Social Media ≠ Great Promotion

I hear it all the time. Maybe you do too.

“Well, we put it on our Facebook page, and I know Jenny sent it out on Twitter, so I think we’ve got our bases covered.”

Social media promotion is easy, it’s “now,” and everyone’s doing it.

But have you looked at the reach and engagement you’re getting lately?

Do You Work Too Cheap- (8)Today’s Educate and Entertain post explains why we shouldn’t be putting ALL our eggs in the social media basket.

When it comes to getting the word out about our gigs and services (and your upcoming block club meeting, for that matter), social media is best used as a supplemental strategy, not the primary one.

Everyone’s On Social Media!

We’ve been hearing the message for years now: we need to be on social media. It’s where everyone is.

And that’s become increasingly true.

Take a look at this chart from the Pew Research Center:

Fully two-thirds of American adults are now using social networking sites, an increase of more than 900% over the past ten years.

And Facebook, the undisputed king of social media, has over 1.6 billion monthly active users at the time of this writing; 65% of them are on the platform daily.

I’m one of them.

I use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn just about every day to share (hopefully) interesting content and network with potential clients, friends, and fans. (I’m leaving Instagram, Snapchat, and the rest to the younger folk, at least for now.)

While we’re at it, why not connect with me! Here’s my Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile.

But the truth is, social media is not a great stand-alone strategy for creating awareness for our events and our services.

It never has been.

Why Not?

In the old days, there simply weren’t enough people on social media to make it an effective one-stop promotional channel.

Now, as we’ve noted, user numbers are through the roof! But something else has happened alongside that.

If you take a look at your “news feed” on your favorite platform, you’ll likely notice that it’s moving.

Almost continuously.

Unlike an email inbox, where messages stay put and wait patiently for us to deal with them, social media posts fly by, one after another.

In fact, let’s try something

Count to three with me, if you would.

2016-02-18_12-25-03Do you know how many tweets just got sent while we were counting?


The sheer volume of posts today prevents our messages from staying around very long, if they get seen at all. (More on that in a minute.)

So What Happens When I Post?

Let’s consider your latest masterpiece of promotional persuasion.

2016-02-18_11-08-45Perhaps you’re trying to get people to show up to an event, or you’re reminding venues of just how much they’ve missed booking you for a performance.

You’ve sweated over the wording, found the perfect visual image to go with it, and finally, you take a deep breath and hit the “Publish” button.

One of four things happens from there:

1. They’re not on the platform when you are

A 2013 study of Facebook post reach found that 75% of impressions occur within the first 2.5 hours. That figure is undoubtedly even less exciting in 2017 after numerous tweaks to the FB algorithm.

The average shelf life of a tweetis 24 minutesIn short, if your audience isn’t on the network within a few minutes or hours of your post, it’s unlikely that they will see it.

2. They don’t notice your post

Your audience member’s newsfeed is probably as busy as yours, if not more so, with tons of things competing for their attention.

So, even if they are online when you post, your message may not cut through the clutter.

2016-02-18_12-19-23(What? People aren’t sitting around waiting for my message to appear?)

3. Your post doesn’t get shown to them

Increasingly, algorithms are controlling what we see and don’t see in our news feeds.

(On top of that, users can control what’s appearing by filtering out any pages or profiles they no longer wish to hear from.)

2016-02-18_11-21-51Even Twitter, long celebrated for showing a live, chronological stream of everything to everybody (the “firehose” approach), recently rolled out a filtered feed.

Why do the networks control what I see?

Well, a couple of reasons:

The cynical will tell you that the social networks have done a “bait and switch” and are now insisting on a pay-to-play model. If you want to reach the audience you’ve built up on their platform, you’ll need to “boost” or “promote” your posts (i.e. spend money).

And certainly, these networks are businesses, first and foremost. They need to be profitable in order to continue delighting us with free cat videos.

You can decide how evil (or not) that is.

2016-02-18_12-05-53The less conspiratorial among us say (also rightly) that the “choking” of the news feed is simply an effort to keep us all from becoming completely overwhelmed and leaving the platform for good. (Which, incidentally, wouldn’t be good for profitability, would it?)

How reach works for Facebook “Pages”

If you’re a performing artist or a venue that hires them, chances are you have a Facebook “Page” for your business that’s separate from any personal profile you maintain.

imagesWhile it’s difficult to ascertain how many of our “friends” end up seeing posts from our personal account, the reporting on the reach of our Facebook Page posts is fairly robust, if more than a little depressing.

Facebook has been dialing back the organic reach of our Page posts for years.

(Organic reach = the number of fans or followers you can reach for free.)

Take a look at this ancient (2012) message from Facebook’s business team, along with a sample of comments from users (noting that the comments are from 2015):

Taken at their word that Facebook was showing our Page posts to an average of 16% of our “fans” or “likes” in 2012, the real-world feedback from 2015 is particularly illuminating. People were seeing reach of less than 1%!

Fast forward to 2017, and it’s a pretty dismal situation.

And now, drumroll please…the fourth possibility when you publish is that…

4. They see your post!

Woo hoo! Break out the champagne!!

8993690108_849c027108_z-minYour audience member, Sally Page-Liker, was not only on the platform when you posted (or shortly after), but the network delivered your post to her news feed, AND, she actually noticed it.

Maybe she even acted on it!


How Often #4 Happens For You

Here’s how to find out how many people are seeing your Facebook posts.

The quick method:

In the bottom left-hand corner of each post on your page, you’ll see how many people were reached.

2016-02-16_9-49-02For the 2016 post pictured above, 27 people saw my message. When divided by the 885 page likes I had at the time, that’s a whopping 3.05%.


This next one (also from February 2016) did a little better, with 150 out of 885 (16.9%) seeing the post.

2016-02-16_9-52-17The detailed method:  

To get a more complete picture of what’s happening with your FB posts, use the “Insights” tab on the top navigation bar of your business page.

2016-02-16_10-08-20-minFrom there, you can drill down into all kinds of reports, discovering things like which days of the week and times of day your audience is most active on Facebook (important!).

One section I like to look at is “All Posts Published,” which helps to spot trends quickly and gives a snapshot of which types of posts are doing well (those with images vs. links, etc.).

Your Results May Vary

I’ve been concentrating on examples from Facebook (and a bit from Twitter) for this article. It seems to be the one everyone uses.

Your results there, and on the other social media platforms, may vary.

So What Else Can We Do?

Are there techniques that can be employed on each of the networks to boost organic reach and get our messages out to more people?

Absolutely. In fact, an entire industry has been built around helping people do that, and much of the content is free. Check out Social Media Examiner for starters, where you’ll find hundreds of quality articles. 

sme_logo_brownIs it worth experimenting with some paid promotion on these channels?

It certainly has been for me. Check out the article on Facebook Ads for Musicians and Performers for some strategies and tips.

Bottom Line

Use Social Media as ONE Tool, Not THE Tool

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the others are great additions to your marketing mix, but they should never be confused with adequate promotion.

Publicizing an event?  A combination of email, social media and search engine optimization should do the trick on the digital side, along with lots of PR/media outreach and even some good old-fashioned flyers and posters where appropriate.

Marketing yourself to generate bookings? Email is still king in terms of online marketing, with creative use of social media supporting and feeding that effort. Getting found in the search engines for the right keywords can be very important as well, depending on your situation.

You might also think about adding some content marketing to the mix.

Go Old School Too!

There’s still no substitute for being face-to-face or voice-to-voice with your audience and those you wish to work for, building relationships through the original social channels.

As a matter of fact, maybe one of these days, I’ll even pick up the phone and try calling someone again…

What kind of luck are you having with social media?

Leave me a note in the Comments section below.

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About The Blog

The Largest Online Gathering of K-5 Classrooms for Connected Educator MonthSince leaving a white-collar marketing job in 1992, Dave Ruch has been educating and entertaining full-time in schools, historical societies and museums, folk music and concert venues, libraries, and online via distance learning programs.

Along the way, he’s learned a great deal about supporting a family of four as a musician.

The Educate and Entertain blog provides articles, tips, encouragements, and how-to’s for regional performers (in any region) interested in making a great full-time living in the arts.

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25 Responses to Social Media ≠ Great Promotion

  1. Great article! From my experience, I find what you wrote very relevant. I also think that each social media platform works differently and asks for different type of content, which makes things even more complicated and time consuming! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. Thanks Dave,
    This is the confirmation I’ve needed. I’ve been wondering for quite a while now about just how many people my Facebook posts reach. I will be getting my act together and adding a emailing list push asap.

  3. My market while they may be on Facebook is just not there. Nothing beats snail mail and calling, it has the most penetration and the feedback is so much better.
    The only people that see my material on Facebook are my attendees, not the people who make the decisions about what to book, so I spend almost no time using Facebook as a social media tool to publicize my events.

  4. Hi Dave–Thanks again for this informative article. I certainly have been frustrated by the lack of response to various posts of shows, both from social media and emails. I think the reasons for that involve more than the use of algorhythms and metrics, though I’m sure they would help.
    Best regards, Rob

  5. Dave, this is one of the best articles on the subject of social media and marketing I’ve read (and I do this stuff for a living). Well organized, clear points of reference and an excellent use of data (plus pictures) make this a fantastic learning experience for anyone using Facebook and Twitter as traffic sources.

    Best of all, you’re right. Social media is used by nearly everyone in our circles, and because of that, if overwhelming in the amount of content that’s there. I’ve been waiting for the time when the people leading the “Create More Content” bandwagon would have to eat a little crow because so much content would create a media flood like the day of Noah. Our audiences are experiencing that now.

    Similar to a past conversation you and I had, nothing in the world can replace the power of 1-1 interaction in real time, either by phone or face-to-face (f-2-f is best in my book). That’s how powerful communication and true connection takes place that leads to growth. I recently gave a speech about this same thing:

    Keep fighting the good fight my friend!

  6. Thanks for this, Dave – I found a MUCH improved post reach when I boosted the post. And, I don’t usually go more than a week, and keep my budget to around $10-20, so it isn’t really that much of an advertising cost. The benefit was terrific for me, though – I run a music workshop for one weekend each summer, and after using a couple of boosted posts last year, the workshop attendance nearly doubled! I don’t know how much of that was due to boosting, unfortunately, but I can’t help but feel it assisted. You make a lot of great points, especially about not ONLY relying on social media – I also went out and recruited face to face, sent a lot of email, and asked others to promote the workshop to their organization. But I’d been doing all those things for 3 years,,,and the boosted posts only last year. So – again, can only guess it helped. But it helps to do the other things, too!

    • Hi Lee – thanks so much for sharing that here. I too have had great luck with just putting a bit of money behind some of my FB posts. Another thing you may want to consider, if you’re not using this already, is to place a FB pixel on your site and FB will create a custom audience of people who’ve visited your website – you can then reach them as another audience with your boosted posts. There is also a way to track the activity from your boosted posts a bit more closely, to give you a better sense of whether those people account for the increase in workshop attendance. It’s a bit complicated to explain here but feel free to get in touch if you like.

  7. THANK YOU FOR THIS, DAVE. Now, I can show this to everyone who’s not on social media but constantly tells me to “post this on social media.” The good news is, I figured out a while back that sincere content is the key and I reached over a million people the first 10 days of February with just a few posts. Thanks!

  8. Looking forward to part 2, Dave! When I see those requests at the side to “boost” my post, I get so annoyed. I’ll bet you’ll tell me why I shouldn’t!

  9. i do not do facebook at all.maybe i should,but i do not like the whole dilute factor of it,and i do not picture the thumb hockey people being my audience. i want to be the alternative for all the folks who are sick of or disappointed by the new scene. thanks,Dave— you’re getting warm

  10. Hi Dave, thanks for another great article. I’ve been reluctant to create a fan page that’s separate from my personal page—both because it’s more upkeep, and because I genuinely want people to see my non-music posts (I’m frequently on FB advocating for social justice issues). Part of the reason I perform is to have an increased platform to “fight the good fight,” even if my music itself is not overtly political or activist music.

    Is it still worth creating a fan page instead of a personal one? I can get analytics from a third party source (e.g. Klout, which is what I use now, or Hootsuite)… or am I missing something else?

    • Hi Rob – it’s a great question, and I don’t think there’s one answer. You’re probably getting MORE reach from your personal page than you might from a new business page, That said, one of the advantages of having a business page is the paid targeting you can do should you wish to reach out to more potential fans and social justice interest group members. I would also say that posting non-music stuff to a fan/business page is a great idea, as you don’t want to be all about “me, me, me” (that’s the subject of next week’s post!).

      Maybe we can get some other performers to comment here on using a personal page for their band or act. Anybody doing this? I It would be great to hear about how that has worked for you.

  11. I’m wondering how something like Periscope would work for someone in your business, since its (sort of) related to Twitter and uses live streaming video.

    • Hi Dan – definitely, musicians are using Periscope and Meerkat in all kinds of interesting ways now. Since I have my livestreaming platform set up via Zoom, I haven’t spent much time experimenting with the others; would love to hear from other performers who have.

      Another really interesting new platform/format is Blab.

  12. Wow, Dave! Great article that really spells out all of the critical issues these days! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m a huge fan of Michael Hyatt and Social Media Examiner. Great work! Keep it up!

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