Branding on social media is crucial to your bands success – it’s just a pity that so few bands understand what it is and how to do it well. While it might seem initially easy to put together your brand on a social media page, it’s clearly a lot more complicated than it looks since so many bands seem to have trouble and don’t fully realize what having a great social media brand implies. If you can take advantage of branding though, you’re setting yourself up for higher social media engagement and a more devout fanbase, which in turn leads to higher merchandise sales and concert attendance.

This is another one of those things where we can’t really look at my beloved DIY bands and instead need to consider the top notch web presence of a band like One Direction or Five Seconds To Summer. One thing that stands out right away about both bands is that they both have videos of the band members talking to the fans on top of their Facebook pages as featured posts. And I checked, they aren’t under the same label or management, this apparently just what boy bands do in 2016. While this isn’t necessarily crucial for you since your band probably aren’t divas, creating that link between band and fans is. It’s a valid marketing strategy to post a lot of videos of your band just being friendly dudes who are grateful for what support they receive. It helps to strengthen the bond between band and fan.

Beyond that – these bands are able to capitalize on their brand by showing that these are people who walk the walk. This isn’t just something that pop bands do (Five Seconds Of Summer’s Facebook page features a recent selfie of a member on vacation) it’s also implemented by the most savvy DIY acts. For example, my perennial favorites, the boys in Full of Hell do a great job of using silly pictures to show that despite their tendency to make brilliant and highly cerebral music, they too understand the beauty of a truly dank meme. Of course, things you post on social media is only the start of using it to brand your music.

A crucial aspect of any social media campaign is how beautiful your pages look. Take a band like Metallica for example. If you go through their pages you will see that they are all beautifully designed and put together. From Spotify to Twitter, Instagram to Facebook the band has been able to use every major social media platform to cultivate their aesthetic. They’ve been able to use social media to cement what their brand is (Playing to huge crowds, over the top imagery, remaining blue collar metal dudes) and thus help to guide their fanbase towards more of their work. It builds the Metallica ‘fantasy’ if you will and people who want to buy into that fantasy join the legions who follow the band quasi-obsessively, which, as we mentioned before, turns into pure revenue.

Fortunately – it is surprisingly easy to establish a similar web presence yourself. Putting together beautiful imagery and well constructed social media sites might very well be something that can be done by the members of your band. If not – it’s not too hard to fin someone able to do these things for just a few hundred dollars. While that might seem like a huge initial investment for something so small relatively speaking, it will pay off dividends in the future and helps to keep the band looking professional – and looking professional is vital in this industry. Your social media platforms are the number one way that people are going to be interacting with your band, so doesn’t it make sense to have them be as good as possible? After all – I now a lot of music industry big wigs who will close out of a page the second they see that it is poorly designed. While you might need them, they don’t need you.

You might want to refute my statements by saying that you’re a DIY punk band and that it doesn’t make sense for you to do this. Well – first off, I just name dropped Full Of Hell as a group you should emulate, if they aren’t DIY enough for you then I don’t know what is. Beyond that though, consider the progenitors of the genre, Black Flag, the Dead Kennedy’s, all of them. Those bands were extremely image conscious. Yes their image was an anti-image, but it was still there. Henry Rollins Get In The Van is basically designed to brand the Henry Rollins ethos. That doesn’t take away from the validity of what those bands did, nor does it take away from the DIY ethos of the band, it just means that they understood a basic component of marketing, that you not only need to have an aesthetic but that you need to make that aesthetic omnipresent and keep it in peoples faces.

Now none of this is easy – I still struggle with this, and truly unlocking the potential of social media branding is one of the most important keys to making the big time. It’s especially weird since social media is such a new thing, and again, none of us really have an accurate understanding of it quite yet, it’s still a bit to early in the game for anyone to claim that they fully understand the impact that social media has on the world. Studies will come out twenty years from now that will blow our minds, but right now we just have to make do with what we got. What I do know though is that for years and years bands have been branding themselves and using their aesthetic to make people sit up and pay attention and hopefully, swing some money their way for whatever projects they happen to be doing. Social media is the next step in this long march and it’s up to you to take advantage of that.