…I thought so.
Social media has always been a very misunderstood platform for many. Part of that is because so many people with ulterior motives have built lucrative careers for themselves as “social media experts”. Making mountains out of mole hills and sticking us with the bill along the way.
This is not to say that social media has no value. It does.
It’s simply that many people seem to hold some misguided view that social media is in itself, something separate from traditional networking and/or marketing. It is not.
For us as musicians, social media serves two potential purposes…
1. To be used as it was intended as a relationship enhancing tool.
2. To drive traffic.
Social media as a relationship enhancing tool…
The former requires more explanation than many might think. Enhancing real world relationships with social media is pretty straight forward, and most of us are engaged in it to some extent every day.
But, relationship building with your FANS is something altogether different. I see too many artists posting things like…
“Check out my new YouTube video!” Respectfully, who gives a crap?
That’s not to say that there is not a place for that kind of thing, but trying to engage your fans that way is not going to serve your ultimate goals.
Instead I suggest that you think of all of your outbound communication to your fans as “your channel”. While your mailing list should be your primary channel, your social media feeds are your “short attention span channels”. But they are all essentially serving the same purpose: to engage and entertain, and keep people watching/listening/reading long enough that they eventually BUY when the right offer comes along.
Think of it like you would a television channel. If the content is no good, we click. Same thing goes for the computer.
Musicians would be well served to consciously define their brand and create a supporting channel around that.
Tell the real story of you as an artist and human being. Whether you like sleeping with groupies back stage or just collecting stamps… Your story is your channel, and to some extent your music is the advertising that funds the programming. This is counter intuitive for most musicians who feel that it’s the music that keeps people reading the emails. But in reality, the opposite approach will yield far better results.
After all, its the “experience” that people want. Not a download.
Social media as a traffic source…
The alternative way of viewing social media is simply as a traffic source. Your Facebook and Twitter walls should not be mistaken for your “sales funnel”. They are a poor replacement for a well constructed and privately hosted sales funnel.
However sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be a great way to get visitors over to an offer for a free download in exchange for an email address. Outside of the music world this is called “lead generation”. Why more musicians are not actively engaged in this is mind boggling to me.
To do this you simply need to understand the behavior of each network’s users and offer value accordingly.
For example, a high percentage of Twitter fans tend to respond in kind when you follow them. So by following large numbers of Twitter users and then following up with an automated DM (direct message) with an offer for a free track, can be a great way to consistently drive traffic to your site. But again, not until AFTER a relationship has been made.
Another example is Facebook’s “like” and “share” functions. By creating entertaining content either on your blog or within your Facebook feed itself, you stand a good chance of picking up some viral traffic. I’ve had pages literally receive thousands of “shares”. The reach of something like that can be tremendous. In fact almost every time I post anything on my blog it’s followed by a significant serge in subscribers because of the emphasis I sometimes put on clicking the share button and the resulting traffic that follows.
Other sites like Stumbleupon and Youtube offer their own nuances and user behavior patterns which, if tapped into properly, can become a tremendous sources of free traffic.
What Social Media Is Not!
For the love of God people! Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc, are not places to simply post “check out my album on itunes” on other people’s wall’s. This is spam, it’s stupid and it’s not going to get you where you want to be.
Spam is absolutely pointless from a marketing perspective. Especially for musicians who CANNOT succeed without fan loyalty and genuine affinity. Non-permission based direct marketing is a great way to kill a relationship before it’s even begun.
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with automation, marketing aggressively, or doing things on a mass scale. And I’m definitely not saying that leveraging the various enticements that social media sites have in place is wrong (IE “like” and “retweet”). Quite to the contrary…
But if Myspace taught us anything, it’s that a social media fan is not equivalent to an ACTUAL fan. Friend adders and message spam did little more than destroy what was once one of the most popular websites on the planet.
1. Understand the nuances of your social media platform.
2. Decide what it is that you are using it for and how the site you are working with can enhance your broader business model.
3. Offer value and they will come.
It’s that simple.
What do you think? Is social media having an impact on your music career?
Leave a comment below and let me know how social media has helped or hurt your career.
PS – I’m working on a follow up post to this one as we speak. It should come out early next week and I’m going to reveal a NEW social media strategy that I’ve been using that is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. It uses social media in the way it was INTENDED to be used and it get’s SERIOUS results. More on that shortly.