The rise of social media means that artists are expected to be in the spotlight and interacting with their fans 24/7. While this is all well and good for the attention lovers, such a prospect is decidedly unappealing for the more introverted musician. Here, we offer some sound advice for the attention shy on how to navigate social media's choppy waters.
Guest Post by Casey van Wensem on the Sonicbids Blog
Remember when there was a sense of mystery to your favorite musicians? When all you knew about them was what you could divine from their album cover art and liner notes? Maybe if you got lucky, you'd catch them on TV or see them live in concert, and then their personalities would truly come alive.
Now, thanks to social media, the days of the reclusive musician shrouded in mystery are long gone. Today's music fans demand 24-hour access to their favorite artists through constant status updates, videos, selfies, and brunch photos.
If you listen to most of the marketing wisdom out there, musicians should encourage this type of interaction with their audience. These days, marketers advise everyone from web designers to opera singers to "brand themselves" and "put themselves out there." It's a wonderful world for anyone who loves being in the spotlight, but what about the rest of us? What about the musicians who prefer to let their music speak for itself? If you're an introverted musician, here are some tips to help you navigate the complex, strange, and often frightening world of social media.
Use your introvert skills to your advantage
While the idea of using social media as a marketing tool can sound intimidating, in reality, this is one of the best types of marketing for introverts, since social media gives you a way to bypass a lot of the challenges that arise from face-to-face interactions.
"Introverts often feel repelled by social events that force them to attend to many people at once," writes Susan Cain in her 2012 bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Social media, on the other hand, allows introverts to assume more of an observer role, which is where they naturally thrive. In contrast to a real-life networking event, social media allows you to take your time, observe the situation, collect your thoughts, and think before you speak. This actually gives you an advantage over many extroverts, who may not possess the same observational skills or reflective nature.
Don't try to become a salesperson
Many introverts are put off by social media because they think they have to act like a salesperson online; they think that social media is all about self-promotion, and that those with the loudest voices are the ones who will be the most successful. What many introverts don't realize is that good marketing isn't about being a salesperson at all. In fact, fans are often turned off by artists who are constantly pushing their music and their brand online. Instead of a constant sales pitch,good marketing is about connecting people to something they already want.
"Effective marketing is simply sharing the welcome news that you can help solve someone's problem. It's an offer of help from a spirit of generosity," writes Val Nelson, a marketing expert who writes for Susan Cain's Quiet Revolution blog. If you take the approach that your music is something that can really help people (by bringing beauty to their lives, making them dance, laugh, cry, etc.), then the idea of sharing it online doesn't seem so scary.
Know that it's not all about you
Another great aspect of social media for an introvert is that you can actually use it to draw attention away from yourself. Because your identity is shaped by the things you love (the people you hang out with, the music you listen to, the books you read, etc.), social media is a great opportunity to display your personality without putting yourself in the spotlight. You don't have to divulge your deepest, darkest secrets or post endless selfies to be successful on social media. In fact, if you truly don't like talking about yourself that much, using social media to share about others rather than yourself will give fans a more authentic idea of who you are.
Realize that you're in control
Perhaps the best thing about social media is that you get to share what you want, when you want. This is a choice you don’t have when you’re out in public. It can be exhausting pretending to be more extroverted than you really are out in the real world or even onstage, but behind a screen, you can choose to disengage from conversations when your energy levels are low and participate when you feel ready.
Ultimately, social media gives the introvert a chance to truly be themselves, which is what fans are really looking for. Your audience doesn’t want to see a contrived version of your personality; they want the real thing. By embracing social media instead of being turned off by it, you can offer your fans a glimpse into your life without feeling like your privacy is being invaded 24/7.
Learn from the pros
If after all this, you still feel lost, here are some famous introverted musicians to follow on social media:
- Christina Aguilera
- Lady Gaga
- Zayn Malik
- Joe Budden
- Robert Fripp (King Crimson)
- Jonathan Davis (Korn)
- Maynard James Keenan (Tool)
- Marilyn Manson
The idea is not to copy these artists, but to see how they make social media work for them. If they can use social media as introverts and maintain followings of thousands or even millions of fans, then they must be doing something right. So just like you pick up guitar licks by watching your favorite guitarists in action, you can pick up social media skills by following your favorite introverted musicians on your social networks of choice.
Casey van Wensem is a freelance composer, musician, and writer living in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. You can hear his musical work at birdscompanionmusic.com and read his written work atcaseyvanwensemwriting.com.