Social media channels are useful platforms for putting yourself in public and developing your performer persona (or “brand”). They can also be a way to promote upcoming performances or recordings.
Carefully managing what you post — and what you don’t — can give a favourable glimpse of who you are to potential music school admissions counsellor and even the HR departments at your top internship and future employment prospects. (Not to mention cultivating future fans.)
DO - use the platforms/channels that suit you best
If you are new to creating social media accounts specific to your music career and string performances, take it channel by channel. There is no reason to launch them all at once. Most performers find social media visibility grows from concentrating on the channels that make the most sense for your personality, content preferences, and music career goals.
For example, if you're a very visual person or you’ve cultivated a visually striking persona, Instagram is a natural place to branch out. If you’re a member of a chamber group or band, and you practice together or perform often, you may want to invest a fair amount of time on Facebook, where you can also stream performances to a live audience. If you'd like to try that, we recommend reading our article, Learn How to Put on a Great Facebook Live Performance.
If you are known for your quick wit and sense of humour and can keep up a lively conversation, don’t miss the opportunity to attract and keep fans entertained via Twitter.
And did you know you can stream on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube live all at the same time? It's called "simulcasting" or "multicasting."
DO - keep it professional
Remember that social media accounts are publicly available for others to see. These “others” could include future employers, mentors, potential fans, music school admissions teams, performance venue bookers, potential agents, publishers, among others who can help your music career (or hurt it). Keeping your profiles professional could make the difference between being a brand (you) they avoid or one they want in their book of business.
Along that note: if you are at all anxious about anything that may be on your social media profiles right now — wipe them clean (or delete them completely) and start fresh. This will let you cultivate a new fan base and build their interest and engagement. It will give you a clean slate for a more streamlined and consistent social media presence. (Whatever you do, make sure you set your accounts up with strong security so they can't get hijacked and misused.)
DO - focus on being yourself
Continuous, high-quality content is the key to any website or social media channel’s success. Try to post at least once a day if possible and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Yes, we recommend keeping things professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t post a picture taken of you while streaming Netflix after a particularly long practice session, or to post some blooper videos of practice mishaps (recall Twoset Violin — they’re clever comedians as well as talented musicians). Showing the “real” side of professional string musicianship is as compelling as those perfectly composed posts.
DON’T try to be someone else
On the same note as “being yourself,” don’t copy someone else who has a successful social media following. Just be you. You are fabulous just as you are right now. When you post authentically, you will attract followers who are intrigued and delighted by you. What could be better? In the beginning, don’t let another person answer your posts or post content for you. Anyone who comes to know you will recognise when it’s someone else doing it because they won't have "your touch."
One day you may become successful enough to hire web content managers or PR reps. They will help you refine your brand persona and learn how to answer as you would. Even if you eventually do hire someone, always keep your eye on your social media accounts so their responses truly sound like you. If you don’t and they slip up, your fans will catch on and that channel will plateau or drop.
DON’T forget to link to important content
If you mention a song you just added to Spotify, a new composition you’ve recorded, or you create a post about your newest YouTube video or play-along, don’t forget to add a hyperlink in your related social media post. Those click-throughs help fans get to where you want them to go. Also, your fans' digital engagement signals to search engine and social media algorithms that your profiles are active, making them more valuable and thus visible in search engine result rankings so those algorithms recommend you as someone to follow / watch.
DON’T ignore comments and conversations from followers
It may be impossible to keep up with all of your fans’ comments and conversations, but do engage regularly with their comments. Resist the urge to shy away from critique or negative comments. Be open to hear a fan's critique, and take time to consider it before replying, as they may have insight that will benefit you as a musician. If people have negative things to say, decide early on if you’ll be able to reply with a neutral response. If what they say hurts too much, then don’t respond to them (better not to respond than respond in a way that can backfire). Have a standard of conduct for yourself as well as for people’s comments. Make sure you publish guidelines that set forth the rules of what you will and won’t tolerate on your channels and enforce that standard accordingly.
For instance: "Everyone needs to be respectful and supportive. I reserve the right to block and delete any posts or comments that are:
Obscene, mean, or cruel.
No bullying is tolerated.
No discussing politics or religion.
Any such posts that violate these standards will be deleted immediately, and you will be banned and blocked from this page." Take the time to consider what you want your standard(s) to be and write them up.
Get in the groove
Most emerging and established string performers make social media posts a regular part of their daily routine (e.g., just before or after your practice, so you don’t forget), which will pay off in increasing your followers and engaging with them.
Keep these Do’s and Don’ts in front of you so you don't forget them. They can help keep your social media accounts in good shape so you're in good standing with your viewers, fans, and future potential relationships.