So I sat down with a friend today and we started talking about band promotion and social media ads. As you might guess this is something that happens to me a lot. A lot a lot. One thing we talked about that I feel very passionately about is the importance of placing engagement far above sales or conversions. In my experience this is perhaps the only reliable way to make money at this because it’s what gets people talking. It might not seem obvious but eventually if people see your name enough they are going to check you out. It’s as simple as that. They don’t want to be sold too, they already know where to go to find new music if they want. They already know where to go to find YOUR music if they want. But they don’t know that you exist and that you are actively trying to do things. It’s the people who make a point of boosting awareness over all else who seem to be the ones who end up successful in this industry.
When it comes down to it the only thing that really matters is looks. The amount of people looking at what you are doing and who you are and what you are trying to do with this. Even when the looks are bad you can usually come back from it if you act like nothing happened. I recorded a podcast about this recently where we talk about how viral content, no matter what it’s about can really be a game changer for your band. You just gotta keep it in stirde and not become whatever meme you have been encapsulated in (Remember that a meme can also be an idea, not just an image format) and this is where things get interesting. Eventually people will forget why you went viral or only have a vague conception, but they will just remember the name and hopefully the genre. Eyeballs are what matter. It’s the same with opening for bigger bands, no one at that show necessarily has to buy your merch for that show to be a win.
Look at it this way, if people just know that you opened for say, Cannibal Corpse, they automatically view you as a more pro band. Similarly, if people even SEE your name in their Facebook feeds, an area that has just about COMPLETELY wiped out any sort of organic interaction with bands then they will remember. Facebook has gotten to a point where just to see a post from a small band is such an oddity, such a rarity that you aren’t going to easily forget that, if the content is compelling. This is the other issue, frequently the content you are posting isn’t compelling. Awareness can’t just be through a single flash impression, though that is key, it ideally is going to get the engagement for more than 1.7 seconds that is needed in order to have someone fucking remember something. But if you set up your Facebook and Instagram ads optimally then people are going to get that awareness and that’s where the essential funnel starts to happen.
This is a big part of why I encourage people to do video ads, because they have a much higher chance of getting the viewer to pause for a second in their feed. Most people when looking at their feeds are just lying down mindlessly scrolling and that’s fine. But realize that with a show stopping video then folks will stop. You need to figure out a way to make it show stopping whilst simultaneously on brand. There are some obviously facile ways to do this I don’t need to get into, but I think there is nothing wrong with having some bold imagery, at least as your cover photo so that people are immediately inspired to stop, even just for a second. Then you become the band with the cool video and things start to bubble up. Instagram is particularly a place that emphasizes great video content, and you need to do it with a strict limit, this is a hard thing but it will help you grow.
To clarify, I push driving on Facebook and Instagram because outside of curated, well picked and well put together live shows and extremely active Twitter users, literally nothing else matters. In terms of advertising and pushing engagement well then one of the best things you can do straight up is get your name in front of as many eyeballs as possible, again this is why opening slots are key, but this isn’t the 20th century anymore, not only are those opportunities increasingly rare in a bloated market of bands, but also because there are easier ways to do it now. Of course you need to follow up your ads with action otherwise they are useless. But you always want to go where you have the best ROI on your ads and the ROI on Instagram and Facebook ads right now is completely ridiculous. IF you don’t use that as your jumping off point then you are screwing yourself.
So yeah, do whatever you can to gain awareness of your band and your brand. Don’t be a fuck up or annoying, doing that too much will get you hated. Instead just be patient and try to push yourself. Try to figure out what is meaningful and helpful to your growth and use that as a driving factor. Otherwise you’re just going to find yourself falling down a bitter hole. Make ads that boost awareness and then engage with everyone, and I mean everyone who comments. They want to find out more. They are telling you this. It’s going to suck but that’s what you need to do. Build it, let them know, and then when they come, make them feel loved.