4 Feb '21

Nick Edwards

Why, how & what: grow your audience & income

If you're a creator, or run a creative business, you probably didn't get into the job to be a marketer. I'm guessing you do some marketing, but perhaps you're not exactly sure how you should be doing it, or why.

So this article is all about that. I'm going to outline a really basic but effective framework we use at Feed to work towards the most fundamental of goals for musicians and creators. I'm going to go into the why, how and what of the things you should be doing.

Most artists we speak with (and their teams, if they have them) are broadly looking to achieve two things through marketing their work:

  • Find new audiences
  • Grow income from one or more sources, like ticket sales or products on your website

Pretty obvious - I mean, surely everyone wants to find the people who love what they do, and everyone also wants to eat?

If you want to grow your glorious audience cake and eat it too, there is a 3 step approach that works well. It generalises pretty much across whichever channels you are using.

The 3 steps are: (i) finding and growing new audiences, (ii) keeping people engaged once you’ve found them and nurturing those relationships, and (iii) growing income from your biggest supporters.

Feed already runs automated ads that help you achieve (i) and (ii) on Facebook & Instagram, and we’re currently working on building out (iii). The old-school marketers amongst you may recognise each step as a part of your marketing funnel: cold, warm and hot.

There’s a bit more detail on each below, focused on how you can do this via social media. I also use a real world example from acapella group The Swingles who are among those testing the conversion ads that we are working on right now for step (iii).

(i) finding new audiences

(implemented in Feed)

Why. Find more people who like your music and reach new audiences. Right now, you're focused on reaching people for the very first time, enticing their interest. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s all about followers at this point...

How. What you should be looking to do here is build up an audience of people who know about you - whether they are followers or not. Follows at this stage are a (very nice) bonus.

What. At this stage, you want to reach people who are likely to engage with your music. We’re after some sort of engagement - eg. video views, likes and comments - because as soon as someone engages, you can reach them again via retargeting to continue the conversation. Once they’ve engaged, they move to step (ii).

Keep in mind that this is the first time people will hear from you. Day in day out we see the content that works best is natural, organic and informal - so people feel like they’re discovering you and your music and not being sold to. I’ve written a bit about this before.

To do this on social media you can run a campaign geared at engagements or video views to lookalike audiences, or people in a certain demographic with certain interests. Joshua wrote about creating lookalikes a while back. Make sure you exclude people who have engaged with you already!

Real world example (Feed + The Swingles)

With a relatively low budget (a few £ a day) The Swingles used Feed to double the number of people who had engaged with them on Facebook in the past year from 20k to 39k.

Why is this important?

Because they now have an additional 19,000 actual people they can reach again and again through retargeting! A bunch of these people will become followers, buy tickets and stream music.

(ii) keeping people engaged

(implemented in Feed)

Why. Familiarity is hugely important in turning the engaged audiences of step (i) into followers and fans. You may have heard of the ‘rule of 4’, meaning that on average someone sees 4 posts from you before they decide to follow you (by the way, I don’t think this rule is particularly scientific, more just useful shorthand to describe the principle).

How. Keep people engaged, keep the conversation going and invest in building the relationship with your audience. This applies to followers you can’t reach organically and also to people who have engaged with you in step (i) but don’t follow you yet.

What. Retargeting is the only way to reliably reach every person in your audience! - if you want them to listen to the music and see the content you’ve spent so much time on, this is essential! At this level, it’s also a nice idea to add links to ads or sponsored posts so people can navigate off social media to your website or to a streaming site like Spotify.

Also make sure you’re not paying to reach people who are easy to reach organically (in other words, who are engaging with you the whole time already). If you use Feed, it excludes people like this. The same article mentioned above also covers custom audiences too.

(iii) growing your income

(coming Q1 this year in Feed)

Why. You've been investing in reaching new people and building a great relationship with your audience. Now is the time to turn some of them into true supporters.

How. If you invest in developing a loyal fanbase, in turn they will support you by listening to your music, buying tickets, products on your website etc.

What. There are a number of ways you can market to your most engaged audience, including a mailing list and paywall content (eg. Patreon). Feed uses automated conversion campaigns, using a Facebook pixel to track the value of sales generated by your ads and compare that to your ad spend.

For example, I spend £50 on conversion ads and generate £250 of sales directly from those ads - that’s a 5x return on ad spend, not bad!

Using a combination of retargeting audiences across social media, your website and mailing list makes sense for running ads aimed at conversion ‘events’. We’ll be writing more about how to do this (and how Feed does it) in the future.

Real world example (Feed + The Swingles)

The Swingles had been using Feed for a couple of months to reach new audiences and build up an engaged following ahead of getting started with conversion campaigns to drive ticket sales for a live stream concert.

They generated over £1,500 of ticket sales from £78 spend on Feed conversion ads - a huge 20x ROAS!

This result is admittedly an outlier, but the range of returns we are seeing are 2x to 20x - if you hit anywhere in that range, you're doing very well.

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