5 Social Media Growth Tips for Indie Artists

Are you having a hard time gaining exposure and support for your music? Frustrated? No worries! This blog post will give you the tools to help you change that! In today's climate, social media is THE most effective tool to gain exposure to your music and attract warm leads that can become supporters! But unfortunately, so many creatives are using social media in an ineffective manner that fails to garner the results they're looking for. Society romanticizes follower counts but the real gem is engagement! You generate engagement by creating valuable and entertaining content that people resonate with. Although I've grown my IG following to over 21K followers in the last few years, I was still achieving amazing support and engagement with way less followers because of the strategies I'll share today. No bots, no buying followers, or any of that crazy stuff lol! Just solid practical strategies. Today I want to change your perception on social media and show you how to use it to your advantage. Let's get started!

Tip 1: Build Your Bio 

When people visit your social media page, within seconds they should clearly be able to identify who you are and what you do! Many artist profiles either lack information (name, what they do, contact info, links, etc) or are so all over the place with info that people are turned off from trying to figure it out! Here are a few key parts of your social media bio:

  • Artist Name/Image. Your social media profile should clearly display your artist name and image/logo. For some artists I've literally had to search through their profile to figure out their artist name. Also I've seen artists use profile images that have absolutely NOTHING to do with their artist brand! These are two super simple things that you must have in place! Get a social username as close to your artist name as possible AND make sure your artist name is clearly communicated at the top of your social profile. 
  • What You Do/Accolades. Your social media bio should clearly communicate what you do and briefly include a few accolades (or recent releases) that you may have. This tells people what you do and also shows them that you're actively doing it.
  • Links. You need to provide links to your assets outside of social media (your website, your music, a special offer, vides, contact, etc). I personally use Linktree to do this as I can include links to multiple things by using one link on my social profile, but there are plenty of other similar services that are awesome as well. Or you can create a page on your website with all your links and post a link to that page in your bio. Whatever works best for you! 

Usually if a person sees your content on their feed and they like what they see, they're going to visit your profile to seek more info. Don't make them jump through hoops to find your info! Keep it clear, simple, and easy.

Tip 2: Post Consistent Engaging Content 

You could have the best music on the planet but if you're only posting things like “Check out my new song!” or “Check out my new album!”, you're not going to get the results you desire. Firstly, when people are scrolling their feed they intend to stay on the app not leave the app. So when your post is asking them to leave the app to check out your music, unless they already rock with your brand, they probably won't do it. Secondly, you have to understand that everyone, their grandma, and their dog are doing music these days lol! Around 100K new songs are being released on platforms everyday and everyone's social media feed is filled with “Check out my new music!” posts so how are you going to stand out? Here's how to make engaging content that stands out:

  • Show Your Skills. Instead of just posting your album cover with a "coming soon" description or a video of a still image with your music playing, you've got to dig deep creatively and let people see you in action! Yes you need to get in front of the camera and show your face! We all have amazing cameras on our phones now so there's no excuse lol! Getting real comments, likes, follows, link clicks, post saves, etc come from you demonstrating your craft on camera. That gives people the opportunity to get to know you and engage with you as a person!
  • Post videos and photos of you working on music or music related activities: People love seeing the behind the scenes process of how things are made. When you’re writing your records, making your beats, getting records mixed, working on designs for your merch, at a photo shoot, getting ready to do a show, mingling with supporters, etc., let people see that! These things are more effective than just playing your music. Everybody makes music now so content like this helps set you apart. Some of my most popular videos are of me sampling unusual items (animals, vacuums, washing machines, cars, etc) and then making beats out of them lol! Showing myself making beats out of those items lead to more sales of the actual beats when I posted them for sale (and increased sales overall in general).
  • Post tips/tutorials for other musicians: If you're extremely skilled in what you do, hop on the camera and share a few tips every once and a while! Everybody has their own unique way of creating music so sharing how you do certain things could be extremely valuable to another musician! Things in our process that we consider as "insignificant" can be life changing to another creative's work process. A few examples are tips on writing lyrics, producing beats, mixing songs, performance strategies, how to book shows, sharing chord progressions, and the list goes on! These are things that you're spending time doing anyway so you might as well document the process for others to benefit. If you grow the demand for your skills high enough through social media, you can even translate that into course products which creates another stream of revenue for you. The opportunities are endless really.
  • Go Live: Sometimes people need to see you in your element live! Pre-recorded content is amazing but nothing can replace the experience of real-time interaction. People can engage with you real-time and build a deeper rapport/relationship with your craft. Admittedly, I've never went live before so I'm preaching to myself as well here lol! But it's a strategy that is undisputedly effective when it comes to engagement.
  • Get Personal: More than what you do, today people have to buy into who you are as a person before they fully support you. You must post content that gives people a view into your mindset and how you see the world. In regular life you're more apt to connect with people who share similar interests/experiences as you and it's the same thing online. It's a people business! Let them see YOU the person. This helps people connect with you on a personal level and also helps them understand your music even the more.
  • Show Your Ups and Downs: One of the most powerful things about social media is it allows people to see your journey and growth. Don’t be afraid to share your failures and your struggles. People need to see that stuff because as you continue to grow and evolve, it gives others a front seat view into how possible it really is to accomplish your dreams. In addition, it further cements your supporter base when they can see your growth and feel like they were a part of it. Some of my most consistent supporters were there from day 1. One of my biggest passions is encouraging people by sharing my experiences. My encouraging content is honestly one of the major reasons people follow me, maybe even more-so than my actual music. 
  • Share Your History: Of course you can't tell everybody everything lol, but within reason share your story with the world! You may not think the town you grew up in, your favorite foods as a child, that college course you flunked, or whatever else is significant. But there's always going to be somebody somewhere that shares the same experience and will feel more deeply connected to you because of these things. Old videos, old photos, etc help people see and understand your roots. Back when I first started I had people connect with me because I like oatmeal, seriously lol! I used to joke about it all the time, even doing contests where if people tagged me in a picture of them holding a container of oatmeal, I'd give them a free beat lol! It's corny I know, but it was authentic lol!
  • Show What You Do Outside of Music: Everything doesn't have to be about music. What are your favorite tv shows? What do you do for fun? Do you have any hobbies? Do you suck at sports (like me lol)? Let people see it! One of my best performing videos on social media was of me showing how terrible I am at basketball lol! Some of my others were me just acting silly pranking my daughter lol. It doesn't have to be super thought out/polished just show that you're an actual human lol!

As creatives it's super easy for us to get so locked into pumping out new music that we forget to add other points of value that people can connect with. I fall into that hole sometimes too (honestly I have been the last 6 months) but we have to snap out of the music grind and find other ways to add value and connect with people. Lately I've been so lost in creating beat after beat that I forgot how much I enjoy blogging and creating engaging videos on social media. Seeing people's lives be impacted by my content is always an honor. I want to do better by my supporters so this post isn't just for you guys, it's for me too!

Tip 3: Capture Warm Leads! 

What is a warm lead? This is a person who's seen, enjoyed, and engaged with your social content on a consistent basis. They enjoy what you do and if given a chance would most likely actually support by purchasing your music/merch. But when you drop a post letting people about that new song/project/merch, it's going to have a hard time reaching your warm leads due to these insane social media algorithms! Even if these people follow you, you're still going to have a hard time cutting through! Even if you spend money on advertising, you're still going to encounter difficulty cutting through! Not to mention, a platform could randomly shadow ban or disable your account for no reason at all. How would you reach those warm leads you worked so hard to attract then? This is why it's ESSENTIAL to convert warm leads into email subscribers! Here's how to do that:

  • Social Media is a Funnel. Have you ever used a funnel to pour oil or other types of liquid into your vehicle? The point of the funnel is to give that liquid a path to get to the intended destination which could be the oil tank, windshield wiper fluid compartment, etc. Understand that social media is just a big funnel! The point of social media is to draw the right people to your brand (warm leads that authentically enjoy what you have to offer) and THEN convert those people to email subscribers so that you can continue a direct relationship from there! From that point you can easily and directly give FREE value AND keep them updated on new paid offerings that you have (like music/merch) instead of fighting with algorithms to do so! Not to mention, it's much easier (and less expensive) to sell to people who are already interested in what you're offering vs selling to people who don't know you (also known as a cold leads).
  • Create a Mailing List. There are plenty of email marketing platforms available and they're all pretty affordable! A few popular options are Mailchimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, and Get Response. Once you join an email marketing platform and you create a mailing list, you also need to create a lead magnet page or opt-in form. This is basically a place where people can input their Name/Email and join your mailing list. If you already have your own website, you can just create an opt-in form and embed that form onto a page of your website. But if you don't have a website, most of these email marketing platforms feature the option for you to create a lead page (which is basically a web page with your opt in form). To create the most effective opt-in/lead page, I suggest offering a free incentive in return for people signing up to your email list. It could be a free song, exclusive content that isn't available anywhere else online, etc. If someone is already rocking with your brand, in addition to having that direct connection via email a free song/exclusive content/etc is icing on the cake! So make sure to offer that! Most email marketing platforms feature a way to offer downloads in exchange for sign ups so take advantage of it!
  • Put a link to your opt-in/lead page on social media. Once your list and opt-in/lead page is ready, you need to put a link to it on your social media. This could either be your main link on social media or if you're using a multi-link service like Linktree, this should be near or at the top of your links. As you create engaging content on social media, warm leads are going to naturally click on your link and join your mailing list! Also in your content (when appropriate), you should include a CTA (call to action) in which you ask people to click the link your bio to join your list. This could be verbally or as text in the description of your post. Make sure to let people know about the sign-up incentive as well as that will encourage more warm leads to sign up!
  • Give subscribers value. After people have signed up to your list, give them value on a consistent basis. Again this can be exclusive FREE content that's only for your subscribers, exclusive PAID content that's only for your subscribers, exclusive sales/discounts, keeping them updated on new content that you've posted on social media, keeping them updated on new music/merch available, etc. It's up to you! Just make sure you're giving value and NOT overloading them unnecessary with emails. I generally only send emails a few times a week and always for a specific purpose. I don't like wasting people's time so my list only hears from me when I have something valuable to offer.  
  • Don't add random people to your list. PLEASE don't grab a bunch of random emails off the internet and start sending these people emails. This will lead to alot of unsubscribes and possibly your email marketing account being suspended (adding unsolicited emails is against the law). The only people that should be on your list are people who signed up to your list themselves. All my subscribers either come in from my lead page or after purchasing my products. I never just add emails to my list and I suggest you don't do that either.

Tip 4: Never Spam 

Now that you have an email funnel in place to capture those warm leads, let's jump to a big social media mistake that could ruin this whole process for you. You may have the greatest intentions when you share your music links in the comments section/inbox of other people's profiles/channels, but when it's unsolicited (aka they didn't ask for it) that's considered spamming. Tagging people in your music posts unsolicitedly is also spamming. It can feel like you're forcing your content on people when done this way. Here are better ways to share your music:

  • Post your music on your own social media profiles/channels. As you consistently post quality content with the proper hashtags and formatting on your own profile/channel, more and more people will be drawn to your content over time. It's going to take time. Sharing/tagging your links with your friends or people who are personally invested in your music can be ok. But try to avoid doing that with people who aren't invested as it will be a turn off. Honestly, I wouldn't overdo tagging friends either. For me, I usually only tag people who were actually involved in whatever I'm posting. If I'm the only one involved, I don't tag anyone as tagging can be annoying to people. But do what you feel is best within reason.
  • Share your Music through your Mailing List. In all honesty, if you're looking for real support, the absolute best place to share your music is to the mailing list that you've already built (continuing to build) with warm leads! As I've said before, these are people who are already invested in your brand and are already primed to support you! 

Spamming never works (long-term) to get people authentically engaged in your music. The best way to gain engagement is through creating engaging content. When I first started I used to spam so trust me when I tell you, it doesn't work. At all lol!

Tip 5: Be Yourself 

Last but not least, the most important part of your strategy is you should always be yourself! Stick to your own natural personality and what makes you YOU. You don't have to put on a fake persona. You don't have to chase what's trending to grow. Although some social media challenges can be fun and spark some engagement, you don't have to rely on challenges or gimmicks to get real growth! It's all about fully examining your own life, pinpointing the things that make you unique, and then finding your own unique way to share that with the world on a consistent basis! Unless you somehow go viral, this is a process that usually takes time and energy but it's worth it. Don't expect to do this overnight. Don't even focus on the number of followers. Just focus on putting out amazing content consistently, serving warm leads that turn into subscribers, and let the chips fall as they may!

Bonus Tip: Boost High Engagement Content

If a post you've created is getting alot of organic response, you can take that post to the next level by utilizing paid advertising! If you spend the money the right way, it can definitely be to your advantage! Here's how:

  • Boosting the reach of my most popular content with ads: On instagram specifically, once I see that a piece of content is growing legs organically, I like to further that by creating an ad campaign targeting my followers (and people like them) that links people back to my actual instagram profile. Sometimes I may only do this for a few days or if it's something that's really catching fire, I'll make it an ongoing ad that runs until whenever I decide to stop it. The fact that the content is already doing amazing organically signals that more people would be interested in it too if they could see it! Putting ads on this type of content takes it's exposure to the next level and this has been a win for me every time. It's lead to more followers, more engagement, and most importantly more warm leads joining my mailing list. You could use this same strategy for any social media platform that has advertising capabilities. Just make sure to be wise in your daily ad spend so you don't lose your shirt lol! If I'm only boosting something for a few days, I spend $50-$100 a day. If it's an ongoing daily ad, I usually spend $25-$50 a day. Do what works best for you!

At the end of the day, the only way to achieve authentic engagement is through posting quality authentic content. When people go on these platforms, they're mostly looking for value and entertainment (not to be sold to). Everything you post is either adding to or taking away from your brand. So before every post, I encourage you to ask yourself these 3 questions: Why am I posting this? How will this post provide value for other people? What do I intend to achieve with this post? I hope this blog post has been helpful for you! Time to turn up and show the world who you are! Blessings! -Tone