English · This & That

Social Media Techniques: Paid Facebook Advertising for the Independent Musician

by Sean David

Hang on, don’t let the mention of paid advertising send you running for the hills. I know the budget of any independent musician is pretty low and this normally means we have to simply put in the man-hours to promote our music ourselves. Well part of this will never change, but Facebook advertising can definitely help make the load a bit lighter!

Having used Facebook advertising myself, albeit on a modest level up to now, I have some insight to share with you that will hopefully help you in making better marketing decisions for your band or artist page/website.

What is Your Marketing Budget?

Yes, you should have some level of budget going into facebook marketing even if it is only around key releases. In fact I recommend this approach first as it will definitely be lighter on your pocket and will get you the traffic you want when you want it.

Far too often bands plow all their cash into gear, recordings, touring and completely forget about their online audience. There’s no point in putting 110% into the music and then not spreading the word, right? There are prospective fans out there that may be dying for something fresh to listen to, but if your organic marketing isn’t reaching them, that’s all they’ll ever be… prospective fans not adding anything to your bottom line and not doing anything to help your overall awareness.

Your Organic Reach is Smaller than You Think

On the topic of Facebook, and before I dive into the specifics of advertising, its important to note that your organic reach via your Facebook band page or even your own personal profile is significantly smaller than it used to be. Facebook limits your organic reach as they have realised the advertisers’ paradise they have created and now require you to invest some $$ to be heard. Only fair right?

Well, that organic reach is increased somewhat when people engage with your content (usually by a core group of fans), but without these guys your post is estimated to only reach 6% of those that liked your page (and its normally the same guys too). Can you really afford to leave your marketing campaign up to the chance that your fans will spread the word? What about the prospective fans 2 or 3 connections beyond your current existing fans. How are you reaching them?

Paid Facebook advertising is how, and if you follow these steps you don’t have to spend a fortune on it either.

Facebook PowerEditor

Before going further, I recommend you download Facebook’s PowerEditor. This is how all the Facebook-savvy marketers advertise. It’s a Facebook plug-in that allows you to customise your advertising experience and achieve better, more targeted results than those simply offered on your Facebook fan page (you know the “Boost Post” option – stay away, its usually not worth it). You will need Google Chrome to run the editor but you can switch back to your normal browser when not using the editor (if you’re not already using Chrome, that is).

The editor is by no means easy to navigate, but I won’t go into detail here. What I will mention is that it is necessary to download stats from facebook regularly (to update your PowerEditor) and upload your ad campaign when done. Without clicking “upload” the advert will not initiate. Important stuff!

So Who Likes Your Music Anyway?

Well its not good marketing to advertise to everyone all at once. Popular belief is that the average person needs to be targeted 7 times before he/she will make a commitment to view or listen to your content. Yup, 7 times!! Therefore its important that you target specific groups and market to them often. The more targeted the group is, the more likely your future adverts will reach the same users again.

Note: I said the “average” person. It’s worth noting that some people will only require one or two ad impressions before they visit your page or whatever your advert is linking to. This is what we would call your ideal market, so it may be worth doing some split-testing to identify these groups and then once established, aggressively market to them on a bigger scale. Budget depending of course.

Your Super-fans (da-dada-daa!)

These are the guys that you need to keep updated with all your music happenings. The guys/girls that took little convincing on clicking your ad are likely to lap up everything else you throw at them too. And the more you keep them in the loop, the more connected they feel with you and your music and the more likely they will become super-fans (those amazing people that not only buy everything you do but freely promote you as well)!

How do you ensure you keep them in the loop? Well we already know that simply liking your facebook page will not guarantee this and to target these guys via facebook advertising again and again and again, with every facebook post is not likely to be cost-effective. So what do you do? Send them somewhere where you do have control over communications – link your advert to your mailing list. Once subscribed they will receive every email newsletter you send them. It costs you nothing, and it keeps them in the loop.

Another way to advertise is what is called “repeat advertising”. Facebook’s PowerEditor allows you to create Custom Audiences to market to. One of the options is to market to those people who visited your website but haven’t liked your fb page yet. Facebook gives you a cookie to insert into your website and every time someone visits the page this cookie activates and will populate your audience. Next time they log on facebook, there’s a little reminder advert for them to check out your page. Smart.

So How Much Will This Cost You?

The great news is Facebook allows you to set a budget that you’re comfortable with and your campaign will continue until your budget runs dry. You can set up multiple adverts per campaign and each advert can have its own targeting and its own established cost per click or CPC (word from the wise, do not use cost per impression or CPI unless you arestrongly positioned on facebook such that a CPC campaign would actually be more expensive than CPI – in most cases this is false). With a CPC campaign you only get charged each time someone clicks on the advert (or some other predetermined event, such as subscribing to your mail list). Until then facebook will continue to make impressions.

Before the advert initiates it runs through Facebook’s auto-approval system. Supposedly the higher the CPC and the higher your budget the better chances for approval andthe more impressions you will receive (its all about the money, honey). But I’ve still managed approval and a decent number of impressions for a low budget and a low CPC. So experiment away!

On a side note, its important to realise that if you do use any images in your advert they cannot consist of more than 20% text (e.g. if you have a text overlay this text is limited to 20% of the total size of the picture) which can be highly frustrating, especially when you are unaware of the rule! Fore-warned is fore-armed :).

In Closing

Well, that’s my little 2 cents on Facebook advertising. There’s a lot more to it, but ultimately it’s a great tool that can be used to find the audience you never knew you had and increase your overall fan base. Good luck, and may your fan base continue to grow!

Sean David is a singer/songwriter, music entrepreneur and journalist from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. For more info on what he’s been up to click here.

English · This & That

Myth #1: Selling Out!


We’ve all heard it before. Don’t be a sell out! Be true to the art form, be true to yourself. Don’t sacrifice that for fame and fortune. Bla bla bla. Noble words coming from people who usually (a) aren’t in the music business or (b) are in the music business but need to hold another 2 jobs to stay afloat. Good for them! Let them make the “noble” choice but don’t let their choices influence you. Selling out is not copping out and I will explain exactly why in a minute.

The music industry is like any other industry, right? Your music is a business. You are a brand. But too often we don’t treat it like that. For some reason we think it should abide by its own laws – that those that have a true love for the artform, those that are the most gifted/talented, those that have the best songs should come out top, and those that approach it as a business should not. Wrong. Music is like any other industry, and the reason we make it so hard for ourselves, the reason we think the industry is inherently “tough” is because we don’t approach it this way.

Anything in life is about supply and demand. If there is no demand, there is no exchange. Feel free to follow the art-form and make music that you love, just remember that that does not necessarily mean that everyone else will love it or that it will be popular. If you are happy with writing, recording or performing music that is not well received commercially just remember that from a label/promoter’s point of view you’re not marketable and don’t expect to get rid of your day job.

Please note this is not coming from a place of greed, it’s simply the reality. If anyone wants to make music a career you have to treat it like a business, and with a business comes much needed research and product/service customisation to meet a need/want in the market. If you’re looking at earning your wage through being an artist, i.e. through record sales, performances and related merchandise, you might have to do what some people refer to as “selling out”. All that it means is that you’ve listened to the world’s music-taste and you’ve adapted your art to meet it so that an exchange can happen.

I say selling out is not copping out because its simply understanding the industry and giving it the respect it deserves. The music industry is far from saturated. Music listeners do not select their favourite artist and simply move on with their lives like they would with a brand of toothpaste or their favourite soft drink. There is always space to invite a new artist into their collection. The thing that makes the industry so fresh is that music gets old. Isn’t that ironic! Sure its great to listen to the classics but you can’t spend your whole life listening to the same CD over and over. You need to make room for the new, i.e. there is always demand.

Finding that demand is key to staying alive in the industry and to be able to do what you love for a living. Yes, “what you love”! Sure I write soft-rock because it comes naturally to me, but if you told me that if I had to make orchestral music or pop music in order to have a profitable music business therefore negate the need for the potentially unfulfilling day-job, hell yeah I’d do it! You mean that I’d be able to spend my working days creatively, pursuing something that has my name directly attached to it! Sign me up!

You see for me, and I’m sure for a lot of you, being creative is number one. Take away my guitar and I’ll make the best piano-ballads this year. Take away the piano and I’ll play drums in the most brilliant accompanying rhythm section to come out this summer. Whatever I have, I’ll pour my soul into it. I’ll give my all. Why? Because I LOVE music. I truly love the art-form and appreciate all aspects of it. Restrictions don’t stunt creativity, they stimulate it! A good musician can express him/herself with any instrument/any genre. Isn’t that the music ethos. The code?

Selling out is an excuse that unsuccessful people use. We are all scared of putting our heart and soul into something only for it to fail. It’s natural to use excuses to prevent us from getting hurt, to maintain that comfort zone. Please just don’t impart that disease in someone else’s head because you were too afraid to follow your own dreams. And please please don’t look at them with regret when they’re getting all the attention and living the life you’ve always wanted playing music that you could play in your sleep!

Remove the “Sell out” myth from your vocabulary. Love the artform, love all aspects of it.

Sean David is a singer/songwriter, music entrepreneur and journalist from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. For more info on what he’s been up to click here.