When social media first began taking over the world over a decade ago (!), a lot of people initially focused on nothing but the numbers. Who had the most social media fans, which photos were getting the most likes, and pretty quickly, thousands turned to tens of thousands, which became hundreds of thousands, which in turn was replaced by millions. Now, the biggest stars on the planet can collect followings in the tens or even hundreds of millions depending on the platform…but that’s not necessarily how the world counts a success on social media any longer.
These days, it’s all about engagement. Almost as quickly as people began showing off their incredible number of followers, it became apparent that many, if not most, of those accounts, those “fans,” were actually fake. While having many people follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the rest is surely a sign that things are going well, what really matters these days is the level at which people are engaged with you and your content.
For example, if you upload a new song onto YouTube and tweet about it, you should look closely at how people engage with that news and that content. Are they commenting on your message? Are they clicking the link and listening to your new offering? Does the missive receive plenty of love in the form of favs and retweets? Having 10,000 followers on Twitter looks great, but if your latest post about something they should all care about doesn’t garner any attention, you’ll run the risk of looking silly to anybody who actually takes an interest in your social profile.
Here are a handful of ways to up the engagement on your social media accounts.
Ask Them To Participate
The best way to get people to engage is to actually ask them to do so! The number of followers that actually do get involved may vary, but it never hurts to ask! Try to come up with questions and topics where people can answer or put their two cents in, and then actually prompt them to get involved in the conversation. Perhaps ask what songs your fans would like to hear at an upcoming show, or question what track should be the next single and get the video treatment from your latest album. Request fan art, photos from recent concerts, and covers to be posted on YouTube. You might not get a ton of responses, but every single one should be acknowledged, as you can then turn around and share this content to your followers, and it will help you identify your most hardcore fans, who should be treasured above all others.
Respond To Them
Social media has become such an impersonal (in some regards, at least) medium that few people actually expect to hear back from the people they tweet or those that post the photos they comment on, so when a response actually appears, they are often truly excited. This is typically the case with superstars—we all have that friend that loves to talk about when Lady Gaga liked one of their tweets or when Lana Del Rey followed them back on Instagram—but you don’t need to be the biggest name in music to have your attention mean something.
Do your best to like people’s tweets, to start conversations or comment on their photos, and to generally let people know that you are listening, and that you aren’t the kind of musician that simply lets the people talk while you ignore them. Responses make people feel wanted and like they matter, and it will help solidify them as fans for a long time to come.
There may come a time when it’s near-impossible to respond to all of the comments, messages, and requests that come your way, but until that happens, do your best to be judicious when it comes to responding. That means that not every post deserves or even requires a response, so try to go the extra mile when deciding which ones truly do and get back to them ASAP.
Make It A Contest
To encourage participation, first you should ask, which we’ve already discussed. You’ll likely get a number of people willing to take part in whatever it is you’re doing, but once all of those people have been brought on board, you’re going to have to do something else to bring others into the fray.
Offer a treat of sorts to those that respond or create something connected to you and your music. Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be something large or difficult or expensive, but it should be something valuable, at least to these people. A signed CD, a merchandise bundle, a call out across your social channels, or anything else you feel your followers and fans would like. You can promise to give the “best” submission (of whatever you’re asking) a prize, or perhaps pick someone at random. There is no shortage of ways to make this work, and it doesn’t need to be complicated, but it is a great way to get people involved who might otherwise sit out and watch from the sidelines.
Feature Their Contributions
The 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol predicted everybody would get in the future has quickly been shortened, and now most people are happy to grasp just a moment or two of fame, with that word now being relative. Even if you weren’t specifically “looking” for anything from your fans in the way of content, go out of your way to blast out things that they share with you. It could be a photo they tag you in on Instagram, or perhaps a remix or cover they posted to SoundCloud. It doesn’t really matter what it is, if it catches your eye or ear and you like it, share it! Give them credit and you’ll make them feel great, and you’ll show the rest of your fanbase that there are dedicated people out there (which may make them want to be a part of the buzz).