There has been much discussion and debate over the value of a "like" on Facebook or a follow on Twitter. This speculation is pointless because the value depends entirely on the way a new follower is acquired and that can happen any number of ways. People (mostly bands and musicians) often ask me how to get more followers on Facebook and Twitter, even though I only have a small amount myself. I think they are hoping for some magic answer and I cannot say that I blame them. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just click a few buttons and everyone started listening to what we were trying to say?
The short answer is that there is no simple way to go out and get followers other than by continually creating and releasing content that people value and want to keep up-to-date with. The long answer is that by doing anything other than this you will greatly water down the value of your average "like" or follower and be communicating with the wrong people, or in some instances no one at all.
How can you devalue your "likes" or follows? It is much easier than you might imagine. I will go through the list starting with the more obvious actions and progressing to things that seem innocuous but can be hurtful to the relationship with not only your fans but also your friends and family.
Buying "Likes" or follows:
Anyone can do a Google search and easily find many sites where they can purchase "likes" or follows for pennies per new fan. At first glance this sounds wildly attractive but it creates a number of major issues for the band, all of which are irreversible.
- Unreasonable expectations. When venues see you have 10,000 fans they will be very irritated when you only have 15 people show up to see you headline on a Saturday night.
- Zero interaction and engagement. These "fans" that you've just purchased are usually not real people and if they are the chances are slim that they actually care about you and what you do since they were acquired artificially. You will never be able to cultivate a meaningful relationship with them.
- Lies are irreversible. If it ever comes to light that you purchased most of your fans, which are likely not even real people, it will be embarrassing and damaging. It is a rather large lie and benefits no one.
Requiring a "Like" for someone to hear your music:
Against all common sense this has become somewhat widespread. Requiring someone to "like" your band before even hearing you is preposterous. Not only does it turn off some people from ever giving your music a chance, it can actually make them despise your band even though you may play music they would have loved had they been allowed to simply give it a listen. Those that do consent to liking you prematurely may find out they cannot stand your music. Sure, they will inflate your numbers if they forget to unlike, but they are also lowering the value of your average follower because there is little to no chance they will ever go to a concert, purchase any music, or even tell their friends about you.
Targeting the wrong people, repeatedly:
It's only normal that a band from California would be excited about their first big club gig in New York City. They naturally want to get as many people out to the gig as possible to show the club owner that they can draw a crowd even when they are far away from home. When the drummer's friend Bill, who is living in Texas, gets the Facebook event invite he cannot help but be frustrated. Why is his friend sending him invites to things he cannot attend even if he really wanted to?
This trend continues a few more times as the band plays Miami and then Cleveland. Eventually Bill stops paying attention and by the time he receives an invite to an event he could attend in Texas he has learned to completely ignore the invites from this friend. Don't be like Bill's friend in that touring band. Make sure to only share events with people that can attend and content with those that would have a reason to care. Avoid wasting irrelevant people's time as well as your own.
Asking for "likes" or follows from people you know:
It is all too easy to ask a friend or family member to "like" your page. Most of the time if they like you as a person they will blindly "like" or follow pretty much anything you ask them to without giving it much consideration. They are doing this to be nice which is very thoughtful of them. It wasn't necessarily thoughtful to have put them in that situation where saying no would be awkward. Care should be taken to make sure that the person you suggest become a follower will possibly like what they are "liking." If they listen strictly to metal and you are in a jazz band, you are doing both yourself and that person a disservice.
If most people are guilty of doing something on the list it is most likely the last one. I fully admit to having done it before and it would be totally unfair and hypocritical of me not to disclose that fact right now.
That list begins to scratch the surface of how people often water down the value of their average follower. As stated previously, there are no magic tricks for getting new people to follow or "like" you. Below are some bulleted suggestions for how to make your social media presence meaningful and compelling, which can result in those that like what you do having greater reason to become followers.
- Continually post content that was created based off of observations of your follower's reactions to previous releases.
- Engage in conversation instead of broadcasting.
- Do not talk just to hear yourself speak.
- Let your personality shine through.
- Refrain from complaining.
- Make remarkable things that compel people to comment and share. (Seth Godin)
- Be easy to find on Facebook/Twitter.
Use social media in a way that fits best for you. Do not try to mimic someone else's strategy because odds are their career is different than yours. If you are constantly busking around the city you can make Facebook and Twitter the go-to place for fans to see where they can catch you performing at any given time. Only 8% of adults in the United States use Twitter daily according to a new study. Your audience might fall squarely into that small slice (of millions), just be sure not to limit the potential fans to only those on Twitter. Remember that "likes" and follows are meaningless, or at least of very low value, if they do not occur naturally when someone that genuinely likes what you do wants to continue to stay informed. Any other way of gaining a follower can be damaging to you and your "brand."