By Phil Hood

[Ed. Note: This is the second of two postings on social media for drummers. (Check out “Six Tips For Building Your Career On Social Media” here.) Once you’ve got a website, social media pages, and some ideas of how you want to promote or sell, you’re ready to  put a social-media plan for your musical career in action. Here are 8 tips culled from interviews with successful musicians, publicists, managers, and promoters.

Always use images. Social media attention spans are about eight seconds long, according to people who measure such things. And, when scrolling quickly, your brain allows you to ignore images that are irrelevant and just scan headlines. You want to connect with your audience at a glance, whether posting a promotion for your music, or just sharing something happening in your musical life. A great headshot is key to your social identity, as are the images you choose for posts. Check out other artists to get ideas for your profile shot and your cover image. Foo Fighters combines a band logo and homey group shot.

Posting patterns are crucial. The ratio of promotional posts, which can be self-serving, to more personal, casual posts has a big impact on whether fans and followers decide to stick around. Experts recommend one promotional post to every four non-promotional posts. Don’t assume that people who’ve signed up to follow you won’t want to hear about your next flight or the backstage meal the band scarfed. Feed those items in alongside music releases and merchandise promos.

Follow a schedule. Having a predictable time for what you’re posting is very important, because users know when you’ll be online. Guitarist Daryl Shawn posts a daily micro-concert on Facebook at 5:00 PM. He also posts a new video each Wednesday at noon.  Drummer Nation streams their live podcast each Wednesday on Facebook at the same time. When you’re announcing tours or new releases, timing may not be critical. But getting your fans used to a regular posting schedule pays big dividends.

Don’t be afraid to bear your soul. Unless the idea of sharing parts of your musical self with strangers online is unbearable you need to give it your best shot. Idealism makes the best marketing so don’t be afraid to show your authentic self. Those quirky waltz rhythms and arrangements you thought no one wanted to hear may be just what some people are hoping to find.

Play the game. To succeed at social media you must play the game For example, if you rarely comment on the posts of others, or visit your site only infrequently Facebook’s algorithm won’t share your posts as much. Follow other artists and your most rabid fans. Or curate a list of what you like, something that’s easy to do on YouTube or Spotify. Look at the successful pages and posts of other drummers and musicians to see what gets traction for them in terms of user attention. And, just as tellingly, what does not work? You don’t have to copy others. But you do need to learn from them.

Analysis, analysis. The beauty of the internet is that you can get very precise data about how people respond to your music and to your outbound marketing. Once you master posting to your audience use the tools in search, email, and social-media apps to improve your efficiency. Use the data available to analyze why some of your posts fall flat and some are shared 200 or 2,000 times.

Tell stories. I know a friend, Ronn Dunnett, whose posts sometimes get 600 or 700 shares for a note on a new product, while a competitor of similar size gets only a few. Is the difference due to timing? Photography? Size of his current following? Possibly all of the above. But what we know for sure is that in all forms of marketing creativity is rewarded. Ronn doesn’t just post a great photo of a new instrument he’s built: He tells a compelling story about it.

Time Can Be Your Enemy

Every artist I talk to mentions the time commitment of personal marketing and social media. It’s a struggle to keep up with the needs of a career on one hand, and the need for a real life and private time to create on the other. This is true even for those with full managerial and publicity support. Prioritizing one’s aims and utilizing posting schedules can help you maintain control of your life.  Just because you can communicate any time anywhere doesn’t mean you should. Your fans and even business associates may try to use Twitter and Facebook like email but if it doesn’t work for you, then ignore it. After all the most important person in the equation is you. Your music comes first. Marketing just gets it out there.