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How To Run Effective Facebook & Instagram Ads for Artists & Producers

Written By: Josh Viner

One of the most difficult tasks as an artist or producer is getting new eyeballs and ears on your work. With research suggesting that internet users spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social media, running social media ads can be one of the most effective ways to generate that initial interest. However, with so much time spent on socials, how do you stand out from the pack? How do you create compelling ads that actually catch one’s attention? How do you develop highly targeted ads so that you’re reaching people that have a higher change of converting into fans? Let’s get into it…


There are lots of articles online on how to run Facebook and Instagram ads so this article will not be doing that (Here’s a great one from Buffer). Instead, I’d like to narrow in on how to run effective ads as an artist or producer. It can be a very different process than when trying to sell a product or service. This article is by no means exhaustive, but I hope it helps with the basics and kickstart some ideas. I’ll be mainly discussing targeting the very top of the fan funnel — obtaining that initial awareness and discovery — but will touch on engaging, converting and retaining.


[Note: this article will assume you’re using Facebook’s Ad Manager to run ads. However, to run ads that lead to your Instagram profile, you’ll need to create the ad within the Instagram app — the same principles discussed here still apply. You can also simply just “boost” posts you’ve already made.]


The Ad Campaign: Defining Goals


The very first step in an ad campaign is defining your goal. What is it you want to achieve with this ad? Do you want more likes or followers? Do you want to drive streams? Sell tickets to a show? Sell beats? Get more clients for your studio? You should not try to achieve all these things with one ad — it won’t be most effective.


Targeting: Find Your Potential Fans/Buyers

First, let’s decide who you want to target based off your goal. Ideally you want your ad to be shown to people who are interested in your genre of music and may be interested in the content you create on your page. A great way to target those people is by targeting those who like the pages of similar artists and pages. Make a list of similar artists to you (in terms of genre). Can’t think of too many? Think of at least one or two similar artists and then utilize Spotify’s “Fans Also Like” tab on artist profile’s to find more artists in that genre. This is a great way to get an extensive list of artists that are in your genre space. Use this list in the “Detailed Targeting” section when creating an audience in Facebook’s Ad Manager or “Interests” section within the Instagram App — note, you’ll need artists who have a big enough following for Facebook’s backend to recognize their page. Make sure to also use general targeting parameters, not just artists - e.g., “Pop Music,” “Logic Pro,” “Abelton”, “Music Production,” etc.


You’ll also want to adjust age, location, perhaps gender, and connections (if applicable) when creating an audience to target.


As mentioned, the goal is important to define before setting targeting parameters: for an awareness campaign, you may want to target a broader audience than a conversion campaign. Generally, you want a good middle ground — not too defined, not too broad — and there’s an indicator on the sidebar to let you know that you’re in the right area. Ask yourself what the minimum amount of personalization is for the maximum impact. As James Chadwick put it in his great article on Facebook advertising: “targeting is like salt — too much ruins the dish.

Use Spotify’s “Fans Also Like” tab to help find artists pages to target

Targeting Pro Tips:

  1. The above uses Interest-based target but try experimenting with Demographics and Behaviors. Want to target people who are in college? Use the “Demographics” drop down menu to do so. Want to target Technology Early Adopters or Engaged Shoppers? Use the “Behaviors” drop down menu.

Input Demographics, Interests, and Behaviors targeting in the Detailed Targeting section of Facebook’s Ad Manager
  • Create Custom Audience to retarget those who have previously interacted with your business. When you’re creating an audience in Facebook Ads Manager, you can click the “Create New” dropdown menu and then create a Custom Audience based off various sources. This feature allows you to target people who have previously interacted with your content (e.g., watched a video, commented on an Instagram ad, etc.) An example of utilizing this feature is if you ran several video ads to reach as many people as possible, then ran a second sets of ads that then retargeted the people who interacted with those videos. This could be an attempt to convert those who have shown initial interest into more engaged fans.

Experiment with Custom Audiences

The Creative: Personalization, MAYA, and Captivating

The creative is perhaps the most important element to your ad and one that is worth experimenting with, as different creatives will work with different audiences. In fact, research by Nielsen and others indicate that creative impact can explain close to 50% of ad results variance — i.e., can make your ad 50% more or less successful. There are three main factors to consider:


1. Personalization Once you set the targeting parameters, you want to develop creative that is specific and personalized to that audience. If you’re targeting people in New York, perhaps you have text or audio in your video that says “New York.” If you’re targeting fans of Roddy Rich, perhaps you subtly mention him or one of his tracks. If you’re targeting students in college, maybe you mention something about being in college and living that lifestyle. You get the point. Personalization is key and is why Facebook has become one of the best advertising platforms.


2. Unique, Yet Familiar One of the fundamental ideas to effectively sell something new to people is to combine the new with the familiar. People like familiarity with a hint of novelty — too much novelty and it’s hard to digest, too much familiarity and it’s not noteworthy.


Famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy coined the theory of “MAYA” — “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable.” The idea behind the theory, as described by The Atlantic, is that consumers “gravitate towards products that are bold, but instantly recognizable.”

“[…] consumers are torn between two opposing forces: neophilia, a curiosity about new things; and neophobia, a fear of anything too new.”

I believe one of the best examples of utilizing this concept that you can use for an ad is a cover song — it’s familiar, yet different. For example, if you’re targeting fans of Billie Eilish (and other similar artists), your creative can be a Billie Eilish cover. It’s a song those fans know, but performed in a new manner.


3. Captivating An effective ad captures attention right away. Think about how seamlessly most people scroll through their feed — you want an ad that catches one’s attention. This can be done via text, engaging images, interesting angles, intriguing colours, cool animation, and I’m sure much more. Below are examples that use those various elements — colours, animation, text — to grab one’s attention.


Creative Pro Tips:

  1. Ensure your creative is in the correct dimensions and adjust for different formats. Facebook’s Ad Manager allows you to upload different creative for the same “Ad Set” (i.e., targeting and ad campaign). If you’re running in-feed ads and Stories ads, make sure to upload the creative in different specs (vertical for Stories, 16:9 for feed videos/4:5 for images).

  2. Experiment with different ad formats: carousel, video, images, or collection (group of items that open into a fullscreen mobile experience). I also suggest you use a combination of images, video, and text if running a video ad. Don’t just think you need to have one eye-catching element — combine different formats to create a convincing piece of content.

  3. Design for sound off, delight with sound on. Make sure your creative is compelling even with no sound (how most people scroll through their feed), but delight the user with audio in case they have it turned on.



Experiment with different ways to capture one’s attention in an ad

The Copy: Personalization, Contextualization, and Value-Adding

Having refined and calculated copy (i.e., the text underneath the ad) is another critical aspect to a successful ad.

There are three main factors to think about:


1. Personalization As with your creative discussed above, you want to personalize your copy based off your goal and targeting. If you’re targeting people in LA, write “Hey LA!” in your copy. If you’re targeting people who like Childish Gambino write “Childish Gambino” or tag him in your copy. This also may require some research: a person in Canada should not being seeing an add that says that a product is $20, when in fact it’s actually $26 when converting USD to CAD. Your copy should reflect your targeting parameters. This will most likely require several different pieces of creative — you may run 10 different ads, all with the same goal, but targeting different audiences and therefore, each should have different creative and copy. These are the type of little items that make for a much more effective ad when compared to more generic copy. Personalized copy, combined with personalized creative, truly leverages the power of Facebook and Instagram ads. Otherwise, it’s like sticking up a billboard on one’s news feed.


2. Contextualize Contextualization is something I write about often as I believe it’s becoming more and more important. What I mean by contextualization is having copy, and creative, that fits into one’s day. For example, some of Spotify’s most popular playlists are mood-based playlists: “Mood Booster,” “Songs to Sing in the Shower,” etc. rather than genre-based playlists. Why? Because they have a very clear purpose and are explicit about the value they provide for the consumer. Mood Booster is music that is meant to boost your mood, whereas a generic Pop playlist can be a pandora’s box of music. So how do you implement this idea in your ad?

Think about where and when people may listen to your song.

Is it for rainy days? Summer days? Pool party’s? Sitting in a coffeeshop? Here’s an article I wrote on how I doubled my click-through rate by adjusting the copy of an ad.


3. Value-Adding Playing off of contextualizing your copy, it’s also important to really think about how your ad provides value. Is it an energizing track? A song to listen to when winding down?Does it boost one’s mood? Console them when they’re depressed? Make the value you’re providing explicit in your copy. For example, you can write “Get your day started on the right foot with my new single…”. Here’s an article I wrote on how to implement lessons from value-based marketing into your own marketing efforts.


Copy Pro Tips:

  1. If driving to a link (stream, video, tickets, beat store, website, etc.) use a shortened link (smarturl.it, bit.ly, Linkfire, etc.) that can track the numbers of clicks where they’re coming from, retarget those who clicked on it, etc.


Putting It All Together

These steps: The Goal, The Targeting, and The Creative & Copy all need to work together, like a beautiful harmony. The goal of the ad campaign needs to be properly defined in order to determine your target audience. Once your target audience is established, you can then create personalized, compelling, unique creative with well-thought out copy. These components need to all be in sync with each other.