Pointless Buzzword or Important Tactic?
Engagement with fans is something that pops up on almost every single “social media tips” article—whether it be directed at artists or brands. Engagement is quickly turning into one of those words that comes up so often that we start to just skip over it while reading (see SEO). While the buzzword “engagement” is starting to get annoying, it is still important and we can’t completely forget about it.
In this article we are going to speak about two types of engagement, inciting comments and responding to comments. Some people always assume to post and respond as much as possible, but this is not always the best strategy. Inciting comments is a broader subject, so in this article we want to focus on how to respond to comments and how often to do it. Before we can talk about responding to comments there needs to be comments to reply to, so let’s start there.
Everyone who has a social media account for their brand has looked at a successful page and wondered how they get thousands of comments on every post. Sure, a lot of this has to do with the number of fans on the page, but there are also a few things you can do to help improve your comment rate. Posting original content is becoming a cliché suggestion for social media marketing, but it truly is important. Now that we’ve got the obligatory advice out of the way, let’s move on.
Frequency of posts is a tactic that should weigh heavy in your mind when controlling a social media account. The two worst things you can do is rarely ever post, or post too much in a day. If you never post anything, there is no reason for your fans to visit your page. On the flip side, if you post 20 times a day, you will annoy the hell out of your fans and they might unsubscribe or hide your posts from their timelines. Find a rhythm that works for both you and the people you want to engage.
Ask questions to your fans! This is a huge factor because people love to talk about their own opinions; and if they are fans of your page then they likely have things in common with the other people who see your posts. The type of question you ask is extremely important. You need to find the sweet spot between a vague “beg” for comments and a question that will come off as natural and interesting. Don’t write “what do you think?” below your post and assume people will be compelled to answer. Specific questions with multiple answers will yield the best results. For example, “what’s your favorite song on the album?” is the type of question that will get fans to share their opinion without being left with the feeling that you begged for it.
Responding To Comments
Alright, let’s carry the hypothetical train forward and pretend you have a bunch of comments on your page. Should you respond to them? Do you reply to everyone? You need to find out how to respond to fans and how often to respond, because like your post frequency, there is a good zone to be in. There is definitely a sweet spot for indie artist’s social media engagement. We will separate our advice by positive comments and negative comments.
For positive comments, responding to your fans is a little more care-free than replying to negative comments. When deciding on how often you should respond to a positive comment from fans, you should take a look at how many comments you have. If you have one guy replying to your new song that he likes it, you should take the time to thank him for his opinion and maybe suggest to see if his friends would agree with him.
On the other side of comment frequency, if you have 25+ positive comments on your post, take the time to find a few unique comments that you think you should “reward” with a response. Find a comment that gives you a good review on a specific selling point of your music (“I love the mix of the vocals over that haunting bassline”) and let them know you appreciate their opinion and you agree. If fans see you personally respond to a comment giving your music positive feedback, they might be more apt to leave those types of replies. This also gives you a chance to highlight a fan’s comment that you want other people to notice. Music is a heavily opinionated topic, but it doesn’t change the fact that humans are influenced by what others think.
Negative comments from visitors to your page can be a touchy subject. We must remember that your social media page is representing yourself as an indie artist and not Target’s customer service page. As a company selling a service, you should ALWAYS respond to a negative comment with an apology followed by a solution. As a musician, however, every negative comment can’t be met with an apology OR a solution. If a fan says the drums sound terrible in your new song, there isn’t much you can do. You can’t talk them into appreciating the drums, but you should also not berate them for having a certain opinion about the cymbal placement.
Being an indie artist, there are few scenarios when responding to a negative comment is a viable option. If the complaint is a solvable problem like a CD not shipping on time or a performance being cancelled, then you should take the time to apologize to your fan and try rectifying the problem. The person on your page is most likely already a fan, so if you can help them solve their problem or feel better about their justified complaint, you might just be able to make a life-long connection with that individual.
One way that companies and artists should react the same way when it comes to dealing with negative social media comments is that both should NEVER delete a complaint unless it is extremely offensive to other people. When you delete a negative comment, it comes across that you are trying to sweep the issue under the rug. This rings true especially as an artist, because leaving the comment up shows that you give no weight to the negative review. Also, leaving the comment up might give another fan a chance to come to your defense; which is a sweet moment as a musician.
Your fans are the reason your social media page exists. Treat them right and use sound strategies to encourage engagement and strengthen the bond between fan and musician. If you take one thing away from this entire article it should be that each artist has their own sweet spot of social media engagement. You should never completely ignore your fans comments on social media, but you also can’t spend 6 hours a day replying to every single response. Think of your social media engagement as a relationship: don’t ignore the other person, but also give them a little room to breathe.