Why artists are failing at Social Media

And how to get back into the game.

Summer holidays are over, it’s back to classes and homework. That includes me as well. While I’m preparing classes for students at Hogeschool Inholland Haarlem and Herman Brood Academie, I would like to share with you some of my core views on using social media as an artist or artist manager. Consider this part one. I am sure I will return with more insights, do’s and don’ts, reminders, hacks in the near future.

Let me start at the point where it should start:
managing expectations.

I work on social media strategies with artists on a regular basis. When taking off on our soon to become strategy I always ask: how do you feel things are going at the moment? What would you like to achieve? Based the answers they give me I can pretty much tell why they feel disappointed with the results of their current strategy — if they even had one. And it’s often not necessarily because of the strategy itself. Let me show you.

‘We would like to get more likes on our posts’
‘We want to sell more concert tickets’
‘We want people to share our video’s’

I’m pretty sure all artists (and companies) use social media to reach their target audience and to sell their products. What most neglect to see — and more importantly neglect to take into account when firing up a strategy — is that Social media platforms are not billboards on the side of the road or advertisements in the newspaper. Sure, there is huge potential for selling. But the question you should be asking is:

How can I build a solid and trustworthy relationship with my audience?

But why? I want direct results and instant conversion. Well buddy, I hate to break it to you: there is no such thing on Social Media. You have come to the wrong place. Please read on.

Fun (and honestly quite scary) fact: The average attention span for watching videos on Facebook is 8 seconds. And counting. Down. If you know what I mean.

Some insights that might help
‘Social Media’ are platforms where the user is the curator, not some board of editors/directors. To make effective use of #SocialMedia you have to understand that the users did not come to these platforms to buy stuff. That is what Webshops are for. No, they come to be entertained. To make connections. To identify themselves with others, or not at all. To step out of (or escape) their own life, and dive into another’s. Now let the latter resonate when I continue with the following. Most of your ‘favorite’ platforms — like Facebook and Instagram — use algorithms to make sure that the user sees what it wants to see. Or to put it more personally: the algorithm uses your click/like/search information to determine what you will (and won’t) see in the future. That means:

The quality of content matters.
The relevancy of content matters.
The context of content matters.

In straight talk that means:
If what you’re posting doesn’t strike a chord with user X → user X and Mr. Algorithm will make sure that user X will not see any more of your content in the near future.

This is where building a relationship with your audience is so damn important. They need to feel important, involved and entertained. That’s when (and where) the magic happens. That’s when content is liked, videos are shared and tickets are sold. So take some time off from looking at the numbers. Focus on quality, relevancy and context. Something as simple as asking yourself the following questions before you post anything, will help you increase the possible success of your content:

– Is this entertaining, informative, funny or interesting?
– Is my image/video high quality and/or striking enough?
– Am I directing this to the right people on the right platform?
– Am I asking too much of the person reading this?
– Is the text or video too long?
– Are the hashtags relevant, memorable or too much?
– Do I sound authentic and sincere?
– Will the content resonate with the reader?

Let’s finish with a couple of important DON’TS:
1. Like-baiting. The word ‘bait’ already emphasizes the negative side of this 21st century phenomenon. What is like-bait? -> ‘Click like if you’re also having a shitty Monday morning’. It will extend the reach on that particular post, sure. But it will diminish the reach on your upcoming posts, all thanks to Mr. Algorithm (he doesn’t really like click- and like-baiting).

2. Platform copying. We all know that guy/girl that auto-posts Instagram to Facebook and Twitter. What you will see on Facebook are @tags that don’t work and a million hashtags that Facebook users don’t like (pretty sure Mr. Algorithm feels the same). On Twitter the @tags are clickable, but might lead to nowhere or someone different (don’t we all have different page names? Damn you other girl who took my Username!!). Further more photos are not directly visible, you need to click-through to see and read the full post. Who’s got time for that?! Especially not for someone who doesn’t even put in a little bit of effort for his Twitter followers. Tragically missed opportunities here people.

3. Repeated content. If you’re afraid the morning people didn’t catch your video from last night, don’t post it again. For starters, Mr. Algorithm will recognize and immediately diminish your reach. Secondly, not very sympathetic now is it? If you do want an increase in reach, put your money where your mouth is. Boost that post and set your target audience right.

Remember: you’re selling a good night’s sleep, not the mattress

Wait, what? Paying for reach?! Have they gone out of their minds?! Well, they didn’t. You just did. Social Media may not be a billboard or newspaper ad, but is convincing people to come and buy from you any different than any other kind of advertisement you need to pay for?

Well. That’s it for now folks. We will be announcing a Social Media masterclass going into depth about all of this somewhere between now and I’m not sure. It sure doesn’t hurt letting me know you would be interested.

Photo by Erik Lucatero – Unsplash.com

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