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?