Sub Pop — Don’t Stop your Superb Digital Marketing

Not that you would.

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To Sub Pop Records’ marketing team:

I am a student who has spent the last semester analyzing all of Sub Pop’s digital marketing. The process included poring over Tweets, Facebook Posts, search results, and emails and everything on the internet associated with your brand. I was tasked with evaluating your online output to analyze both what it does effectively and what could be improved.

First off, I have to say great job. One thing about Sub Pop’s marketing that is incredibly well done is the social media. Across platforms, the label has cultivated an identity for itself that is consistent and likable. Despite being a self-proclaimed “medium-sized record label,” a lot of the social media content feels down-to-earth and is evocative of the image that Sub Pop wants to portray. In my analysis, I felt as though your company is a group of tight, like-minded individuals that take the task of promoting their artists seriously. The fact that this comes across in your social media indicates that your team is doing it right.

In my studies I have been tasked with analyzing a variety of rhetorical situations and, overall, I am impressed with the way Sub Pop handles their online marketing. The tone of the writing itself is fun and sort of offbeat which plays well with the audiences for Sub Pop’s artists. The label knows what they make and who they are making it for, which is half the battle for marketing. I would be intrigued to see what kind of data and analytics your marketing team has access to because your analysis of the label’s audience must be well put-together.

Another admirable quality of the company’s social media is the artist-first focus that it takes. It is easy to tell that Sub Pop takes the task of promoting music to heart as that is the focus of most of the social media posts put out. This is particularly evident on the Youtube channel which is dedicated solely to music videos and even on the front page of Sub Pop’s website which is centered around artist news. This focus provides an incentive for fans of the artists to follow SuB Pop on social media outlets in order to keep up with news updates. The brand is not entirely left out either, as posts with a focus on the label itself show up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — only when necessary to keep the focus on the music.

Sub Pop’s social media is effective but there is always room for improvement. Across the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram the label has mastered the type of post/Tweet that I dub “check this out” content. This is the type of post that shows a viewer something or gives them some information. Most of Sub Pop’s content has to do this in order to promote an album release, artist signing, tour, or another sort of content. While effective, not much of the label’s social media strays from this type of content. One area that I think could be improved is user engagement.

Some of Sup Pop’s content is engaging and the success of those posts can be seen in an increased number of likes, retweets, and comments. A recent example is the Sub Pop Loser Scholarship posts, which received a lot of attention because of the different call to action they provided. While this post helped boost engagement with the local, Pacific Northwest audience it would be beneficial to provide a post that calls for engagement to a larger, nation-wide audience. These posts can take a few forms, from polls to contests and are one of the surefire ways to get users to not only click but often share content. Perhaps even asking what users think of new music videos or singles could help boost that sort of engagement since people like to be involved themselves instead of simply told about things (though I can see how asking for opinions on the internet could be problematic).

That is just one suggestion I have for helping create more engagement with the brand on social media. As I said earlier, the content on all social platforms fulfills its functions well. In analyzing Sub Pop’s marketing I have developed a bit of a soft spot for the way your content cultivates communities and helps bring the music of hard-working artists into the spotlight. As long as the label keeps up with current digital marketing trends and maintains focus on its target audiences it will continue to succeed. Sub Pop sets the example for how labels big and small should promote their artists and themselves on the internet.

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