influential, I mean people with a lot of followers, who resonate with your own fan base.
You can tag them into an update in the hope that they will retweet to their many followers. But do this sparingly. Don’t spam them. Only send them things that are likely to be of strong interest to them.
You could even experiment with creating a piece of content specifically designed to appeal to them. Or use the earlier technique and do a feature on them.
All other social media networks
I focus on Twitter and Facebook, but there are others out there that are popular. If you’re active on a particular platform, share your new content there too.
Don’t Just Do It Once
A common mistake is to write some content, then promote it to your channels just the once.
As already explained, Facebook have restricted the reach of posts. Only about 6% of your followers will see your one post to your Facebook fan page.
In the same way, most of your Twitter followers will miss your tweet. They’ll only see it if they were online at the time. The majority won’t see it.
Even on your email list, it’s common for only 20% of your fans to open any given email.
Guess how many times I promote a new piece of content on social media?
Five. At first.
The First Week
The first part of my strategy is to focus on the first week.
I promote a piece of content on five different occasions within the first week.
That’s three times in the first two days. Then I wait a few days and promote it again. Then a few days later, a final time.
You can schedule these posts all at once. That stops you having to come back and do it all over again. It’s quicker to post them all at once, and schedule the times that the messages go live.
After that, forever
You’ll remember that I advised earlier to avoid too much topical content. This is because I want everything you create to work for you forever. Timeless content is best.
In this part of the strategy, I put that content to work.
It’s true that people are unlikely to click on content they’ve seen before. But even after 5 shares in the first week, most people just won’t have see it at all. This is why I recycle my content.
Recycling means keeping a library of content that you will repost over and over again.
By sharing your content long after it was created, it will still be working to drive traffic to your website.
You can do this by keeping an Excel spreadsheet of your content. Just work through it in a loop. Every morning, schedule the days content from your archive. It doesn’t take long to do.
It’s an effective use of your time because you’ll drive new visitors to your site without having created any fresh content.
My rule of promoting new content 5 times in the first week doesn’t apply to email.
I don’t send 5 emails per piece of content. That would get me a ton of unsubscribes. Email inboxes are precious things.
But it’s fine to send an email twice – if you do it right.
Many email list providers have a cool feature. It allows you to resend your email only to the people who didn’t open the first one.
Some even allow you to change the subject line of the email too. So if the first subject line didn’t get them to open, you have a second bite of the cherry with an alternative.
This is a great way to increase the amount of fans reading your emails. It’s better than just resending, as it won’t bother those people who have already read it.
It can increase the amount of readers (and so traffic to your site) by around 80%. All at the click of a button.
I set out to provide you with a way to run an effective, ongoing social media campaign for musicians.
The goal was to give you a strategy that would provide results. These same tactics doubled my website traffic within the space of 2 months. It’s powerful stuff.
I particularly wanted to give you something that used few resources – especially when it comes to time and money.
All the tactics in this post are completely free to use. None rely on paid advertising.
They also don’t take up lots of your time. Marketing should support our music, not the other way around.
Where you do need to put some work in, I have ensured that your time is spent doing creative tasks rather than tons of admin. Moreover, any work you do will be rewarded with website traffic forever.
1. Content is the lifeblood of your marketing. Without it, people have no reason to visit your site.
2. Make consistent content for your readers and their network.
3. Promote it to all your channels.
4. Promote it 5 times per channel in the first week.
5. Recycle it forever thereafter.
There is a lot more detail I could go into. But this post is already at 4,500 words and I want to keep it as a blog post rather than a novel 🙂
If you would like to go further, you can benefit your music promotion even further. Check the details for the full course by clicking here.