Music Marketing

Facebook Has Been Sucking The Life Out Of Artist / Fan Communication

Scott-perryBy Scott Perry (@scottperry) of Sperry Media and the New Music Tipsheet.

I've stayed out of this fight for a while, but the noise has gotten so loud that I cannot ignore it. Some people say it's pay to play, some people say you just have to know how to use the algorithm in order to improve your EdgeRank. But regardless of whatever side of the argument you are on, ever since they changed the formula nearly two months ago, FACEBOOK HAS BEEN SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF ARTIST / FAN COMMUNICATION.

I get it — the more compelling the content, the more engagement you get, the more your content is organically passed along, so that it opens like a water lily and seen by even more of your fans — those fans who, by the way, started following you because they wanted regular updates from you in the first place.

EdgeRank was set up to curb spam, to keep fans' feeds free of clutter, to see less of those people you really don't interact with that much.

Which is great if you don't want to see ads from Applebee's and Dorito's dressed up as posts. Agencies hate this, but regular people don't mind.

But since Facebook uses the very same sciences to artists / celebrities that they do for brands, it is KILLING communication and interaction, and is forcing a lot of page managers to openly question their reliance on Facebook for marketing.

It really is a vicious cycle — post content to garner (almost BEG) for likes in order to increase the number of followers, so you can then pay for ads to boost exposure to the very base of fans you have built. And even when you add 1,000 / 10,000 / 100,000 new followers, are these converting to traffic / commerce on your or your partner sites?

I really do have to wonder if Facebook understands that content drives traffic drives advertising. Look in your latest issue of Rolling Stone or US Weekly, chances are even the artist ads you see are underwritten by Chevy, Mountain Dew or Garnier Fructis.

The artist IS the content, the influencer, and as such, their pages should be under looser standards, so as to keep more naturally compelling content flowing through the feed.

Picture of artist in the studio? Great. Announcing onsale dates for 2013? Awesome. Previewing tomorrow night's video premiere? Keep it coming. Posting more than once every four hours? Pushing it. Schilling your new perfume? No thanks. Every other post asking me to vote / like / comment / share in order to goose EdgeRank? Oh HELL naw — keep it real, keep it natural.

I like a lot of stuff I see in my feed, but I'm likely to click "Like" maybe 1 out of 50 times. Let me repeat that — if I see 1000 posts, I might like 50, and of those I like, I may only click Like for one of those 50 posts.

Which is why Twitter could KILL in the coming months, especially if they took a page out of YouTube's current playbook and built a media curation strategy that led to more views & retweets among defined verticals & niches. Turn the MEDIUM into the MEDIA, if you will.

Twitter is already THE go-to source for breaking news, and their user base grows with every event — Arab Spring, Sandy, the election, you name it. But it can be a lot of information to take in, especially for newbies.

At this point, Twitter should do everything they can to help newbies onboard as easily as possible, and add pop-up hints with every log-in to help the uninitiated find friends, build Lists, master DMs, tag subjects, etc.

Take it a step further and display pictures & link previews directly in the feed, rather than requiring another click for each one.

Suggest pre-made Lists for users to gain direct access to experts in certain fields.

Include an "Add to List" option when adding new people to follow.

Maybe even take it all the way and build a full-blown virtual newsstand curated by in-house humans, which highlights the best of the web as posted to Twitter by its very users. Take the current verticals and double down on editorial — make the Music page sponsored by Coke. A pets page sponsored by Purina. A celebrity gossip page sponsored by Tide. A fishing page sponsored by Cabela's. A deer hunting page sponsored by Wal-Mart.

Give influencers enhanced pages that really show off the range of each entities' tweets. Hook up the very people that Facebook is burying, and use their content to fuel the feed.

Build a more robust hashtag directory which goes beyond trending topics and helps users find the tag & time for any event going on in the real world (#USCvsUCLA, #AMAs) or on Twitter itself (#askneil, #askkanye, #twihards) — clients could even pay to be included in this directory.

The current channels as they exist are fine – coverage of the American Music Awards featuring captured tweets from verified sources, all displayed in a straightforward, standard single-row Twitter layout.

But imagine if Twitter channels were built into CHANNELS, into must-view destinations that extend past its current boundaries, popping with headlines & images & tweets laid out in a manner that broke format from the traditional waterfall of text, cutting through the volume and serving up the quality goods, and give fans rich content to retweet and draw in even more new users.

But also keep in mind that these channels should run parallel to your personal feeds, so that editorially-chosen content would ENHANCE the Twitter experience, not REPLACE the Twitter experience, unlike EdgeRank, has unfortunately pre-chosen for us what it believes we should find important on Facebook (that "unfollow" button is always there if we need it, fyi Mr. Zuckerberg).


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  1. Artists have the right to be a little annoyed by recent Facebook changes, but they have to be aware that Facebook is a platform for friends, family, and interests (not just music interests). If you thought any differently when building your presence, then it’s easy to get a rude awakeneing.
    We saw what happened to Bandpage and ReverbNation apps when Timeline hit (the numbers went down until the companies could adjust). When you’re building on someone else’s platform they have the ability to turn on the firehose of traffic and turn it off.
    I’m not saying Facebook is making all the right decisions in terms of what they show in the News Feed, but I personally am getting all the best information from my favorite artists on Facebook. I don’t spend the time following artists on Twitter because I get more value following news sources and people in the tech industry (i.e. I don’t the same content from them as I do artists).
    I wrote my own comments on Facebook, though I wasn’t choosing sides to any great extent:

  2. Facebook wasn’t created for musicians. It was created for friends. It’s up to marketers to find reliable ways to connect with fans and not rely on Facebook. Facebook is not obligated to help make that connection.

  3. You know for all their flaws, FB actually does whip up some useful stuff once in a while. Coincidentally I was just reading up on their new tool that promises to crack down revenue from ads. I personally don’t have much faith for the tool’s accuracy, but it’s interesting to see that FB isn’t afraid (and certainly has the means) for this rank of a challenge.
    Just in case you’re wondering, here’s a debrief of said tech. Easy read:

  4. If its not meant for musicians why have Fan Pages and Music apps then? See, we music makers thought we were supposed to promote our music thru there because they made the pages and let us put our music up and sell it (I no longer use third parties to sell.)
    I update my fan page now and again and every once in a while I am on for some time (like tonite), but mostly its a self-esteem killer because of the way it is set up. Sadly many of my likers are not on Twitter. I wish they were. I like to see what they are up to instead of telling them all about me all the time.
    Incidentally, I had more sales when I had a personal FB page because I could interact “with” and not talk “at” people. But, as much as I love people,I found my time on there overall to be wasteful of my life in general. So… I headed over to Twitter where you can get on and off faster, where there seems to be more interaction and where there is less space for people to go on and on like I just did here. 🙂

  5. Yeah, the new facebook changes are pretty unfortunate and seem to be sucking a lot of views away from the fans who wanted to see it. People have “liked” a page because they want to hear updates from it in the future and this new algorithm now means a whole bunch don’t get their news.
    I’m still getting my head around twitter and it feels like a bit of information overload when you’re following a whole bunch of people but I’m beginning to see its appeal because it’s so light weight.

  6. I think New Myspace still has a chance if it concentrates on what it was once good at. Being a hub for artists to gather ‘fans’ and promote themselves and their activities.
    There must be thousands of artists thoroughly pissed off at Facebook right now and looking for an alternative. I’m one of them.

  7. I dont agree. The “like” button is not called “Send Me Updates”. Its just us who use this to send updates to people. Do you really want updates from all the Fan Pages (also non-artists) that you’ve liked? I would not

  8. There are many pros and cons to social media platforms but you have to know how to use the platform to you’re advantage.
    If your’re doing nothing but giving your fans useful material… they will click it. You don’t have to beg for anything if you generating good content.
    Good content converts that’s a proven fact… Most people aren’t providing good and or interesting content

  9. Nice rant, but I think you got the premise wrong.
    “those fans who, by the way, started following you because they wanted regular updates from you in the first place.”
    This is suggesting a uniformity of reasons behind page likes. There isn’t. The “Like” function has meant a lot of different things at different times. Some people use it to express who they are. “I like these artists”, “I like these films”, “I like these TV shows”. I’m a little bit annoyed by the arrogance of brans (and page owners) that people indicating they Like them, gives them the right to spam them.
    The button is Like, not Follow and not “send me regular updates of this artist/band”.
    I like hundreds of artists on Facebook, maybe more. I’ve unliked artists I like because they were too spammy (before you could just hide them from your newsfeed).
    So, from that premise…
    “I really do have to wonder if Facebook understands that content drives traffic drives advertising.”
    Arrogance of brands to think that a Like = right to spam users, means that if Facebook would allow that, they would use Likes (=useful data), users, or likely both.

  10. I have 2 accounts. One is for music. One is for personal/work life.
    Either way, I assume if I “like” you, I will hear updates about your life or your band. It’s how the gig is supposed to work. The fact that my friend rarely posts baby pics doesn’t mean I don’t want to see them when they are posted.
    It’s interesting to me. The new facebook has not improved the crappy posts I don’t want to see and it has decreased the good posts I do want to see.
    To me, it’s very much like Myspace. You are making it impossible for me to do what I want to do. It’s time to find someone else who is doing something closer to what I want.
    Which is why I just started following 200 people today on twitter. Now, to figure out this list thing so I can make sense of all of this.

  11. DISCLAIMER: CEO representing the company here.
    Actually this is one of the problems we are trying to solve with ( which is provide an interest-driven network specific to music that will improve the engagement with artists and fans. We are still early days but our most important goal is to drive these artist to fan connections. We’re definitely on to something as we’ve got ~2M artist to fan connections.
    Love to have both fan and artist feedback to see how we can make this work for you.

  12. Eric
    I’m curious how are you establishing a connection between artist and fans? Are you paying the artist to connect, or do they pay you for access to fans? What do you mean by artist to fan ‘connections’, is that simply an artist accepting a ‘friend request’ or is it the artist sending out personalized messages for each fan?
    How genuine is the connection?
    I noticed Rihanna is on the front page of yr site, have you gotten her to connect with the fans you’ve collected?

  13. i can’t stand facebook, can’t stand the fact that even though i’m not on facebook people are trying to show me pictures i would never see otherwise from their facebook.
    plus i’m tired of hearing people complain about facebook but still check it 50x a day. it’s good for nothing more than keeping up with your extended family if you prefer to sell all of your family’s private data to strangers.
    most of us prefer to make it a little more difficult to keep up with our extended family. isn’t that why you grow up and move out in the first place?
    newmyspace has potential but they will be competing heads up with reverbnation. problem with reverbnation is you can only use a bit of their site for free, then they want another couple bucks a month for every service offered.

  14. Facebook was originally created for friends. BUT.. It was then expanded and opened up (and advertised) as a means of communication between bands/brands and the people who are interested in them.
    Facebook appealed directly to artists to use their services as a medium for creating and cultivating relationships with fans and then they pulled the rug out from under the artists, essentially extorting them to communicate with the people who already expressed interest in said communication.
    Does Facebook have any obligation to make anyone happy? No. But that doesn’t mean that the “bait and switch” that they’ve pulled on artists is good business practice.

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