You’re an artist—so post like one. Maybe you’re from a place lots of Westerners don’t know much about. Facebook and Twitter are simple ways to send out short, bright blasts about your life, your surroundings, your ideas.
You can imagine you’re a travel guide and reveal little-known sides of your country, region, or town. You can let people into your artistic process. You can show different facets of your personality and culture, things you may not get a chance to reveal on stage.
Your posts can do anything. Chronicle a beautiful meal or a moment from a traditional (or not so traditional) event with a striking photo. Talk about a funny interaction on the street or in the studio. Link to other music from your scene that has yet to be heard internationally. Write briefly about your favorite market vendor, your family’s livelihood, your drummer’s sense of humor, your most passionately felt social cause.
In other words, this is your world. Get it out there.
2. Work in English—but don’t sweat the small stuff.
English is the lingua franca of global music business, for better or for worse. You should post in it. But you don’t have to sound like an Oxford grad (or a native speaker who grew up on the slang-rich streets, for that matter). A few mistakes here and there that don’t interfere with your overall message won’t hurt. They may even add character.
So don’t be shy. Try writing your posts yourself.
If you’re worried about your English, see if you can find a committed friend who’s willing to glance at a particularly tricky passage or complicated sentence you’d like to post. Or focus on interesting images and video, keeping your text simple.
3. Offer value by making followers insiders.
Don’t waste the opportunity to reach people by simply posting gig details, release dates, or glorified advertisements. Let people in.
There’s nothing more disappointing than receiving something akin to musician spam from an intriguing artist, particularly when it reads like a press release written by (jaded) management. Talk about you, not how groundbreaking your new songs are, or simply that you’re playing on Friday.
If you get nominated for an award or have a big show coming up, tell folks how you feel about it; how you really feel. If you’re posting a funky remix as an mp3 on your website, let your friends and followers have access to it first.
When people sense something matters to you, you’ve made them insiders. You’ve given them something of value: your insights, time, attention (especially if you’re good about tweeting back or jumping into a Facebook exchange when someone posts on your wall or comments on a post). Insiders will care much more deeply about your art and are more likely to become hardcore fans—fans who will support you financially and refer you to others.
4. Balance quality and quantity.
Content is key, clearly. And it needs to have a certain personal, engaging quality. But if you only post once every three weeks, you won’t necessarily gain much of a following. Keep posts fairly regular, so that you stay on your followers’ radars, without flooding people with overwhelming updates on your every move.
But when it comes to finding followers, the opposite is true: Look for quality, and forget about numbers (they’ll grow gradually). Focus on finding people who will actually take an interest in you and your music. People worth cultivating as contacts, fans, and even as friends. People you’d love to see at your shows. People who are eager to talk about your art.
5. Avoid shortcuts.
Reposting press about you is fine. Retweeting nice things about your music is fine. But if that’s all you do, you’re missing the point. You need to be sparking a conversation and drawing people in.
And while it’s a good idea to cross-post between blogs, Twitter feeds, and social media sites like Facebook, make sure to think about ways you can use each platform fully, appropriately, and uniquely.
Lastly, don’t bother mechanically boosting your numbers. A gazillion robotically added friends or followers might make you feel important, but are unlikely to spread the word about your music.
6. Stick with it long-term.
Social media, as the latest big thing, may feel like a flash-in-the-pan medium, but to make it work, you need to commit to it for the long haul. Facebook and Twitter have an immediacy that’s deceptive; to get a return on your investment of time and energy—a significant investment—you have to be willing to pursue a social strategy for a while.
Be willing to let things build slowly and be committed to making the effort for more than a few weeks.
7. Use social media responsibly.
Just say no to games or strange quizzes that post results to your friends’ news streams, and the like… and learn how to keep truly private posts, photos, and other info private by managing who can see your posts and what is public on your profile.