Tough Social Media Decisions for 2022

Introduction

On the last day of 2021, I had the time to take a look at what went wrong with my social media strategy. I’m all for being active on social media, but I need to find out how to be more efficient or I’ll just abandon it for weeks at a time. What I discovered is that I wasn’t delineating between the two separate things I do, teaching and performing. Each needs to have its own strategy, and from there I need to develop easier tactics to manage content for each audience.

The Big Mistake

I’ve been prioritizing my performing content over my teaching content. Big mistake! Almost all of my performance income comes from my church job. My part-time paycheck isn’t going to fluctuate based on my social media posting. However, running good social media is one of the keys to gaining and retaining students. I have 20 or so piano parent families to please, who can put in their notice at any time.

Analysis – Overall

I looked back through my recent Instagram and Facebook history to see how I’m engaging. Since I stopped posting videos directly to Facebook, my reach has shrunk significantly, to the point where I had no likes from the last several videos I posted as links on both sides of my business. I always get a smattering of likes and the occasional comments on Instagram for identical posts. It’s clear that Facebook prioritizes posts with video versus links. That brings up a little side topic that I have to broach, as to why I stopped posting videos directly on Facebook servers.

Bot Blocking

I apologize for how that heading sounds, but it’s very appropriate to my argument! When you post a lot of classical performances, you will notice that you’ll get a message from Facebook that one of your recordings has been flagged and muted. Bots run by the major record labels, with the blessing of Facebook, are continually trolling to detect potential pirated recordings.

I understand why companies that have spent millions to build their catalogs would want to spend millions on bots to protect their assets. However, it becomes really annoying to get multiple notifications of possible violations of videos I’ve posted of Bach and Beethoven. At first, I took it as a compliment that my recordings were similar to Brendel and Barenboim. However, that wore out fast as more and more recordings got called into question.

If a human took a second to look at my recordings, she could tell I’m neither of those fine pianists! This has become a real problem for performers who make their primary income from performing, according to this Washington Post article. After an increase in this flagging and muting activity, it was time to switch to a paid host for my recordings. I pay for the lowest tier of Vimeo since the free tier is extremely limited. Even at that, it’s almost $100 per year. It gives me control over my own recordings.

Analysis – Teaching

Getting back to social media strategy now…When I did more digging, I found that most of my piano parents engage primarily through Instagram, not Facebook. I only know of one family that engages with Facebook only. I’d really like to consistently upload student videos to IGTV so that they get clicked and shared. In exchange for a bit of extra work to set up an IGTV video, I get a golden opportunity to market my studio with the help of my piano parents.

I don’t like the idea of abandoning users on Facebook, but due to the algorithm, it’s very unlikely they’ll see my content anyway. According to this article, organic reach on Facebook is currently 5.2%. That means that only one out of 19 followers will see the average non-promoted post. I really don’t like those odds, and am not going to pay to play to achieve a better reach rate.

Analysis – Performing

I’ll confess: Pretty much everything I post for performing is really vanity. I really enjoy performing and pride myself on being that teacher who can play every piece he teaches. However, spending so much time preparing recordings for social media is not contributing to the top line. So, I decided not to build my catalog on Vimeo instead of making IGTV videos. Anyone truly interested in hearing me will hopefully click through the link in bio.

I get it, most won’t! It takes maybe 5 to 10 seconds to click through three extra links on Instagram, and a bit less to click through one link on Facebook. Those folks were probably were only going to watch for 5 to 10 seconds anyway. So why bother? I want to show that I’m an active performer and that I take pride in what I play, which translates into my teaching. Tactically, it’s really simple to use a third-party app like Later to schedule to both Instagram and Facebook at the same time. I don’t have to abandon any of my current followers.

Scheduling

To keep things simple, I decided that I should batch each week, for the weeks that I will post. I’ll continue to do Music Monday for my performances, and add Teaching Tuesday (working title) for my studio posts. If I want to post for any other reason, I’ll choose one of the remaining weekdays, possibly Thursday, so there is some space between posts. I tire of some folks who post for posting’s sake, and mute or unfollow them accordingly.

In Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, bravo. I tried to keep this as short as possible, but of course, social media strategy is not a simple one. If it were, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post about it. Does this approach make sense to you, at least for my rather unique situation? How do you handle planning your social media? Have you taken the time to look at what you’re doing, to see if there’s a better way?

Last Updated 2022-01-01 | Originally Posted 2022-01-01

Piano Teaching Resources

Summary

I often find piano teaching to be difficult. Each student comes to you as an individual learner, with different needs from the next child. What motivates one student doesn’t motivate the next. What’s hard for one kid is simple for the next, and vice versa. Fortunately, there is an amazing community of teachers who offer lots of piano teaching resources, much of it free.

I explore for inspiration on the Web in several different ways. Much of it comes through Webinars from the Music Teachers National Association, to which I belong. When I find a good site, I’ll click links that lead me to find other great sites. If I’m looking for something specific, I often find it just through a Google search.

Update

As part of a recent continuing education project, I have dived a lot deeper into three of the resources on my original list, and found a brand new one to share as well. These are grouped under Recently Helpful. The other resources under Also Worth a Look are carryovers from when I first published this post.

Recently Helpful

Piano Picnic

Ruth Power comes to piano from a different angle than most others in this list. She grew up loving to play piano by ear, figuring out songs she heard on the radio. This while taking traditional piano lessons and going on to a bachelor’s degree in music. I took her free course Ear Bootcamp, which was offered as a teaser to her more formal paid course Songs by Ear. She not only gave me a teacher discount but gave me permission to offer modules of the class to my students, sort of like a site license, at no extra cost. How cool is that?

Sara’s Music Studio

Sara interviewed Ruth Power just before her Ear Bootcamp began. I ended up adding a third project to my summer list as a result. My second summer project was taking a course Online Lesson Academy that Sara offers with her colleague Tracy through the Upbeat Piano Teachers. I wrote a separate blog post on that subject.

Tim Topham

Tim is an amazing source of inspiration who has a very extensive Website. I’ve hopped onto many free teaser resources he offers, including newsletters, Webinars, and downloads, while resisting frequent pitches to become a paid member of his Inner Circle. I’m sure the Inner Circle is great, but it’s really expensive and outside of my budget for continuing education right now

Inside Music Teaching

Philip Johnston is a blogger and publisher of two books that I have purchased as teacher resources. Check out the posts that rotate through the jumbotron on his home page. One of the books that many of my students know first-hand is the very expensive Scales Bootcamp. I use this in lessons for students learning the correct fingering on full octave scales once they’re ready to move past pentascales. Philip, if you ever read this, please lower the price on this book, as I would ask all of my students to buy it! I bet you would make up in spades on volume what you would lose in per-book profit!

Color In My Piano

Joy Morin talks about her studio, her influences, and inspiration for other teachers. Most recently, she released a really cute Post-It note project. The free download provides the basic Microsoft Word templates that allow you to affix notes to a page and type your own text. The upsell is to purchase some inspirational messages she designed by hand, then digitized, that can be printed on these notes. It’s really a clever idea, but I think I’ll stick to designing my own notes for now.

Also Worth A Look

Pianimation

Jennifer Fink inspired me to put together a version of her floor staff carpet, using cards that she developed to relate intervals to that staff. I created a separate portable felt board that I loan to parents to help young learners with the staff.

Piano4Life

Teacher Natallia created this Circle of Fifths Chart that I use with students. I use it to check off scales learned in major and minor.

Last Updated 2018-07-30 | Originally Posted 2018-03-12