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Facebook's algorithm change hurt!

Facebook’s algorithm adjustment this year caused quite a storm among musicians. Essentially, posts from friends such as status updates, photos, and videos are prioritized over posts from Pages. This means that the organic reach of musicians’ content is lower than ever, even among fans who have already liked their Page. It has left artists wondering how to take back the initiative and grow their audience. Not so long ago the topic of buying Facebook likes was big news. Now it’s a matter of whether or not to pay to boost Page posts, as Facebook is encouraging musicians and other brands to do.

To remedy the situation, this article suggests email marketing as an alternative to paying to boost posts on Facebook. There was a time – pre-social media to be specific – when collecting email addresses for a mailing list was a staple for everyone from upcoming bands and DJs to established pros. This made a lot of sense at the time because it was the most effective way to draw people’s attention towards your website to check out the latest tour dates, release, mixtape, or whatever it may be.

Then, of course, social media became a more viable way to attract attention and make announcements – with the likes of Myspace (RIP), Twitter, and Facebook. However, the argument runs, there now exists a social media environment where users are inundated with content and algorithm manipulation is dictating the sort of content that is shown. As the example of Facebook’s algorithm demonstrates, this often doesn’t play into the hands of aspirational DJs and musicians.

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Mailchimp's Freddie is betting on it!

The question is, can the humble email newsletter make a successful comeback, as the article suggests? It’s not so hard to start either; it’s simple enough find provider for artists to easily create an email account to fit their branding. Plus, there is a host of free tools to organize and schedule email campaigns. As a musician, it offers the chance to take control of your content, directly address your followers, and entice them with exclusive demos and b-sides. What’s more, according to Mail Chimp, emails from musicians have a 22.68% open rate and a 2.88% click through rate. When compared with the 17.85% open rate of marketing and advertising emails, it’s plain to see that email still has potential.

However, while it seems convincing that using email marketing to connect with your fans can be successful, it’s perhaps less convincing that it could replace social media. In other words, the fact that email marketing may be ripe for a return to form doesn’t necessarily imply that social media is no longer useful for musicians. Quite the opposite in fact, especially when it comes to reaching new listeners. Instead, we must adjust our attitudes and how we use both social media and email marketing. For instance, a newsletter clearly has an advantage in terms of strengthening your existing fan base and turning them into dedicated followers, since your communications won’t be buried in or punished by Facebook’s algorithm.

Nevertheless, social media is uniquely able to facilitate the sort of viral sharing that expands your reach. Yes, organic reach has become harder to achieve and you may need to boost a few posts from time to time, but if your content is good enough to be shareable you will be rewarded by the algorithm. Facebook in particular is designed to show people what is both popular and aligned to their interests. While this aspect of the platform has received some flak for perpetuating political confirmation bias, it’s perfect for music promotion because it targets fans of particular music genres.

In this sense, social media isn’t necessarily in decline, but the rules have certainly changed – not for the first time, and more than likely not for the last time either. By playing to the strengths of both email marketing and social media, it’s still perfectly possible to achieve solid growth for your fan base while engaging your existing followers.

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