Social media is the megaphone that can make you heard around the world. From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and BandLab, use the major social platforms the right way and you can build a global fanbase and following, fill your shows, find new collaborators and sell out your merch – with or without a record label in your corner.
The trouble is, for all of those things to happen, someone needs to be listening. That’s where followers come in. Without them, you’re just shouting into the void.
Working hard to boost your follower count isn’t about ego or hunting big numbers just for the sake of it. Every time you attract and engage a new follower to your social platforms you’re spreading the word a little further, raising your profile a little higher and underlining your professional credibility – not to mention enjoying the creative satisfaction that comes from knowing your music is reaching the audience it deserves.
Needless to say, when you’re an A-list celebrity like Lady Gaga (83.2 million followers on Twitter) or Ariana Grande (208.1 million on Instagram), the fans come to you. But at a time when every up-and-coming musician in the world has free access to the social media megaphone – and the same hunger for new followers – how can you stand out from the white noise and keep your numbers ticking steadily upwards?
One of our goals at BandLab has always been to bring musicians together and help them to pool their creative knowledge for the common good. Here are our top ten tips for boosting your social media following the right way.
Read more: How To Make Money From Music
1. Optimize your social profiles
When a casual music fan lands on your social page, you’ve got about five seconds to convert them into a follower. That’s why it’s so important to have a profile that tells your story in miniature, hitting visitors with an eye-catching and professional cover photo, an engaging bio, a taste of the tone they can expect from your posts, plus mini shout-outs for any upcoming shows, music and merch. The space you’ve got to work with couldn’t be tighter – there’s a 150-character limit on Instagram, for example – so you’ll need to boil your essence as an artist right down (this profile by Blink-182 hits all the marks). Here’s more advice on getting your BandLab profile the best it can be.
2. Connect with people from your world
When it comes to followers, quantity and quality are equally important. It’s tempting to spray out thousands of follower requests in the hope of getting cheap follow-backs, and superficially this might boost your count. But if your so-called fanbase is really a flock of disinterested strangers who never listen to new music, your big tour announcement will be met with shrugged shoulders. Instead, it’s worth taking a little time to find and follow people who work in music and related fields, from photography and media to music PR and promotion. These interested parties are not only more likely to follow you back, but they might actually take action when your new single drops.
3. Use tags and @s to amplify your message
Let’s say you have a respectable 500 followers. Post about your upcoming support tour and you might end up selling a maximum of 500 tickets that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Not bad – but why not think bigger? By including the handle and hashtag of the headliners (eg. @foofighters #davegrohl), your post is suddenly much more visible. Better still, if that bigger band likes or reposts your message, their fans will realise that you’re someone worth following and your numbers will jump upwards overnight. Make @ and # part of your everyday posting vocabulary, using them to connect with everybody from live venues and radio stations, and hitching your posts to regular trending events like #MusicMonday. For a great example of smart tagging, check out the feed of fast-rising British rockers Massive Wagons.
4. Get a celebrity endorsement
Needless to say, nothing gets follower numbers shooting up like a celebrity endorsement, so keep your ear to the ground for high-profile music fans who are receptive to new artists. “Just before Christmas,” explains the hotly-tipped singer-songwriter Jay Tennant, “I was lucky enough to have someone pass my latest single Star City Serenade onto Robert Carlyle, and the next thing I know he’s shared the song with his 500,000 Twitter followers. He also put it on his favourite songs of 2020 playlist on New Year’s Eve. Mind-blowing! It felt incredible to have an acting legend like that getting behind the song. His films like Trainspotting were massive for me in my student days.”
5. Join and participate in social media groups
You might be a solo artist, but the operative word is “social”. If you become an active, trusted and engaged presence on relevant groups across social media – like the community on BandLab – you’ll find your follower count climbs as people start to recognise and respect you as a spokesperson for the scene. Just remember, this is a two-way street: help your contacts out with their promo and when you have content to shout about they’ll do the same, exposing you to even more potential followers.
6. Bring your fans closer
There’s nothing more poisonous to your brand than a personality-free social page that feels like it’s been written by a record label’s marketing department. If you want to forge a reputation as someone worth following, you’ll need to wear your heart on your social channels and let your followers under your skin. A great example of this is the neo-soul phenomenon Joy Crookes: she’s not just a killer musician (whose song You & Me soundtracked last year’s O2 advert), but an honest and unflinching voice whose Twitter page calls out politicians and opens up on her own challenges with mental health. It’s no coincidence that she has 14.8k followers (and counting).
7. Keep the posts flowing
Nothing turns off potential followers like a neglected social channel. Everything on your page should be current – for example, you should list upcoming gigs before they happen and remove them straight after playing the show – and you need to commit to a regular posting routine (even if that means using online scheduling tools during busy times). If you find your feed is moving too fast and the all-important release and tour info is getting lost in the landslide, then pin those critical posts to keep them at the top. “Keep uploading regular content to keep your audience interested and engaged on all social media platforms,” agrees UK singer-songwriter Daisy Clark, whose YouTube videos have scored millions of views from fans around the world. “But I also don’t upload content I’m not 100% proud of for the sake of content. Consistency and authenticity are key.”
8. Drive fans to your socials through other channels
People shouldn’t stumble across your social pages by accident. Think about where else your brand appears – from your merch to your email signature – and make sure your social handles are prominently displayed and consistent across the board, so people remember them and know they all refer to the same artist. Perhaps the most important driver to your socials is your website, which it goes without saying should be regularly updated with fresh content. The moment that a visitor finishes reading your insightful blog about publishing deals, your social links should be staring them in the face, nudging them to click through, follow and be the first to hear about your next move.
Related read: How to brand yourself as a music artist
9. Get your followers to do the heavy lifting
If you’re not careful, the hunt for social media followers can become all-consuming, dragging you away from the music that should be at the centre of your universe. The key is to make a little bit of social presence go further – and the secret to that is posting shareable content. Rather than a dry update on the progress of your next album, why not offer fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes video streamed from the studio, like US alt-pop/rock up-and-comer Kulick, or poll their feedback on a new teaser track you’re working on? Another great tactic is to invite fans to post tagged photos of themselves (at your recent show, for instance), setting in motion another avalanche of shares and spiking your follower numbers.
10. Engage with your followers
If you’re only on social media to hoover up new followers – and you limit your interaction with them to hard-selling your new album – people will get tired and drift away. Get a dialogue going – whether that’s with replies to fans’ questions, poll or contests – and you’ll turn non-committed followers into a true fanbase, who invest in your career and become recruiting officers for your music. “Engage with your audience and other creators,” says Daisy Clark. “It’s such an easy thing to reply to a comment and I love receiving responses from the creators who I love. It’s a good way to see how your audience are responding to your content, too. This can also open up opportunities for collaborations with other creatives.”
Jay Tennant’s new single Noxville is out now, as is Daisy Clark’s latest single Hope It Hurts You. Massive Wagons’ latest album House Of Noise is out now and Kulick has released his debut album Yelling In A Quiet Neighborhood. For the latest news on Joy Crookes, click here.