How Pentatonix Built a Social Media Powerhouse
For many musicians, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are just different places to post the same thing. This approach can work, but if you really want to grow your fanbase and attract a dedicated following, you need to give each platform its own role and use it to drive traffic to your other channels. In the end, you'll end up with a funnel that drives potential fans to connect, forge deeper engagement, and ultimately become paying customers that support your career.
One band that has mastered this strategy is Pentatonix. They got their start on the TV show The Sing-Off, but as we've seen time and time again, just being on TV isn't enough to sustain a music career. They used their unique niche as an a cappella group to carve out a following on YouTube. In this article, we'll discuss their strategy and how they approach each social media platform for maximum exposure and relationship-building.
YouTube is one of the top search engines for music discovery, making cover songs one of the most effective ways to connect with new fans and grow a following. This strategy isn't new, however, and tens of thousands of musicians have already jumped on the bandwagon. The key is to bring something really unique to the table to help your covers stand out. Tie in your unique musical style, your personality, or any funny or interesting talents you may have. For example, Pentatonix covers popular songs completely a cappella in multi-part harmony.
Reaching someone new with a cover song won't do you much good as an artist if he or she clicks off your video after watching and never connects with you again. Pentatonix uses the description box to its full potential, directing fans to their website and other social media channels where they can connect and follow, as well as iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play where fans can actually purchase the music. Any noteworthy link – like a new album or tour – is included at the top of the description, above the fold, and is tracked with a smartURL.
On top of that, at the end of each video Pentatonix gets onscreen, thanks the viewer for watching, mentions any exciting news, and directs attention to the description box, the subscribe button, and their website. Not only does this add a more personal connection, simply mentioning these things will dramatically increase your click-throughs and subscribes.
Because of the huge number of people, musicians, and brands on Facebook, it can be quite difficult to stand out. Facebook's algorithm only shows users the most relevant and engaging posts in their news feeds, so your posts will almost never be seen by all your followers. Facebook does, however, favor media over simple text posts, and Pentatonix takes full advantage of this. If you head over to their Facebook page, you'll notice that almost every single one of their posts has a photo or video attached. This greatly increases the chance that their fans will see the post and engage with it or click through.
As we saw on YouTube, Pentatonix are masters at driving fans to engage on other channels, and Facebook is no exception. Pentatonix has an official Twitter page, but each member also has a personal page when they engage with their most dedicated fans. In this post, Pentatonix is driving Facebook fans to connect with Kirstie Maldonado on Twitter where they can forge a more personal connection:
Image via Facebook
In the past, Pentatonix has used Facebook to poll fans on their next cover. Now that function is primarily reserved for their paying Patreon supporters, but it's a great strategy you can use to get more engagement going on your Facebook page. Plus, fans might be more likely to click through to a video if they helped choose it, once again driving traffic from one channel to another.
Twitter tends to be a more informal channel compared to Facebook, and posts should be more frequent. While Pentatonix will still post videos and album news, they also share little bits of their day to get more conversation going with fans. Whenever possible, photos on Twitter are posted through Instagram and include links back to their Instagram feed where fans can follow on yet another platform.
Official Twitter pages are great, but they can still feel a little branded and impersonal, especially for a multi-person band. As we saw, each Pentatonix member has their own personal Twitter accounts where they can show fans more of their personalities and daily lives. On their official page, they will retweet and mention their personal accounts to drive traffic. Of course, they don't have as many followers as Pentatonix the band – the point is to give the superfans more of the personal connection and insider information they want.
If you want this strategy to work for your band, make sure to keep music promotion on your personal page to a minimum. No matter how many fans follow you, ask yourself, "Would I share this with my personal friends?" every time you post. That's not to say you can't mention your music, but just keep it fun and conversational. For example, instead of saying, "Download my album!" you could say, "Can’t believe I'm seeing my album on iTunes! #dreamcometrue" Remember, the people who follow your band page and your personal page are superfans, and they want more personal interaction.
Pentatonix also uses Twitter's hashtag function to drive fans to connect on a more personal level through Google Hangouts. They host these Hangouts a few times a year and ask fans to send in questions using the hashtag #AskPTX. Google Hangouts are easy to set up as an indie artist and completely free, but provide a disproportionate amount of value to fans who want to feel like they know you on a deeper level. Try to get in the habit of hosting a Hangout on a regular basis – be it every week, every month, or twice a year. Scheduling Hangouts around big events and releases gives you the opportunity to share the news with the Hangout participants before the rest of your fanbase.
As you can see, social media isn't just a broadcast tool. Your channels can function as an interconnected funnel driving fans to increasing levels of engagement and support, and this is only scratching the surface. If you want to go even deeper into social media strategy, check out this free training video made exclusively for musicians by the New Artist Model.
If you're interested in learning more about how you can create a plan for music career success, check out the New Artist Model, the alternative online business school for independent musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and new businesses. You can see a free video miniseries here on teambuilding, networking, crowdfunding and fan engagement.
Dave Kusek is the founder of the New Artist Model (newartistmodel.com), an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He has worked with musicians his entire career, providing tools, mentoring, and knowledge necessary to be successful in the music industry.