From the moment I start working with musicians, one of the first shifts that need to be made with their channels, is shifting their content from (usually) meaningless images of themselves and/or endless promotional posts. This type of content commonly gives not a lot of value or shows their actual expertise or brand.
Typically, the more value you give, the more time and attention you require from the viewer.
Most people on social media typically do not have this time to give to you. There are thousands of other content pieces waited to be consumed just a scroll after yours. This is why you must be patient and consistent in building your brand and channels.
The other day I was speaking with a friend who has just started playing around with Instagram to grow their brand. I love when newbies share their experiences with me.
But, something she said caught my attention hard and made me think… My friend is a poet and likes to play with words – she felt inspired the day we spoke – she decided to share a poem she’d written for her audience with me.
She would normally share pictures of herself, her life, sometimes mundane things. This time she wanted to share something deeper and more relevant to her life experience. And what happened..?
She barely got any likes.
She asked “does that mean my audience doesn’t want to see this side of me?”.
Though she really enjoyed creating this content and was happy to share it; she was disheartened by the poor performance, naturally.
This is an interesting question because a lot of my musicians go through the same thing. They get tons of engagement on personal images of themselves. But when they share something out of the ordinary, it plummets in performance and they get discouraged.
Instagram became popular and remains a stronghold of the internet due to it’s vain nature. The ‘visual influencers’ have reigned supreme because of this exact reason. However, it is slowly changing over to a video heavy platform where sharing value trumps the traditional selfie.
So, in order to make your Instagram work for you and not melt down about getting less-than-desirable results from posts, here are five top tips to get past the low engagement and continue to build your brand.
You need to have fun while doing it – or else it’s not worth it
It really didn’t take long before my son understood the concept of getting likes on Instagram and the ‘importance’ we place on it. He really took on board that its a rating system which ranks you in one way or another… He’s 8 years young!
I told my son the same thing I’d say to my musicians, yes it’s important but there are many other factors about social media that means so much more. Having fun while creating content is the only way you can keep this up long-term.
Play around, test stuff out and don’t be a slave to the likes and engagement figures. While it is a good indication of what you should be doing more of, it’s not a jury that makes a final call on your career. It’s a guide.
If you like the content that you’re creating and it’s creating some sort of momentum, then that’s absolutely fine. If your aim is to be the biggest boss on Instagram, then you’ll need to change your strategy. If you want to find your audience that genuinely likes what you do, take your time and have fun while doing it.
My personal picture posts usually generate the most engagement out of everything else I do. But my feed cannot be a stream of gorgeous shots of Ibiza with my face in every one. That’s not building trust around my brand.
Creating loyalty from people in the industry that you are targeting doesn’t come from these kinds of posts. Your expertise, passions and experience do.
The likes do not equate to your knowledge and skill level.
I convert followers to paying customers through my videos and carousel posts where I share my expertise. Just posting images would make me an ‘influencer’ and not a professional marketing individual with lots of value to give to musicians.
I really don’t enjoy taking photos of myself which is why my feed is bountiful in videos, valuable content and posts that educate and inspire. That’s my goal.
I have so much more fun creating this type of content. I can stand behind it fully as it reflects my brand and my business that I work so hard on.
2. It takes a while to build sub-brands
As a musician, your main brand show you and your value. However, your main brand also breaks off into different sub brands.
For example, Lady Gaga’s brand has tons of sub brands. Her role within the LGBTQ+ community, her role in the electronica/pop community, her role in the female empowerment community and her role as a businesswoman (among lots of others).
To showcase yourself as a musician is easy enough. You also need to start showing the other sides to you which are typically your sub brands. On social media this is done through content creation (aka content marketing).
When you begin creating these sub brands you current audience will take a little while to get to know this part of you. Therefore, it might take some time to get engagement in these areas.
Building an audience for the new stuff you create will also be another timer you need to acknowledge will be slow but steady, if you do it correctly.
If you have several sub brands, showcasing your content, you’ll begin to build up a much broader spread of audience type. Some might like one part and dislike another and that’s completely normal. Your superfans will probably love them all!
3. Play around with different formats
Content is something that will always be in continuous development. Though you have a plan for that, you will always need to experiment further as nothing lasts forever and trends change.
Plan for this trend/likeability evolution too. It will come sooner or later.
When trying out new formats you need to have it planned out. For example, when I started my weekly carousel, it took a little time for me to find the best format to deliver them to my followers’ needs.
The time it took me to create that first carousel versus how little engagement it got should have totally discouraged me. It didn’t – instead it pushed me to experiment with the topics, the style, the length and the depth of what I was presenting to my audience.
I worked on this every week until I found a sweet spot of the perfect combination of content and design my followers engaged with.
However, when I’ve been sharing this format for a little while, the engagement rate begins to drop. After a few months of sharing the same design with a different value, people become too accustomed to the style and they expect it so they scroll past.
That’s when I switch it up again. Change the colours, the layout, the ‘punch’. It’s important to read the metrics over time so you can spot these fall outs and adjust accordingly.
When I began posting Tweet quotes, I saw the success right away. This format worked and I got a lot of engagement, shares and saves. It triggered interactions which I wanted!
If I hadn’t tried out these new formats, I’d never have found these sweet spots. On the other side of the coin, I’d also never know the formats that had very poor engagement too.
So, make room in your current content plan that allows you to test out new formats and ideas. When doing this experimentation you need to spread it out over time so you give yourself enough space to see what’s actually worked.
Another example here is one of my students who began curating their own playlists to share content and value to their audience. Each week he would make a new playlist for his audience on Spotify and share on his other social medias with some eye-catching artwork.
At the start he saw no click throughs, no engagement, no responses. After testing several weeks of this we still saw no clicks. We knew we had to make more changes.
Since his following is still pretty new and not yet loyal; we cannot expect to move them over to another platform, exiting the one they’re already on.
We then began to post carousels with 8 different songs complete with a front and back cover. Each slide in the carousel showcased a snippet of a song that fitted with the value he wanted to share. As a whole, the carousel represented the playlist and its value.
Basically, we created a mini playlist along the lines of “8 tracks you totally forgot about”.
Instead of trying to move them over to Spotify, he gave the value directly on Instagram. Allowing the followers to get more of an idea before they committed to exiting Insta and heading to Spotify to find out more.
When he started building his followers, they became more loyal, which made it easier to move them across platforms.
This is how formats develop.
The easiest way to get engagement is through sharing a picture of yourself with something nice in the caption. Yes, this generates lots of likes and comments; but it’s not building trust nor sharing your personality fully.
It is crucial for you to start testing out other formats and develop different ideas. If it fails, tweak it and try something else. Find your sweet spot.
4. When you increase your content, likes will go down
Now this is a hard pill to swallow for some people. You’re putting more time and energy into creating more… But the stats are going down?!
Let’s break this down. You post once per week on social media and that content receives 200 or so likes and 15 comments. Pretty good going, right?
Well, let’s say you post 14 times per week and each post gets an average of 50 likes and 6 comments… What’s the best?
The second one obviously. During that week, you’ve not only received tons more interactions on your profile, you’ve also shared loads more value with your fans. It builds a lot more trust and loyalty and shows you mean business.
Of course, this cannot be 14 pictures of yourself, it has to be different types and formats of content that shares value.
Even though many of the same people interact with your content, you are sharing that content with a purpose. That purpose you share daily is converting followers into fans into buying customers – faster.
Only sharing images of yourself every week will take a long time to get conversions going. Your content is only available to approximately 7% of your followers thanks to the algorithm. Increasing the frequency you post will increase the amount of people who see your content. Makes sense, right?
However, this strategy spreads out the amount of likes/comments/saves you receive across your weekly content. You cannot expect to get the same high engagement if you’re sharing lots of content.
You’ll also get to see some of the content that really doesn’t trigger much engagement. Whenever I promote or sell something, it usually generates much less engagement than a personal picture. But it’s still being seen and registered in people’s minds.
Metrics such as ‘profile visits’ and ‘website clicks’ are super important to keep track of as well as the likes, etc. Sometimes I receive much more profile and website clicks than likes. To me, that means I’m pushing traffic over from Instagram to my ‘sales’ pages.
This is more valuable than a like. A website click gives you far more than a like.
Here’s a video of the metrics you should be really focusing on, rather than stressing over the like counter:
5. Getting likes on social media shouldn’t come at the expense of who you are
The thing that you’re passionate about, that you’ve decided to invest your time in, to grow your brand and make money… It shouldn’t eat you up if it’s not working how you want.
If this is the case, which it is for such a huge percentage of musicians, you simply need to build on it. Spread out. Expand it. Use those sub-brands we spoke about earlier and run with them.
Spend more time on creating a different angle, another edge, a dimension to your music that feeds into the whole narrative. Don’t stop doing this until you find what works for both you and your audience. Give it the time it needs to develop and make decisions over time.
Never stop trying different things and building on your brand. It’s an ever changing world out there and we’re part of that cycle.
If you obsess over one detail of your professional endeavours, and it’s making you feel less than efficient over time. It’s time to level up somewhere else. Keep that original passion and spin it differently.
The world is our oyster and there’s no rule book. It’s 2020 – anything is possible and those actually trying sh*t out will receive what they’re looking for.