By Echo Propp
Welcome to the world of Facebook. Let’s make it work for you.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Creating an online presence is relatively easy. You start a fan page, slap up some pretty images, post some witty updates, tell people you’re playing a show…. But standing out from the crowd takes a slightly more advanced strategy. It’s important to be sure that you’ve set yourself up for success in terms of the information on your band’s Facebook Fan Page. Your fan page has the ability to both reflect and enhance your band’s overall branding in terms of image, music and personality. But simply giving your fans a place to find and interact with you isn’t enough. It is absolutely critical that any sort of social media page you set up allows your fans (and potential fans) to find your business information. Many bands make the mistake of not linking their social media to the sites that will allow the viewer to buy their product, book the band or find a show to attend. Keep your mind on the goal: you’re not spending all this time on social media marketing simply to be popular; you’re doing it to sell your product and put butts in seats. Be sure that you’ve got contact information and links to your website, Amazon, CDBaby, YouTube page – absolutely anything and everything that sells your product or highlights what you can do.
It is absolutely imperative that you recognize and embrace the biggest difference between your band’s website and your band’s Facebook Fan Page: Competition. The content people see on your website is all geared toward you, and there’s nothing competing for that viewer’s attention. But on Facebook, viewers will usually be seeing your content in their news feed, which means that their friends and the other pages they’ve “liked” are competing for their attention. So, in that mess of news, information and mindless updates, how do you stand out? What tricks and tools can you use to give yourself an edge over other bands? Let’s dive in.
1. Facebook Help, and Facebook Tips – Consider the old “KISS” adage: “Keep it simple, stupid.” Who better to ask than the people who created the monster? The Facebook Help section is quite in-depth and is generally more reliable than the answers you’ll get from your Facebook friends with a frantic “Eek! I can’t figure out how to get Facebook to ______!” status update. http://www.facebook.com/help/?ref=drop
Just when you think you’ve got Facebook figured out, they’ll surely put out a new app or change the way things work. To stay up to date, you may want to subscribe to Facebook Tips, as well: http://www.facebook.com/facebooktips
2. Insights – Bluegrassers like breakdowns, right? While there may not be any blazing fast mashes in B chord, Facebook’s got some pretty solid breakdowns to let you know how effective your Facebook efforts are.
Located under the main image of your Facebook Fan Page, admins (page administrators) can see “Insights”—metrics about the number of fans they have (including geographic, age and gender data), where the fans are coming from (how they found your page) and the effectiveness of each post made on the fan page. The newest update to Facebook Insights (in October of 2011) added a few new metrics to allow users to see exactly how far their brand can reach. The four main new metrics include:
Insight Bonus: The 2011 Best “Breakdown of a Breakdown” Award goes to… The NonProfit Facebook Guy! In addition to a wealth of how to videos and articles on all sorts of Facebook topics, he does a particularly great job of explaining all the changes in Facebook’s new Insights. http://www.nonprofitfacebookguy.com/the-new-facebook-insights-explained-in-plain-engish/
3. Custom landing page – Imagine you’re meeting a group of people for the first time and you walk squarely into the middle of a conversation that has been going on for hours. No one looks up to say hello or introduce you to the group, and you’re left to sort through the conversation and figure out what they’re talking about using any sort of context clues you can. That’s sort of what landing on a Facebook Fan Page Wall is—walking into a conversation. Now imagine that you have a screen that welcomes the first time visitor and lets them know what your band is all about before they enter that conversation… A 2010 study by BrandGlue showed that people who visit a page with a landing tab “like” the page 47% of the time, versus a rate of 23% for fan pages without a landing tab. Pretty staggering statistics!
Making your landing page effective is up to you. Keep it in line with the branding and image of your band, and pull people in with a call to action and a way to get involved. To give you an example, Boston’s NPR News Station, WBUR has a simple and effective landing page: http://www.facebook.com/wburnews. They’ve got their logo, images that are in line with their overall marketing, and give the viewer a quick call to a simple action: become a fan.
YouTube also has a wealth of step-by-step guides to setting up a landing page at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv4z8V82YfgAn [ xx .. ..
[And HEY, now that you know all about Facebook Insights, you can see how effective your landing tab is! (Isn’t technology glorious?)]
4. Events - As a band, you have a LOT of events. And your livelihood is somewhat dependent upon people showing up at these events. Your fan page is made up of people who have some sort of general interest in what you do on stage…. Why wouldn’t you use it to get butts in seats? Setting up an event is relatively simple, and an admin can invite their friends, members of a group and even people who don’t use Facebook by entering their email addresses.
Events can also serve as a quick and easy mass messaging system. By messaging all attendees (which means anyone who has not declined attendance), you can send an email to the entire group to remind them about the upcoming show.
Event walls are a perfect place to keep people engaged and let them know about new things that are happening within your group. There’s a good chance that they’ll miss some of the posts that you make on the fan pages’ wall (remember: Facebook is a competition!) so if you’ve got big news in your band’s world, go through and post promo videos and other band related info on the walls of some of your events. So what if some people see it in more than one place?
Check out Facebook Help to learn how to set up an event: http://www.facebook.com/help/events/create
5. Private group – Let’s face it, we’re all busy, and sometimes things slip through the cracks. A private group on Facebook that’s geared toward strategy, development and business-related communication between bandmates can be incredibly helpful. You can limit group access to bandmates and people who work directly with the band. Members of the group are sent notification emails as posts are made and can reply directly from the email without ever having to log in to Facebook. Use it to share documents, ask group questions, brainstorm—all the while keeping it in an easily accessible “notepad” that contains all band business.
Facebook Help: http://www.facebook.com/help/groups (They really do know everything!)
6. iLike and Spotify - iLike and Spotify are social music discovery services that work on the assumption that people would rather get music recommendations from their friends than from a machine, thus cultivating a viral spread of music. The two applications are currently vying for the dominant music application spot on the Facebook platform, and each boasts millions of registered users.
iLike helps people share music recommendations, playlists and personalized concert alerts, and features a sidebar for iTunes to connect listeners to new music. iLike also offers musicians and labels a Universal Artist Dashboard where they can manage their presence and look at audience statistics across a variety of platforms: Facebook, iGoogle, iLike.com, iTunes, iPhone, etc. To get your music on iLike, go to: \http://www.ilike.com/account/signup.
Spotify is a similar service that’s done remarkably well in its four months of existence. Spotify’s most notable edge/distinctive quality is that they’ve installed a real time ticker that works with Facebook’s news ticker feed—which is now full of “recommendations” of who’s listening to what tunes, and users can click play to listen to the track instantly.
To get your music featured on Spotify, check here: http://www.spotify.com/us/work-with-us/labels-and-artists/.
In my personal opinion, Spotify is currently offering more exposure for the amount of effort it takes to make it work as a marketing tool. However, at the writing of this article there’s a press release out saying that we can expect to see some major changes after a November 30 press conference. Wonder where they’ll go from here? My guess is that it’s just going to be a U.S. unveiling of a feature that the European markets have had for a while now, enabling users to buy tracks directly using the Spotify app. Spotify is free to users, and while that’s allowed it to go viral quickly, it seems a little too good to be true. I don’t think it will be free forever (they’ll eventually inundate the user with advertising or start charging fees), but I do expect that they’ll stay free for quite some time rather than risk losing ground to other applications that offer a free service.
7. YouTube – YouTube is a really great way to get people to watch a video of your band, isn’t it? Just a super way to get videos out there. Yep. And it’s great that people can see your band say funny things on the road, or watch you sing at a festival. Awesome, huh? But wouldn’t it be great if you also directed people to your tour page? Or gave them info on how to buy your album? Or got them to like your Facebook Fan Page? Or join your mailing list? (Should I keep going, or did I make my point?)
YouTube allows you to add in links and other information in a number of ways. You can add them into the description box, where the http:// part will tell the coding to make it a clickable link, or as annotations (little bubbles that pop up while the song is playing). Here’ a quick “How to”: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=92710.
Keep in mind that the description box on YouTube is collapsed until you click on “See more,” so a lot of people only see the first line of a description. While it may look a little strange, putting a link in as your first line will help drive people to actually click on it!
8. RootMusic Bandpage – a combination of… well, everything. Bandpage is a tab that’s accessible from the left side of your band’s fan page, and will link fans to your tour schedule, music (which they can share with friends), photos, videos and merch! They can even post to your wall from the page! It doesn’t offer quite as much potential for your music to go viral in the way that Spotify does, but it’s hands down the best way to put all of your information on Facebook in a format that’s visually pleasing. You may think about making it the default landing tab for people who have already “liked” your page. Sign up here: http://www.bandpage.com/.
At the root of it all, social media is designed to get your message (or in our case, your music and your band’s identity) out to as many people as possible. Successfully growing an online audience takes diligence and a little bit of smart marketing. Using resources such as the ones I’ve described above is a good start to growing a healthy and viable social media presence on Facebook, but it’s all in how you utilize those resources.
Maximize the use of every link you post. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make sure your link works. If you’ve taken the time to make an event, find a venue’s website or look up a video, make sure that it’s got all the information people need. Paste the text of the link into Facebook first, and look at the preview. Does it have an image attached? Is there text? Does it also have a website link where people can get more information?
Use every post as an opportunity to market to people who might be interested in your music. “But where do I find them?” you ask. The answer is actually pretty simple. Imagine that you’ve just played a well-attended show in a new city with a local band that melted your face off, in a venue that is hosting one of your favorite acoustic bands next week, and then you went out after the show and had some of the most amazing pizza you’ve ever tasted. You could easily post, “We had a great show tonight—what an awesome audience! Had some great pizza and now we’re hitting the road!” Now, because you are a Facebook guru, you’d never post such a lame status. You do your research and find out that The Music Place has a fan page, and so does That Pizza Place, and the Chamber of Commerce of This City also has a page, as do That Band That Opened and That Band That’s Playing Next Week. You capitalize on the opportunity to tag those pages and show up in the news feeds of all of their friends and fans. “Thanks so much to all the folks that came out to hear us at @The Music Place! We really loved the pizza at @The Pizza Place and we can’t wait to come back to @This City. @That Band That opened for us totally rocked, and we hope you all come out again and hear @That Band That’s Playing Next Week!”
“But we don’t want to alienate our faithful fans who love to keep in touch with us as people by getting all business-y and tagging things all the time!” you say. Well, with the first post, a few of your fans would click “like,” and a few would comment. A few would want to know what kind of pizza you got, a few would recommend new toppings/pizza places, maybe two or three would lament about how sad they were that it was 2,000 miles away and they couldn’t come (and there’s always That Guy: “Oh by the way, when are you playing in my teeny tiny little town? I don’t know how to look up your schedule and would rather waste your time asking here!!”). Here’s the thing: they’ll still like the second post! They’ll still suggest that you get anchovies on your next pizza outing! And they’ll still wonder when you’re coming to their teeny tiny town! But the person who’s watching That Band That’s Playing Next Week just liked your status, and they’ve never eaten at That Pizza Place but it’s close to the venue and now they’re thinking that a slice of BBQ chicken and artichoke pizza sounds like a great way to end their night out on the town. You smart Facebook user, you! You’ve gained another fan and helped someone else grow their business.
And when you write back a comment to the fan that wants to know when you’re playing their teeny tiny little town, you’re going to attach a link to the Facebook Event for the nearest show, right? That’s what I thought….
*note: Facebook friends can’t do your laundry. Not yet, at least. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll have a laundry app to release in Q3 2012. Keep the dream alive, kids!