Marketing diversity

March 9, 2021

I was listening to a fascinating BBC podcast about blood types, when this made my ears prick up:

Podcast host Marnie Chesterton: Why do we have over 300 antigen markers in our red blood cells?

Nicole Thornton: It’s a really important question especially at the moment with COVID. We as a species are constantly in conflict with infectious diseases. If we were all exactly the same then the pandemic could wipe us out as a species. Our diversity is key to our survival as a species. Having different blood groups is part of our diversity profile. Our differences and diversities keep us alive as a species.

(Answer edited for clarity. Listen to the full podcast if you’re a med nerd like me.)

I love a good analogy, and this one translates well into music marketing. At work, we frequently get SOS messages about hacked pages, disgruntled former employees refusing access or band members forgetting passwords. These client requests are usually accompanied by panic because it’s their sole marketing channel. It’s typically a Facebook page or Instagram profile with a very decent following, perhaps grown with great effort while other channels languish.

And it all comes back to this. Diversity. I’ve frequently mapped out a project execution plan only to have the client ask to scrap everything but one channel. The reason? “This is the only channel we have a decent following on.”

Only growing one marketing channel is dangerous. Why?

  • You might become ‘blind’ and not see opportunities, whether it’s an exciting new platform (TikTok, Clubhouse) or not moving to a new platform even though your audience has.
  • You’re assuming what has worked will continue to work. Check out The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb for more on this topic, if you’re interested in philosophy and probability.
  • You’re not testing and learning, whether it’s new format types or platforms.
  • And on that note, trying weird new things on your ‘main’ channel can be dangerous because your audience is huge. Trying new channels with small audiences mean you have a safer playing ground to test and learn.
  • You miss out on incremental reach. Each platform will have users that can only be reached on that platform.
  • You might get banned, hacked or blocked. A social platform might die with no warning. Whatever the reason – if that happens you immediately lose your main communication line with your audience.

Sound bad? Here are my recommendations for creating a healthy ecosystem for your music marketing:

  • Play around on new channels. Join with personally as an individually while you get the lay of the land to get a feel of how it works and what content performs well.
  • If you set up a channel and it isn’t right, you can usually delete it later with little drama. This also means you’ve reserved your handle in case you want to re-activate it later.
  • Separate your channels into primary (e.g. updated regularly) and secondary (mostly placeholders for key moments, and to act like your digital business card). Make sure your secondary channels are at least touched once at every milestone. This means fixing your bio description, updating your profile/cover photos and posting about said milestone at least once. Milestones might include an album release or your annual lineup/date announcement.
  • Understand how each channel services a different ‘side’ to you, and lean into this. Twitter is better for thoughts and links, so tap into that. Instagram and Pinterest do well with infographics and imagery, so lean into those. This is a huge part of making sure your content is legitimately diversified, and also gives your super fans a reason to follow you on every channel. (If they’re getting the same asset with the same copy on the same day on Facebook and Instagram, what is the proposition for following you on both platforms?)
  • Understand your unique audiences on each channel. If you’re a venue with broad programming, you might find TikTok better to engage your younger patrons but Facebook better for older generations. Keep that in mind with your strategy and posting.
  • You can still have a ‘focus’ channel that takes up most of your time. Just make sure it’s not your only channel. (You might even find you like a new platform even more. Media star Zoe Sugg found fame on YouTube but has gone on the record saying she actually prefers Instagram now. She currently has 9.2M Instagram followers, which shadows her 4.8M YouTube subscribers. She recently announced her pregnancy on Instagram a whole day before she did on YouTube.)
  • Back to my channel planning example above, don’t ignore this until you have to run an advertising campaign. Start nurturing new channels while you’re off cycle.
  • And finally, always make sure one of your channels is email marketing so you own your own fan/customer list.

Take the above with a grain of salt though. If you’ve joined any channel planning workshop I’ve run, you know that I strongly advise being realistic and doing a few channels well. I’m not saying artists all need to have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Twitch, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube account. Just make sure you approach your marketing like the human race—adaptable and ready for action.


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