Tips for Musicians: Creating Great Online Content

Interesting, valuable, content is the heart of communication with fans and followers. Using social media effectively requires planning and commitment.  Here are a few tips to get you going:

Develop an Integrated Strategy

Be realistic about the time you can commit to online communication. Find the right partners to help you. Develop your approach from the Big Ideas that make you unique; the ‘Why’ of you as an artist. Connect your online and offline strategies.

Understand the Tools

Each social media platform and channel (and there are many) has a unique flavor. Your blog is a personal command post, Twitter is a cocktail party, Facebook is like a neighborhood pub, and so forth. Determine where your fans hang out and develop a plan that uses between 2 and 10 different platforms. Don’t overwhelm yourself at first, but make sure you understand how each platform works; it’s strengths and weaknesses. Tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck allow you to manage several communication channels in one dashboard and send Tweets and status updates to multiple services with one click. You can also delay posting times so that you can ‘pre-publish’ outbound communications.

Share Your Passions

So how do you create all this content? Be real, have fun and share your passions. Get a little outrageous and controversial. Your music generates a slew of byproducts that can help you build a community of active fans. If you are a guitar player in search of the ultimate tone, talk about your rig. If you are a foodie that samples every regional cuisine when you’re on the road, share the love. Keep it interesting and surprising. Mix it up; short, long, funny, informational, photos, writing, podcasts, & video.

Listen to Your Audience

Make time every day to listen to your fans. Comment on other blogs. Ask followers what is important to them. Use Google Alerts and Twitter Search to keep track of what people are saying. Google Reader is my tool of choice for following multiple blogs. Most importantly make time every day to thank your fans personally; for a comment, a purchase, for following your blog, Twitter or Facebook feed. If you are a musician you are a fan too. Ask yourself, what would you like to hear from the artists you admire? Make a list and try those things out with your fans.

Create a Publishing Schedule

This seems like a lot of work, right? Well, it is but you can streamline your time management in a number of ways. Set up a regular publishing schedule. Break it down into daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly activities. Tweets and status updates every day; blog posts 3 to 7 times a week; email newsletters monthly, etc. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. You can take one central thing that defines who you are and extrapolate all sorts of shorter pieces of content. For example: the record you just recorded or a tour; you can talk about the songs, the players, the recording process, pictures, videos, and on and on. If you document everything you are doing with pictures, down and dirty videos and recordings you will find that have more content than you know what to do with. Content Rules by marketing gurus Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman is a great book filled with specific ideas and approaches. Music marketing veteran Michael Brandvold has written a great post on managing social media overload. Check it out and add your comments.

Set Goals, Measure & Tweak

Before you jump in, ask yourself why you are doing this and, specifically what do you hope to accomplish? Are you looking for more Facebook followers, email addresses, blog subscriptions, page views, download sales? It takes takes time to get a viral loop spinning. Review your stats and measurements at least once a month to see what’s working, and make adjustments.

And of course, the most important thing is to create extraordinary music.

I hope this helps to get you started developing social media content. Have fun! Please share your successes and tips here. What’s working for you?

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Photo by Jerry Wong

 

 

Effectively Integrating Social Communications Into Your Website

“Customers trust each other more than they trust brands.” – Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group analyst –

Two-way arrow graphicI just caught a highly informative webinar hosted by Jeremiah Owyang, industry analyst at Altimeter Group and the folks at janrain and Badgeville. It is a bit long so here are few takeaways…

In a survey of 140 global-national corporations the Altimeter Group found that the number one ‘go to market’ goal for 2011 is the effective integration of social media into corporate websites. In this webinar Owyang describes a hierarchy of Use Cases each with several real world examples.

No Integration – Your website is irrelevant. You are not connected to the trusted discussion happening in social networks. Your investments are not working together well.

Social Linking – This send users off of your site, and while it has made Facebook tons of money, it is not the best strategy for your brand. Owyang recommends skipping this step all together and moving directly to…

Social Aggregation – This comes in Basic, Curated, and Contextual varieties.

Some examples:

  • The increasing use of social sign-ins
  • Samsung’s integration of live social feeds into their event screens at the recent SXSW conference
  • Huffington Post’s aggregation of realtime user comments into article pages

Social Publishing – Encouraging customers to share information, pushing it back out to the social web.

Social Context – The practice of continually updating customer personas based on connections and context. A good example is Amazon’s content recommendations driven by friends’ reviews and buying choices.

Seamless IntegrationThe future… URLs will go away and content will be assembled wherever you are.

Owyang points out the benefits and limitations to each one of these strategies. He summarizes with advise for Product Managers on the shift to socializing product pages and pointers on where to start this integration to maximize the creation of viral loops in which, “Your investments stay constant but your results go up exponentially.”

The second half of the webinar has some strong case studies from partners Janrain and Badgeville.

I  highly recommend this webinar to Product Managers, Web Developers, and Community teams. You can watch the full presentation here.

How are you integrating social communications into your website? What works for your customers and your brand? Please share your experiences!

How do you use social technology to listen?

Ear close upThe social web often seems like a huge cocktail party where everyone is shouting and no one is listening. We all want to be found, and followed, and heard. How can we make real connections that lead to offline friendships and business relationships?

Listening with genuine interest is the key to engaging people. Like anything else, developing this skill requires a great deal of practice.

Platforms like blogs, Twitter and Facebook are not well suited for broadcast communications. If you are not paying attention when a post appears, it’s gone.

I am experimenting with asking questions in various ways.

I am digging into Twitter Search to find interesting conversations and engage people with @replies and questions.

Facebook feels more constrictive to me. I am trying different ways to converse, exploring groups and Pages. Some people like guitarist Ken Rosser, have a knack for using Facebook conversationally. He is always interesting, and each post seems to result in an active conversation.

How are you using social communication tools to really listen? What’s working for you?

Generosity is the Emotion, Content is the Currency

Creating Effective Social Media Engagement: Generosity is the Emotion, Content is the Currency

Authentic, trusting relationships are fueled by generosity and empathy. While online networks can seem abstract compared to connections in the ‘real world’, the same principles hold true.

Web 2.0 is a conversational environment, not a broadcast channel. This is still confusing for some musicians who use Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. to talk about themselves (“Oh, did I mention MY gig this weekend, here are some new pictures of ME, I wrote a new song…” etc. etc.). When I get a Linked In or Facebook friend request from a complete stranger asking me to listen to their music or come to a gig I am always amazed. What are they thinking? Eventually I tune out even good friends who I am very interested in, when the only communication from them is pushed PR blasts.

The power of social media is it’s potential for building communities and sincere relationships. The way to do this is to pay attention to everyone else, what their passions are and what they need. Ask yourself what you can share to make their lives a little more wonderful. On the web, the obvious gift to give is interesting content. This could be a helpful blog post or link, some compelling video you have created, a piece of music or a recommendation or referral. The important thing is that you are passionate about what you are sharing and you genuinely want to help your followers.

A great example of this generosity is the blog created by musician Danny Barnes. He has written a number of funny, articulate pieces that are essential reading for any professional musician or anyone with even a passing interest in what it means to be a musician. He has shared many practical insights on how to make a living in music, how to be a successful sideman, how to listen and much more. There is great value and generosity here without a hint of self-promotion. A teacher and fellow musician told me the other day he reads Danny’s posts to his classes!

Check out Danny’s blog and spread the word…

What gifts are you giving to your fans, followers and customers? What’s working for you?

Danny Barnes Knows Why You’re Not Into Music Anymore…

I just had to repost this great essay by the wonderful musician Danny Barnes (who also happens to be an excellent writer)..

I encourage you to check out the rest of his blog. Each entry is a gem!

I Think I Know Why You Are Not Into Music Anymore


Web 2.0 and The Thank You Economy

I had the opportunity to hear Gary Vaynerchuk yesterday, at a Drucker Business Forum event.

Vaynerchuck is a social media expert, entrepreneur, and bestselling author of Crush It! – Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion, and The Thank You Economy. He is a regular speaker at events such as the TED conference and SXSW and consults on social media with companies like Johnson & Johnson, Disney, Pepsi, and Google.

He is best known for building a huge online wine business with his irreverent WineLibraryTV video blog and extensive use of Web 2.0 technologies. Gary is in the top 100 of people followed on Twitter. He is funny, intense, competitive, and has a ridiculous work ethic.

In The Thank You Economy he passionately advocates for the humanization of business by strengthening authentic relationships with customers using Web 2.0 tools and old-fashioned generosity and consideration.

Building strong relationships with customers is a long-term play. Established businesses, particularly public companies, resist investing in this kind of culture shift because they are focused on short-term profits and have difficulty computing the ROI on  Web 2.0 engagement.

Vaynerchuk insists that this is the future of business and if companies don’t start caring about their customers and employees they will not survive.

As passionate as this guy is about people, his focus is on making money. He believes that building generous and sincere long-term relationships is the key to success, not because he is Mother Teresa, but because he is driven to compete and create wealth. Many people dabble in social media, but they are not really sure what they are doing or why. After some experimentation they give up. Without a clear business model and a solid understanding of your potential market, tools like Twitter seem scattered and decentralized compared to old-school top down marketing channels like television, print media and radio.

People have a tendency to use social media as a ‘push’ PR broadcast channel, which it is not. I see this all the time with musicians advertising gigs and their latest accomplishments on Twitter and Facebook. This amounts to random electronic direct mail. When I see this kind of communication I immediately tune out.

Twitter and related tools are like a giant cocktail party. This is a medium for listening and conversation. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t get Twitter. Why do I care what so and so had for breakfast?” People are discussing their passions online. Facebook, Twitter, and mobile phones have become the new barber shop. Listen and learn. We are instinctively afraid to engage with strangers, but stepping into that conversation opens a new door.

The bottom line for business is this: Customers are talking about you every day, whether you like it or not, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You have the opportunity to join that conversation and build genuine, caring relationships. Vaynerchuk believes that unless businesses do just that they will be run over by the empowered consumer and the competition. I think he is probably right..

    C-SCAPE: Curation, Consumers, Convergence, Content

    “”How do you get people who can talk about anything to talk about you? The answer is to offer them something new and interesting to say – to chat about, blog about, tweet about, and spread the word about in all media, new and old and in between.”
    – Larry Kramer, C-SCAPE

    Veteran media executive Larry Kramer’s book on the influence of social media and the Internet postulates that today, all businesses are in the media business. He identifies four key trends; the convergence of consumers and media producers, the increasing power of consumers, the need for trusted curators, and the importance of content. These ideas have been explored in depth in many other books (such as the Groundswell series) but I find his writing concise and actionable. His enthusiasm is contagious and many of these ideas are directly applicable by musicians reinventing themselves in this massively disrupted industry.

    Social Media Marketing: Is This Really a Conversation?

    Social media is hyped as a powerful tool for ‘connecting’ with your audience. While the technology creates this potential, my experience has been that most social media usage is essentially one-way, direct mail. 
    There are many people I have relationships with in the ‘real’ world whose communications with me via Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. are unsolicited self-promotion, certainly not a ‘conversation’. This can be annoying, and the net effect is to reduce the level of trust and credibility. When I receive unsolicited promotional material from strangers I immediately cross them off the list.
    When we opt-in we intentionally agree to accept ongoing promotional blasts but we can always unsubscribe if these communications don’t add value. 
    An authentic conversation adds value in both directions. The real question to ask yourself is, “How can I help you?” 
    If a band or artist I follow comments on a post of mine it means something, and of course it works the other way around. 
    Before you hit the ‘Send’ button think about what you are really giving to your audience.

    Recommended reading…

    Check back often to catch the ongoing updates on my favorite books…
    Skill-Building and Performance
    Outliers – The Story of Success
    Malcolm Gladwell – New York: Little Brown, and Company, 2008
    Malcolm Gladwell explodes the myth that excellence is the result of some mysterious, innate talent. By examining research and the lives of a variety of “outliers’ he explores the logic of extraordinary success, delving into the impact of ‘deep practice’ (10,000 hours…), family, and birthplace.
    The Talent Code – Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown. Here’s How
    Daniel Coyle – New York: Bantam Books, 2009
    Weaving together real world examples with brain science and behavioral research, Daniel Coyle breaks the process of expert skill-building into three main pieces: deep practice, coaching, and motivation.
    Talent Is Overrated – What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else
    Geoff Colvin – New York: Portfolio, 2008
    Geoff Colvin explores ‘deliberate practice’ in individual and group contexts. This book covers much of the same ground as The Talent Code with the inclusion of a section describing organizational applications.
    The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working – The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance
    Tony Schwartz – New York: Free Press, 2010
    Tony Schwartz covers a wide range of topics in this actionable book focused on creating efficiency in the workplace. His premise is that people need four types of energy to perform at their best; physical (sustainability), emotional (security), mental (self-expression), and spiritual (significance). He provides practical steps and illustrations for each section. For example; we work best in 45 to 90 minute, highly focused sprints intermixed with periods of renewal.
    Practicing, The Psychology of Creation, and Overcoming Creative Blocks
    The War of Art – Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
    Steven Pressfield – New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2002
    This classic book (by the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance) should be read by everyone. We are all artists and have a gift to give the world. Steven Pressfield inspires in this funny, straight-from-the-hip, kick in the pants, identifying the roadblocks that keep our potential under wraps and prescribing strategies that take no prisoners. 
    Free Play – Improvisation in Life and Art
    Stephen Nachmanovitch – New York: Putnam, 1990
    This is one of the best books I have ever read on the essence of improvisation and the creative process.
    Effortless Mastery – Liberating the Master Musician Within
    Kenny Werner – New Albany: Jamey Abersold Jazz, Inc., 1996
    Jazz piano virtuoso Kenny Werner shares his approach to practicing, getting out of the music’s way, and developing a state of relaxed focus.
    The Art of Practicing – A Guide to Making Music From the Heart
    Madeline Bruser – New York: Bell Tower, 1997
    This book describes both a physical and spiritual approach to practicing a musical instrument. While most of her instructions are for pianists, the principles can be applied to any instrument.
    Practicing – A Musician’s Return to Music
    Glenn Kurtz – New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007
    Classical guitarist Glenn Kurtz describes his personal journey as a music student who eventually drifts away from his passion only to return years later. The book is largely a memoir but contains many vivid descriptions of the process of practicing.
    The Pat Metheny Interviews – The Inner Workings of His Creativity Revealed
    Richard Niles – New York: Hal Leonard, 2009
    With the unique perspective of a fellow guitarist and long-time friend, Richard Niles captures the essence of Pat Metheny’s creative evolution, process, and work ethic in a collection of conversations culled from a three-part BBC radio series.