You know me…
I love social media.
TikTok is God’s gift to mankind. It’s totally conducive to human flourishing and is almost certainly the final capstone in our species’ history-long march toward utopia.
As it turns out, we were only one AI-filter-inspired-dance-challenge trend away from world peace this whole time.
I’m so glad to be alive with you right now.
My obnoxious sarcasm aside, the truth is that I don’t really like social media in general and I dislike short-form video in particular. As McLuhan famously said, “the medium is the message,” and in this case, I think the message mostly sucks.
But I also realize that, regardless of what I think, short-form video is huge.
It’s engaging (it’s addicting), which means it’s beloved by algorithms on pretty much every platform.
The bottom line…
If you want more eyes on your art, then pick a platform and post short-form videos consistently.
That’s the most effective path toward audience-building in 2023.
I’ve been (grumpily) making this recommendation for the past year or so, and often when I tell artists this, they follow up with the obvious next question:
“Okay, so what should I post?”
My answer is simple: Videos of bread.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the baking process or the band from the 70s. I’m talking about motionless bread.
Bake a loaf, set it down, then get out your phone and start filming 15-second clips. You can place the loaf in a location of your choice. If you feel particularly inspired, you can film it slice-by-slice. No narration is needed. Let the bread speak for itself.
This is exactly how Jack Harlow blew up.
That was all just a really bizarre joke, and I can’t even blame it on bad hazelnut coffee or chai tea; I’m just in a weird mood today. Let’s rewind and reset.
“Okay, so what should I post?”
The rest of this post will be my real answer to that question.
First, here’s my overarching philosophy (and it’s a little controversial):
When it comes to audience building, consistency > quality.
Put another way: Your success at building an audience is more dependent on the consistency of your posts than on how artfully your posts are created.
Now, don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying that the quality of your content doesn’t matter. The quality of your posts matters hugely. Most of the biggest creators post often and post awesome stuff.
But the truth is this: If you make the greatest short-form content in the world but only post one video per year, your audience growth will almost certainly lag behind an artist who makes mediocre content but posts every day.
Additionally, if you post every day, you’ll almost certainly improve the quality of your posts over time, because you’ll get more shots at discovering what works for you and what resonates with your audience.
More posts = more swings of the bat = more hits.
So it’s not really a point of comparing quantity versus quality; it’s a process in which quantity leads to quality.
As a result, I think you can almost reframe the question from “What should I post?” to “How can I post consistently?”
To that end, here’s what I’ve found helps:
1. Follow 10 people who are creating content for your audience.
The easiest way to figure out what kind of content works is to look at what’s working.
Start by identifying 10+ people who have an audience similar to yours. Review what they’re posting about and how they’re formatting their posts. Use this as a launchpad for your own posts and as a way to stay up-to-date on trends.
If you can carve out the time, engage with their content – duet it, or comment on it, or whatever. This can expose you to other audiences and help you to develop relationships.
Two notes on following other people:
10 is only a starting point. I follow 20+ music marketing newsletters, and I think the breadth gives me a better sense of what’s working and what the industry is thinking about.
Set a time limit on your consumption. Social media is a means toward connection, not an end in itself. So stay focused and be wary; it’s easy to spend 2 hours scrolling through your feed in the name of “research.”
Personally, I’d recommend setting Screen Time limits and capping your browsing at something like 30 minutes per day.
2. Create content buckets that align with your brand.
This has happened to me more often than I’d like to admit:
- I tell myself I’ll post something at 1pm.
- At 1pm, I open the app.
- For 10 minutes, I sit there thinking about what to post.
- I can’t think of anything.
- I get distracted by something in my feed.
- An hour of scrolling later, I’ve posted nothing.
- I throw my phone through the wall.
Content buckets can help you to avoid this scenario.
The idea is that you have 5-10 types of posts that you return to again and again, so that you’re never left struggling for ideas. While they’re typically called content buckets, (or topic buckets, story buckets, or Milwaukee buckets) they can really be delineated by topic or by format.
Here are just a few examples:
- Tell the story behind your lyrics
- Share behind-the-scenes clips from studio sessions
- Tell jokes to your dog
- Make jokes about your drummer
- Ask a would-you-rather question
- Cover a song from an indie artist
- Sing in public
- Share the encouragement you need at that moment
- Explain what you’re most excited about today
- Unpack a quote from your favorite book
- Film a daily activity (walk to work, making coffee, etc.)
- Share a montage from the past week
- Ask a question to a stranger
- Ask the viewer a question
- Give yourself 20 minutes to pick a top trend and perform it
Ideally, the buckets you pick should align with the brand you’re portraying; they should relate back to your artistry in some way, and they should uphold your core values.
A good way to test if you’re aligning your content to your brand is to picture your musical “fan avatar” – the prototypical person who would like your music – and ask yourself whether or not they’d like the social media stuff you’re creating. If they probably would, you’re on the right track.
Bottom line, if you’ve got 5-10 of these sorts of buckets at the ready, consistency will be easier and you’ll waste much less time when you go to post.
3. Set a schedule (and stick to it).
Once you have a repeatable framework, the final key to consistency is to define your posting schedule.
Generally, the more often you can post, the better. But let’s be real: You have limited time and you’re not trying to spend all of it on social media.
Three short-form videos per week is a solid baseline.
To make that happen, block out time to create and share each one. Literally mark it on your calendar.
Then stick to it.
(There’s more to upholding a schedule than that, obviously, but I just wrote a post on time management a few weeks ago, so rather than rehashing it I’ll just link to it here.)
And that’s how you can post consistently / what you should post.
Sorry for all the bad jokes in this one. I hope it was helpful anyway, and I hope you feel encouraged as you work on building your audience. Yes, I’m grumpy, but yes, real connections can be built on social media platforms. That’s a legitimately cool thing.
Now get out there and hop on the latest AI-filter-inspired-dance-challenge trend. World peace depends on it.