Last week, I was able to hear Ashley Mixen and Eileen Tilson of Girlilla Marketing speak about social media marketing and online content management. Girlilla Marketing is a Nashville-based strategic digital marketing agency that has created and implemented campaigns for Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Music and Food Festival, Sugarland, Lionel Richie, Ben Rector, and more. Since their focus is on fan cultivation, they let us in on the most important things you can do to break a band.
1. Go for the ask. At the end of your show, ask your fans to follow you on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re social media wary, 1) get over it if you want to succeed and 2) just announce your Twitter name and Facebook url from the stage. If you’re comfortable being goofy, ask your audience to take out their phones and follow/friend you then. Then return the favor: take out your phone, follow a few people back, promise to follow the rest of them when you get home, and then follow through.
2. Make things easy on yourself and your fans: have consistent social media names. Yourbandname.com, Facebook.com/your-band-name, twitter.com/@yrbandnm… It may not seem that hard to keep track of, but any extra hassle is going to prevent an audience member from becoming a fan. (This is good advice for anyone: you can find me at iamaledelgado.wordpress.com, @iamaledelgado, facebook.com/iamaledelgado, and iamaledelgado dot gmail dot com. Pretty easy, huh?)
3. Reply. If a fan is taking time to post something on your wall or tweet at you, that means that they like you enough to try to engage with you. Encourage that. Replying to their comment, answering their question, even just liking their post takes almost no time, but it means the world to fans. (Just ask my roommates when one of my artist-tagged tweets gets a reply!) If you’re not social media savvy, try setting aside half an hour a day to go through wall posts and tweets.
4. Replying isn’t enough though. You’re an artist, not a customer service outlet. Be part of a conversation. Most social media “experts” will tell you that each update needs an explicit call to action. I completely disagree. As an artist, your job is to entertain. Each update should develop your voice. Let your fans get to know you; as Evan Lowenstein of StageIt said recently, “All along, fans have wanted to be a part of the artists’ success.” If you let them into your lives, from the weird to the mundane, they will let you into theirs.
Similarly, don’t talk down to your fans. There’s a difference between telling your fans to check out your new album and demanding that they buy it. One seems casual and inviting; the other seems impersonal and boring. “Pretty excited to release my album today! You can grab it here: [link]” is a lot more natural and click-worthy than “Released my album today. Buy it here: [link].”
5. Tag nouns. People, places, things. Been noticing that one of your fans tags you in their tweets a lot? Tag them in a shout out. Playing a show at a venue tonight? Tag it in your update. Really digging a certain album/artist/band/movie/tv show/store lately? Tag it in your tweet. First, it’s an easy way for people to grab context. Maybe they don’t know where Zombie Shop is, but if you tag it, they’ll know within a click and bam! New audience member. Second, whoever you tag will notice. If it’s a fan, they will freak out and tell everyone they know (see #4). If it’s a venue, they’ll make sure to retweet you and then anyone who follows them will now be reminded that you have a show tonight.
6. Know when your fans are online and update manually. So you’ve mastered dedicating a half-hour block to replying to fans. Great– but you could be doing a lot better. There are a few different services that let you know when your fans are online. The one that Girlilla recommended and the one that I use for Infinity Cat is Crowdbooster. Crowdbooster analyzes your Facebook posts and Twitter updates and tells you what time of the day your fans are using each service. The advantage is that you’ll reach more fans instantly and you’ll be able to reply quicker, have better conversations, and really develop your relationship with your fans.
Now, there are also a lot of services that let you schedule posts for later. You might think that’s more time efficient and maybe that’s true, but success isn’t about always efficiency. (You wouldn’t record an album quickly if it meant sacrificing sound and vision, right?) By using schedulers, you’re taking away the personal aspect of social media, which is the entire point of social media. Spending ten minutes manually updating and responding to social media three times throughout the day when you know your fans are online is much better than spending half an hour responding to old posts.
7. If you don’t own the community, don’t rely on it. As great as Facebook and Twitter are right now, they won’t be around forever. Everyone got burned by Myspace and if you depend on one particular site, chances are you’ll be burned again soon enough. Direct people to your website as much as possible and make sure it’s up to snuff. That means pictures, bio, audio (including Soundcloud/Bandcamp/NoiseTrade links), tour dates, the whole nine yards. All social media and apps should direct to the one online resource that you actually control: your website.
Got another tip for breaking bands– or think manually updating social media is for inefficient dweebs? Let me know in the comments!