Facebook’s Algorithm Is Why Musicians Need An Email List

Facebook recently changed its algorithm. Again.

This means Facebook will prioritize content from your friends, family, and groups and show you less content from businesses trying to sell you something.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

First, this is no surprise. Facebook had already changed your newsfeed from chronological to this-is-really-what-you-should-see content.

Second, I’m sure we’ll see much more of this in the future. And not just from Facebook.

Since the social media giant bought Instagram, the photo-sharing app has slowly been mimicking Facebook’s algorithm. And even though Twitter is still chronological, they’ve started showing people an “In case you missed it” section.

And third, we DIY musicians shouldn’t be deterred by this. Things change. You have to adapt. Life moves on.

Here’s the thing: you’re business model as a musician should not rely on the way a social media platform operates. Your model should be able to flow with the times.

If and when Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter evolve their algorithms and as social media platforms come and go, you should be investing in one constant: email.

Email isn’t going anywhere. And email providers are not changing your inbox so you see the “more important” emails rather than allowing you to see them as they come in.

People use email for business and life, in general, to get things done, not for entertainment.

So email providers know there would be an outcry if they changed anything. They know people would jump ship and go to another email service.

This is why you should have an email list as a musician.

When I post something on Facebook, only a fraction of my followers actually see the post. But with email, I know everyone on my list will at least see that I emailed them.

Plus, getting someone’s email address is a very special thing, meaning they’re probably more interested in your music than the average Facebook follower.

In the hierarchy or personal info people give out, it goes like this:

4. A like on social media

3. Email address

2. Phone number

1. Social security number

Obviously, I would never ask for someone’s SSN and probably never their phone number.

The point is, email is a big step into a person’s life from being connected on social media. Your email subscribers care more about your music and your success.

I use MailChimp, but you can look around for others, like FanBridge or Constant Contact.

Whatever the case, if you’re an indie musician, you should be investing time in growing your email list. 

Why Every Musician Should Think Like Esperanza Spalding

Earlier today, jazz singer-songwriter Esperanza Spalding finished her album, Exposure. She had live-streamed the entire thing on Facebook Live.

Esperanza Spalding
The 77-hour countdown clock on a split screen with Spalding listening to the songs (screenshot from Facebook Live feed)

She gave herself 77 hours to create, arrange, and record a 10-song album and sold only 7,777 copies. (She explains why all the 7’s in her Twitter spree starting here and in the tweets following it).

I watched a good chunk of the live feed, which ran 24/7. It was basically The Truman Show but for a musician in the studio.

Here’s what I got out of it…

When it comes to engaging with fans, every musician should think like Spalding.

I’m not saying go out and film the entire creation of your album and share it on Facebook. But invite people in.

The process is now part of the product. 

Esperanza Spalding

Spalding said she wanted to cut away all of the layers of self-editing and second-guessing that artists often go through.

“I want to take away all the layers that we usually hide behind as creators and just get right to the conversation of creating directly for you,” she says in the video below.

And in doing that, she got my attention — someone who had only heard her name — and made me her fan.

Try using tools like Facebook Live, Instagram, YouTube, and even Snapchat to engage with the people who love your music.

Invite people to sit around the creators table and experience your music on a deeper level.

In my attempt to do this, I started something called Behind The Scenes Tuesdays. Every week, I’ll be sharing a behind-the-scenes snippet of the recording of my new album.

What will you do to engage your fans?

How Musicians Can Use Social Media To Succeed

Social media is hard. Each social media platform has its own algorithm, a puzzle to put together. So what’s the best way for us musicians to use the top ones?

image via Marketing Land

First, let me say that I’m still learning. But so far, I’ve learned some pretty cool stuff. So here are some general tips to help you succeed on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as a musician.

Facebook

Images and videos win, almost every time. Post eye-catching photos and well-done videos (tip: people like to see faces) .

My top five posts in 2017 have been videos, the highest post reaching 4,417 people organically and getting 1,386 unique viewers.

Videos win.

Generally, Facebook likes when you post content that keeps people on Facebook. Not to say that the external links you post won’t do well, but Facebook loves itself better than whatever website you’re trying to get people to go to.

Instagram

According to my Instagram, it's been a good year. #2016bestnine #internetlife

A post shared by Caleb J. Murphy (@calebjmurphy) on

Aside from photos that pop, the key to Instagram (which is slowly becoming Facebook, IMO) are #hashtags. People will look through, say, the #singersongwriter hashtag to look for enjoyable posts and talented artists.

For example, I started a little Instagram account called The Songwriter’s Place to promote good songwriters. After every single one of my posts (along with a butt load of hashtags), I get at least three new followers.

Without fail.

I should note, about 95% of those followers are real and actually care about the content. The other 5% are people who hope I’ll follow them back, or accounts called something like “Insta_gram_followers_9097” (obviously fake).

Three new followers per post doesn’t sound like a lot, but imagine posting multiple times a day. Yeah, do the math. Use hashtags.

Twitter

Twitter is like public group texting. People who are funny, very opinionated, or say ridiculous things do really well on Twitter.

That’s why I don’t get very much buzz on my tweets. But I’m learning.

I know that if you tweet about trending topics, you’re much more likely to get engagement from people who don’t follow you. So if you can somehow combine a trending topic with the music industry or your music, you’re golden.

Also, Twitter is a great way to pat other musicians on the back and let them pat you on the back by mentioning each other (see above tweet).


RELATED: Bandcamp: social media for music


Closing thoughts

 

A general tip for all three of these: just be yourself. Don’t fake it or people will see through you.

Try the 70-20-10 rule: post quality content related to the music industry 70% of the time, promote other artists 20% of the time, and post about yourself 10% of the time. See if that helps.

In the end, it just takes practice, research, trial-and-error, and more practice…