Social media interns Alana and Kristi had a hunch that a campaign involving music would engage their peers on the student-run Blue Hen Says social media accounts. They learned first-hand that trying a new campaign takes some patience and a lot of trial and error. Ultimately, they learned that it all boils down to understanding your audience. Read about their experience below.
The first #MusicMonday post we ever did, just four short weeks ago, was called “A Rainy Newark Tuesday.” We honestly thought that we’d hit the jackpot with the idea. Everyone at UD knows that it rains every single Tuesday of the year so we put together an 8tracks set of mellow, somber indie tunes—Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, etc.— picturing a UD student curling up with a mug of tea, a nice book, and, of course, our playlist. We published it in the early afternoon and settled in at the office to wait, expecting 8tracks plays, likes, and comments to come pouring in.
It was a spectacularly unpopular playlist, so we started looking at the whole process more critically. We figured out that some of our decisions the first time around were limiting our audience. We had a dream of reaching hundreds of thousands of people, but our first playlist just wasn’t cut out for that.
So we went back to the drawing board, and seven days later, we tried again with “Up in the Gym”. Fixing our audience-limiting errors helped enormously. Our next three playlists have all been popular on 8tracks— so here are some of the mistakes we made on the first go-around, and how we corrected them moving forward.
PROBLEM: Too obscure. When we first decided to make the #MusicMonday playlists, we took it upon ourselves to not only share our favorite music with our campus, but also to educate our fellow students about new artists and independent bands that we thought that everybody should be listening to. This musical pretentiousness is NOT conducive to designing playlists that most people actually want to try. Sure, some people are searching 8tracks for new-experimental urban opera, but most of them aren’t.
SOLUTION: Mix it up! We’ve since learned that it’s possible to select music for the playlists from a variety of genres and levels of popularity, and those playlists are going to appeal to a broader audience. As long as the music you pick is connected by a central linking theme, including a variety of artists and genres won’t be too jarring at all. Even better, the more different kinds of music you include in your playlist, the more different artists, genres, and keywords you can include in your searchable tags. A broader range of music = more popular and applicable tags = a bigger group of listeners!
PROBLEM: Too specific. The biggest logistical, audience-limiting error we made with “A Rainy Newark Tuesday” was that it was called, well, “A Rainy Newark Tuesday”. We think that it’s important that our 8tracks account, as an official Blue Hen Says student music outlet, connects listeners to the University of Delaware. But analytics later showed that the very specific titled limited the number of people identifying and engaging with the playlist to those who actually live in Newark.
SOLUTION: Be subtly UD-centric. We decided to keep the title of our next playlist sufficiently neutral, while making the description of the playlist more connected to UD. For example, our cardio-workout playlist “Up in the Gym” has a neutral enough title that it draws in listeners from all over, but also enough references to Delaware staples (like waiting for an elliptical at the Little Bob and getting a bagel at NDB) to make it feel fun and relatable to UD students specifically. Even better, we found a gorgeous picture of the Carpenter Sports Building at night for the album art!
PROBLEM: Too serious. Ultimately, we learned from “A Rainy Newark Tuesday” that people are listening to these playlists to enjoy them. That means that the playlists should be fun and engaging— even if the music itself is more on the relaxing side. “A Rainy Newark Tuesday” was honestly stressful to put together and not that enjoyable to listen to.
SOLUTION. Have fun! We learned that if we aren’t excited finding new tracks and playing them for each other in the office, then our listeners probably aren’t going to be that enthused playing them back. Our latest playlist “Mashed&Mixed”, featuring amazing mashups of unlikely songs, was a blast to make— AND was our most popular yet. We don’t think it was a coincidence.
By Alana Dolgin and Kristi Iannelli (graphic by Sarah Tompkins)