In the past I’ve often worked with many artists, and the struggle for relevance on social media was always on top of my mind. It’s a delicate balance between staying authentic, and at the same time promoting your music and, in a way, promoting a brand. It’s notoriously hard for independent musicians, but even with indie or major signed acts the matter always comes up. How many times have I heard a record label executive utter the words:
“We need more content. You need to push more content so we can post the call to action. Content is king!”
This is a bit of a stereotype and a hyperbole, of course, but in a way, content is very important. Of course, it’s not the most important thing, that would be the music, but the content can be a conduit to draw people to the music. But what content can an artist post? What avenues can be explored? Here is a little list, but I would love to hear from you if you have any additions. It’s an ever-evolving game so it’s important to stay up to date on all social media and the different format requirements.
First of all, let’s talk a bit about content in general.
When we talk about content we are referring to content you can post on social media. Now, the trick to social media is to be authentic, and to genuinely build a community. So this means that if every one of your posts is asking people to buy a product, to listen to an album or to go buy tickets, they will perceive this as inauthentic and worse, probably not interesting.
There are all kinds of theories on how to post, what to post and how often to post, but it’s up to yourself to figure out what works for you as an artist and your brand. For some artists once a week is fine, for others it’s 4 times a day. So do a little research, and experiment. This means different times, days, content, copy and tone of voice. Depending on how many likes, comments or general engagement you have on each post you should be able to figure out what works best for you.
Another important thing to note about content is the form of the content. It makes no sense posting a lengthy essay on Instagram or an hour-long documentary on Snapchat. So follow these guidelines for that whatever platform you post on:
- Make sure the content is in the platform’s native form (Instagram = photos, Youtube = long form videos, TikTok = short form videos, etc.)
- Make sure the content you are sharing is not a call to move to another platform. People are browsing on social media for fun, engaging or emotive content. They don’t want to be sent somewhere else.
- Make sure the content you post on each platform is tailored to that platform. If somebody follows you on more than one platform you want to reward them, not serve them the same rehashed content.
- Every post should tell a story. This can be a long story, or a short story, but people want stories. Make sure that whatever message, story or emotion you are trying to get across, is coming across.
- Make sure your content is consistent in its branding. This means all your content should have the same “feel”. An easy way to check this is by looking at your Instagram feed. Is it a chaos of colors, composition and a mix between video’s, photo’s and text? Then you might need to work on it a little more.
Apart from deciding what you are going to post it’s also good to think about when you are posting what. This can be done simply with just an Excel sheet with a calendar overview and a little note on each day what you are posting, or a Google calendar with entries for each day, but there are fully-fledged social planners out there as well, meaning apps but also people that can do this for you. Besides that there are also apps that are helpful in making sure the aesthetic of your feed stays consistent, such as Unum, but I’m sure there are many more.
Whatever you choose, it’s important to stay consistent and punctual. It will raise your engagement significantly, especially if your content is of high quality, and it will give people some sort of feel for when they can expect new content.
So let’s get down to it, what kind of content is there to post for an artist?
Whenever you do a photoshoot it’s important to get as many photos as you can for your money. High quality photos are great to post in between any big announcements, or if you’re feeling uninspired and you have no other content. It’s important to make sure they are of high quality.
Videoclips / visualizers
As with photos, it’s also important for video to shoot as much content as you can. Video is even more engaging than photos, and if used properly, can boost your engagement through the roof. Videoclips are no longer the industry standard but instead short-form videos are. Think along the lines of 8-30 second videos, which you can loop if needed into full song length. This you can use for your Spotify Canvas, Instagram Stories, Insta TV, Youtube, etc.
Of course, if you want to make a fully-fledged videoclip, go for it. You can use multiple fragments of a full videoclip for advertisements, Canvas, stories etc. A fully-fledged video can carry more story and weight behind it, but it’s also snowed under more easily since there is so much content being put out every day.
Behind the scenes photos / videos
Whenever you’re doing a photoshoot, video shoot, studio recording or any other content creation activity, make sure there’s another person also making photos and videos. These can be lower-quality, because they are mainly used to give fans a little peek behind the curtain and see how the magic is made. Depending on your audience, but in general people love having a little look at what’s behind the mirror.
If people pay tribute to you as an artist, repost them! This can be anything from fan drawings and artwork, to covers and posts. It’s always a great way to boost engagement with your current fanbase and strengthen your bond with superfans. Of course, it’s up to your own judgement to decide what you should share and what is not worth sharing.
News and announcements
This is a bit of a no-brainer, but if you have any news or announcements, you should always share this with all of your fans. Try not to make posts to get your followers to buy something, listen to something or to go to a different platform too often.
Also try to fit all news and announcements in a certain ‘mold’ for your branding as an artist. This means all tour announcements, single drops, album pre-orders etc. should have the same distinct look and feel. Nothing looks sloppier than 10 different announcements on one page, all with a different font, color scheme and logo. So please, be consistent.
At the end of the day, as an artist it’s your job to entertain. So make sure to always produce content that is fitting for whatever platform you’re posting on, and make sure it evokes some form of emotion. Combine a content calendar with the ideas on this page and you should have a big advantage on most other artists, who are just posting when they feel like it. Social media should be planned out, just like traditional media. If you are scrambling each day for ideas on what to post that day, you’re doing it wrong.