How to Gain Fans on a Budget
Why do I need to advertise?
If you're just starting out, you're likely wondering to yourself how in the world can you grow your following on social media. You may have been tempted to use bots to inflate your numbers, but that could bite you in the rear later. You understand the importance of investing in your career, but you can't quite afford to hire someone to do the marketing for you, at least not yet. So how can you grow your following and increase your engagement with just a few dollars? Allow me to explain.
During my career, I worked with artists of varying budgets and fame. Most often, the artists that I have worked with believed they can simply go viral with organic content alone. Well...maybe they can, but doing it without an existing audience is tough. The goal of investing money into advertising is to get your work in front of as many people as possible so that you can filter through millions of people to find those that will become your fans. You gain those fans and hopefully super fans that will share everything you create and thus growing your following further. When you get to that point, is when you'd likely be able to use organic content alone to grow your following, and save those ad dollars for tour promotion and release campaigns. So now that I explained the why, let's dive into the how.
The key argument in an artist's contention with advertising is the cost. Look, I get it, you're a starving artist for a reason. Money is tight, and that's when we're not in the middle of a pandemic. Something that I can guarantee though is that your budget doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. I helped a client gain over 4,000 followers (and counting) for just $5/day. For the cost of a coffee at Starbucks, you can grow your following on whichever platform you choose. You can leave campaigns running at that cost until you can afford to bump up your budget and gain even more followers. Now that you have an idea of how much to start off with, I'll tell you how to spend that cup of coffee.
This is where you'll start finding the challenge, and be prepared to go into this without seeing results immediately, and/or spending more than you'd like. Your first challenge is to figure out who your target audience is, and you may be surprised at who.
What I do when I'm putting together an awareness campaign is to figure out what the potential fans may be interested in. The easiest way to start is by evaluating your work and find similar artists that have a significant following. Don't just stop at yourself, ask your family, friends, coworkers, etc. what they think. Collect a list of fan pages that you can serve your ads to. Don't worry about age or gender yet, your first step is to cast a wide net to see what you catch.
Once the ad is running, keep a close eye on the cost, usually the CPC (cost-per-click) or the CPM (cost-per-thousand). If you have several pages plugged in, and one or two of those are costing too much (I'd say anything above $.15) go ahead and turn it off. You're working with $5, so you want to make that stretch for as long as you can. The idea here is to slowly cross off that list until you have a good cost to run your ad. Eventually, you'll be able to fine-tune the targeting to include age and gender. Congratulations, you have found your audience! ...At least for the platform you're working on.
Another cog in the machine that will affect the cost of your ad(s) is creative. Just like determining your audience, the look and feel of your ad will likely be something you'll toy with until you find the right cost. The best way to execute this is to run A/B testing. This will give you the most cost-effective way to determine what content is best suited for advertising. Since entertainment is visual, I highly suggest you use video for your ads. This is the best way for viewers to get the best impression of you. You can use video to grab people's attention, and then direct them on what to do to in your call-to-action (follow, buy tickets, preorder, etc.).
1. If you really want to get the most out of your dollar on Facebook, make sure you're inviting people to like your page if they engaged with your ad. These are the people who liked the content but didn't go to follow your page. This is where you will see the biggest increase to your following.
To find the ad on Facebook, go into your business manager, and click on the ad. Then, click "Edit" at the top and on the right, you should see the ad itself. Hit the little square with the arrow running through it and click See Post > Facebook Post with Comments. This will take you directly to the ad and from there you can click on how many people liked the post and invite away.
2. If you're running Google Ads to run traffic to your YouTube channel or website, target your audience by placing your ads on specific YouTube channels or sites that match your work. This is called a managed placement. For an established client, I run tour ads on YouTube by targeting the ads to play on her channel, and videos that feature her (you can plug ads on specific videos too). I'll write another piece on Google Ads in the future.
This is pretty much a brief outline of how to run affordable ads on social media. This strategy works across most platforms. There is much more I could dive into, but that would be better served in small chunks.
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