The folks at JustGo Music managed to slow down Steve Aoki's manager Matt Colon long enough to discuss how Aoki got so famous online. Aoki has capitalized greatly on his over-the-top personality and his web presence reflects that personality. Yet Colon says the biggest secret has been making the shift "from promotion to entertainment" and pursuing choices that lead to higher audience engagement on social media.
According to Steve Aoki's manager Matt Colon (via Dotted Music), Aoki is successful for a number of reasons including the fact that people dig his music, he puts on a great live show and he performs as often as possible (300 gigs last year).
But he tops off this combination of enjoyable music, hard work and great shows with a rapidly growing social media presence that didn't happen on its own.
Shifting From Promotion to Entertainment
Colon credits Aoki's strong social following and media visibility with a shift in how Team Aoki approached creating content shifting from "typical DJ stuff, like music videos and tour diaries" to more creative fare including, when possible, creating one "non musical viral video a week."
On Facebook they "had been posting stuff about his new tracks or his upcoming shows, but fans didn’t really engage in that stuff." So they switched their "strategy from promotion to entertainment, and we started making viral videos and releasing weird or funny photos."
The results have been powerful with Aoki's YouTube following growing from 30,000 to 690,000 subscribers in the last year. On Facebook, Colon says they've seen Aoki's "posts go from 300 likes per post, to 500, 600, 1000 likes."
Colon's bottom line:
"We discovered that very few people on social media will like a post that says ‘Buy my new album’. You need to make a connection with fans, besides selling them something. Post photos of you in Starbucks. Tell a joke. People want to get to know the real you."
Running Aoki's YouTube Channel Like a Network
Though Colon may be stretching things a bit by comparing Steve Aoki's YouTube channel to a tv network, they've clearly created a well-organized production schedule filled with amped-up music videos, road docs and, currently, a campaign for the DJ Mag 2013 Top 100 DJs.
Colon points to last year's DJ Mag Top 100 campaign as an important turning point in their content production. They decided to make fun of the whole thing by parodying traditional political campaigns with such special moments as "Steve kissing babies, Steve as an eagle" and so forth. This approach even resulted in an honorary mention at the Webby Awards.
The current Top 100 campaign focuses on the concept that "Steve Is Just Like You" from toilet mishaps to digging through his sofa cushions.
You can see from Aoki's YouTube channel homepage that videos are arranged into themes, from music videos to the Top 100 campaign, that are identified in the channel banner. Each themed video is also added to a dedicated playlist and videos from the current major themes are each shown in separate sections on the main page.
In addition, the typeface with theme title that appears on the still frame for each video helps tie individual themes together with the channel as a whole. It's a nice workaround for creating subchannels within a single YouTube channel without getting overly complex or splintering one's audience.
Channel analytics have also affected content production. For example, they learned from a third party company called The Audience that a third of Aoki's fans were Spanish speakers. So they've developed a humorous video series that connects to bilingual Spanish/English speakers.
It Helps To Be Steve Aoki
There's a lot more in this awesome piece from the JustGo Music Blog. In particular, Matt Colon makes it clear that Steve Aoki is particularly suited to the age of social media.
He has an over the top personality and he loves to be documented.
But there's a lesson here for anyone using social media to promote their music. Focusing on news announcements and selling just isn't enough to engage an audience online. Making the switch "from promotion to entertainment," with what's entertaining decided by your aesthetic and audience response, is key to finding your own path to social media engagement and possibly even stardom.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.