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Digital formats series

studied musicology and cultural management in Weimar. She gained practical experience in the cultural sector at various festivals and in various event offices and as an agent at weim | art e. V. From 2021 she will be the editor-in-chief of the Kultur Management Network magazine and responsible for marketing.
Social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram
Social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram are indispensable as communication channels for cultural institutions. Regardless of the goals and fan numbers of their social media presence, however, they usually only reach a handful of people. So it hardly works without paid advertising. But how exactly do you address your target group in the complicated Facebook ad manager?

Digital formats series

The numbers speak for themselves: Although the end of Facebook has been predicted for some time, it is still the most widely used social network with almost 2.5 billion users worldwide (source: Statista). Another billion use Instagram, around 15 million of them in Germany (source: Statista).

The booking platform gigmit also provides other promising figures specifically for the cultural sector in its whitepaper on the "Live Music Accellerator Berlin" (LMAB) project: According to the study, the three most important channels that visitors use to find out about events are online : 60% use the organizers 'websites, 50% use the organizers' social media pages, 49% other websites and a further 31% are made aware of events via other social media pages. Social media channels are decisive in determining whether an event - and this does not only apply to music - is made public or not. In addition, the ticket purchase, which is now also mainly online, is just a click away.

Why advertise on Facebook and Instagram at all?

Of course - regardless of whether through paid or normal posts - only a fraction of these immense numbers of users can be reached. However, this is less due to the fact that no German-speaking cultural institution has fans in the six-figure range on Facebook and Instagram. Rather, users only get a selection of contributions on both channels. The reason for this is the algorithm, which gradually filters content according to the thematic proximity between user and sender as well as according to the interaction rate of the article and its topicality. Otherwise, each user would receive more than 1,000 news a day. New content can only be discovered on Instagram via hashtags and the search function. The average unpaid reach per post on Facebook is now only 10 to percent of the subscribers to a page, depending on the page size.
So if you want to increase your organic reach and address your target groups in a targeted manner, you can't avoid paid content even with the most creative and user-friendly posts. Clicking on "Apply for contributions directly" - the so-called "Boost" function - initially seems tempting and time-saving. However, this should definitely not be done, as no specific settings for the advertisements can be made here. This would lead to unnecessary dispersion, which would result in the efficiency of the display being lost and unnecessary costs being incurred. So in order to fully exploit the potential offered by advertising on Facebook and Instagram, this should always be created and managed as a campaign via the Facebook ad manager.

How to apply for which contributions?

How successful advertising on Facebook and Instagram is depends on the strategy. The more precisely this is defined in advance, the more optimally the budget can be used, as there are fewer wastage. The ad manager offers the following campaign goals for both Facebook and Instagram:

1. Increase awareness of the brand / facility or the associated products and services. If a cultural institution wants to draw attention to itself and its offers and arouse interest, "brand awareness" or "reach" should be selected as the target.
2. Encourage potential customers to interact with the company, such as event promises, website clicks or video views
3. Conversion, i.e. turning interested users into paying customers, for example through ticket or other product sales

In principle, institutions and artists as well as events such as concerts, theater performances, exhibition openings or readings as well as CD or film releases can be advertised with an advertisement on Facebook and / or Instagram. The advertisement manager can also be used to boost sales - for example of tickets, books or CDs.

It is helpful to define the goals in advance as precisely as possible, such as "100 event commitments per month" or "20 CD purchases in a week". The SMART method (specific - measurable - accepted - realistic - scheduled) can help here.

Recognize and hire target group (s)

But what use is the most well thought-out goal if there is no target group for it? Fortunately, the Ad Manager offers several ways to do this. For example, anyone who wants to reach a target group aged 35-44 years of both sexes in the Berlin area who is interested in theater and classical music can set them up as a "core audience" using differentiated targeting. The following also applies: the more precise the description, the lower the scatter losses. A barometer in the right corner of the advertising manager helps to assess how big or small the target group is. This changes depending on the budget and duration of the advertisement.

The "target group insights" on your own Facebook or Instagram page are also helpful for targeting in order to analyze different groups of people and, for example, to define existing customers or visitors (custom audience). In addition, both channels provide information on factors such as demographics, level of education, job or relationship status. You can also find out which other pages your own fans are following or what their online shopping behavior is. In addition, further information on the target groups can be obtained from data on your own website, for example via Google Analytics. Anyone working in the music business can also take a look at the fan insights from Apple Music or Spotify.

In addition, the type of connection to your own Facebook or Instagram page can be set in the target group settings of the ad manager. This is useful, for example, if you do not want the ad to be shown to all Facebook users who match the set targeting. If you select "People who like your page", the ad will be delivered to the existing fans. However, these can also be excluded. Another option is to serve the ad to "friends of people who like your page". This is especially useful if it can be assumed that the friends of the existing fans have similar interests and could therefore also be interested in the advertised item. User groups with similar behavior of their own fans can also be reached via the "Lookalike Audience". Based on the target group setting, the visual and textual design of the advertisement should of course also be considered. For the individual image and video formats, Facebook itself provides an overview of possible approaches.

Keep your eyes open in the timeline traffic

As a private user, you can find out how the target group setting works by carefully scrolling through your own timelines. Advertising mail can be recognized by the addition "Sponsored". Both Facebook and Instagram offer users the opportunity to find out why the ad is being played, so that you can manage and remove your own settings and advertising preferences.

With a click on "Why do I see this advertisement?" very detailed information on the targeting settings of the advertisements. For example, I myself received an advertisement from Holiday on Ice for events in Erfurt on Facebook, because the show:
  • Reach out to people who Facebook believes are interested in entertainment, art and music, live events, culture, and the performing arts.
  • Women ages 25 to 54 as well
  • People whose main location is in Weimar, Thuringia.
Conversely, this means that the targeting carried out by Holiday on Ice probably looks like this:
  • Age: 25-54
  • Gender Female
  • Location: Weimar (and probably other cities in the Erfurt area)
  • Interests (in detailed discussion): entertainment, art and music, live events, culture and performing arts

Advertising opportunities

The next important step after setting the target group is the placement of the advertisement, i.e. where it should be displayed:

  • News feed
  • Stories
  • right column
  • Search results
  • Messenger (messenger mailbox, story or sponsored messenges)
  • Instant Articles (only works if the ad is also shown in the feed)
  • Marketplace (online shopping channel integrated on Facebook for Facebook users, comparable to ebay classified ads)
  • Audience Network (ads in external apps that are partner of Facebook, such as gaming, music or dating apps)
  • Feed
  • Stories
  • IGTV (internal video platform from Instagram)
The web ad manager itself always recommends "automatic placement", i.e. the network automatically places the ad in (all) the above-mentioned locations. However, if you only want to reach a particularly young target group on Instagram, for example, you can switch off all other locations via "Edit placements". This function also gives you an example of what an ad looks like with the respective placement, and you can decide whether or not it works for the planned ad.

For example, I received the Holiday on Ice ad in my Facebook news feed. Therefore, I can assume here that this placement was definitely selected for the ad.

Ad run time and budget

Once you have set to whom and where the ad should be shown, a duration and budget for the campaign must be set in the ad manager. Both of course also depend on the respective goal, whereby the question "How long should the ad run?" can be answered more clearly: at best, as long as the campaign to be advertised is also possible. For example, if a theater advertises ticket sales for a premiere, the ad should run until the day on which the advance booking ends.

The question "How much do ads on Facebook and Instagram cost?" However, it is not that easy to answer and the answer is in principle: As much as you want - per day or over the entire duration. The following also applies: the higher the budget, the more people can be reached. How many that can be is shown by the advertising manager under "Estimated daily results" below the target group barometer. Nevertheless, you can be just as successful here with a small budget of up to 5 euros a day as someone with a large budget of more than 100 euros a day. For beginners, however, it is generally recommended to start with a small amount and to test what is possible and to make adjustments to the settings if necessary. The ad manager supplies the corresponding diagrams and statistics directly.

The results of the LMAB project, which is primarily aimed at smaller Berlin clubs and bands with limited financial resources, also show that an immense advertising budget is not required to achieve successful results:

• Participating organizers recorded an average of 1.5 times more commitments and almost three times more interest in their events. The participating festivals invested an average of € 550 in online marketing and were thus able to encourage almost 48% of their Facebook fans to buy tickets. On average, the organizers invested € 1.09 in advertising for each ticket sold.
• Participating artists were able to book almost three times more event confirmations on average. With an average advertising budget of € 100, the artists were able to encourage almost 15% of their Facebook fans to buy tickets. On average, € 1.66 was invested in concert advertising for each ticket sold.
• During the project, a total of 18,000 euros were invested in marketing measures and 33,400 tickets were sold, 50 percent of which were processed online in advance.

To get an even better feeling for possible advertising expenses, here is a small, if not exemplary, example:

A concert ticket from Band XY costs 30 euros and the ticket sales are to be advertised with ads on Facebook and Instagram. For this purpose, 100 euros are initially invested for one week. A look at the statistics reveals after this week that 1,000 people clicked on the advertisement, of which ten people bought a ticket for 30 euros - a total of 300 euros. After deducting the advertising costs of 100 euros, this brought in 200 euros. Applying for a ticket therefore cost 10 euros (100 euros spent / 10 ticket purchases = 10 euros).

More tips and conclusion

In principle, the success of advertising via the Facebook ad manager depends on the quality of the goals set and the campaign settings made. The supporting elements are: product, representation and target group. For example, if a Thuringian theater wants to reach a female target group Thuringia between the ages of 25-44, but has selected "Hessen", "male" and an age group of "35-54" in the targeting, the campaign will probably only get a few clicks. No matter how great the mail can be. The whole thing can also be seen the other way around: If the target group settings for the product are correctly selected, poor performance may be due to an unsuitable presentation of the campaign. If you are unsure whether an ad with a picture slideshow works better than a short spot, you can compare the respective performance with an A / B test. You can already see what is working during the runtime. It is also advisable to start with small budgets, which makes the ad manager a suitable marketing tool even for those with limited financial resources.

However, I do not want to hide the fact that I have already sat flushed in front of the computer a few times because the ad manager did not want to be like me. On the one hand, the tool is constantly being worked on, although improvements that are actually planned sometimes initially result in a deterioration or functions reappear at another point. So here you should just stay up-to-date and use the ad manager regularly. On the other hand, error messages can also lead to campaigns not being delivered. The tool sometimes points this out directly and clearly. Nevertheless, there may be various reasons and solutions that the independent platform AllFacebook.de has fortunately put together in an overview (https://allfacebook.de/fbmarketing/facebook-ads-probleme). Furthermore, one must of course also be aware that with advertising on Facebook and Instagram, one financially supports the company behind it, which has often been criticized.

Nevertheless, the Facebook ad manager can offer important potentials for their online marketing strategy for small and large cultural institutions. And with the appropriate know-how, they can use the tool to actively shape their online communication and reach the target group that is right for them.
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