Does that headline sound like the title of a romance novel?
In a way, it is. This blog is about meaningful, two-way relationships with your fans and will include some simple tips and tricks you can use to raise your brand profile and stand out in the music market.
As a clarinetist, you don’t want to cut into your practice time and other professional commitments. Still, there’s no reason to flinch at the thought of using social media to engage with industry insiders, potential performing partners, influencers, producers, and—oh, yes—clarinet aficionados.
So, let’s start at the beginning.
1. Who is your audience?
Using social effectively depends on understanding who your fans are, what they appreciate about you and your music, and why they should care about what you say. There’s a simple way to learn about your followers. Ask them! Tell them you’re doing audience research, not fishing for compliments. And ask specific questions: What kind of content do you like? Videos? Post-concert selfies? Performance schedules? The history of the clarinet? People love to share their opinions and reaching out to them via the platform’s messenger or a general shout-out can go a long way to establishing a personal connection.
Hint: When your fans respond to a post or when a new follower joins, they are starting a conversation. It’s only polite—and very smart—to respond with a simple “thank you” with a bit of personal flair. Social conversations strengthen connections, and the personal touch can produce more responses.
Social platforms also have analytic tools. It takes some time to figure them out and use them, but they can generate data-based insights into content that resonates with your fans, where they live, their gender, age, and other interests. This is must-know material for upping your social media game.
Another thing. There is real value in being on more than one social account and cross-posting. If you’re only on Instagram and some of your fans are only on Facebook, you’ll miss them. Touching all the bases is a proven tactic for increasing your digital presence.
2. Always be personal and friendly.
When you follow other musicians and celebrities on social, who are the ones you’re most likely to check back with regularly? You probably follow most faithfully the ones who engage with you, if you’re at all like the 4.5 billion social users in the world.
Here are some ways you can be more social on social.
Your content comes across as genuine and personal when you write the same as you talk.
Post about things that are meaningful to you.
Share your passions, activities you love, music you enjoy, and performers you admire.
Everyone has good times and not-so-good ones. Share yours, but don’t make it sound like you’re complaining about the tough times. Frame it as a learning moment.
Recount your career, where you’ve been, how you got there, your influences, and where you want to go. This works particularly well in the context of promoting new releases and performances.
Take a look at the social profiles of your favorite celebrities to see how they present themselves. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you don’t want to shamelessly steal, either.
Hint: Share post-performance photos and “selfie” sessions with fans on their social sites. This is the near-ultimate personal connection, and fans love it. Remember: Hashtags.
3. Optimize your social media profiles.
This is your first opportunity to make a first impression on social media. Your profile should reflect your brand personality and send the right message. Here are some tips on how to do it:
Make sure your professional biography is current, your performance dates are up to date, and the links to your webpage and other social accounts work.
Choose images that reflect you and your brand’s personality accurately. Tell your story accurately. Share the most striking images for your personal profile. The various platforms have varying specifications for images, so optimize yours to render properly.
Pay attention to the tone of each of your platforms. They shift as users change, so a random search for “[fill in the platform] demographics” will help you post in the appropriate voice.
Monetize with links to download your music, visit your website, and buy tickets, merchandise, and other revenue-producers of interest to your fans.
Take advantage of Facebook cover videos to introduce yourself and your music to new fans.
Keep the static items fresh by replacing your profile and cover images often. Unless it’s iconic, give your fans a new view occasionally.
Put your most popular posts where people can find them easily. Pinning them to the top of your page is another way to keep your account fresh.
Tag your posts to increase their reach. Mentioning others who are in the photo, along with sponsors, venues, and other information increases the number of impressions because posts will appear in the feeds of the people and businesses you’ve tagged.
Be consistent with your brand identity across your social platforms. The content can vary, but you want the static elements to project your brand accurately and consistently.
Hint: Your social profile is not carved in stone. You can tune it up whenever you think of a better way to say something or have something new to add.
4. Be consistent and regular in publishing posts.
The impact of your social media effort depends largely on how active it is. That is, keep the content fresh and relevant to your followers and fans.
At its best, your fans will not want to miss anything happening. If you don’t release new music or perform as often as other talents, keeping fans engaged on social takes on added importance.
Posting needs a steady rhythm so your followers know when to stop back to keep up. If you’re busy in the studio or traveling, set aside time to post. Post a video on Fridays and give your followers a sneak preview earlier in the week.
Pro tip: Don’t overwhelm your fans. This probably will not be a problem, but too much content is almost as bad as not enough, especially if it’s irrelevant.
5. Use images to get more personal with your fans.
Pictures are attention-getters and typically work better than plain text across all platforms. Here are some thoughts on visuals that have value for your fans:
Videos of performances, your instruments, and equipment (particularly if you are a collector), your studio sessions, and where you go for inspiration.
Graphics that announce upcoming performances and new releases. Photos of performers at the shows you attend (ask for selfies with them, if possible.)
Photos or videos of unusual performance venues, such as a park gazebo, in front of a school or museum, or a shopping mall during a gift-giving season.
Create a video that explains what inspired a particular song or album.
Focus on your music life. Livestream yourself attending events, working in the studio, or interacting with fans. You could even share performance tips, host an online Q&A, or teach.
Share favorite moments from your personal life, including holidays, birthdays, and special everyday events. They are timeless, so when they were made is not important.
Encourage your followers with visuals that include inspirational quotes.
Animated music-based GIF images and memes.
You don’t have to be an expert graphic artist to create professional images. There are several easy-to-use online tools like Canva that will give you better images than you probably expect. Or enlist the help of a fan, friend, or relative who can help you.
Hint: Livestreaming AMA (ask me anything) sessions are fun. If you promote it, they will come with questions for playing, teaching, producing, and more. It’s also an audience research opportunity; people ask questions about the things that are important to them.
6. Share engaging and text content.
There are times when images need some help. Readers want high-quality, relevant content that can include:
Articles about your latest songs, upcoming albums, and gigs.
Thoughts from clarinetists and other musicians.
Educational pieces about your instrument and music.
Music-related surveys, polls, questions, fill-in-the-blanks, and “caption this photo.”
Stories and personal experiences. If you’re touring, try keeping an online travelogue.
Lists of your favorite songs, artists, performances, and music videos.
Your influences and inspirations.
Hint: Use the platform’s messaging feature to invite people to performances. It is more personal and makes the recipient feel special.
7. Share content from your fans.
Fans and followers are more likely to share and comment on your content if you share and comment on theirs. Remember, social media works best when used to start and continue online conversations.
Pro tip: Respond and comment in words and thoughts that appeal to them. You’re creative. Be creative!
8. Schedule your posts.
Who has time to spend three hours on social every day? Researchers say about 56% of Americans—men, women, children—that’s how many. If you’re too busy to open your apps 10 times a day (and spend 20 minutes on them each time), there is a solution.
Schedule your posts in advance. This makes it possible for you to engage with followers without having to stay online all day. You can also choose when posts are published based on the insights you learn about when they are online and other habits.
Hint: Simplify your scheduling with follower lists for each platform. Creating and using them makes sure you keep everyone in the loop and makes tagging easier.
9. Engage with your fans and followers.
Connecting with your fans and followers consistently shows you care about them and what they think. If you’re using your social for promotion only, you are neglecting its power to create conversations, get to know your fans, and let them get to know you.
Keep conversations going by posting questions, getting involved in comment discussions, sharing, and liking whenever you can.
Encourage fans to post their pictures from your shows or remixes of your songs and tag you.
Make up your own weekly themes and call-out days to keep fans engaged. Digital events like Music Club Monday or Super Fan Friday can keep fans coming back.
Monitor your social media accounts. Don’t create posts and forget about them. Developing and maintaining a fan base requires your full commitment. Or, perhaps, the commitment of a personal assistant.
Pro tip: Put together images of the best moments from a performance or event. Post them as a story on Instagram or Facebook. Reserve your best material for these limited-time posts.
Used well, social media can be one of your most effective marketing tools. In addition, it can be a lot of fun, too! Musicians love music and want to share it with the world. Social media gives clarinetists that opportunity.