Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Some Suggestions on Facebook

By Lee Waites

 Facebook can be an invaluable tool for musicians and bands hoping to spread the word. Fan pages allow the bands to help build their fan base, let people see their schedule and hear samples of their music. But like anything else it has limitations. No one knows exactly the nature of algorithm/s Facebook uses to track and control how and when your posts are seen and shared. Certain personal preferences are available now to allow the user to target the posts they are interested in and weed out those that either don't interest them or become a nuisance. Even if a "fan" has clicked the "Like" button for your page, it doesn't mean they are catching the posts your band is leaving. 

Many so called experts claim to understand and be able to tell you the best methods for utilizing the different social media resources available. A quick Internet search will pull up thousands of results. In our work with musicians we stay tapped into a wide range of social media throughout the day. We observe the responses and results, the "comments," the "shares," the "Tweets," the "retweets"... and the stats as pages either grow or stagnate. As much as an artist or band wants to keep it about the music, it can't be denied that a stagnant fan page is a disappointment. So many people use the internet to trade and find new music these days. And social media is a major part of this. We would like to offer a few friendly pieces of advice to musicians regarding Facebook and Twitter, two major players in the Internet game.  

1: No Bombing!    

Nothing turns people off faster than spamming. it's unfortunate how many times we've witnessed a band or musician with perfectly good intentions turn a private message into a nightmare. Even though Facebook has provided a "Leave Conversation" option, it is still a bad decision to force people to turn their head away from you. Use the proper tool. If you have something to share, such as a an event, use the "create an event" option on your events page and avoid turning people off and making them turn you off. 

2: Make and Keep Friends 

Facebook has been expanding and melding the capabilities for fan pages for awhile now. It's easier to be seen and spread the word thanks to Facebook loosening the restrictions on fan page posts and sharing. That being said, you need to have places to share your posts and announcements. People, by nature are self interested. This has been manipulated throughout the ages by those in the know. If you are out to self promote, you must keep this fact in mind. Ask yourself "why does this person want to hear what I'm saying?" Maintain an interaction with your fan base and friends that provides them with the incentive to listen and share what you want to share. Engage them in their posts and interact when appropriate. This also has the combined effect of cuing the algorithm that you are interactive with each given person and will prompt it to further share your posts. Not to mention it is just plain healthy and polite to give a crap about what others are feeling and sharing. Hitting the "like" button on only your own posts or the few that are related to you will not help spread the word any farther than those people already committed to you. Taking an interest and being engaged in others is the sole reason Facebook can be a force for good and not just a cluttery mess of self involved self pleasuring.

3: Tweet Often     

Twitter has been credited with helping disaster victims and overthrowing corrupt regimes. But on any given day this might not be evident. Tweets like "bagels are so freaking good," or "I'ma house full o' bricks," will float purposelessly down your Twitter page. But it's these constant tiny interactions that slowly build your following. Keep them up (a task in which I am admittedly deficient. For lazy tweeters like me it's best to set up as many options for automatic tweeting as possible. These are available in many forms.) Better still, take the time to tweet something meaningful, if you can do that many times throughout the day in less than 140 characters.

4: Pages vs Groups vs Friends 

Each choice has it's limits and benefits. Friends can friend, pages can have unlimited fans, groups allow for adding people who might or might not see you otherwise. Many people will not "friend" you if they are concerned about privacy. They may only commit to friends who they want to see inside their private lives which they share on Facebook. Although there are more options for control of what people see now, many haven't taken the time to figure this out. Even though people can turn off notifications in groups, some people get upset when drafted into your group. So think hard before you decide which of these choices is best for you.

5: The Dangerous Balance    

One thing to remember is that untold numbers of posts are flying into the news feed at any given time. It's important not to be discouraged if your post doesn't receive enough attention. Remember, the Facebook news cycle is even worse than the 24 hour news cycle which has driven the news outlets to produce lower quality news programs in a constant attempt to beat the clock. We recommend a schedule of reposting which allows your posts to be seen by people who might be inclined to be on their screen at different times. But be aware that each copied post is declared, sequentially observable to all who are friends of friends and who see your posts. So don't give people a reason to run. Post once then come back at a later time and repost. Posting each day to your wall might make sense, for instance, if you have as many contacts as an outlet like BFP Music. But if you have very few friends or fans, just starting out, this will become irritating. Instead, try sharing in multiple places, for instance, such as BFP Music's groups and pages. But in any event try to balance exposure with irritation. 

6: Use the Tools  

On your fan pages, use the tools given to you. Provide as many music links and as much information as the pages will allow. Don't fill it up with nonsense. But allow the reader to access as much as the free services will allow through your page. 

7: Keep it up

Don't post tons of shows in July of the year and then just forget to post your shows in September. An unused page looks like an out of business band. Regular content is critical to gaining recognition and exposure. Whatever your style is is fine. Be funny, be serious, be flashy...whatever you are, but be. This way you can be seen. 

These are the places where people go. This is the way to be seen. It can't be denied that knowledge of social media is important for any promotion these days. There is no claim of expertise here. Things are changing so fast it's hard to believe anyone can remain an expert for long on social media. But as much interaction as BFP Music has with people, it is important to share.

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