Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Snapchat... what's the point? Is it worth spending hours updating and amended these sites? Do 1000s of followers and online fans mean more CD sales and sell-out concerts? George Brummer is a social media expert who tells us how to make social media work for us.
Remember mailing out printed newsletters?
We've always connected with our fans, it's just the method that's changed. Years ago we'd connect with our fan base using traditional media: newspaper ads, direct mail, phone calls etc. These have largely been replaced by social media. We used to happily spend time and money posting newsletters to our fans (I remember regularly spending hours sticking stamps on 1000s of letters and postcards), now we do the same thing but in a different way.
“Social media is cheaper than traditional media but it's not for free - it takes a lot of time!” George Brummer
One of the main benefits of digital media over print media is measurability. These days you can easily monitor the level of engagement. You can see how many clicks a post had, how long a person spent reading an article and whether they went on to buy tickets after reading a post.
Choose the right platform for you
In addition to social media accounts, George recommends you still keep a website and a blog to share more detailed information with your fans. Beyond that, Facebook is a good place to start. You can post a bit of everything: text, videos, photographs and add links to other sites, like your own blog page.
George urges us not to have too many social media channels. Think about the kind of media you want to share and choose the right channels for you. If you usually share photographs consider Instagram or Flickr, lots of videos - YouTube, audio tracks – Soundcloud. If you've got a little bit of everything, Facebook might be all you need.
Twitter is called a 360° media because it is useful to redirect people to your main sites. Each post or Tweet is limited to 140 characters. That's not many, but it is enough to tell people about a new blog post, a new video or direct them to a ticket website for a new show. Use it to support your other channels.
Keep the conversation going
One of the exciting things about social media is you can keep the conversation going. You make a post, your fans leave a comment and you reply to their comment. It's all about engagement. How cool for a fan to feel connected to an artist they admire. They are much more likely to come see you perform or buy your next album if they feel a personal connection with you.
Ask questions, reach out and ask your fans their opinion and feedback. Ask them which songs you should perform, which album cover to use or which towns you should perform in. As George says, “All post should have at least one call to action,” but he warns, “keep your questions simple, don't make people think too much.”
Sometimes it's useful to be a bit controversial. Shocking people, rattling their cages is a sure way to provoke a response. Think Fox News or most talk radio stations. They love posing controversial questions: Are female managers less effective than their male counterparts? Should we ban people from wearing religious symbols? Should gay men be allowed to adopt? Should all police officers carry a gun? Most of us have strong opinions on these topics and are keen to share them. This is why most TV and radio channels are constantly urging us to share our views, “We want to hear from you!” they repeat. It's all about engaging with their viewers and making them feel valued.
Use your social media accounts to share things of interest with your fans. The more you keep them engaged the better. For example, if you're a burlesque dancer you might tell your followers where you buy your outfits, or share pictures of famous pioneering burlesque artistes from the past.
How many posts should you make?
I've heard it recommended that we should make at least four posts a day. I think that's okay as long as you post four things that are actually interesting. Saying “Good morning world” or “Just eating breakfast” is only going to turn people off. Avoid pointless posts. Keep them funny, useful and informative or don't bother.
George suggests at least one strong “content post” a day, that is one with something useful to say that will engage people: new tour dates, a news story about someone your fans will also like, a show review etc. The rest of the posts can be supportive of that, leading people to your Facebook Page or your website.
George thinks you should plan you posts a month in advance. This is what Tim Ferris calls batching and it's a great way to save time. You can use platforms like Hootsuite to do this.
Don't worry about numbers
We all want to feel popular but it's not just about numbers, it's about engagement – what George called HQE, High Quality Engagement. Better to have a smaller number of real fans who are engaged and interested in you than 1000s who don't really care.
There are tricks you can do online to get more followers overnight. You'll look popular but really it's a waste of time. Let your online fan base grow organically. You may have fewer followers but they will be highly engaged. It's about quality not quantity.
For George the key is to increase the number of conversions. A conversion is when one of your followers buys a CD or tickets for a show in response to a post. If you have a budget think about using Facebook ads. They can be very focussed to specific people and you only pay for the ads that people click on (PPC - pay per click). This traditional print media equivalent for this is only paying for the stamp when someone opens the letter. How cool is that?
Recorded 9th October 2013 in London.