Beauty in sorrow. Client John Papa Gros with a song about those less-than-glamorous New Year's Eves.
Where I think most bands go wrong with social media is that they post like they are talking to a mob and not to an individual. It is like sitting down to a one-on-one conversation and the other person starts speaking through a bullhorn. You might have thousands of followers but your post is being read by one person at a time. - Cris
Aim for quality with your content and let the stats fall where they may.
Many people become obsessed with the numbers. They look for agencies and consultants who can deliver great numbers every time, no matter how they get them. That mentality is what led people to invest in Enron and with Bernie Madoff.
Play the long game. Create content that will earn you fans for the long haul. It will probably be a gradual ascent, but it will be more solid.
Content marketing is not about the stats, the likes you get from one post after a couple of hours. It's about persistence. It's about being a long term investor in your own band or business.
The online world is littered with the dead pages of people who thought social media was a sprint.
Cris: What is the most difficult thing for a singer to learn?
Leslie Spencer of Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses: Probably that at the end of the day, it is not ultimately about you and your glory and your fame. You have got to learn to be authentic and once you are committed to fully being yourself and being present, you can communicate so much more. Every time you are up there on that stage, it is not just about you. It is about sharing yourself with people and inviting them into the passion of what you do.
"I can't really record a song or sing a song unless it reaches my soul. I have to grab on to what it is saying. I can't just sing a song or record a song just because someone wants me to. It has to touch me somehow or be related to something in my life." - client Laura Tate
Every band is busy creating posts to attract new followers. And that's fine. But most of them are not creating any posts to better connect with the fans they already have. This is the space I work in, helping bands better connect to their current fans. I think if someone is taking the time to follow you, you should offer them a little more, some posts of substance that give them a little more insight into your songs, your creative process, etc.
So many bands work so hard to attract new followers. But when they do get you as a follower, they kind of ignore you. You are given the option of either buying something or just sitting in the corner and watching them work to get more followers. Their attention is devoted to the people who don't appreciate them rather than to the people who do.
Even when it seems like they are doing something special for their fans, there is a catch. "We have a special behind-the-scenes video for you! And we will show it to you if you first spam people with this message and get us up to X number of followers!"
Instead most of your posts should have the vibe of "We appreciate you giving us your attention. Here is something we thought you might find interesting."
"You play a song one day. Then you go to the next town, set up your stuff, and play the same song. But for whatever reason you started it faster tonight and it has a different kind of energy to it. Or you started it slower and all of a sudden it just changed the whole outlook on what the song was about. And for me, that's the exciting part of music." - client John Papa Gros
The more research I do into the stats provided by the various social media platforms, the more I think it is better to just ignore those numbers. I still think social media is a good way of putting your thoughts, ideas, and work out into the world. But judging its success based on the data the platforms give you is kind of a suckers game, not too different from playing Three Card Monte with a street hustler.
Like the street hustler, the people who set up the social media sites control the game. They decide if you win or lose, how much you win or lose, etc. And like any good hustler, they make it seem like you can win with skill and luck. They give the illusion of chance and a level playing field. It is the story they sell.
And they will let you have some small wins. After all, they want you to keep playing. They don't want you to walk away disgusted. So they give you some wins. Again, though, it is at their discretion.
Some argue that there are formulas for success, that you can win big. Inevitably these formulas involve posting many times throughout the day (which is really just spamming) and appealing to the lowest common denominator. Suddenly you are posting material you would never put on your own website. And you are not really connecting with your followers. You are just trying to make the algorithm happy.
At that point you are just an unwitting accomplice. You are the guy at the card table who is in on the scheme but pretends to be a random bystander that gets lucky. You are there to help create the illusion of legitimacy and keep the crowd gathered around.
Again, there are opportunities within this to make some connections, to get the word out about what you do (somewhat). But you are going to need to come up with your own way of measuring the success of these endeavors. The platform stats don't really tell you anything.
Take the "reach" stat that most offer. Theoretically these are the total number of people who saw your post. First, there is no way of knowing for sure. Second, did these people really see your post or did it just move past their screen for an instant? Facebook counts a video view if it appeared in someone's feed for just 3 seconds with the sound off. By that standard a roadside billboard gets more attention than your average video.
I also keep running into people who admit that they don't click on things. They read posts and watch videos, but even when they like what they see, they don't like, or comment, or share the post. Why? Because they don't have to.
So one of these people could like your post. It might even be what makes her decide to buy your album, widget, whatever. But the social media stats measure this interaction as a failure.
My suggestion is to still participate in social media, but make sure to also maintain your website and blog, a property you control. And the next time the social media platform tries to lure you into playing the "improve your stats" game, just smile and walk away from that hustler.
Interview excerpts plus bonus materials delivered to your email every Friday (usually)
Anyone can publish a post. We can tell your story.
See the full list of Bands To Fans interviews