We’ll be the first to admit, Facebook can feel rather 2009 when it comes to sharing photos and videos with your friends (or in the case of an indie band, fans and followers). And, yeah, there are murmurings that Facebook’s popularity is waning as tweens migrate toward Instagram and Twitter useage. But, as of June 2014, Facebook still has an estimated 900,000,000 unique monthly visitors, while Twitter is only pushing 310,000,000 and Instagram is even further down the list at 100,000,000. So let us answer the question your band has likely been asking: Yes, Facebook is worth your band’s time.
Here are a few ways that you use Facebook to grow – and sustain – your indie band’s following:
Facilitate Fan Communication
Talking with your fans, whether you have 5,500 or 50,000, is incredibly essential, especially as your band is still getting established. Personal attention can make all the difference in both image perception and ticket sales. Fans won’t engage if you don’t, so reply to comments, “like” pictures and posts that are relevant to your music, and respond to individual messages – even a simple “thank you” works a treat.
Utiliize Band Apps
Apps like Bandsintown and Artistdata, while aesthetically imperfect and sometimes a pain on the backend, help pump your information out to cyberspace and into your fans laptops, phones, and brains. Both mainly serve to share tour/show information, but they also create Facebook groups and add automated reminder posts on your band’s Timeline. These posts don’t get as many views as your own hilarious photo or recent rehearsal video, but they do keep your constituency up-to-date with reminders.
Facebook is a prime platform for running contests. Do you want shares, “likes”, or to gather emails for your next newsletter? Whatever the goal, if you have a worthwhile prize (signed album, merch bundle, free entry to a show, or exclusive download), Facebook can help you get the job done. What’s more, your follower’s activity will spread exponentially across the social site, and your band will start popping up on Timelines everywhere. And, if you’re prize is good enough, you’ll gain new participants (and if you’re music stands on its own, new fans). Never forget, people love free stuff.
IndieMade’s insignt on Facebook contests deserve a blog post all on its own, but for now, check out this article on Inside Facebook: 30 Facebook timeline contest ideas that drive “likes” and comments.
Facebook hashtagging hasn’t caught on in the same way it did with Instagram and Twitter, but you can still use the practice to your advantage. Hashtags draw attention to specific words or phrases (by literally highlighting your text as blue hyperlinks and by marking them with the # symbol). They also show cultural capital if you use them right. For example, come up with a designated tour name and hashtag it every time you post anything about touring: #sgtpeppertour. Use your band’s name and whatever action it is you’re taking or asking for: #beatlesgiveaway, #beatlesvolunteers. Etcetera. Additionally, with a hashtag, you can request, call attention, or caption to any number of photos, videos, or plain copy posts with a little humor (and without it looking like begging): #cometoourshow #buyouralbum #bringmeaburrito.
A few more thoughts:
Get creative with your imagery, because photos work. They spread faster and farther than text posts, and they require less of a time commitment than videos – for both you and your fans. Update your cover and profile photos frequently to enforce brand recognition. The mobile app Overgram allows you to add text on top of your photos, sharing text and image in one creative post.
You make music, right? So make sure you have music on your page. Use BandPage, BandCamp, ReverbNation, YouTube. And in addition to streaming apps, post videos and song clips straight onto your Timeline.
Consider advertising. You can target fans, or ought-to-be fans. You can run a special offer, share some important news, and publicize your latest release. Along with some monthly app memberships, this is where your money will go when it comes to Facebook spending – but you can use coupons and set a day or ad-lifetime budget, so advertising doesn’t have to break the bank.