Director - iSpry
One of the most important things for a band, particularly a new band or an emerging artist, is to develop audiences. And there are a number of ways that an artist can do that, but the beauty of digital and the online realm is that you can access the world and you can access different people and different audiences quite readily. So you can access your fans, you can access the industry, and on a medium like Twitter, which is a fantastic networking tool, they’re there and they’re open.
Social media is about a dialogue and a conversation so people are on there to be talked to so they can engage in a conversation and engage with those people that they wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to, unless you were in a conference or something like that. So it’s a great tool.
Basically engagement and creating great content is the critical way to gain followers .
Response is critical. And in fact not responding to people who post on your wall or send you tweets is probably one of the fastest ways that you’re going to lose your audience and lose your fans. People engage on social media so they can have that conversation. There’s a rule of thumb that ideally the best practice is to respond within 5 minutes, but anywhere up to 2 hours. Don’t respond 10 days later, but respond as soon as you can.
It depends on your roles, and it depends on what you want to get out of it, but if your goal is to grow an audience through social media, you really need to be there consistently. A tweet in the average person’s Twitter stream probably lasts about 5 minutes, and Facebook is fairly similar, so what you’re saying will get lost pretty quickly in the stream of masses and masses of information that’s out there. To be consistent, there’s a rule of thumb of 2-10 tweets per day and say 2-3 Facebook posts per day. But again, you don’t want to have too much because you don’t want to be bombarding people’s feeds, but it’s kind of a balance between what you can commit yourself to doing, and what your audience and your followers and fans want.
Also, engaging goes both ways. So actively jump in on other people's conversations, particularly on Twitter. If you dive in it kind of puts you on the radars of the people you want to be connected to. Also retweeting what other people are saying, find what other people are saying that is interesting and retweet that.
It’s important to note that being on social media is not just about numbers, and often when people are using social media there’s this focus: "We’ve got to get x number of fans, we’ve got to get x number of followers." But if you’ve got 30,000 followers and you’re not engaging with them - they’re not talking to you and you’re not talking to them - then it’s kind of a bit pointless. You might only have a couple of hundred fans, but you might have constant ongoing conversations with them and they might be really engaged, they might be sharing content with you, they might be sharing content that’s there for the followers - that means that you’re kind of winning.
Content is critical. And you can put anything out there, but if it’s not interesting then people aren’t going to be interested. People will follow you because they’re interested in what you’re saying, and what you’re interested in as well. So if you’re tweeting about what you had for breakfast, that isn’t interesting. And if you’re just constantly promoting yourself, then people are just going to get bored. The idea of social media is not to promote yourself, it’s actually to share and sharing content with others. So it’s kind of a selfless medium in that way. So if you go into it with the idea of being selfless, and putting stuff out here that’s actually of value to your fans and followers, then it’ll grow.
It’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever promote yourself, you should also mention what you’re doing, because people are interested in what as a band you’re doing - whether you’ve got a new album or a new recording - and I think as a creative entity, people who choose to follow you like seeing the creative process, people find that interesting. But rather than just saying, "We have a gig here at so-and-so date. Come," say: "We’re getting ready for our gig, we've unloaded the drum kit" – tell the story. As a band or as an artist, you probably have lots of really interesting stories to tell. So tell the story that people want to hear, and that’s what will draw people in and follow that story.
It comes back to that selflessness of the medium. If you mention people in your content - in your tweets or your posts - it’s kind of a way of including them in your circle, so you’re promoting them to your circle as well. And retweeting other people’s posts, it’s kind of a way of saying "I really like your content and what you’re doing," - it’s like an endorsement. And that develops your audience because it puts you on that person's radar, because they think "Oh, so and so’s retweeted my tweet. That’s nice, I’ll follow them and see what they’re talking about as well."
I think it’s really important for bands to have a website. A website integrates beautifully with social media tools, and it’s kind of a symbiotic relationship because when you post content from your website on to social media, that draws people to your site. it’s another way to engage and to share great content outside of the contraints of the 140 characters of Twitter or the short platforms of Facebook or other such platforms. So they kind of work together – a website will allow people to access and engage with you on social media, but it will also bring traffic back to your site.
It’s also a great way for people to find you, because - if you optimise your site - when people google your name it will show up. So it’s another platform to give people access to your content.
Email is also a great way of connecting directly with bands and having that direct dialogue, and it’s a great way also of selling tickets. So if you’re selling tickets and you’re selling via your website, the best way to do that is to put content in your email that sends traffic back to your site.
People usually sign up for emails with the expectation that they're going to get something out of it. So usually what you post there should be content that they can’t get anywhere else. People like to receive special offers as well, something exclusive, they like to be part of a club and that’s also why they're signing up.
There’s lot of free platforms out there to develop your email platform. Mailchimp is a really great one. Campaign Monitor is a paid tool, but that’s also a really great one.
It’s a good idea to take opportunities to mention that you’re on social media channels. So mention it at your live show, or put it on your album if you’re putting out an album, put it on your posters – advertise that you’re actually on those channels and link – don’t just have the Facebook or Twitter icons but actually include the links to your Facebook page or your Twitter handle so it’s really easy for people to find you.