Is there anyone who doesn’t love a good personality quiz? I can’t count the number of quizzes I’ve taken to find out which TV show character I am or which color represents my aura. I always felt like somehow the magazine had seen me in a way I wanted to be seen and it felt really good. It also felt like I was being given permission to be myself.
Now, when trying to run a music career it can feel like you’re constantly trying to be someone you’re not; like trying to be goofy on TikTok when you feel serious and introspective,. or trying to write a well-thought email to your fans when all you want to do is be a goofball. Trying to be someone we’re not in order to fit a platform’s preferences might be why so many of us feel so uncomfortable and resentful towards social media.
But the reality isn’t that we’re bad at social media or that it’s a nuisance—it may just be that you’re not using the right platform for your strengths. Each platform is suited to different personality strengths and if one isn’t working for you, you don’t have to force it. In fact, it can actually be worse for you to force it.
Someone blowing up on TikTok probably isn’t blowing up because they’ve begrudgingly made 50 videos in 48 hours. It’s probably because they’re actually having fun and enjoying it because their personality is suited to it.
Here’s the key takeaway: don’t make yourself miserable trying to fit in on a platform that just doesn’t suit you. You can certainly be successful using a social media platform; you just have to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and find out which one supports your very best self.
Who it’s for: Facebook is fantastic for people with an older fanbase. My mom, in her 50s, loves facebook. Her favorite thing is to tell me about reels– usually ones that popped up about 4 weeks after they were on TikTok, and 2 weeks after they were on Instagram. She’s all about it.
By contrast, I’m a 30-something-year-old and I didn’t know how to use Facebook reels until about a month ago. I watch them on Instagram. So, if your fanbase is a little older (think mid-40s and up), Facebook is your place.
Also, if you already have strong ties to a Facebook group where you grow your community, this is a good spot for you. I think Facebook groups are going to be on their way out soon, but for some communities, including a few in music, they are still a really strong way to grow or get in front of a fanbase.
How to use it to grow your fanbase: While I wouldn’t suggest starting a new Facebook group, I think joining existing, active groups that are either in the music industry or relevant to your brand are a good way to get in front of your ideal listener and just make a name and presence for yourself in that community.
Use Facebook to share your videos or songs, as well as text-based thoughts and feelings. Facebook does better with copy-heavy content than a lot of other platforms, so if you like to write, or are more text- than photo/video-based, this is a good platform to explore.
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Who it’s for: I’ve found that Instagram is largely for people in my generation, in their 30s. Some people in their late-20s are still using it, but primarily I think that the 28-38 age range is a good target for Instagram. If your target audience is much younger or older, I wouldn’t put your focus here. Also, this platform is a good one if you’re a casual social media user. While you want to show up online as much as possible, if you’re struggling to keep up then this is one of the platforms for you, allowing you to check in every other day, and post a few times a week rather than non-stop (TikTok).
How to use it to grow your fanbase: Instagram’s algorithm is always doing funky things; we know this. They spent so much time pushing reels last year, and this year isn’t much different (so far). But not just any reels will do; if a reel is blurry, or low-res, or clearly recycled from, say, TikTok, Instagram will not give it priority. Meanwhile, if it’s entertaining, inspiring, unique, and has lots of edits like camera angles, filters, etc., it will be prioritized.
That said, pay attention to what your audience likes. For instance, I always post text-based educational posts and those tend to get the most interaction. If I post a reel, no one really cares. I can spend an hour trying to make it fit the Instagram-preferred guidelines, and it doesn’t matter. No one ‘likes’ it, no one comments, no one shares. But an educational carousel? Bam; engagement.
So, if you’re someone that feels like your demographic is on Instagramand you prefer those image-based posts, this can be a really good fit. Even if you love making reels, this is still a good fit if you’re looking for that demographic..
Who it’s for: If your audience is in their teens or 20s, this is your spot. Kids are (mostly) not spending time on Instagram or Facebook like they are on TikTok. Similarly, if you’re a very high-energy visual brand, TikTok can be really useful for you.
How to use it to grow your fanbase: while it is true that more content equals greater likelihood to “go viral,” you still have to know what that implies and be set up to benefit from it. If you go viral from a video that has nothing to do with your music or brand, that doesn’t really help you. Data shows that users don’t often go to a user’s profile just because they found one video funny, so it often doesn’t transfer to real ‘follows’ or fans.
So make content that is still true to who you are, and to your music. Take trends and make them your own—that’s how you use this platform to build a real following. And yes, try to post at least once a day on TikTok, if not more.
Who it’s for: Discord is great for artists who want to build true communities around their fans. You’ll have the best luck here if you already have a tight-knit, loyal, and active community. This isn’t a place to build a new following so much as it’s a way to nurture your existing fans.
How to use it to grow your fanbase: Discord is like Facebook groups but more designed for the creative type. It has “channels” within each server where you can talk about different things like your music, or brand-aligned topics like wellness or cooking, and use it to connect to your fanbase (and connect them to each other).
If you’re new to Discord, the best approach is to join a few servers and experience it for yourself. Quite a few artists have already started servers (including Harry Styles using it for the Harry’s House launch) and this is a great way to test the waters and get a feel for how it’s used.
Who it’s for: Everyone
How to use it to grow your fanbase: Did you think I could leave this off the list? Everyone needs an email list and the way you grow your fanbase with it is pretty simple:
- Invite fans onto your list by giving them something they want– merch discount, or just the promise to send them exclusive news and deals.,
- Keep in touch! Email lists are the #1 way to convert casual fans into superfans and turn a profit in your music career, so don’t neglect this tool.
Who it’s for: There’s a lot of controversy around Twitter and its future right now, but as it stands currently, Twitter is not dead. While it’s not as popular as many other platforms, it’s perfect for those that are writers at heart or, in my opinion, best for those that are quick-witted. Twitter is a perfect place for quippy thoughts and relatable moments.
How to use it to grow your fanbase: Focus on your brand and the things that make you relatable. Twitter works best when it feels natural and not like there’s a ton of thought put behind it. Like shower thoughts: those notions that seem totally random but that make you think “how are you in my head?!” when you hear them.
Blog: Have you considered creating a blog on your website and then sharing excerpts of that to social media, and your email list, or turning it into a reel?? Posts can be multipurpose while creating great SEO and visibility for your website.
Podcast: If you’re a talker, a connector, or someone that people always turn to for heart-to-heart advice, releasing a podcast can be a great way to build your fanbase.
Make it about something related to your brand rather than your music. Say your brand is tied to wellness; you can have a wellness podcast that mentions your music through your own journey, uses it in the intro music, etc, but the podcast itself is about wellness. This ties in, since wellness works its way into your music and brand and those that also care about wellness will naturally be more likely to connect to you and your music. Podcasts have a really special way of making you feel like you know the host, so this can be a quick way to grow your fanbase.
YouTube: Like podcasting, but on video! If you’re very animated, personable, and a natural with the camera, this is another great way to build a fanbase quickly. Like with a blog or podcast, you can repurpose snippets of your YouTube personality for reels, TikTok videos, and even ads. Like for podcasts, I suggest tying this to your brand rather than just your music, but certainly your music should be a part of it. You can also do videos (or podcast episodes) on things like a behind-the-scenes look at a show, or how you recorded a music video, or interviews with other musicians, and so on.
Social media platforms are not one-size-fits-all. While it’s true that you should have a presence on some of the major platforms like Instagram or Facebook, I know plenty of successful artists and entrepreneurs that have never touched TikTok and still have a full-time career doing what they love. Or some who never update their Facebook or post on YouTube and are completely fulfilled and financially stable. It’s all about pairing the thing you love with the natural place you fit; where is that place for you?
Angela Tyler is the founder of MP Co. (formerly Muddy Paw PR) a marketing, PR, and management services company for musicians. She has secured placements on Forbes, Business Insider, American Songwriter, Lead Singer Syndrome, & more, and her artists go on to sign to labels and play major festivals. She loves dessert, her rescue dog Sawyer, and new ideas.