At times, the presence of various social networks can be more baffling than clear-cut. Especially in a world where there are more social networks than ever, and their functionality is starting to appear so uniform.
I was recently asked to explain the difference between Facebook and Instagram by an entrepreneur who is trying to figure out how to best utilize the platforms. Being that we’re in a rather unsettled world right now, it may not be long before this article is made completely obsolete (just scan Facebook related headlines and you’ll see what I mean).
That said, here are some thoughts on how to best leverage each platform for promoting your projects.
Why Facebook & Instagram?
Facebook and Instagram are among the most popular and effective channels for generating traffic and engagement.
Their business value is a little suspect unless used with strategy and extreme intention. But you can stimulate engagement, build a following, grow your email list, and even generate sales, if you’re patient, consistent, and calculated in how you approach these platforms.
Facebook still sends more traffic to my website than any other social network.
Instagram is much tougher, and that has a lot to do with how the platform is set up. But we’ll get to that.
What to Share on Facebook?
When sharing to any social media platform, paying careful attention to your Dream 100 and modeling their activity will help you streamline your own posting efforts (this tells you most of what you need to know).
With that established, Facebook allows for a variety of content types.
Some of these post types may not apply to your specific project or business, and that’s fine.
Creating Variety in Your Content
At minimum, rotating through text, images and graphics, links to blog posts or curated content, video and lives helps create variety for your audience. This drives up engagement.
Short-form video is all the rage on trendy platforms like Instagram and TikTok. But Facebook is trying to become a little more like YouTube, and users generally tolerate longer videos. So, even if short videos are part of your content plan, it would be worth considering creating longer videos too.
Targeting Your Audience
You can create a more sophisticated content strategy if you wish. But this should always be done with your audience in mind. What do they want? What do they respond to? How do they like to engage?
Ongoing testing can teach you a great deal about your audience, which is one of the reasons you should begin posting without having all the answers.
Profiles, Pages & Groups
Unless you have a page with a big following, I’m sorry to say, pages are dead.
Use your personal profile or groups to promote your projects. You’re bound to get more results and leverage this way.
I get far more engagement posting to my profile than my pages.
What to Share on Instagram?
Instagram is a visually oriented platform. Pictures, images / graphics, and videos or lives are the only types of content accepted.
Text Based Content?
For the most part, you won’t be creating huge walls of text or blog article style posts for Instagram.
You will be creating text for your image and video captions, though, so you can engage users in this manner too. Add plenty of emojis to your captions, keep it light and fun, maybe inject a bit of curiosity or humor. Also add hashtags (more on this later).
Dua Lipa has been using emojis AS her caption.
Yes, depending on the target audience, longer captions can work. But test this out before dedicating all your time and energy to it. These days, I’m seeing a move towards short, title-based captions.
And, of course, as with most visually oriented platforms – quotes, memes, comic strips, and other content containing textual hooks – still work.
Commenting & Interacting
As with Facebook, on Instagram, you can follow other users and comment on their posts. The Instagram comment section in most posts, though, in my observation, is a cesspool of stupidity, self-promotion, and trawling for business (Instagram influencers looking to take your money in exchange for exposure). So, you will stand out if you add genuine value to the conversations.
Another major difference with Instagram is that hashtag use is encouraged. Add about 21 hashtags to each post for maximum effectiveness. You can add hashtags to your Facebook posts, but they are less effective, and it is recommended that you keep to three or fewer hashtags on Facebook.
Also be sure to utilize the stories function on both platforms. You can share your own (and other people’s content) to your stories and this gives you a gentle boost in the algorithm and gets you more visibility with your followers.
Stories show up at the top of the page.
Link in the Bio
This, at least to me, is Instagram’s weakest link. You can’t add hyperlinks in your captions. So, if you want to take your followers on journeys outside of the platform, you’ve got to encourage them to “click the link in my bio.”
The goal of marketing isn’t likes, shares, comments, or follows – it’s income. And generating income from Instagram without being able to turn your followers into subscribers – at least – is going to prove a tough job. Not impossible, just tough.
How do you get people to click that link? That’s the question.
You can take advantage of tools like Linktree and SleekBio to create simplified landing pages where you can direct users to specific links, but sadly it doesn’t change the fact that you still need to get people to click the link in your bio in the first place.
Can I Repurpose Content?
As much as possible, create content that’s tailored to the platform.
For instance, 1080 x 1080 images might work well on Instagram, but the recommended size for Facebook posts is 1200 x 630.
Short-form videos might be all the rage on Instagram, but you might want to experiment with long-from videos on Facebook.
And so on.
This isn’t to suggest you need to reinvent the wheel every time. But you can, and should, repurpose where it makes sense to do.
When using social media, I pay attention to three things – traffic generated to my website, email subscribers, and sales. Engagement feels good, sure, but I’m clear it’s not going to do anything for my business.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t take advantage of social media. Just beware of falling in love with the addiction machine when it is delivering no real business value.
Obviously, there are many ways to get your music out to a bigger audience.
Social media represents a massive opportunity, and that’s where most people turn to when they want to get their thing seen by more people.
And that’s not terrible thinking, but let’s face it – standing out on social media takes something. Even if you do capture people’s attention with your hulking muscles, toned butt, or shiny guitar collection, will it be for the right reasons? Will those people go and listen to your music after they’ve ogled your shapely behind?
So, getting attention on social media isn’t enough. It’s useless unless you get people to take a next step with you.
Does that mean you should throw in the towel? Obviously not.
There’s a marketing concept that has been shown to work over the long haul, and while it will take some work to execute, it can help you reach bigger audiences in bursts and spurts (versus the gradual build of setting up a website, a blog, social media presence, ads, and so forth – good to do, but try combining that with what we’re about to look at, and you will see huge results).
There are different ways of thinking about Dream 100, as well as how it will look implemented in one’s career, but at base, it’s all about seeking out people who already have the audience you want, building a relationship with them, and making requests of them after you’ve built up that relationship.
In my world, that generally means requesting guest post opportunities, making podcast and radio appearances, giving presentations, and the like.
I can follow these people on social media, share things they publish, comment on their posts, send them books, offer to cover them on my blog, or interview them on my podcast (all things I’ve done!).
If there’s any reason to build your own publishing platform, it would be this – you can add value to your Dream 100. If you can’t do anything in return for your Dream 100, they are less likely to work with you. Creating mutual benefit is of the essence.
How will you create value?
Can you send your Dream 100 a gift? Share their social media posts? Listen to their music, podcast, or radio station? Buy their products?
Whatever you do, my suggestion would be to start small. Trying to build a relationship with 100 people at a time can be overwhelming. Work your way in with a few before you add more to your list.
And go into it with the right intentions. You’re not trying to take advantage of anyone. You’re looking to add value to your Dream 100. That’s the foundation. When things are going terribly in your music career, you’ll be glad to have dug your well before you got thirsty. The connections you build – your Dream 100 – is your well.
Your Unique Selling Proposition is all about standing out.
And I will be transparent and say it’s one of many things I didn’t fully understand about business until I dug beneath the surface.
Because the theory of it is a little different from the practicality of it.
Theoretically, it’s about positioning. How do you make your business look different than anyone else’s? What do you offer that’s different and why is that good?
And that all sounds good and well. But then you’re still left with the abstraction of the concept. A confused mind does nothing, so I would imagine that’s where a lot of artists landed on this. They know it’s a good idea. They understand the concept. But they’re missing the steps. They don’t know what to do next.
So, from a practical standpoint, we need to go and look at what our competition is doing. Not just stare at their website, but listen to their music, buy their merch, join their email list, study how they’re talking to their audience, and more. The more successful they are, the more you have reason to examine what they’re up to.
You’ve built your Dream 100 list, haven’t you? If you haven’t, now would be a good time for that, but the point is you should already have multiple artists in your crosshairs who you’re building a relationship with, because they have access to your audience.
Regardless, what you want to do here is look at several artists in your market and figure out what they might be missing. Because that’s where you can bring something new, something different, something revolutionary and innovative to the table.
And remember that music isn’t the only way to differentiate. You can differentiate yourself in your marketing, and most likely, that’s where the greatest opportunity lies. The niche war is overrated, and if it isn’t over already, it will be soon.
Once you know what your USP is, you want to hit it hard. Make it a part of your brand and everything you do. Iterate and adjust if it doesn’t work.
Research can often end up being an afterthought in the life of an artist. After all, on the surface it might seem unremarkable and irrelevant.
But there are a surprising number of ways it can make a difference for you.
The first is in setting up an online presence. Researching domain name and username availability – especially for social media – can save you a lot of headache and heartache down the line.
If you want to create a consistent online brand – as so many marketers encourage us to do – it begins with registering and establishing the various accounts, you intend to set up and use.
Part of that research should include knowing how your artist, band, or brand name exists across different industries. Perhaps your name is so unique that no one has even thought of it, but let’s be honest, that’s rare. Even if you don’t wish it, if the name you’ve chosen is being used in another industry, the association is inevitable. It would be worth considering whether your values match up with said companies before settling on a name.
And if your artist name is something like Chris Jones, you already know that you’re going to be competing with oodles of other Chris Jones’s, and that means differentiating would be word to the wise. You might even want to come up with an original artist name.
It’s also good to be thinking about any negative sentiments associated with a word or name. Kerrang! says some of the most offensive band names of all time include:
It’s not hard to figure out why. And sometimes this can work in your favor. But let’s face it, no band called Goatwhore is going to be allowed into churches and other venues or festivals with conservative values any time soon. So, you can end up limiting your opportunities.
Additionally, it’s good to take an expansive view of a name. After all, whatever music, or art you create is going to be (more or less) permanently associated with that name. And when I say expansive, I mean looking up what a word means in other language and cultures, if it has any negative associations, if it could be potentially offensive to other cultures, and so on.
It has often been said in music that you should know the rules before you break them, and that applies here too. It’s one thing to use a name that’s unintentionally offensive. Quite another to know that it could offend some and use it anyway (because then you’ll have a better idea of what to expect).
There are many other ways research can help in your music career, and we’ll have other opportunities to look at these in more depth. Things like:
So, don’t write off research. Know that actively engaging in it can help you advance your music career.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.
Hey! I’m author, entrepreneur, and musician David Andrew Wiebe. Learn more >