For many musicians, social media is a sore spot. We know we need to promote ourselves but we’re uncomfortable with networking—whether online or off. So the time we spend on social media isn’t professionally productive and it’s often personally discouraging. We compare how we feel inside to other musicians’ shiny achievements and glamorous outsides. To help, here are 5 Social Media Strategies for Musicians so you can put your best foot forward online.
If you’re anything like me, you have a love/hate relationship with social media. On the one hand, you appreciate how easy it is to find and connect with people, to be able to celebrate their successes and offer support where needed. And it’s great that social media allows us to expand our circles and stay connected with people — no matter where they are on the planet.
On the other hand, there’s all the hours, days, and years of our lives that social media is stealing from us. And there’s the fact that social media use leads to ‘compare and despair,’ to envy, self-judgment, and depression.
The good news is we can do a lot to ameliorate the negative side effects of social media. But first we need to . . .
1. Admit that we’re addicted
Author and marketing consultant Simon Sinek, in a terrific talk, “Understanding the Game We’re In” pointed out our tell tale symptoms of addiction:
“1. You go out to eat with friends but keep your phone on the table and text with others during the meal. Here’s the problem: you can’t be fully present and engaged if you’re focused on your messages. What’s worse, your behavior says to the people you’re dining with that they’re not your top priority—not worth your full attention. If your device is always on the table at meals, you’re addicted.
2. If the last thing you do before sleeping and the first thing you do in the morning is check your messages, you’re addicted.
3. If you’re constantly checking messages throughout the day and regularly lose track of the hours you’ve spent online, you’re addicted.”
Social media addiction keeps us constantly distracting ourselves—from the real work of becoming the artists we are meant to be. This takes a significant toll on our productivity, our creativity, and our relationships. It’s a hell of a price to pay for wanting to stay in touch with friends and promote our careers.
So what can we do?
2. Distinguish between real and fake networking
Author and marketing expert Seth Godin takes a strong stance on what social media can and can’t do for any professional:
“It’s worthless to have lots and lots of friends on Facebook because they’re not really your friends. They’re just people who didn’t want to offend you by pressing the ignore button.
And, if you’ve got 5000 people following you on twitter because you tell a dirty joke every couple hours that’s not particularly useful for your business either.
The internet is a giant cocktail party with all these people swarming and connecting as much as they can because they’re keeping score. ‘Who likes me today and who’s talking about me today?’
What matters are where are the real relationships.
Our real relationships happen through shared experience and the exchange of worthwhile ideas. These are meaningful connections with people you know and who know you. Not simply transacting a few bits of data.”
To tame the addiction and make better use of social media, you’ll need to:
3. Reclaim your time and attention: do a strategic “social media audit”
Your time and attention are, in fact, your two most precious resources. In order to make better use of social media and to stop the time suck, you’ll need to change some habits.
If you want to be more productive with your time, you need to be intentional about how you’re spending it. If you are choosing to spend an hour or two bingeing on fashion photos, home decor interventions, or dog videos, that’s one thing.
The problem is, most of us aren’t making conscious choices about how we spend our time.
To become more conscious, try this pro strategy:
For one week, track your social media use: make note of when and how you’re using it — and how much time you spend.
Just jot down when you start and stop and a line on whether you’re posting, leaving substantial comments, and interacting with people outside your immediate circle. Keep track either in your calendar or in a notebook.
This will reveal your social media habits: what you’re spending most of the time doing. What kinds of posts and comments you’re making. And who you’re interacting with.
You’ll learn how you’re actually spending your time. And once you know this, you can make informed decisions about any changes you care to make.
But there’s more. You also need to . . .
4. Choose how you want to show up in social media: Clarify your intended online “persona”
Let me be clear: I’m not talking about concocting a slick professional “image” to hide behind or an alter ego. Please don’t do that. I’m talking about being conscious of the range of topics and the tone you want people to consistently encounter when they find you online.
You might be thinking, well, I use my FB profile for my personal connections, and my FB page for professional purposes. But let’s be real: in cyberspace the personal and the professional are always blurred. So be intentional about what you put out there—it’s your reputation at stake.
To help, try this Pro strategy. Write two short lists. First . . .
List five adjectives describing how you want to come across to others online. These words should describe the version of you that you intend your social media posts and comments to convey. For me, I aim for these: insightful, generous, appreciative, kind, and enthusiastic.
What are your five adjectives?
Now list the five topic areas that you mainly focus on in your social media posts and comments. For me, the overarching topic is music career development. But the specific subtopics I focus on are promo materials, freelancing, booking concerts, creativity, and peak performances. This doesn’t mean I don’t ever write about other topics. It just means that these are the topics I gravitate toward most. They are consistent with my “brand” and my mission.
What are your five go-to topics?
Once you clarify your intended tone and range of topics, it’s easier to stay consistent with yourself. And to steer clear of online behavior or posts that don’t communicate the best version of yourself.
5. Have a social media plan
Pros are intentional about how they spend their time—they plan. The strategy here is to schedule consistent times each day for your social media. Business coach Dallas Travers recommends a focused 20 minutes 3 times per day—she does it after each meal. In each 20 minute slot, you can quickly check and respond to direct messages and then check in on key contacts you’ve been following on any of the platforms you use.
In terms of developing content and scheduling posts, pick a consistent weekly time block for writing newsletters or blog posts. I spend a time block every Sunday on this newsletter and scheduling other key posts (content I’ve already developed).
I hope these 5 Social Media Strategies for Musicians help to heal your addiction and get more productive.
When it comes to using social media to help advance your career, this doesn’t mean relentlessly plugging your own performances, albums, or crowdfunding campaigns. You need a healthy balance of other material. So stay tuned—next week I’ve got a fantastic approach from music publicist Ariel Hyatt on social media content coming your way!
Got questions about your music career? Hit me up in our exclusive Musicians Making It Facebook group — happy to have you join the conversation!
Let’s get your career in forward motion,