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How To Build A Larger Audience/Fanbase For Your Christian Music - Part 3

Are you a Christian music artist? Do you want to build a larger audience for your music? In this 5 part series, we will explain our music marketing strategy for exponentially expanding your fanbase.


Today, in part 3, we focus on the use of social media, especially on how social media works to reinforce your online presence and value to your audience/fanbase. This post contains a serious amount of information that you may want to print and save somewhere. 
Next week, in part 4, we will be sharing tips on pitching to music blogs and playlists, and we go in-depth on the value and proper use of genre tags (another post that you will want to print and save).

Maintain a cohesive social media presence

Don’t just think of social media as a way to sell your music. Social media should be a conversation. Selling music is actually a result that happens when people appreciate what they are hearing, and feel a link with you. See social media as one of the channels to interact with fans and share your journey as an artist.

You don’t need to be active on every single platform out there. Pick a few platforms that work for you. Be choosy of which socials you are going to use. It’s better to maintain a consistent presence on just a couple of platforms, rather than a scattered presence on all of them. I recommend you focus on the platforms that you enjoy, and the ones where your fans are actively engaging with you (or the ones where you have the best chance of finding potential new fans).

Use tools to help you cross-post messages, such as IFTTT.com, Hootsuite, etc., but realize that social media is about interaction. Getting a post onto multiple social media platforms using a tool makes sense, but do not try to automate interaction. Interaction is personal. It will harm you if fans realize that you are using a chatbot or other means to automate interaction. You need to be available to respond to comments/messages.

I do recommend that you at least reserve your artist or band name on each major social media platform. The reason why is because anyone can pick a name that is not already used. The name can even be your artist name or the name of your band. You don't want fans to get confused by posts on profiles that seemingly are linked to you. Also, you want to be in as much control as possible of your online identity. You never know if and when you might want to use that platform. If I look at Instagram, it took a while before it became very popular. Today, most artists feel that they must also be on Instagram.
As a general rule, when you set up a new account on any platform, select a username that’s consistent with all your other profiles so that people know how to find you. Be sure to fill out your bio section, upload an eye-catching photo, and include a link to your website.

Facebook

In terms of active users, Facebook is by far the place to be. It is the largest social media platform, and there is a big chance that many of your (potential) fans are already on Facebook. Don't mix your personal page with your music page. Keep it separate. Also, realize that some bands change over time. You may even want to change your artist name. So keep a separate page as an artist/band.

Publish high-quality, shareable content, such as your music, videos, photos, or even Facebook Live streams. Always respond to questions and react to comments, because that actually helps your posts get seen by even more people.

Realize that Facebook is constantly changing its algorithm (the rules used to determine what content someone will see when just browsing). All important announcements should go to your website and be cross-posted to your socials. If you want to reach more people, then you may need to start a campaign to reach a larger audience... and the pricing is determined by the number of views. There are quite a few options to promote your page based on region, interest, age, etc.. I am personally not really enthusiastic about using targeted ads on Facebook for Christian Music. I feel that most don't offer you the ability to sufficiently filter the target audience to really match your potential audience... and anyone that does offer this granular filtering may be acting on the edge of what privacy laws are allowing...   Since you pay per view, and Christian Music is more or less a niche, you most likely will be paying for multiple views by the same people.
Having said that, some artists invest and with some trial and error are able to figure out who their ideal target audience is, and feel that the results justify the cost (some say that ads are inexpensive and get the results they are looking for). I guess it is a matter of what your starting point is and how much money you can afford to invest. If you have a small budget, then you may want to focus on organic growth (growth without having to pay for it).

Instagram

Instagram is the second-largest social media platform, and it’s all about the visuals here. Photos are most common, but videos — especially in the form of Instagram Live and IGTV — are excellent for engagement as well.

In addition to consistently sharing great content with relevant hashtags a couple of times a day, you can grow your Instagram following by simply being genuine, commenting a lot on other people’s photos, adding your Instagram feed to your website, and maintaining your Instagram Story.

Make sure that you completely fill out your Instagram profile. Your introductory text is your Instagram biography! As a musician, your Instagram biography should be concise and regularly updated. It should include upcoming concerts/tours and possible album or video clip releases. Do not hesitate to integrate hashtags (example: musician – artist #pop) inside your Instagram biography, this will bring people to your profile and gain you new followers.

Link in your bio. Instagram is a very good tool for musicians to promote themselves. You can easily integrate a SmartLink into your Instagram biography, which allows people to listen to your track/album on all streaming platforms.

Develop a strong visual identity to gain new followers!

Your aim is to have a great feed... The mosaic of your Instagram account should be harmonious. Try to find an original idea that stands out from the crowd and makes your potential fans want to follow you as soon as they land on your profile.

Always stay true to yourself. In order to gain followers on Instagram, you must first define a basic premise: as a musician, what do you want to pass on? Is your image important? Then don’t hesitate to plan a photo shoot that you can take content from as you go along with your Instagram posts. What if you don’t want your face to be seen? Don’t worry: define a universe or theme that fits your project and with which you feel comfortable.

You should never feel out of step with your content on Instagram, for the sake of your personal well-being and because your followers will feel it.

Always choose quality over quantity. Although it may seem logical, it’s better to have few good pictures than a ton of poor ones. Think about the light, framing, subject and, most importantly, think about the message. What is the purpose of your photo? An album release, a clip, simply a (beautiful) live souvenir? The content will vary depending on the purpose. And for musicians who are a little indecisive, don’t forget that you can post carousels (several photos in one post). Your musical project tells a story- your Instagram must reflect it.

Follow people strategically! On Instagram, for an artist/musician account, always make sure that the number of followers is greater than the number of people you follow. You want this difference to be even greater for more credibility when the project starts to take off! Interact with accounts in the same sector. Avoid following en masse, at the risk of being “punished” by Instagram and seeing your engagement rate decrease. Avoid untimely follows/unfollows. The same goes for likes and comments.

Avoid buying followers. It is best to start with a community of engaged, present and active followers who will stay for the long term. Instagram has become even stricter with paid systems; as soon as it detects “abnormal” activity, the account is “shadow banned” and put in the shade.

Have interesting and engaging descriptions. Storytelling works very well for artist accounts. Pay attention to the first sentence of each Instagram post and don’t forget to include “Link in my bio”.

Use numerous and varied hashtags. Your biography is important and so are your posts. Don’t be fooled by the visual side of Instagram to the point of forgetting your posts. Think about hashtags and don’t always use the same ones. Vary popular hashtags and more targeted hashtags. At least 8 hashtags per post on Instagram seems to be a good average.

Publish at the right time (day and hour- paying attention to the country in question) and only once a day. Don’t hesitate to make your own tests. Try different times, different days, and most importantly, check your statistics on your Instagram > statistics profile.

Interact with your followers. Reply to comments: don’t forget to tag the account! Propose contests. Ask questions and make polls in stories. Your followers are eager to participate!

If you’ve already dabbled in Facebook ads and you want to try running Instagram ads, you’ll be happy to know that there’s no learning curve — it’s all on the same platform!

Do realize that it is not easy to cross-post to Instagram. There are no standard tools to cross-post from your website to Instagram, but you can take posts from Instagram to other platforms. There are businesses that have built tools to cross-post to Instagram, but that will require the skills of specialized software developers.

As with all services that require a budget, set realistic goals and start with a small budget. Actively monitor the results, and be prepared to pull the plug out of any marketing expenses that do not generate enough results. Don’t waste money on ads that aren’t getting you any results. The fact that certain ads are working for someone else should never be a justification for you to do the same.

Be sure to check out the best practices for advertising music on any platform before you get started. Ask around, go to forums where artists are sharing their marketing experiences, try to understand what others are doing / or not doing (and why).

Twitter

Twitter is a strange platform, with lots of users that enjoy dumping on people that have a different opinion. The size of your messages is quite limited. I recommend using Twitter for announcements/brand-building and not for conversations. Limit the number of tweets to 6-8 tweets per day. Post the header of your blog posts together with a link to the relevant page on your website. Include a link to the image on your website page, so that your tweets look more appealing. This way you are driving the interaction to your website. Some followers on Twitter may contact you through a so-called Direct Message (DM). If you can't respond in one or two short sentences (because of the limitation on the message length), you may want to move the conversation to another platform.

As with any social media platform, the best way to get Twitter followers is to have great content that people want to engage with.
Also, hashtags are very important on Twitter. Research how hashtags work, and select hashtags that are relevant to your posts.

Using Twitter’s search function, you can find people who are talking about you or your music, or search for fans of similar artists. From there, you can start conversations with them or add them to a Twitter list. They’ll get notified, and will likely check out your profile.

YouTube

People tend to go to YouTube first to find songs they’re looking for. It shouldn't really surprise you since Google owns Youtube, but Youtube is the second-largest online search engine after Google! 
Very few people know that the content placed in the description section of a YouTube video has a big impact on the search engine results of Google. If you carefully write your text, use relevant keywords & hashtags, and include the web address (URL) of the relevant webpage, you can boost the rankings of your website pages! As an artist, you will be equally happy if people first find your video on YouTube and then jump over to your website.

YouTube is a place where everyone can upload videos and include music... possibly even your music! YouTube displays ads before and during videos. The revenue of these ads can go to the owner of a channel... except if the video uses music that YouTube can link to an artist. So, your music may already be on YouTube. It is recommended that you upload all your songs to your own official channel so that you can monetize them (i.e., earn money from your videos by allowing ads to be displayed on them). And if other people are using any of your music in their videos, you can use platforms like CD Baby to automatically identify your music and monetize it.

To build up your following on YouTube, you need to produce quality videos and upload them on a consistent schedule. There are so many kinds of videos that musicians can upload, but a few common ones include music videos, lyric videos, cover songs, live performances, big announcements, and interviews.

To help people find you organically on YouTube, make sure you’ve got all your bases covered: write effective video titles and detailed descriptions, add relevant tags to all your videos, and enable channel recommendations.

I can't emphasize this enough... The title of the Youtube video is crucial because it must allow you to get as much out of the search as possible and make users want to watch the video. Don’t forget to write a suitable description and add relevant tags to each of your videos. Keep the title short and straight to the point for your live videos and music videos, such as your song name and artist name. For your other videos, you can analyze what is working the most at the moment on Youtube and adapt the content, title and description with interesting keywords in the tags. Youtube Autocomplete and Google Trends are good tools to find the keywords searched by language and country and to know the associated trends.

You’ll also want to organize similar types of videos into playlists to build watch time.

Create intriguing thumbnails. Once your video is visible on the platform, you want as many users as possible to click on it. The thumbnail should attract attention and make people want to know more. In general, colorful images are what catch the eye, but the picture quality is more important. If it is blurry, poorly framed, it suggests that the video is also poor quality. We, therefore, advise you to remember to take pictures when you record a video for your channel and when shooting your clips and other events to ensure a good result. You can also do simple edits using apps like Canva for example.

For a big release, consider scheduling your video as a YouTube Premiere so that you’re able to create more buzz with a shareable watch page.

TikTok

With 500 million active users, TikTok is now an integral part of the music marketing landscape. More and more channels are being set up in order to land directly in the TikTok playlist and promote the discovery of new artists.

To say that TikTok is just a platform for sharing short videos would be an oversimplification. The short video format in itself is nothing new. It can be found on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. TikTok isn’t even the first platform to put the format forward, Vine did it 7 years ago.

What makes TikTok special? Let’s start with this little statistic: over 55% of all active TikTok users don’t just watch videos on the platform, they regularly upload their own videos. And it’s just huge.

It is impossible to find the exact percentage of YouTube users who upload videos to the platform, but it is only a fraction of the 2 billion global users. In this sense, despite its massive role in modern digital culture, YouTube remains a platform rooted in a traditional, “one-to-many” communication scheme. So TikTok took the “many to many” approach of social media communication and applied it to video. On TikTok, everyone is an audience, and everyone is a creator; this is the key to TikTok’s success.

Given the high number of videos posted on the platform, TikTok’s algorithm must process a volume of content that none of the previous platforms had to process. And when it comes to processing this huge stream of user-generated content, the TikTok algorithm is built so that every video has a chance: “Although a video is likely to be viewed more if it is posted by an account that has many followers (…) neither the number of followers nor the fact that the account has previously had high performing videos is direct factors in the recommendation system “.

The primary goal of TikTok’s recommendation engine is to make content appear interesting regardless of the creator’s initial audience.

If you want to use TikTok to get people to listen to your music, you need to create and develop an artist TikTok account. But before you decide to commit to the platform as a creator, you need to understand what kind of TikTok content you can produce to match your overall artistic universe.

Your whole artist profile on TikTok should only be built around your goal (getting people to listen to your music), which means you need to find a way to showcase your music in the videos you create, while also making sure that they always match up with the spirit of the platform. Simply posting clips of your upcoming tracks or behind-the-scenes footage in the studio won’t be enough, other platforms are better suited for this type of content. When creating your own videos on TikTok, you need to have in mind how the algorithm works.

If you want to maximize your chances of going viral, here are some top tips to follow:

1. Choose a universe/theme that suits you
The most important thing to do when creating your Artist Tiktok account is to choose a theme around which you will center your content. Rapper Alvin Chris decided to do ten-second freestyles for several weeks. One of his freestyles, “Coucou c’est encore moi” worked really well, and has been covered over 6,000 times. Choosing a type of content will allow the algorithm to better identify you in order to attach you to a certain category of content on the platform, and to connect you with people who appreciate this type of content.

2. Use hashtags
Hashtags are probably the most important method of relating video to a type of content. If you choose popular hashtags, it should increase the chances that your video will appear in TikTok’s “Discover” and “For you” tabs. (There is a special section in this post about hashtags.)

3. Follow the trends and take part in the challenges
If a new challenge appears on the platform, TikTok users will be more inclined to be interested in this type of content – and the algorithm knows it. So if you see that you are interested in a trend and have an idea for a cool video, feel free to create it and share it. But remember, you need to stay consistent with your content strategy! Don’t forget the hashtags either! There must be one attached to the trend.

4. Showcase your music on the platform
Since you are using TikTok as a channel to promote your music, make sure that all of your active fans on the platform are aware of what you are doing outside of the platform. You don’t have to be too blunt: TikTok is not a place for “new single available on all streaming platforms” type announcements. However, if you are producing original TikTok content, you have every reason to use your own songs as soundtracks.

5. Use TikTok Pro Analytics
Not too long ago, TikTok launched an analytics dashboard, available for free to all content creators on the platform. With TikTok Pro, you can track your follower count, your video views, your audience demographics, and get data on what type of content is working best for you. To switch to a Pro account, simply go to the “Manage my account” tab, and click Switch to TikTok Pro.

6. Make sure you are not excluded
TikTok blocks spam, offensive or harmful content. If the platform finds any of the following, it can ban the account:
  • Use of prohibited hashtags
  • Delete a large volume of content in one go
  • Short-term subscribing and unsubscribing of users
  • Use of copyrighted content
But no matter how popular your TikTok account is, it won’t compare to the impact of one of your songs becoming the soundtrack of a popular TikTok trend or challenge. This brings us to the second strategy you can choose to take advantage of TikTok’s viral nature and massive audience.


How do you get your music trending on TikTok?
Even if standing out from the crowd in TikTok challenges becomes more complicated every day, the principle to achieve it always remains the same. It just takes a good idea, a catchy song – or rather, a catchy moment – and a few well-chosen influencers to get the ball rolling. But let’s take it one step at a time. Here’s our guide to starting a TikTok challenge.

1. Spend time on TikTok
First of all, we must remember the following point: TikTok is a unique platform, with a unique sense of content. So if you are considering integrating the platform into your marketing strategy, the best advice we can give is to go spend some time on the platform yourself. Try to understand what content is popular and why.

2. Check that your song is well distributed on TikTok
It’s a simple step, but still worth noting. Not all digital distributors work with TikTok yet – so it is advisable to check with your distributor to see if your chosen song will be available to the creators of TikTok.

3. Find 15 seconds in your song for TikTok
When it comes to TikTok challenges, 15-second snippets are the most effective. It’s not a requirement per se, but short content is what really makes the platform work.
So study your music and try to spot some 15-second “TikTok moments”, the parts of the song that you think have the most viral potential. There are a lot of things that can work well on Titok (well-paced lyrics, jerky rhythm that lends itself well to simple dances). Your TikTok moment should relate to the theme of the future challenge, whether it’s the lyrics or the dynamics of the music itself, but it should be versatile enough to leave room for interpretation.

4. Constantly look for new ideas for challenges
As for the creative side behind the challenge itself, you should always ask yourself what the viewers will get out of it. What will make the challenge memorable? Your challenge should be engaging and easy to understand. The video that will launch the challenge must clearly express the subject of the challenge.
And then, more importantly, think about what the creators will get out of participating in the challenge? Is the video designed to encourage replay? Is it easy to recreate? Does it leave enough room for interpretation and modification? After all, at launch time, TikTok Challenges are more of a template that creators can work with and develop.

5. Find a standout hashtag
Each trend should has an engaging name so that people can identify it. So choose a clear hashtag that is easy to remember and that will identify the challenge. If all goes well, this hashtag will be associated with your music for a long time!

6. Choose your target audience TikTok and identify the influencers who will help you reach them
If you’ve followed these previous tips, chances are you’ve got a pretty good idea of who your target audience is. Now imagine TikTok’s audience, and try to find a connection point between the two. This is your TikTok target. The next step is to find TikTok influencers who have a good affinity with this audience to contact them and offer them a challenge.

Reaching out to influencers is also a great way to test your idea – the more they respond to your proposal, the more likely it is to go viral. So don’t be afraid to ask influencers what they think about your idea. TikTok influencers will have a lot more experience with the platform, so you should listen to what they have to say.

7. Think about the journey of your listeners
This is arguably the most important step in the whole guide. Indeed, songs have gone viral on TikTok without this having a real and significant impact on the artist’s career.

So, think about how you’re going to convert TikTok’s audience to Spotify listeners or Instagram followers, and how you’re going to keep them around. Ultimately, viral marketing is a great tool for raising awareness, but it’s not suited to building a loyal fan base. Ideally, your TikTok campaign should be part of an overall content plan that will have a lasting impact on the artist’s career.

The most important tool available to you here is the song page attached to every song officially distributed on TikTok. The song page includes the link to Apple Music or to Spotify, which prompts users to access the full song, but more importantly, it has a link to the artist’s official TikTok account. It may therefore be wise to ensure that the artist has a verified and operational TikTok account, which will serve as a conversion point between TikTok and other platforms.

8. Launch the challenge
This last step is pretty self-explanatory. After following all of our previous tips, it’s time to get started. At the best of times, your challenge is a success, and millions of people are now interested in your music every day. But beware, the viral nature of TikTok also means trends come and go, so the window of opportunity to convert all of this awareness into something meaningful and lasting will be quite short.

9. Invite your loved ones to light the fuse
After you have launched the challenge yourself, do not forget to relaunch the TikTok influencers contacted so that they in turn take it on. Also, ask your friends, your family to take part in it! A good ten videos can easily start a trend.


Hashtags

This post mentions hashtags a number of times. Using the right (popular) hashtags can help you reach more people, e.g. for an album release or boosting your ticket sales. So, choosing the right hashtags is important in helping you build hype.

In this section, we’ve rounded up the most popular hashtags to use when posting about your upcoming event, album release, or performance on social media. 

Good Hashtags for Christian Music Related Posts

  • #ccm
  • #chh
  • #cedm
  • #christian
  • #worship
  • #gospelmusic
  • #christianmusic
  • #worshipmusic
  • #jesus
  • #newmusic
  • #officialmusic
  • #officialmusicvideo
  • #video
  • #musicvideo
  • #newmusic
  • #hiphop
  • #christianrap
  • #god
  • #gospel
  • #worshipleader
  • #christianrapper
  • #godisgood
  • #ccmvideo
  • #nowplaying
  • #listening
  • #radio
  • #playlist
  • #spotify
  • #dance
  • #christiandance
  • #independentartist
  • #gospelrap
  • #christianhiphop
  • #hiphopmusic
  • #christianrock
  • #christianartist
  • #indie
  • #indiemusic
  • #indieartist


Great Hashtags for Contests and Promotions

  • #contest
  • #[yourbrand]contest
  • #contests
  • #contestalert
  • #contestentry
  • #sweepstakes
  • #[yourbrand]sweepstakes
  • #giveaway
  • #[yourbrand]giveaway
  • #giveaways
  • #winitwednesday
  • #competition
  • #win
  • #[yourbrand]win


That's it for this week. I hope you enjoyed part 3. Next week, in part 4, we will share tips on pitching to music blogs and playlists, and we go in-depth on the value and proper use of genre tags.


Have a great week!

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