I have been promising to write a blog post about how I am using Facebook to develop my brand as a musician and am finally getting round to delivering on my promise.
For a few years now I have been trying to build my following on Facebook. I created a “musician fan page” and was posting as and when I had something to post about (which was infrequently) and dabbling around in “Likes” campaigns and generally not making much progress at all. I really was flailing around up the creek without a paddle.
Then I came across someone called Kim Garst on Periscope and started following her. Kim is a social medial guru, with a huge social footprint of her own. She has 450,000 followers on twitter and 256,000 on Facebook. She actually puts into practice what she teaches. Personally I get very peeved with people who keep offering to help me out with social media but have exactly two and half followers of their own!
I joined up with Kim’s Inner Circle at a cost of $49 per month and began an intense learning period.
Below are some of the things I have learned and am currently putting into practice. Using these strategies and a budget of a mere R10 per day (about 50 US cents) I have grown from a reach of only 800 per day to an average of 6000 per day. In addition, page likes have grown by 18% without me undertaking any paid likes campaigns.
1. You don’t always have to post about yourself
What a relief and revelation this was. I had been battling to post interesting stuff and was probably boring my fans to death! This is so obvious and yet is missed by many musicians. Why not repost other music associated content that you relate to as an artist? Repost stuff that resonates with people, music stuff that you enjoy seeing on your own Facebook feed, music stuff that is going viral (more on this below), create your own graphics, post interesting videos, post interesting personal anecdotes and build a story around yourself and your music.
Every post and repost tells your fans something about YOU. That is what they are interested in. They are interested in what makes you tick and everything that interests you as a musician tells a small part of your brand and of your story.
2. Post consistently (at least twice a day)
Kim recommends posting 6 times a day. Personally this is too much for me. If I posted 6 times a day I would never do anything else! I am finding twice a day suits me. I post at around 9:00 in the morning (which is when most people arrive at work, have a cup of coffee and check out their Facebook feed) and again around 3:00 in the afternoon (which is in that dead patch when people are waiting to knock off and go home). Of course these times will depend on what time zone your fans are based in and what their Facebook habits are. You can find out when your own fans are online with Facebook using the “Insights” button on your fan page.
On a Monday morning I will usually try and find a full week’s worth of content and then use the Facebook scheduler to space out the posting of this content. When I go on holiday at the end of the year I will tell my fans that I won’t be posting during the month of December but they can expect to start seeing my posts again on the 10th of January.
3. Find and post viral content
Let me say one thing, it is very hard to get things to go viral. When you see videos of Doug the Pug with millions of views you tend to think that it is a piece of luck. Well, nine times out of ten it is not luck but shear hard work that has created this. It even may be the case that the producer of Doug the Pug created dozens of other Youtube personalities that went to the bottom of the ocean before Doug took off.
Anyway, the point is that creating viral content is hard (but not impossible). I would say that in order to create viral content you have to create a LOT of content. While this is not a bad thing it may not necessarily be in your game plan to do this. You may want to spend your time, say, making music. However, is there anything stopping you SHARING viral content?
So how do you find viral content? There are several ways of doing this (that I know of) ranging from jolly expensive to free. I use a tool called Buzzsumo. This is a completely wonderful tool but NOT cheap. Using Buzzsumo you can find the most shared content on Facebook over the last X days or months on almost any topic under the sun. So if you are into underwater hockey you can search for the most shared content Facebook relating to this subject and, if the content appeals to you, then you can share it on your page. (It probably goes without saying but I feel I should warn you that it is a good idea to watch the entire video or read the complete article before sharing it!)
A second tool that I have used in the past is called Post planner. It is not in the same price league as Buzzsumo but does a pretty good job of identifying viral content, especially if you already know the pages that are creating great shareable content.
The third alternative is free but as expected not as effective as either Buzzsumo or Post Planner. Spend some time on Facebook and find the BIG music Facebook pages that have the most viral content that appeals to YOU. Personally I would not bother with sites that have less that 100,000 likes. Pick sites that are currently active and are posting multiple times a day. Then go to your Insights tab on your Fan page. Go down to “Pages to Watch” and add these pages. Then click on the page and Facebook will show you the top posts from this page over the last week and there you go! You will find content that is already proven. You will find content that people like to share. Post it on your page, making sure to always credit the source of the content. I can almost guarantee that your fans will like this content too!
Monitor the reach of individual posts, using your “Insights” tab. Post more of the stuff that is working and less of the stuff that isn’t. So if your regular posts saying “buy my record” or “ come to my gig” or “vote for me” or “support my crowd funding campaign” have very little reach compared to your other posts, then consider posting less of this type of content. Please note; that I did not say you should not publish these types of posts. Just make sure mix them in with other types of content that are not always asking your fans to do something or buy something.
4. Post a variety of content types
Graphics still rule on Facebook. However, I think it is still a good idea to post a variety of content types to keep interest. Post articles, blogs, photos, videos, personal stuff, humour and testimonials. I try to only post positive stuff. I generally do not share posts about people who died (unless it was someone that I cared about, like David Bowie or Prince) or political posts (unless Donald Trump is making a nana of himself) no matter how viral content is going.
One thing to note on this topic is that people that are posting a lot of native Facebook video (including live video) are making a killing on reach. The reason for this is quite simple to understand (if you are Mark Zuckerberg). Firstly you must accept the fact that Facebook, and Facebook alone, decides how many people will receive your content on their feeds. Secondly, rumor has it that Facebook is trying very hard to dethrone Youtube as the king of video and is giving disproportionate reach to native video (including live video). Native video is video that is uploaded directly to Facebook, and not a link to Youtube or Vimeo. So grab your guitar put your phone on a tripod, switch on the lights, open the curtains and go live. It is fun, I promise!
5. Have a monthly budget
Facebook is trying hard to get you to part with your hard earned bucks. It is an unfortunate fact of life. It is also unfortunate that it is too easy to be lured into spending all your hard earned bucks and seeing very little in return. If Facebook is part of your sales or brand building strategy going forward then you are going to have to pee or get off the pot.
The good news is that your budget does not have to be very large to make an impact. I mentioned earlier that my budget is less than 50 US cents per day. I use this money to boost posts that already have a high number of shares and then invite people who like that post to like my fan page. You can use this budget to promote posts that ask your fans to buy your music or you can do a likes campaign or you can dip your toe into Facebook advertising (which is another whole blog post!).
Don’t be tempted to spend more than your monthly budget (Facebook WILL try and tempt you to do this) and don’t be tempted to abandon your budget on a whim. If you decide something is not working for you, rather channel the money into trying something else on Facebook. You will soon get a feel for what is working and what is not.
6. Engage, engage, engage
How many of you get irritated in the following situation: You post a nice comment on an acquaintance’s post about his child’s English Literature prize. After a few days you notice that you didn’t get a “thank you” or even a “like” on your comment. You go back and check and none of the comments have been acknowledged by the original poster. You have no idea if your friend has ever bothered to revisit his post and you start to wonder why you bothered.
Now I know there are some artists who get hundreds and thousands of comments on their posts and they cannot hope to acknowledge each and every comment. But then again, I would begin to wonder if artists like that are reading this blog post! Most of us are in the camp of zero to 20 comments on our most successful Facebook posts.
Until you hit the big times you should ALWAYS engage with each and every comment. Sometimes a “like” will be sufficient. I always “like” every comment received on content reposted from other pages (unless it is rude, in which case it either gets ignored or deleted). Sometimes I will comment back. I almost always comment back on comments received on my own content.
My feeling about this is that if you are not prepared to engage with those that engage with your posts then you should not be posting on Facebook in the first place. (Note; I reserve the right to change my mind about this when I am getting thousands of comments on my posts )
I am going to finish off by saying that you should not really be building your brand on Facebook.“What are you telling me?” I hear you say “First you tell me how to use it and now you are telling me I should not be using it?”
What I really mean is that Facebook should not be your primary focus in communicating with your fans. The reason for this is simple. Have you ever heard the expression “Don’t build your house on someone else’s real estate”? Facebook changes its mind like a teenager changes his T-shirt. It may not even survive (perish the thought). If your only connection to your fans is though Facebook then you are running a huge risk. You should always try and get your fans to go to your website and sign-up for your mailing list. You own that. You control that. No-one can ever take it away.
I was watching someone on Periscope the other day. She had a scope titled “Is Periscope dying”. In her scope she was literally pleading with her audience to not let Periscope die. She said how she had worked so hard to get 10,000 followers and it cannot possibly die. This is a lesson to us all. Social networks are fickle. Do not invest exclusively or too heavily in any one platform. Build your own website, build your own mailing list, build your own brand.
I could go on for pages and pages on Facebook for musicians but I think this is enough for you to sink your teeth into for now. I may do a blog on what I have learned about Facebook advertising so please leave a comment if you would be interested in this.
Comments and questions are always most welcome.