Tim Grahl, author of "Your First 1000 Copies," writes for authors but he's got lots to say that musicians should consider. Some will find his take on social media a bit extreme but I think he makes a lot of practical sense and shares examples similar to what I've seen in music-related social media. In particular, he points out that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are tools and that you should pick your tools based on the job you need to do, not the other way around.
I recently read Tim Grahl's "Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book" and found it to be very basic but quite solid and convincing in its presentation of how to build one's marketing platform with an emphasis on having your own site and constantly growing your email list.
This is something that many case studies and anecdotes from a wide range of music marketers and DIY musicians have also supported. But some of Grahl's other points, as presented in "3 Myths About Social Media For Authors" may conflict with widespread beliefs about social media marketing.
As he notes:
"All of the things we use to build our online platform – blogs, email lists, social media, podcasts, guest posts, etc – are all just tools in a tool box. The focus should never be on the tool. The focus is on what we are trying to build – in this case an author platform."
And in the process of losing focus on the job, we've fallen victim to myths about the tools.
3 Myths About Social Media For Authors [& Musicians]
Myth #1: "Growing your social media following will increase your fame"
"Social media is not a way to grow your 'fame', it’s a reflection of your fame. Outside of a few outliers like Shit My Dad Says, your social media following will grow as your popularity grows."
"You should be focusing on your obscurity problem – the fact that not enough people know you exist – and the way to solve that is not social media."
Myth #2: "There’s a way to use social media that works, you just haven’t figured it out yet"
"I’ve gotten the chance to pull the curtain back several times, and the truth is always much more mundane than you think..For the successful campaigns, there was usually something else going on that wasn’t as public."
"I was questioned after the fact by several people who assumed our social media campaign was a big hit. The truth is, most of the book sales came from everything but social media. Social media was just the most public thing so people made assumptions about it’s effectiveness."
Myth #3: "If I get a big enough following, it’ll turn into book [and music] sales"
"In a recent interview, Gary Vaynerchuk made the claim that if a fiction writer started up Twitter and/or Instagram accounts for their book’s characters it would be the difference between selling 200 copies of their book and selling 25,000 copies of their book."
"This is a lie."
"I’ve never heard or seen anything close to this happening and I’d love for someone to show me stats that prove me wrong. I’d be extremely surprised if there was even one person who could show you over 20,000 extra sales by creating Twitter accounts for their book’s characters."
Grahl builds on these claims in what I find to be a convincing manner. But then he goes on to discuss the positive value of social media including his observation that, "It’s a great way to connect with individuals."
Experiment With Social Media As A 1-to-1 Tool
For that reason Grahl suggests:
"Experiment with thinking of social media more as a 1-to–1 tool instead of a way to communicate with a mass of people. You’ll start to see the effectiveness go up, your time wasted go down and your frustration be set free."
So Grahl isn't against using social media tools nor against growing a network of contacts via social media. But he's certainly not going to advocate joining Team Follow Back and adding to the noise of the web.
Some of the differences in what Grahl says versus others may not be so stark when you consider his emphasis on developing relationships. At the end of the day I think he'd agree that instead of building a list of followers, one should be building a fanbase.
- Instead Of Building A Fake Following On Twitter, Why Not Build A Fanbase?
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.