Social media is one of the most powerful tools we musicians have at our disposal. For the first time, we can aim our output at specific demographics who might best respond to our music and hope to gain fans. You’ve probably noticed Facebook or Instagram ads for other artists’ releases. Perhaps you’ve even discovered new artists on the platform and actually become a fan.
This is an incredibly dense subject and there are multiple books and university courses on social media marketing. Not to mention that the goalposts with what works best on social media tends to change every year as the social networks update how their ad platforms work.
So, in this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about Facebook and Instagram advertising and how to run effective Facebook and Instagram ads. Stay tuned for everything you need to know!
The first thing to highlight is that whilst Instagram and Facebook do have some similarities. They are different platforms with different key content and also different kinds of audiences. Thus, there is a corresponding difference between Instagram and Facebook ads.
Facebook is generally better when it comes to longer videos (over 60 secs) or content with longer copy (the text that goes with an ad). Instagram is better at shorter content and visual storytelling.
The other thing to consider is your target audience. You can use your stats on Facebook and Instagram to understand the main demographics (Age, Gender, etc.) that respond to your content. For example, if you are a classic rock artist, your audience is likely (broadly) to be slightly older. Whereas if you are an electronica artist, your audience is probably a little younger. So, you might find a classic rock artist has more luck on Facebook while the electronica artist translates well to Instagram.
You can also use your stats from platforms like Spotify for Artists to get a sense of who is listening to your music and what other bands they like. Doing your research on the output of these other bands might also help you to craft some good output that works well on either platform.
So when it comes to deciding which platform you should invest your marketing dollars in, there’s no clear answer. However, a good place to start is by trying to define your target audience. Then perhaps try both Instagram and Facebook and see what works for you and your brand.
If you have a Facebook Artists’ page, you have probably seen the option below your posts to ‘Boost’. This means you pay for the post to be prioritised to an audience of your choosing.
This can be a really positive tool. However, we would say as with other marketing strategies, boosting is valuable as a part of the total strategy, not as the whole strategy. To rely on boosting alone will likely have quite poor results.
It’s good to have a broader strategy around advertising. It should incorporate tactical boosts of specific content to specific elements of your audience to yield the best results.
You need to have a mature offering before you go down the route of advertising. Your music should be developed and refined enough that you are ready to sell it to the public.
If you are still finding your sound or your recordings and photos are still not very well defined, focus on this before you start spending loads on ads.
Also, before you get started with Facebook Ads and Instagram promotion, there are a few things that you need to have in place. These include:
To be able to run an ad campaign on Facebook and/or Instagram, you need to have your account properly set up. You can’t run ads from a personal page.
You will need to have an artist page that is set as a creator or business account. Otherwise, the system won’t work.
Whilst you can run ads without a Business Account login, there are a host of additional tools you can make use of. This includes Ad Manager, which is very useful and can help you make sure your ads are effective.
To set up a Business Account you must be an admin of your page.
If your social media (and general web) presence is weak, then it’s best to get this in shape first. You need to have a foundation to build on. Make sure that your Facebook and Instagram pages (and your website and other social pages) have up to date photos and a strong biography.
Most importantly, make sure they have regular and recent posts. If you’re investing money in Facebook and Instagram, make sure that you are active and engaged on those platforms. Post regularly and reply to comments, stoke the interaction on your pages.
If you’re advertising on a platform, then one of the natural results of that investment is that traffic will be driven to your pages. If there’s nothing for people to read and buy into when they get there, your ads won’t be as successful.
This is arguably the most important thing to have in mind when you are looking at Facebook and Instagram advertising. Have a clear and specific goal for what you want to achieve with each ad you put out.
You might read this point and think “well, the goal is more fans” – but this is where it gets strategic. With each ad campaign, you can set a specific goal. For example, getting more likes, encouraging more followers, gaining mailing list signups or trying to get new people to discover your latest release.
The knee-jerk approach to social media advertising is to release a single, put some advertising spend behind the official video and have the ‘Learn More’ button. This will lead people who click the link to either a Spotify page or a website where they can buy the album. But in reality, becoming a fan of a band is a journey – think of it like dating. It’s a relationship that deepens over time.
Throwing out an ad that takes a customer straight to purchase is the commercial equivalent of seeing someone in a bar and proposing marriage immediately. You’ve got to buy them a drink first and go from there for the best results!
You can structure your ads according to the action you want the recipients to take. For example, if you want to have more people discover your music as a first introduction, you can target fans of artists similar to you and ask for very little in return – perhaps just a ‘follow’.
When you come to release new music, sell merch or products – you can target your existing fans. These are more likely to part with some of their hard-earned cash in support of your music.
Or you can target people in the middle of these two by offering them something in return for a small action. One tried and tested approach is to offer a chance to win a free signed CD in exchange for a mailing list signup. Your audience feels like they are getting something for free but you are also deepening their connection with your band. This is a direct route to market new things to them from your mailing list.
Now we’ll take you through a step by step guide on how to create Facebook and Instagram Ads.
Once you have defined your goals for your ad (or ads) and you are ready to move forward, there are a couple of different ways to create an ad. Creating the best Facebook and Instagram ads is an art in itself – but here we’ll give a few tips and tricks to help you avoid falling into some common traps.
Because Facebook and Instagram are both owned by Facebook, you can use the same platform to create ads for both. You could use the Business Suite app for your phone and tablet and you will be guided through a lot of the same steps you go through via the Business Suite web interface.
The first step is to log in to “business.facebook.com”. Head to the Ad Manager section (which is the little Megaphone icon in the right-hand panel). From here you get to your Ad Manager page where you can see your previous Ad Campaigns and dive into the results from each one.
As a little side tip, pay close attention to the results of each ad campaign you run. By clicking the ‘View Results’ button you can easily see which of your campaigns worked and which didn’t. This information is used quite extensively by professional social media marketing companies who will typically start their work with a client by creating what they call Audience Split Tests. This means they’ll simultaneously run several Facebook and Instagram ads with different kinds of content to different audiences, split based on the target market. Then, once they have identified which content works for which audience, they’ll double down and put the bulk of that budget against that ad.
To create a new ad – hit the ‘Create Ad’ button in the top right. You’ll then get to choose what kind of ad you’d like to run. You generally start by choosing a ‘Goal’. This can be website visitors, a specific event, promotion of your page to get more likes, etc.
This is where your strategy comes into play – what do you want people to do when they see your ad? Do you want them to see and interact with a specific post? Or do you want them to like your page? Do you want them to click on your Spotify link or make a purchase? Whatever it is, you make that choice here.
Next is the fun bit – you get to design your ad. You can choose what images or videos you want to use and what you want to say with your ad:
As another few side tips – there is a real art to creating an ad on social media. Users of social media are digitally savvy. So, it’s actually the posts that don’t look like ads that tend to have the highest success rates. The more an ad looks like the kind of thing a users’ friends or family might post, the more likely it is to gain traction.
When it comes to what kind of content works best, the general rule of thumb is that portrait phone videos get the most engagement. This is followed by live performance videos, official music videos, lyric videos, with static images and graphics coming in last place. Ultimately, our brains know an ad when we see one and automatically switch off. Ads that look more like natural content tend to perform a little better.
Finally, think about the size of your content. When it comes to Instagram – you have a choice of promoting through either the Stories feed or the News Feed. Think carefully about what you want to achieve with your ad and create your content accordingly. If you’re visual storytelling with a short video – go through the Stories section and use a video that encapsulates the full portrait mode so your customers can see the full picture. When doing this, be careful not to put any critical information around the borders. Your users will have different devices, so content that might appear on the edge of the screen on a Samsung Galaxy might be cropped out on an iPhone.
Similarly, if you are promoting via the Instagram feed, don’t have really detailed cinematic widescreen footage. Users won’t take the time to squint at their phone, they’ll just scroll past, so make sure the content works on the platform. If you can make it square, that would be best as you get full use of the post space of the platform.
For Facebook, you have a bit more flexibility in what size photo or video you upload. Be savvy here – if you upload a standard 16:9 ratio music video – it’ll be pretty small on a phone screen and therefore very easy to scroll past. Similarly, if you go for the full 9:16 full-screen portrait, you have issues where some of your content may be cropped by the preview. To counter this, a good rule of thumb is to cut your video and images to 1080 x 1350 pixels (or 4:5 ratio). This way you take up the majority of the screen with your content.
This is where your data from your page and other platforms come in handy. You can choose to target people who already like your page and their friends. Or you can choose to target people who don’t like your page but fall within specific age/location/gender demographics and like other pages similar to yours.
If you know that your audience is predominantly women aged 30-45 in Canada who also happen to like James Blunt and James Bay – then you can target those people!
One useful tip if you are targeting geographical markets is to make sure that your ads are relevant. For example – if you are pushing an Ad for your new vinyl and you are targeting the USA and Canada, you might want to think about targeting each country specifically. This is because your offer of $39.99 will be different in US Dollars and Canadian dollars. Your Canadian customers will be disappointed when they click the link to find the cost is higher than originally marketed.
Similarly, don’t market gigs in London to people living in Rome – market events at a local level. The Ads should always be something your customers can action.
This is a difficult one because it will largely depend on how much budget you have to play with. The great thing about Facebook and Instagram ads is that you can set a budget to be as high or as low as possible. There are solutions to fit every budget. The cost of Facebook and Instagram ads is genuinely down to the individual user.
From experience, a professional social media marketing company will usually start their clients off with an initial order of at least £500. This assumes £150 for audience split testing so they can identify what kind of content best works for your audience. Then the rest of the £350 goes on the actual ad once you have defined that.
However, you can also get great results with smaller ad sets and smaller budgets. We would advise that for post boosts, a lower budget is better except for specific ads. It all depends on what kind of budget you have to play with.
Before you click the blue ‘Promote Now’ button, you have a couple of other options to select from. First is your ‘Placements’ – this is where you choose where your ad will appear. As we said above, make sure the content you are promoting is best for the platform (i.e. Instagram or Facebook) and also best for the sub-area within the platform (i.e. Stories, Messenger, News Feed).
Now you are ready to go! Just hit the button and Facebook will additionally review your ad to make sure there are no violations of its terms of service.
Timing is key – generally, ads are approved relatively quickly but it’s best to allow at least 48 hours. Try not to leave your ad creation to the last minute if there is time pressure!
If you’re thinking that all of this sounds a bit complex, you are not alone!
Fortunately, Music Gateway has an amazing range of Music Promotion services so you can focus on what really matters – the music. Let their expert manage your Facebook and Instagram ads knowing they bring together some of the best marketing experience in the music industry.
No company is better to help independent artists grow like Music Gateway. If you want people to take note of your latest album, upcoming tour, new merchandise, etc, they are the ones to take you through the process. Take advantage of their expertise and make sure you market yourself as successfully as possible.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity, see how they could benefit you as an artist today!
That was our Facebook and Instagram ads guide! We hope you found it useful.
The internet has totally transformed being an artist with more and more musicians retaining their independence and control over their careers with great success. It is interesting to have a play with how the Instagram and Facebook advertising system works but it can also feel very complex. If in doubt, reach out to the experts at Music Gateway!
Whilst you’re here, why not check out some of our other articles aimed at helping independent artists thrive in the music industry. How To Sell Your Music Successfully, SMS Text Marketing For Indie Musicians and What Is Public Domain Music & How Is It Used? Are great places to start!
Showcase yourself and get discovered by fans and music reps through your very own artist site. Collaborate globally with other musicians, songwriters, producers, and more. Finally, amplify your music to those that need to hear it with music promotion and professional sharing tools. Try all of this out for yourself by joining Music Gateway. Get your 14-day free trial, no strings attached.