How Social Media Is Hurting Your Ability To Obtain New Fans

(UPDATED) This guest post comes from Eric Hebert, a web strategist who helps artists understand marketing on the web. You can learn more about his work at evolvor.com

image from www.google.com I know what you’re thinking. “Wait, isn’t Eric one of those music marketing guys who is always talking about social media HELPING musicians and what not?!”

Yes, that’s me. I’ve been yapping about Facebook and Twitter and blogs all and that other crap since they first launched. And they are invaluable tools for anyone trying to market any kind of product or service. That is, they provide value if you’re using them properly, as in sharing relevant messages and providing excellent content, in addition to interacting with your users in a way that makes them fall in love with you. Otherwise, social media is, well, crap.

Over the past week everyone has has gone nuts-o over Google+, calling it a “Facebook-killer” or possibly a “Twitter replacement”. As a heavy user of Google’s products, I was excited to see what exactly I could do with it, but after all this stupid hype I stepped back and asked myself what the point was. We already have a killer social network in Facebook that is so engrained in the web, why would I want to start over? Then I started seeing articles pop up about “music marketing with Google+” and I started banging my fucking ahead against the wall.

Why so angry, you say? Well because it’s dumb shit like this that has musicians running around in circles. Everyone is a “guru” and wants to write all these articles about how “Google+ is the next big thing you better jump on it” without really teaching anyone what the point of it is. Guess what – it’s just a social network. If you just sign up for it and not use the dam thing, and use it properly, it’s not going to do a damn thing for you.

Why are we using social media in the first place?

Using Google+ as a marketing tool is EXACTLY THE SAME as using Facebook or Twitter; while they’re might be small differences with the interface or how to specifically do something, the actual value in using them only comes from exactly how you use it. Do you post interesting an engaging content? Do you thank fans and respond to them? Do you make being a fan or follower a rewarding experience? Awesome, your doing the right things.

The problem is, most musicians are not doing this. Nope, they sign up for each and every new thing thinking that JUST BECAUSE it’s the new thing, thinking it’s going to help them. So they post songs, spam friends with events, do the whole “wave my hands in the air look at me” typical bullshit, and then sit on the porch and pout because they don’t have any new “fans”.

The rise of Tumblr

Let’s talk about another service that is getting a ton of buzz these days: Tumblr. I had a client recently tell me that Tumblr is “going to be the next Twitter” and had me actually turn off the pretty dope website I had built for him so we could focus on his Tumblog.

I made an effort to speak my mind, but finally gave in (I’m not on the payroll anymore so whatever). His people we’re telling him one thing, and it’s the same thing I see a lot of people talking about. “Tumblr is so cool it let’s you post updates like Twitter but with photos blah blah blah.” And they’re all idiots.

Led Astray by Music Industry Bloggers

This is a perfect example of musicians being led astray by all the stupid social media hype they are getting from their so-called guru news sources and it’s not helping. Now you have bands with a Facebook page, a Twitter account, AND a Tumblog and all are devoid of anything interesting. They just read the hype and think they “need” to have it.

The big reason I don’t like Tumblr is because it’s just redundant. You see, your strategy should work like this: you create a cool blog post on your website (one you control); you then share the link to that on Twitter and Facebook. Fans come and interact with your content and fall in love. Then you maybe convert them into a customer or some other conversion.

What I see people doing now is just using their Tumblog as their website, and sharing crappy content (like random pictures or quotes) and then sharing on Facebook/Twitter. It’s all this micro-blog type content that has no real substance and isn’t doing a damn thing to help anybody. Plus, since none of it is on a website that the artist actually owns, it’s just not being used properly in building residual traffic (via search engine traffic) and none of it is being properly converted (email capture or actual sale of product).

The other really big problem with everyone blabbering about social media is NO ONE, I mean, no one, is talking about the types of things that ACTUALLY drive traffic and create a buzz for you – real social media marketing involves using the social news sites Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.

Explaining how exactly you can utilize these social news and voting sites is a whole other article in itself, and let’s just say the average Joe isn’t going to sign up today and become successful using them. However, the main thing, if everyone should shut up for a second and think about, is creating the best kinds of content. If you can learn to create the right kind of content, not only will your Facebook and Twitter start to see some traction, but you’d have a shot and going viral on a site like Digg.

So stop listening to all the hype everyone is dishing out everyday, and sit down and think about what the web is about: sharing information. None of these tools will do you any good unless you’re sharing the RIGHT kind of information. Learn how to create this kind of content and the tools around you will start to make a little more sense.

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  1. Agreed. Not enough focus is being placed on the fact that its more about what you have to offer rather than how you offer it. If you have something good it will build momentum for itself using any of the tools. Once you reach that stage, then start branching out to reach a broader audience. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Be weary of the music industry bloggers you follow. There are a lot of good ones, but there is also a good number who only repeat info they read elsewhere.

  3. What about the lack of a barrier to entry, ie all these services are free? I think that’s at least a partial driving factor here: bands migrate to what might be “the next thing” more than anything because they know that service is free, so why not set the account up? In particular, independent bands have such a connection to their audiences these days that they want to look just as trendy and relevant, let alone they understand our collective penchants for adopting new media and content publishing platforms. IT IS keeping up with the Joneses, but I think there are a few more layers to it.
    I totally agree with regards to focusing your presence and controlling your audience and your data, its just hard to do with little to no money for development and the generally apparent misguided message about what it takes to gain and maintain fans as well as present a robust brand identity.

  4. The biggest myth ( entertained by the so-called media experts ) is that you can build a fan base through social media. Social Media can be great to maintain and nurture an already existing audience, but not to build one.

  5. Thanks for the diatribe. You’re right, the best content should live on your blog, preferably one that is SEO driven like WordPress (Tumblr SEO sucks) and then using the tools like FB and Twitter to promote. Sure, you can engage fans on FB and Twitter but the in depth catalyst starts from your long-form ideas.

  6. Excellent, but where is the article on how to create the “right” kinds of content?? THAT’S the one I want to read.

  7. Eric, you make some interesting points as usual but calling whole groups of people idiots, telling people to shut up, etc., as you’ve also done in some form in every comment of yours I’ve read, seems a bit overdone.
    That said, does this approach help you establish credibility with your target market, i.e., musicians who need marketing help but are suspicious of marketers?
    I’m betting it does and I think this is an excellent example of how to turn a rant into a marketing event for your services. That’s something that most business schools would probably have discouraged you from doing and here you are making it work!
    I appreciate that.

  8. Absolutely epic article. Most artists don’t even realize they are making these third party sites money, when they could potentially be making money by promoting themselves on their OWN site…Excellent work sir!

  9. Thanks Bruce. Just when I thought Hypebot had nothing useful to offer artists, this article comes along. It’s a tune I’ve been piping for a while now… If you want to progress as an artist, then you need to start ignoring all the Internet chatter and simply stop caring about the latest social media hype. FOCUS ON MAKING SOME FUCKING MUSIC YOU TWATS!

  10. Great article. There are so many tools to market yourself as an artist you have to pick and choose the ones that work for you and not follow the crowd. That’s why you need to create a marketing plan. You know your band, identify your target audience and use the promotional and marketing strategies that work for you within your budgetary constraints.
    Be an individual.

  11. Yeah I do that a lot. I’m just trying to be real and authentic and I’ve found that when cursing like a sailor people stop and listen.

  12. Just a point on Tumblr. It seems to work really well for visual artists. I have a few photography/video friends there and they seem to have built strong communities around their work.
    I do like it, but don’t spend much time there as I really can’t work out how to integrate it to the full extent without spending too much time there. For now, Tweets and blog posts are synced and that’s about it.

  13. I’d like to say a big Kudos for this article. And it’s not just bands, it’s businesses that fall victim to this mentality. It seems to be epidemic all across the spectrum. This is what I’ve switched my focus completely to educating bands about. If bands started to think more like the smart writers who think “useful and unique content”, there would be a lot less garbage to sift through and a lot more solid material.
    This message really needs to get out there!
    – James Moore, yourbandisavirus.com

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