Are you an artist on social media? Are you noticing a drop in your followers or that you just can't seem to build a social media following larger than you'd like? With social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) making such a huge impact in the world of entertainment today, it's almost a must for any new artist to get their music and name recognized. Word of mouth seems to be the best way to get that done these days. People like music and people like to talk, put those together and it's a surefire win-win combination UNLESS you aren't working it like you should be in order to get the most traffic and new fans. As a fan of social media and country music, I thought I'd share some things we've received feedback on from fans and artists alike. It's simple, you have to engage, connect ... you can't just DO social, you have to BE social. Here are some things to consider which may help you bring in a more solid, lasting fan base rather than the touch and go follower.
The first thing to remember is that social media is "more about sociology and psychology, more than technology" - Brian Sollis
Social media is about getting more personal with potential fans and current fans whereas your website is more about the technical side of your business. Social media is just that, social. Websites are mainly for your "advertisements" such as news stories, merchandise, tour dates, etc. You may have an "online store" on your website but essentially your website as a whole is your on site store, it's there to sell you as an artist. Granted, social media is a way to sell yourself too, but it's a great way for your fans to "sell" you as an artist and that's why you have to connect with them to find out what they want, what they like and how they will be willing to promote you. You'd be surprised the amount of fan promotion going on that you can't see, the "groups", "fan clubs" and "support pages" on Facebook and Twitter. It's amazing how deeply your fans care and want to help you succeed but you have to show them that you're interested and that you care about what they're doing for YOU. They want to be included and you need to show them that you're willing to include them and even more so that you WANT to include them.
As an artist, you HAVE to interact with your fans. They are your bread and butter and can make or break you. I know your schedules are busy, so are theirs, yet they make time to spend their hard earned money on YOUR music because they think you've got something worth investing their time and dollars in. That should be a compliment to you and you should want to give back to them, even if it's a simple hello. Now I know it's impossible to personally contact each fan who comments on your Twitter or Facebook pages, but at least make a visible effort. If you never interact, people will stop coming to your page and find other artists who will. Every time a fan tweets or posts about you, that's promotion for you. The least you can do is acknowledge a few of those posts with a sincere and personal thank you. Go through your timelines, pick a random few who have posted about you and say "Hey, thank you for that. I appreciate it!". Simple, easy peasy and will make someone feel appreciated. You can't go wrong with appreciation. Once you do that, chances are they'll probably post it for their friends or other fans showing that you took the time to acknowledge THEM out of a crowd of thousands and that says more than you realize. It will also show potential fans that you pay attention. Social media is a forum that wasn't available 10 years ago, you have the advantage now. Use it to the best of your ability.
Just a couple of fan suggested ideas to really make an impression.
1.) Pick a few followers (make sure you're following them back if on Twitter), message them and ask if you can call them to personally thank them for buying your music, your merchandise, for telling others about you. That's something they'd never forget.
2.) Watch fans timelines and notice things like special events for them like birthdays, new babies, weddings, etc? Acknowledge those events. For a fan to know that you take the time to pay attention to their big news and that you think it's big news too is HUGE.
"Don't build links, build relationships." - Rand Fishkin
By God, keep your page interesting. Don't just self-promote, self-promote, blah blah blah. That gets old really quick and is a HUGE turn off, even to your biggest fans. They want something more personal, something fun, something to keep them coming back for me.
Don't just post about yourself. There is so much more out there to talk about than your business, your shows, your latest Reverbnation standings. Humanize yourself. You don't have to get too personal, but soften your edge a little, let your guard down. Yes, you may be hesitant because let's be honest, there are those obsessive weirdos out there, the overzealous fans who quite honestly want to get too personal, think you are best friends, and probably make your skin crawl a little. The great thing about social media is that you can block those people and connect with those who know their boundaries, who have good and honest intentions and realize that your great aunt Selma isn't their great aunt Selma. Those kind of people aren't the core existence of your fan base and in reality, only make up a minuscule percentage of it. The majority of fans are down to earth, good and honest people who just want to see you succeed and love your music.
"Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but the stories that you tell" - Seth Godin
Many artists like Jake Owen, Dierks Bentley, Benton Blount, Craig Campbell, Jason Michael Carroll, Steve Holy, Mark Wills, JT Hodges and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum post pictures of their families. Taylor Swift is always posting pictures of herself doing something crazy like her recent "cookie baking". Brett Eldredge is always posting something that will make his fans laugh. These artists have built a huge sincere following from letting people see them as more than their favorite artists, they see them as parents, as spouses, as ordinary people with extraordinary jobs. Let people see that there's more to you than where you're playing, what your latest cd or single is, how many followers you have.
Tell stories - did you bust your butt on stage? Tell them about it. Did you hear a great clean joke? Tell it. Press releases, the latest news and performance schedules are great but what about telling them about something funny that happened at your last show, your latest embarrassing moment, a stupid joke or do a webisode? Keep 'em clicking on your site, that's your goal. The more clicks, the more interest, the more interest, the more music you sell. Focus on quality. The more quality you put into your posts, the better quality fan base you build, which means better quality promotion from them you'll get in return. Be personable, it counts for so much in today's marketing environment. Involve your followers, do random social media contests, you need to do something that the other guy isn't doing.
One other note, don't always post pictures of you with a beer or red solo cup in your hand. We know you're a drinker, a partier, a certified bad ass but it's not necessary to post that in EVERY picture. It doesn't make you look cool, it makes you look like your next performance will be in rehab. It's also unnecessary to post a picture of you throwing peace signs or acting like you're all gangsta thug. You're not a gangsta and well, it just looks dumb. Just post a simple pic without all of the unnecessary posing. That's not how you naturally act all day, don't do it in every picture. That gets old really quick.
Keep Political Views / Rants / 4 Letter Words and Unfounded Gossip to a Minimum, If At All
If you're an artist, the worst and easiest thing to do is offend someone. Don't forget that not everyone who reads your posts is going to agree with you and that's fine, however those potentially harmful posts can cause you to lose a fan, who in turn, is going to tell someone else and so on. Also keep in mind that not everyone who reads your post is an adult, kids tend to read these pages just as often as adults and while you're not a babysitter, you still have an obligation to those who essentially put food in your mouth and a roof over your head to keep it clean, keep it friendly and keep it worth coming back to. People are connecting with you because of your music, keep that the forefront. Yes, you have the freedom of speech, but remember so do other people and you don't want people using it to talk about you negatively.
Keep Your Timelines and Streams Current
Again, I know how busy you guys are, but have someone keep your page updated regularly. There is nothing more disheartening to a fan than to check your page everyday only to see that the last update was 6 months ago yet they know you've have more activity with your music than that. Most everyone has a smart phone these days, get the free apps and UPDATE often. Keep their interest and they'll keep buying your music.
Take Social Media Seriously. It's NOT a Waste Of Your Time
When Myspace first hit the limelight, people were interested in it, not as a marketing tool but as a way to catch up with old friends. Once professionals saw the traffic they could drive to their business, Myspace was no longer a way to kill free time, it became a lucrative way to interact with potential customers. While Myspace is still out there, Twitter and Facebook have become the top ways to interact with the public, to grow your business and trust me, people take this VERY seriously once they start their account and promoting it.
In essence, think like a potential fan. See yourself from their point of view. Do you like what you see? What can you change? What can you stop doing and begin doing? What can you do to better your personal connection?
- Jennifer Smith
Follow Jenn on Twitter at @Lovinlyrics