How to (and how to not) market on Facebook
Lately in my personal life, I've caught wind of a handful of artists who have released their music on social media. Now, I don't want to give you the impression that there is no way to advertise your music on Facebook, but sometimes I believe it can do more harm than good.
Let me start by saying that Facebook ads can work. I've spent a little bit of money on trying to get ads to take with the public and it hasn't been a complete failure, but I'll also say that I haven't seen groundbreaking results either. The bottom line is, I see more engagement on posts that were already doing well, but Facebook ads have never been a tool that make-or-break a post - only enhance the potential that there was to start.
You should never overly promote your music on a personal Facebook account. I've gotten multiple questions about this recently, and to be quite honest it just doesn't work unless you already have a very good standing with your friend-base as a musician. It's fine to post once or twice about your music life if you have good reciprocation from your friends list, but overdoing this can shoot you right in the foot.
I've seen artists who post their new releases multiple times a day to their friends and family, spam-tag in posts, and try to encourage their general acquaintance-base to give them a chance, support their craft, and listen. I get why to some, this may seem like a good way to boost your initial visibility by having your friends and family support first, but there are some big issues with this method.
The fundamental problem with this method is that you are targeting individuals who are not actively looking for new music. As a consumer, this catches me off-guard all the time - if you're not in the correct environment to accept this type of promoting, it can come off as spammy, automated, and just straight out annoying.
It is SO important to be able to see the listeners perspective, and by promoting on your personal Facebook account, you are catching people while they are at work, sleeping, taking care of their kids, doing laundry, using the bathroom, having a fight with their ex, etc. It is just not an appropriate time or place to catch a person to listen to new music - the success rate is extremely low - in fact you may be doing more harm to your name than good. You may see some support from other musicians and people who support you already, but most of the people who see these posts and scrolling right by, or even worse, labeling you as somewhat of a social-media pest and unfollowing.
It is extremely important to reach a person while they are in an environment where they are accepting of new music.
So what can we do as musicians?
First of all, make an artist page if you don't already have one.
Not only does this look more appealing visually, but you get FREE analytics on Facebook for how your page is performing. Facebook isn't the greatest platform in the world for promoting anyways, but if you're going to do it, do it here. The analytics will give you a better idea of who to market and promote towards in the first place.
The idea here is to reach people in a state of acceptance and discovery. There ARE demographics of individuals that are looking for new music all the time, it's just a matter of finding them. Use your best judgement and imagination, and post your music to places that you think will reciprocate to your projects positively. Reddit is a great place for this if you follow the rules of the /r/ and post appropriately. It's also a great idea to reach out to music blogs and playlists to get your music on those. Don't underestimate the power of the smaller, close-knit online communities. Be sure to send professional and personal messages/emails to avoid looking like a spammer. And of course, be sure to get your music on major distributors, and have your music registered with a performance rights organization beforehand to collect play revenue accordingly. People browsing streaming sites are the EXACT demographic of people you want to find, as they are in the perfect place to hear new tunes. They are already listening.
Every musician and band is different, and there isn't one good way to market your music that will work for everyone. But honestly it's about doing the research and the footwork, and executing in a professional and cordial way. No one likes spammers, and anyone who listens to your music on Facebook after your 50th share is most likely doing so out of pity, if anything. Let your Facebook friends live their lives - a better way to interact on Facebook to bring yourself visibility is to engage. Talk to people, ask them questions and answer theirs. Constantly seeing your name in the comments and News Feed (with thought-provoking content, not spamming your Soundcloud account) will give them a reason to check you out.
Nothing should ever come easy if it's worth doing, so ditch the spam-shares on Facebook and rebuild your marketing/promotion strategy with some innovation, calculation, engagement, and thought.