I’ve been asked for advice now and then about certain social media activities for bands: sometimes from bands and sometimes from fans. I certainly don’t espouse myself to be some kind of expert. What I can say is that I have 30 years of experience running groups and doing social media outreach for organizations (majority non-profit). There are way too many things to cover and tons of nuance, so I’ve decided to do a list of ten things: things I’ve noticed pages (bands and non-bands alike) do or not do over the years. Take this for what it is: friendly advice from someone who wants you to succeed! Or ignore me completely. After all, in the long run, it is your page and your band and your decisions to make.
- Unless you have directly harmed someone (emotionally or physically) you should not apologize on your social media (or on stage for that matter). Having technical difficulties? Been absent a bit too long from your page? Post the wrong thing? Don’t apologize. Instead, thank people for their patience or understanding. What sounds better, “Sorry about the technical difficulties everyone” or “Hey, thanks for your patience as we get this sorted out!” Thanking your listeners/page visitors puts the ownership of being awesome on them. It let’s them know how appreciative you are for their behavior and not how apologetic you are for yours. Don’t say you’re sorry for not posting in a long time, instead thank your readers for their patience.
- Don’t put your personal drama on your band’s page. It sucks that your band is broke and can’t afford to pay the rent. It sucks that last night’s venue short-changed you or only let you perform for ten minutes instead of the planned thirty. We have all been there. Post that stuff on your personal page if you must, but your band page should not be where you are complaining about your personal life (even if it’s band-related). It’s not that people don’t care, per se, it’s that people have their own personal drama they are dealing with and the majority of the “that sucks” or “sorry to hear that” posts are just that: posts that are meaningless. Air that out with your friends on your personal page (or your actual real life friends) and not on your fans.
- Along the same lines as #2, do not talk smack about other bands on your page (or on stage). By all means call out egregious behavior like racism, homophobia, etc., but just because you don’t like a band doesn’t mean a damn thing to your fans. That only risks isolating some of your fans who do like the band your talking bad about. Music is mostly subjective and whether or not you like it does not mean others will not. For example, I would never say that a comedian is bad: I say instead (because it’s true), that the comedian is not funny to me. So I would never say that Band A sucks, just that Band A’s music doesn’t appeal to me or “it’s not my thing.”
- Make sure your About section is filled out as much as possible. Provide a link to your Bandcamp page or Soundcloud page or main web page. List your band members and what they do (keyboards, vocals, guitar, programming, etc). Specify your genre(s) and fill out the “bands you like” or “influences.” In the About section on Facebook, make sure you fill in a “username.” The username should cause your page to come up immediately. Have someone check for you who is not an admin. If they put in @bandabc and it comes up with six different pages, then you need to modify it. It amazes me how many bands don’t think about this. You want your fans and radio shows and DJs to tag your band and the easiest way to do that is to have an @username that definitely comes up with your band and not something else. You may have to modify it to @bandabcofficial or @bandabc.info or similar to get it to come up immediately in a tag. Play with it until someone can tag your band easily in Facebook. If you luck out and user FB “username” matches your Twitter handle: BONUS POINTS!
- If you’re going to use an image to bypass Facebook’s algorithm that forces you to “boost your post,” that’s fine, just don’t forget to include a direct link in the first comment. Don’t make your fans search for the event page or manually type in the web page that’s in the image.
- You don’t have to respond to every fan’s comment, but you should at least post in the thread where fans have commented. Something along the lines of “Thanks for all your feedback everyone” or “Keep the comments coming, we love and appreciate your input!” Even a simple “thanks” from you can make a fan’s day.
- If your band’s page is tagged by a radio show, DJ, magazine, or genre supportive social media group (the page itself, not readers or fans of that page), then you should at a minimum like their post. You should consider posting a “thanks” of some kind in the comments. You should definitely think about sharing their post: not just when it’s only about your band, but when your band is included among others. The scene is equally as important as your band. Without a scene, your band has no support network. Sharing this stuff introduces your fans to other bands and vice versa. It increases awareness of the scene and increases the fan base across the spectrum.
- Speaking of the scene, it is important that you support the scene. You are not an isolated band. If there are no other scene bands, no clubs, no scene fan groups, then there is no fan base for you. Don’t be afraid to tag other bands in the scene (especially if sharing a radio show or magazine that mentions them). Don’t be afraid to introduce your fans to other bands or share music you like that isn’t yours. Hopefully the band you tag is just as awesome as you are and will reciprocate.
- There is nothing wrong with posting things that aren’t “professional” if you are willing to engage your fans with fun things. Don’t post something like “What’s your favorite holiday meal” and then not interact with those who respond or not posting your favorite holiday meal as the first comment. It’s perfectly fine to have fun with your fans on your page and interact with them in ways other than sharing your videos or events. If you do, you need to actually interact with them. Don’t ask them to participate if you are not going to participate.
- Last, is politics/religion. There are definitely bands out there who are political in their stance and their lyrics and that’s perfectly okay. If you are not one of those bands then you need to weigh the risks of posting political or religious stuff on your band’s page. You risk isolating some of your fans. Obviously there are legitimate reasons to isolate some of your fans (like a band posting that anyone who is a racist should not be their fan), but if you’re not going after the big fish of racism, homophobia, etc., then be careful. Use your personal page for politics/religion unless you fully understand the ramifications and consequences of posting on your band’s page. I’m not saying don’t do it: what I’m saying is understand the fallout that can come from doing it.
Best of luck to all of you as your pursue your musical dreams. I want all of you to succeed. I want the scene to be stable and thriving and full of amazing talented folks! Keep making music. Keep doing what you’re doing! Keep the synth-based scenes alive!