1. Social media is a tool which amplifies existing efforts. These are not my words (I think it’s from Jeff Jarvis?), but it rings true to me. Folks talk about the importance of access and context, but without engaging content (be it amazing music, video, contests, information, humor, or other) social media outlets won't do much for you in terms of marketing.
2. Data Analysis: Awareness, Engagement, Fan Acquisition, and Monetization. Back in the day, the best ways to measure the success of your marketing efforts was to look at your ship number and any press, radio or TV interest prior to release, and make some assumptions on how well your release will do when street date comes.
After street date, you’d look at Soundscan to see how you are doing on a market by market basis, and try to fuel the flames in areas where you were making connections. It wasn’t a terribly effective way to measure how your marketing efforts were going on a day to day basis, and it certainly wasn’t easy to turn on a dime mid-campaign if things weren’t working the way you had hoped. Online marketing and social media marketing allows artists to measure the success of their campaign in near real time, and iterate as necessary based on the results. My friend Adam Bates (one of the most savvy data analysis folks I know, and someone who has run some tremendous online marketing campaigns) looks at all of his campaigns through the prism of awareness, engagement, fan acquisition, and monetization. There are internal and external tools which you can use to gauge your progress on most all third party sites, such as Facebook’s Insights, which produces solid information on engagement and acquisition metrics. Third party apps, like Band Metrics or Next Big Sound, can also be helpful in measuring social engagement as well.
3. Monetization Strategy on Third Party Sites. I think there are some great services that are emerging to help with awareness, engagement, and fan acquisition on third party sites. I’m particularly impressed with what Root Music is doing, and I think Damn the Radio has one of the best strategies for identifying and rewarding key influencers on Facebook. In terms of monetization, you can sell directly off of these third party sites, or use these sites as an engagement and communication tool, and funnel folks through to your own site for monetization. Topspin, Reverbnation, and Nimbit all have storefronts that you can implement onto your Facebook page, but I currently don’t think any of them can offer the same sales experience and personalization that an artist can offer on their own site. I think we’ll see more activity and better experiences in the future, but until a third party service blows my doors off by providing an experience that is as compelling as what artists can do on their own sites, I’m going to continue to believe that the best sales strategy is to engage with fans on third party sites, and use these sites to funnel fans to your own site for sales.
4. Target your Own Community. The best social media campaigns that I have seen are those that artists/managers have pulled off by integrating social media tools into really compelling / creative campaigns completely targeted at their specific communities. All artists are different, and their associated communities will all react differently to campaigns. I think what Jimmy Eat World did with Twitter was great, but perhaps your fans might be more interested in an approach similar to Erin McKeown’s Cabin Fever series. I think there are best practices that every artist can incorporate into their social media campaigns, but once this foundation is built, I think those that will really succeed are the folks that are creative with their ideas, focused on their own communities interests, and effective with their execution.
5. Research, Learn, Practice, Share. There are so many big brains around, and it’s short sighted to think that any one of us knows everything there is to know about online marketing and social media. Twitter is a tremendous resource for following some great thinkers, as is Hypebot, and others. The one constant with online music marketing and social media is change, and it’s important to stay educated on new technologies and techniques as they evolve and adapt. Also, there are a ton of great marketing ideas / thinkers from outside of the music world, like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Jeff Jarvis, Umair Haque, Doc Searls, and many more. Lastly, we are all learning from one another. I’m posting what I think are interesting and important events happening in music and marketing on my blog, and if you are involved in this stuff, it helps us all if you contribute, too. Here’s a very quick list of online resources and big thinkers that I recommend you check out:
berkleemusic.com - Berklee’s Online School
Fistfulayen.com (Ian Rogers' blog)
Glenn Peoples / @billboardglenn
Jeff Jarvis / @jeffjarvis
Lawrence Lessig @lessig
Eliot Van Buskirk / @listeningpost
Deb Walsh / @dtwalsh
Cash Music @cashmusic
Future of Music Coalition / @future_of_music
Electronic Frontier Foundation / @eff
Derek Sivers / @sivers
Seth Godin / @thisissethsblog
Clay Shirky / @cshirky
Hugh Macleod / gapingvoid
Music Ally / @musically
Suzanne Lainson / @slainson
Doc Searls / @dsearls
Tech Crunch / @TechCrunch