A new social media phenomenon pops up just about every day, which musicians and other creative types are expected to use to promote their work to the masses. You need to be on YouTube, Twitter, BandCamp, Facebook, Last.fm and even LinkedIn in order to gain maximum exposure for your music – and that’s just for starters. The argument runs that artists who don’t use these sites are potentially losing out on a really good method of getting their music heard by punters.
However, that doesn’t mean you should join every site going.
From the point of view of fans, or journalists/bloggers wanting to find out more about you for an article, it’s really irritating when you don’t bother to update any social media platforms - whether you’ve signed up for everything going and never used it, or your only online presence is a long forgotten myspace. If you aren’t going to use it, there’s no point having it.
Having said that, your updates don’t have to be long and involved.
You could just stick up the odd photo from practice, or link to that hilarious picture of a dog in a hat you found. If you do this a couple of times a week, you maintain your online presence without it having to take over your life. With blogs and twitter you can schedule updates in advance, so you can spend half an hour at the start of each month typing things into wordpress, blogger, hootsuite or whatever then go about your business for weeks without thinking about it.
If that still sounds daunting – for instance maybe you haven’t been gigging much and don’t feel like you have a lot to say – frankly, you’re worrying too much.
Social media updates don’t always have to be about you – in fact they probably shouldn’t be.
Think about it from a reader’s point of view. Would you rather read a) a constant barrage of self-promotion on one topic across all social media platforms till you feel like there’s no escape from this gig/CD/new T-Shirt, or b) more occasional posts on a variety of stuff?
Obviously it’s good to remind people when you have a gig coming up or an EP just out, and yes, you’ll need to mention that more than once - people forget stuff. But you don’t need to be saying ‘omg guys, we have a gig on Thursday’ every ten minutes. That, my dears, is spam.
A lot of folk follow the adage, “I’d never join Twitter, it’s full of Z-List celebrities carping on about what they had for breakfast.”
This is only partly true.
Twitter is full of boring people, but there is absolutely no reason why you would have to interact with them. You can pick and choose who you engage with - there’s no law saying you must follow Justin Bieber and Stephen Fry, whilst a bit of surfing will turn up managers, promoters, journos, bloggers and your favourite bands.
And whilst writing about the minutiae of your day is pretty dull, a bit of imagination goes a long way. For instance, don’t say “Porridge for breakfast lol” with a photo of said porridge – put the porridge on your head and try to get Duncan Bannatyne to help you patent it as a new food-hat. At worst people will think this is silly, at best you might illicit a smile – which is a golden rule for all social media use.
Which brings us to a final point - be nice.
Having created an informal profile across your chosen social media platforms, engaging with readers in an often humorous and always consistent manner, you may find yourself wanting to update followers on things you take issue with. This is OK up to a point, but be careful - bitching and moaning about stuff on the internet is paved with problems.
If you’re using social media to promote something, do NOT do it by slagging off your competition unless you’re happy to be slagged back to an unprecedented degree. A lot of people online only read a headline, or the first sentence of an article, or one tweet, before wading in with bile-filled and over the top reactions. Context gets lost really easily, sometimes with horrific results.
If you must have a moan, try to be a bit articulate - don’t just say everyone that downloads music without paying for it is a freeloading titbollock with an ugly soul, explain why that’s the case and what can be done about it.