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How Social Media Is Hurting Your Ability To Obtain New Fans

(UPDATED) This guest post comes from Eric Hebert, a web strategist who helps artists understand marketing on the web. You can learn more about his work at evolvor.com

image from www.google.com I know what you’re thinking. “Wait, isn’t Eric one of those music marketing guys who is always talking about social media HELPING musicians and what not?!”

Yes, that’s me. I’ve been yapping about Facebook and Twitter and blogs all and that other crap since they first launched. And they are invaluable tools for anyone trying to market any kind of product or service. That is, they provide value if you’re using them properly, as in sharing relevant messages and providing excellent content, in addition to interacting with your users in a way that makes them fall in love with you. Otherwise, social media is, well, crap.

Over the past week everyone has has gone nuts-o over Google+, calling it a “Facebook-killer” or possibly a “Twitter replacement”. As a heavy user of Google’s products, I was excited to see what exactly I could do with it, but after all this stupid hype I stepped back and asked myself what the point was. We already have a killer social network in Facebook that is so engrained in the web, why would I want to start over? Then I started seeing articles pop up about “music marketing with Google+” and I started banging my fucking ahead against the wall.

Why so angry, you say? Well because it’s dumb shit like this that has musicians running around in circles. Everyone is a “guru” and wants to write all these articles about how “Google+ is the next big thing you better jump on it” without really teaching anyone what the point of it is. Guess what – it’s just a social network. If you just sign up for it and not use the dam thing, and use it properly, it’s not going to do a damn thing for you.

Why are we using social media in the first place?

Using Google+ as a marketing tool is EXACTLY THE SAME as using Facebook or Twitter; while they’re might be small differences with the interface or how to specifically do something, the actual value in using them only comes from exactly how you use it. Do you post interesting an engaging content? Do you thank fans and respond to them? Do you make being a fan or follower a rewarding experience? Awesome, your doing the right things.

The problem is, most musicians are not doing this. Nope, they sign up for each and every new thing thinking that JUST BECAUSE it’s the new thing, thinking it’s going to help them. So they post songs, spam friends with events, do the whole “wave my hands in the air look at me” typical bullshit, and then sit on the porch and pout because they don’t have any new “fans”.

The rise of Tumblr

Let’s talk about another service that is getting a ton of buzz these days: Tumblr. I had a client recently tell me that Tumblr is “going to be the next Twitter” and had me actually turn off the pretty dope website I had built for him so we could focus on his Tumblog.

I made an effort to speak my mind, but finally gave in (I’m not on the payroll anymore so whatever). His people we’re telling him one thing, and it’s the same thing I see a lot of people talking about. “Tumblr is so cool it let’s you post updates like Twitter but with photos blah blah blah.” And they’re all idiots.

Led Astray by Music Industry Bloggers

This is a perfect example of musicians being led astray by all the stupid social media hype they are getting from their so-called guru news sources and it’s not helping. Now you have bands with a Facebook page, a Twitter account, AND a Tumblog and all are devoid of anything interesting. They just read the hype and think they “need” to have it.

The big reason I don’t like Tumblr is because it’s just redundant. You see, your strategy should work like this: you create a cool blog post on your website (one you control); you then share the link to that on Twitter and Facebook. Fans come and interact with your content and fall in love. Then you maybe convert them into a customer or some other conversion.

What I see people doing now is just using their Tumblog as their website, and sharing crappy content (like random pictures or quotes) and then sharing on Facebook/Twitter. It’s all this micro-blog type content that has no real substance and isn’t doing a damn thing to help anybody. Plus, since none of it is on a website that the artist actually owns, it’s just not being used properly in building residual traffic (via search engine traffic) and none of it is being properly converted (email capture or actual sale of product).

The other really big problem with everyone blabbering about social media is NO ONE, I mean, no one, is talking about the types of things that ACTUALLY drive traffic and create a buzz for you – real social media marketing involves using the social news sites Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.

Explaining how exactly you can utilize these social news and voting sites is a whole other article in itself, and let’s just say the average Joe isn’t going to sign up today and become successful using them. However, the main thing, if everyone should shut up for a second and think about, is creating the best kinds of content. If you can learn to create the right kind of content, not only will your Facebook and Twitter start to see some traction, but you’d have a shot and going viral on a site like Digg.

So stop listening to all the hype everyone is dishing out everyday, and sit down and think about what the web is about: sharing information. None of these tools will do you any good unless you’re sharing the RIGHT kind of information. Learn how to create this kind of content and the tools around you will start to make a little more sense.

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