Blogs and Facebook Pages: Creating an Online Magazine

Collections of magazines

When it comes to Social Media everyone is in the publishing business. Blogs and Facebook Pages are forums for community building. Occasional self-promotion is alright, but your followers will not keep coming back unless you provide fresh, valuable content that encourages conversation.

Think like a magazine…

With social communication tools you and your company can develop an interactive, engaging, online magazine that will attract followers and strengthen your credibility and brand. Sounds great, right? Before you jump in, think about what this means. If you don’t have a plan to maintain your presence daily (or at least several times a week), your fans will lose interest.

Stay away from self-promotion…

Look at your favorite magazines. You may see a few discrete appeals for subscriptions (and that card that always falls out on the floor), but what compels you to read them is the content. The focus is on the reader, not the publication. Many bands use their Facebook Pages solely as a billboard to announce upcoming gigs, post new songs, reviews, and generally talk about themselves. If I’m a fan of a company or artist, I already know I like what they do. There is no reason to regularly return to their Facebook Page if it doesn’t offer anything new.

Consistency breeds loyalty…

If The New Yorker skipped a couple of issues or was suddenly missing columns they would lose readers fast. Facebook Pages and blogs require the same consistent commitment to publishing content.

Reach the right audience…

A good magazine brings you unique, targeted content you can’t find anywhere else. Who are you trying to reach and what do they value? Many folks get much of their news and cultural information from Facebook and blogs. If you’re not Hemingway, you can establish a strong identity simply by aggregating content and encouraging discussions with your fans.

Talk about what you (and your followers) love…

I’m a guitar player. I have many friends who are guitar players. The most active conversations on their Facebook Walls are about music they love, or gear, or instruments, or other musicians. If it’s an upcoming gig it’s usually mentioned because it is something special. “I’ll be playing at blah-blah on Friday night” is generally not a conversation starter.

Personal Facebook Profiles vs. Facebook Fan Pages…

Some people are very active on personal Facebook profiles, but when they put up a business Page they suddenly clam up or resort to self-promotion. The nature of social technologies is to blur the lines between formal business and social communication. If you are running out of ideas try sharing other people’s posts you would naturally publish on your personal Wall. Plug in interesting content from around the web and see what gets a conversation going. Comment daily on other people’s Pages, Facebook Groups and blogs with a link back to you.

Create a publishing schedule, keep it active and see what works…

Magazine publishers live and die by deadlines and production schedules. Make a plan for your Page or blog and stick to it. When you see something that works, ask yourself why and do more of that. Most important, keep it fresh and interesting.

What approaches to blogging and Facebook have been most effective for you and your company?

Image courtesy of Long Nguyen

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