Words by Cherie Hu. This article is the second installment in a three-part series about how and why artists should develop separate strategies for major social platforms. After focusing on Instagram last week, we move on to Facebook strategy.
For many indie and DIY artists, social media presents a daunting challenge. How can someone possibly manage a consistent posting schedule and stay accessible to fans across a growing number of fragmented platforms? How can someone possible do that and dedicate enough time to writing the great music that brought these fans here in the first place?
Cross-posting, a common crutch artists lean on to save time, means sharing the same content across multiple social networks. However, this acts as an immediate red flag to fans. It implies that the artist has taken a promotional, mass-broadcast approach to audience engagement. In an era that values authenticity and personal connection, the tactic will often disappoint.
Stem is here to help you make sense of social strategy. Below, you’ll find actionable tips for how artists can engage with their fans using unique, platform-specific strengths. These strategies and examples elevate, rather than sacrifice, creative integrity and translate online connections into tangible, sustainable revenue. The series continues with Facebook strategy.
2.2 billion monthly active users make Facebook the world’s biggest social platform. Artists and their teams might think this necessitates a mass-broadcast mentality to rise above the noise. This occurs when teams only share promotional content in an attempt to appeal to all of the platform’s 2.2 billion users at once. The trend is also evidenced by teams featuring links that direct users off Facebook to channels that generate more direct revenue (streaming services, merch sites, etc.).
In reality, thanks to recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm, the opposite stands true. Today, Facebook ranks posts in Newsfeed based on what the company calls “time well spent.” This means prioritizing content that sparks more meaningful connections with users (e.g. comments over shares). In other words, Facebook de-prioritizes posts containing off-platform hyperlinks or phrases designed for click/engagement bait (e.g. “tag your friends if ____”), which can potentially be marked as spam. These rules also apply to boosted and sponsored posts. Even paid advertising should be designed to attract comments and drive conversation, rather than passively broadcast to users in a one-directional manner.
Similarly to Instagram, “time well spent” on Facebook also goes hand-in-hand with visuals. The latter’s new algorithm still prioritizes video—particularly live video, which the company claims gets six times as much interaction as regular ones.
Anti-Promo Promo Videos
For instance, jazz drummer Nate Smith has built a significant following on Facebook through brief, improvisatory drumming videos that he records behind-the-scenes at his shows or in recording studios. He keeps the videos’ length to a neat 30 seconds, and many of them have gotten more comments and shares than other Facebook posts that simply advertise his new music. Smith also uses the ample text-driven real estate on top of the videos (unlike with Instagram, where the caption is less prominent and delegated to the bottom of the visuals) to post concise details about show dates and other key milestones:
The primacy of video on Facebook can also have significant implications for emerging artists looking to maximize their return on investment with relatively smaller marketing budgets. For instance, Brian Hazard of DIY synthwave project Color Theory slashed his cost-per-click for Facebook ads by more than 50% when he switched from static images to videos to promote his music.
Indie singer-songwriter Dawn Beyer famously earned $74,000 in a single year solely from posting Facebook Live videos several times a week, a level of consistency that she maintains to this day. Importantly, Beyer often includes links in her video descriptions to her “virtual tip jar” on PayPal or to her merch site to offer additional opportunities for fans to express their support.
Importantly, making the best videos for Facebook isn’t just about repurposing or cutting up official music videos from YouTube. Amidst increasingly crowded Newsfeeds, the videos should be short-form, digestible and tailored for text-driven conversation.
Bots on Bots on Bots
Another unique advantage to look out for on Facebook is its Messenger bot platform. To date, businesses and creators have used the platform to build over 300,000 bots for scaling personalized conversations with their fans and customers. Some startups like Sendmate, I AM POP and The Bot Platform have already helped artists, managers and labels develop their own Messenger bots. As a result, fans can inquire about song releases, tour dates, artist trivia and other topics on demand.
Today’s music landscape consists of an integrated ecosystem: Socials and streaming connect in myriad ways. Resultantly, artists can leverage data-driven tools like Stem to connect the dots and see how social media campaigns impact their bottom line, on both a regional and global level. Did that big Facebook ad spend in Europe make a dent for your new single’s UK streams? Has your visual rollout on Twitter translated to Spotify performance? The answers are easier to uncover than you might think. Stay tuned for next week’s social media guide, which will focus on strategies geared toward Facebook’s counterpart, Twitter.