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Social-Networking Do's and Don't's...know your fans to keep your fans!

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So one of the main things I've had to learn this year with the rapid advance of social networking as a direct-connect to your fans is this:  DON'T make the mistake of overmarketing to them.

Fans become fans because they LIKE your music, but they are naturally curious about the person behind the music and the LOVE getting to know you even more than they like your music.  This is an incredibly important lesson to learn. Keep in mind that the same should be true for you in order for there to exist a genuine relationship between the two of more interested in learning about and knowing your fans than SELLING to them.  They will buy your music if and only if you've established trust and interest with them as an independent artist.  Let's face it - we're not Taylor Swift or Beyonce who have had millions of dollars behind developing their brand that is mass-marketed to everyone.  We are independent artists with limited marketing budgets and time and genuine care will go a LONG way in your social networking strategies.

I was fortunate to have a couple wake-up calls from fans on Facebook letting me know that they were tuning out or leaving because "all you do is talk about your songs."  WOW.  That hurts.  I thank them for being honest and opening my eyes and engaging me in a discussion that eventually earned back their trust.

Now, I take time to thoughfully formulate a status update that lets them see inside the window of my day-to-day existence, whether it's a fall bike ride, or baking pumpkin pies or what kind of music I feel like listening to or playing.  After all, I'm just another person, not a music machine, right?  This keeps my fans engaged, "liking" my status and tuning in for when I have important marketing announcements to make.

I've noticed time and time again when I ask something about THEM (people love to talk about themselves) I get a lot more response than when I narcissistically post about myself all the time.  Get your fans involved with a small "survey" that is a "get to know you better" tool (like and you'll find out a lot of great things about that that may help you understand what they like more.  For instance, in the survey I conducted, I found out that most of my fans' favorite season is guess who just put out a fall/winter single about saying goodbye to fall and snuggling up with a loved one through the winter?  It's important to know what your fans LIKE.  After all, they are your best supporter and customer, right?

Find out if your fans are even interested in buying more music from you before you proceed with another recording!  This is worth its weight in gold.  If they are, what format do they prefer?  Digital download, CD, vinyl?  FIND OUT.  You need to be conforming your business model to what your market wants, or you will sell nothing and spend needlessly.  Maybe you're riding the line between rock and country.  Find out if your fan base is more interested in one over the other.  This might sound like a sell-out technique, but remember, your fans are unbiased and they probably see the best in you before you do.  Some of the best advice I ever received was "The Market is always right."  This means that if stocks go down and you're long, you are broke.  It also means that the people buying your product will determine what sells.  It makes all the sense in the world, so LISTEN to your market.

Okay, that's it.  A few tips that hopefully will help you connect with your fans more personally in this cyber-centric world.  Take care and keep making AND selling GREAT MUSIC.
initiated Oct 18, 2011 in Connecting with Fans by Katey Laurel (280 points)   2 2 3

3 Responses

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Great stuff, Katey.  I really find this fascinating, in part because I've heard slightly different things from some people.  I think it may depend on the type of person you are and the type of fans you attract.  That is, I know of at least one musician who got frustrated when he tweeted things about his life unrelated to his music, and some fans got annoyed by it.  But I think that may be a unique case.  I think tweeting about other stuff can help you connect.  It certainly shows an authenticness that many people appreciate and value -- and, indeed, makes it so fans don't feel like you're always "marketing."

It's kind of like how some people can't stand Twitter feeds that are purely "announcements" from companies, in which they don't engage with fans at all.  Either way, very interesting lessons learned.  Thanks for sharing!
response added Oct 18, 2011 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
@mmasnick, thanks so much for reading!  It's great to know that the troubles we go through can help others.  Of course, find out what your own personal ratios of marketing to personal are...your fans will let you know, either by being vocal about it, or leaving.  :)  Also, track the amount of active response you get ("likes" and comments) on various types of posts to figure out what your fans connect with.  Hope this helps!
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Thank you, Katey. This is one area that my band is still struggling with. Have you found a good ratio of promotional to personal content? Have you also tried being more transparent in your business dealing like in Andy's post? Could you provide a link to your facebook or twitter feed so we I could peruse it?

response added Oct 19, 2011 by Matthew Bile (1,090 points)   3 6 15
@matthewbile, thanks for stopping by and leaving some feedback.  Of course this is something you will learn over time by tracking the types of posts that get response in the form of "likes" and comments.  I have found that about 75 - 80% "light" discussion and 20-25% marketing works well for me...unless I have a big announcement like a release, and then I will probably have more of a 20%/80% for a short while.  I try to gauge reactions though and that is how I know to cut back on marketing or drop a silly personal quip to get people to loosen up.  :)  Hope this helps!  

I don't have a huge FB following, under 800...but if I'm seeing 7-10 responses per comment, I know that folks find it interesting, even if that's only .01%.  You know you're not getting anywhere if NO ONE responds.  People are busy too, so don't take things too personally.  You're just tossing the ball out there to be played with IF people have the time and interest.  I also try to share videos and links to other artists that my fanbase would most likely enjoy, this way helping out other bands and artists and introducing my fans to great new music that they might not otherwise hear of.

You can find me at and  Thanks for listening and best wishes to you and your band!
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Just a small question, not particularly related to the topic.

As a musician, there must be times when you just sit with your instrument and play random bits that come to your mind, right? Like, just playing with an instrument as a means of exploration.

Have you considered uploading those "bits" to sites like SoundCloud and allow your fans to sample your creative process? This may help attract a few more followers. They need not be perfectly created pieces but just you playing and maybe dropping a few comments here and there.

Your FB fan page already has a few full songs, which is a good move.

(This idea stems from one of your tweets where you say you want to play Irish folk songs today.)
response added Oct 22, 2011 by I B (700 points)   1 1 5
That is a great idea!  I should have uploaded snippets of me playing Damien Rice and Susan Enan that day I suppose....put a moving picture with a thought in today's technology dominated world.  I learned something the other day at a seminar by a "backpack journalist" that you all might find interesting.  We lose 30% of our viewers of any online video by 30 seconds, 60% by one minute.  Talk about ADD!!  Videos might as well be a minute or less since folks move on unless it's riveting.  :)  Have a great day and thanks for the thoughts!

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