Sunday, April 15, 2012

How To Not Screw Up Your Social Media

A Whisper In The Dark
by Glen Brown

Independent musicians are turning the industry on its head with the internet and mobile communications. Years ago, the only way for a musician to make it was to get a record deal, and most of a musician's brand development was controlled by people in the label's marketing department in consultation with the band's manager and publicist.

Now musicians sell their music directly to their fans and they can personally interact with them and share news. Musicians control a much larger part, if not all, of their brand development. Even if they have an Indie label and a manager and a publicist, lots of power and choice is left to the musician about how to get the word out and build a fan base.

Like it or not, that's the reality. 

What if no one in your band is very good with internet and marketing stuff? I hear comments like,

      “I need help with my website. It sucks.”
      “Can you help me figure out Twitter? I have no idea about how to use it.”
      “I don't go on Facebook very much. I'm just too busy.”
      “My computer is old and useless.”
      “We've wanted to set up a YouTube channel. But we don't know anyone with a decent video camera.”

These aren't just excuses. They are handicaps. And if you're serious about your career you can't just ignore these things. Help is out there for all of the above mentioned problems. They are all critical pieces that should not be ignored.

But in this article I'm assuming that you're off the starting blocks and into the race. I'm assuming you have some kind of web presence, and you're in the process of using your mobile and desktop computer to stay on top of your social media platforms. I'm assuming that you're ready to deal with the daily challenges of social media, and that you want to do it very well.

Did you know that the way you use social media in building your reputation and your fan base could mean the difference between success and failure?

How can you use your internet tools well? How can you avoid disaster? The example I'm giving will remind you that for every potential disaster, there is a great reward that awaits. Being smart with your internet tools can really make a difference.

 Direct-to-fan (D2F)

Using social media, your popularity will depend on how well you interact directly with your fans, direct-to-fan (D2F).

In a recent article In Music Think Tank, Alex Hoffman posted an article entitledThe Viral Power of Fan Communications.” In his article, Hoffman reminds us that the manner in which we communicate publicly through social media can become a story in itself. He referred to Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes, and his interaction with a fan.

The fan had posted a cover of one of the band's tunes on YouTube. Pecknold responded thoughtfully and conscientiously, like a true professional. Here's the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUK7vERx6Hc

Check out Pecknold’s comments at the bottom.

Here’s the Imjur post made by the fan, which he then reposted to Reddit. It eventually was promoted to Reddit’s front page. Notice that the page Imjur page views are now 415,000!

Views, Thumbs-ups, Likes, and Shares

And here's the kicker: Comment streams can be shared. Pecknold's encouraging words to this one fan made a big impression. The kid then posted his reaction on Imjur and Reddit and the little bit of exchange between Pecknold and his fan became and event. Fan comunication gone viral.

I can think of a local example. Burlington's Walk Off The Earth's clever cover ofSomeone That I Used to Know,was commented on and then tweeted by a celebrity. The insane period of viral growth that followed is just now starting to cool off. WOTE has got talent and experience working in their favour, and I believe they will continue to carve out their own niche based on their own merits. But my point is that the one comment and share made the difference! We can't rely on a lucky share as part of our marketing plan, but we can avoid disaster by at least making sure that everything we post works positively for us.

A Whisper In The Dark May Be Shouted From The Rooftops

Imagine that you're Pecknold. You're a rising star with a growing truckload of fans and followers. But do you sit back and enjoy? No. You make it your business to take a few seconds to try to respond to every fan who comments or is inspired by your work. And you try to be positive and encouraging all along the way. You do this because you know one person matters. One day, what you whisper to one fan may be broadcast to a thousand people!

You have committed to always being your best professional self when posting on the internet, because you know that who you are in those seemingly insignificant moments is important.

Sidebar: who you are in those seemingly insignificant moments is important.

D2F A Blessing, Or A Curse?

The obvious downside of this principle is that when you're careless with your comments you can do damage to your reputation and your relationship with any other fans that are listening in. Which do you prefer, a possible viral blessing from being nice, or a viral curse from being nasty?

The latter would be worse than saying nothing at all.

Selected reader comments:

"Again proving that YouTube cover versions are now a viable way to attract interest for yourself."

"The fact of the matter is that it takes creativity, talent, and BALLS to get on stage. Doing so comes across as charismatic and mysterious, so the general public look up to musicians whether they are famous or not. It's a psychological thing. And we all know what happens when someone we look up to pays us special attention...I'm far more likely to buy a shirt at a show if I had a nice chat with the band - in fact, I don't think I've EVER left a show without buying something in that scenario, come to think of it. Yet I've left shows I absolutely adored without buying merch and without a good reason other than I just didn't feel like it....so yes, communicating with fans as if they are friends is still effective on an indie level and the proof is in the pudding. Investigate the up and coming acts in your area and see how they interact with their fans, you'd be hard pressed to find one that hides behind a veil of mystery."

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