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Branding Yourself: Dipping Your Toe into Social Media

April 4, 2018

Hopefully you’ve had some time to think about the questions we asked in our last post. The good news is that you don’t have to have every piece of your brand identity worked out ahead of time—indeed, that would be impossible. That means that thinking through these things can happen while you implement your strategy. And the first step, any way you look at it, is your social media presence.

Being online is unavoidable no matter how old you are. After all, it’s how you got here, and we’re grateful to have you. There are so many different ways to network on the interwebs that it would be impossible to list them all.

In entertainment, however, the three most popular are fairly well known: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You really need a presence on all three, but Instagram and Twitter are a bit easier to start with, and have the potential to reach a larger audience more quickly. Which can be good or bad, depending on what you say.

An Artist Walks into a Bar

If you’re looking to use social media to build your brand, the most important piece of advice might surprise you. Twitter is necessary, fun, useful, and an incredible way to build your fan base. But don’t start by tweeting.  

Go on twitter. Explore it. But at the beginning, just don’t tweet. Not forever, of course, but it’s not the best way to start. Part of finding your own voice is taking advantage of what’s already there and seeing what you like. So start by following the artists you like, politicians, sports teams, whatever. Twitter makes you follow at least 10 people to start anyway.

It’s a lot like walking into a bar, but as an invisible observer. You don’t need a profile picture or background picture to start, even. And you definitely want to get a sense of the room before you start chatting people up.

While you’re learning the ropes, now’s a great time to get two photos you like. The profile photo should include your face or logo or something that makes you seem a bit human. If you have performance photos you like, one of those is a good choice for your background. So, too, is your favorite instrument or a photo you enjoy.

Thankfully, you can set up your Instagram as a carbon copy of your Twitter account. Now that you’re at that stage, you’ve put on your social media clothes.

If You Build It, They Should Come

When it comes to brand and to tweeting, tone is important, but so, too, is being true to yourself. And giving yourself room to grow, whether you’re growing into that one uncle at Thanksgiving Dinner, just growing up, or growing into someone who knows where they’re growing.

For example, lots of artists have talked about voyages to sobriety on Twitter. Others have talked about writing songs on LSD (Hey @KaceyMusgraves). Although both strategies can be controversial, the fan bases engage and feel personally connected to artists regardless.

Charlie Daniels is a legend who is also on Twitter. He’s older, but he’s also outspoken and his politics show through as well. Although he has since left twitter, earlier this year he made quite a (loud?) statement.

https://twitter.com/CharlieDaniels/status/909168570462085120

Or take a look at former Spin Doctor and current solo artist Chris Barron’s conversation with a fan: 

‍https://twitter.com/thechrisbarron/status/965442021115777029

You can choose how you want to engage people, eventually. Ryan Bingham strikes a solid balance. He shares photos from music video shoots or even grabbing food while he’s on tour. He can also post a brilliant eulogy to the great Leonard Cohen:

https://twitter.com/RyanBingham/status/796924287638568960

It sounds dumb. It might be a hassle, but it doesn’t hurt to take notes on what kind of tweets appeal to you or share similar ideas that you want to share. You don’t need a notebook or a separate document. The heart/favorite feature signals appreciation on Twitter but you can also look at your favorites for some inspiration.

So, those might be some starting points for your own tweets. You’ll find plenty yourself on Twitter as well as on Instagram. Now you just have to make sure that you master the etiquette of promotion:

  1. Reply first. If no one knows who you are, you can make friends or get people interested by talking to them first. It’s being polite instead of walking into an open mic night, pushing everyone off the stage, and yelling “PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEE!!!!!”
  2. You’re making friends AND fans. Being open and asking questions in your own posts is pretty key. It can also help keep you sane if you’re spending a lot of time in the studio.
  3. Don’t assume your perfectly-crafted post is going to get a lot of attention. Social media is weird and otherwise, you set yourself up for disappointment.
  4. After you get the hang of it, you should sort out a bio for your profile. At the very least, your latest album or show and a way to get in touch.

We Didn’t Forget About Facebook. Honest!

We talked about Facebook earlier and it’s mostly similar to what you’re doing on Twitter. You’ll need to create a page that is separate from your own personal account. Most of the information you can copy over from your Twitter or Instagram accounts. You might also want to add a location.

One nice thing? You have more characters to make your point on Facebook so you can stretch your legs when you write. That’s why we recommend starting with Twitter to make sure you can enjoy writing in a more difficult format, and learn to say what you mean. Also, Twitter is less likely to become a conversation between your biggest professional contacts and, say, your mom.

Final Thoughts

Next up? The branding of branding. You can do everything above for no money at all and it’s helped launch the careers of numerous artists. Our third post delves into what people normally think of: websites, logos, merch and all of that jazz. Or alt-country. Whichever you prefer.

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