In many ways, now is the best time to be a musician. Thanks to social media and the internet, you have access to an audience that artists only dreamed of a mere 5 years ago; you have the same distribution channels as the megastars; and you’re not dependent on major media outlets for validation… you can leverage your own social media!
But this can be daunting. While there’s a potential audience of billions, it might start with only 3 followers on Twitter. Don’t worry; here are 5 quick tips to get you going on the path to being the next internet phenomenon.
1. Be Consistent
Be mindful of your handles and try to keep them consistent. For example: if your band is called Dude Canoe, use the same naming convention for your Twitter handle and your Facebook and Vine accounts (e.g., @dudecanoe, facebook.com/dudecanoe). There are tools you can use such as Namechk (namechk.com) to see what’s available on the web before committing. Consistency is helpful when building your identity, and as your fan base grows you’ll want them to be able to find you quickly and intuitively.
2. Create A Hub
Set up a URL that can function as a central hub for key content and drive traffic to this destination. It could be a simple blog that maps to a custom domain. I recommend Square Space (http://squarespace.com) — it’s clean and easy to use. In the case of Dude Canoe, a hypothetical URL might be dudecanoe.com. Such an “umbrella” URL allows you to drive online traffic toward your landing page, so if someone visits you via Youtube, they’ll always be directed back to your home page where you can deliver key messages such as how to buy tickets for an upcoming tour or download new music.
3. Know Your Audience
Social media offers a chance to directly connect with an audience of people who want to support your music, but to connect you need to develop an editorial voice. Who are you speaking to? How do you want to position yourself online? It’s important to remember that anything you say or do in a social space is perceived as part of your identity, part of your messaging. Don’t make little insider quips to your friends or stumble around with your words. When you communicate, do so loudly and in a voice that connects with your intended audience. Be confident. Be strategic. Be funny. Be timely. Be charming. Be real.
Songwriter Sara Bareilles (@SaraBareilles) is great at this. I’m not a fan of her music, but I follow her because she’s funny and engaging. I get the sense that she’s speaking to me and she’s being herself. Nothing is more off-putting than the constant spam of self-involvement most musicians exhibit. Sara seems to connect with, and thrive on, genuine fan interaction. The same thing can happen when you are just starting out. Follow the people who inspire you. Jump into the conversation. You’ll be surprised by how many people will write back or connect with you out of shared interests or agendas. You’re building a social community; curate it accordingly.
5. Follow Through
Social media needs to connect in a very human way in order for it to be useful. It might take you a while to build up to a few hundred followers on Twitter, or gain a bunch of “likes” on Facebook, but don’t worry. If you can connect with just a handful of people who truly admire you and your work, then you’re well on your way. It’s okay to start small and it’s important to stay focused. There are no short cuts to building an online community. You simply need to take the time to have meaningful and real conversations. If you do, you’ll give your fans a reason to come back for more.