Especially with the continuing rise of mobile internet use and tablet computers. In fact the chances are that you found this post via a Social Media outlet of some kind.
I would also hazard a guess that if you’re a musician you’ll be using Social Media to help promote you, or your bands, music in some way?
If so, are you using Social Media as well as you could be? And maybe more importantly, are you using it in such a way that it’s actually having an adverse effect on your bands image, brand, business or effectiveness?
Most new users of Social Media make mistakes when they first venture into it, and for many that doesn’t really affect them in any way. Although we’ve probably all heard horror stories of where those errors have affected an individuals career etc.
But if you’re a band, a musician, or even a business, those mistakes can come back to haunt you over time and may well adversely affect your prospective career.
You’ve no doubt heard that expression “what goes on the internet, stays on the internet” and it’s very true. Deleting an offending Facebook status, or removing that dodgy photo doesn’t get rid of it completely. It will still be ‘out there’ somewhere and who knows who might find it.
Nobody has all the answers as to what to do, or more importantly, what not to do, least of all me. But over my seven years of using Social Media I’ve built up a few personal guidelines that I try and use myself. Those guidelines can work just as well for an individual, as they can for a band, or musician. Probably the best thing to do is to tailor them for your own needs and circumstances.
So, I thought I’d share those personal guidelines with you and who knows, you might just spot a few things that you could be doing better. It’s by no means an exhaustive list and you may well have some of your own ideas that you can add to the list.
Remember, you may have only one chance to grab the attention of that fan, A & R person, or record label. So make sure if and when they check you out, you make a good impression, not a bad one.
As somebody once said to me ‘first impressions last”. Wise words.
So, in no particular order:
1 - Engage and Interact: Social Media is all about interaction, hence the Social part.
There’s really no point in being on Social Media sites in the first place if you have no intention of interacting with your friends, followers, fans, or subscribers. Those people are on your page because they have an interest in your band, or yourself. So at least have the courtesy to reply to their comments. Yes, it can be time consuming, but even a ‘Like’ can go a long way.
2 - Don’t Post When Drunk:
It seems obvious doesn’t it, but you’d be amazed at how often people do this. We’ve probably all done it at some time, but if you’re trying to sell yourself as a band, it really isn’t a good idea to post anything when you’ve had a few drinks. What might seem like a great idea at the time, could well come back and bite you on the bum in the cold light of the next morning.
3 - Think Before You Post:
Similar to the last point really. Remember that what may sound great when spoken, just doesn’t look the same when written down in text form. Text shows no emotion and the emphasis you have in your head may not relay well to the page, or screen. Always read back what you’ve written, before hitting ‘send’.
4 - DONT SHOUT:
One of the great unwritten ‘rules’ of using text, in any form, is not to use capital letters all the time. It comes across as shouting and let’s face it, nobody likes to be shouted at do they? You’d be amazed at how many people do this. So, stand away from that ‘Caps Lock’ key.
5 - Grammar and Spelling:
Nobody is perfect, least of all me. But, try and make sure that your spelling and grammar are as good as they can be. We’ve probably all seen the ‘Grammar Nazis’ that patrol the Internet, chastising those who make mistakes. So why give them any more ammunition if you can avoid it? They like nothing more than picking people up on those common errors of Your/You’re, There/Their/They’re, It’s/Its and Where/Wear etc etc. As mentioned before, read back what you’ve written before you post it.
Beware of predictive text too, as it seems to have no logic attached to it. You may end up posting something completely different to what you intended because of it.
6 - Don’t Spam Others:
Nobody lies being spammed do they, so why do it to others? Of course you want to try and promote what you, or your band are doing. But try not to spam other people’s pages, or sites. Make what you post on other people’s sites relevant and don’t post too often, or keep repeating yourself.
Also on the flipside of this, don’t allow others to spam your own site either, as they will inevitably attempt to do. Try and keep on top of this and delete/block offenders if needed.
7 - Make Posts Relevant:
As just mentioned, whatever and wherever you post, make sure that it’s actually relevant. Save the personal stuff for your own personal site. People come to your band site to read about the band, not about how many pints you had last night, or that you’ve had an argument with your partner etc.
8 - Tell The Truth:
Once again this may seem pretty obvious, but...
We all tend to exaggerate things at times and bands are no exception to that. Most of the time that’s fine, but don’t promise things that you can’t deliver, or that you know just aren’t true. You will get found out at some time and that will always stick in peoples minds far more than all the positive things about your band.
9 - Review Your Content:
Be in control of what others see on your site. This may mean having to review and delete old photos, videos and songs that don’t really have any relevance anymore. You’d be amazed how many bands still have rather embarrassing, photos, videos and old demo’s still lurking around on their Facebook page. Is that what you really want visitor’s to see?
Remember, you’re trying to create a good impression here, so delete them and just keep up the good/relevant items. On this same point, you might also want to ask your friends to do the same with photos and videos of your band that they may have posted on their own sites. Have a look around, there are bound to be some out there somewhere. If they’re good friends and want to see your band succeed, I’m sure they’d be happy to delete them as well.
Just ‘Google’ your bands name and see what you find, it may well surprise you.
10 - Don’t Engage In Slanging Matches:
Yes, I know it can be tempting, but try not to engage in any slanging matches, or mudslinging with any Internet trolls and haters that may well turn up on your site. They really aren’t worth it and arguing with them will only make you look bad yourself. It’s also a huge waste of time. If in doubt, block them and delete their comments, or the actual person. Positive criticism is one thing, abuse is something quite different.
11 - Think Like A Brand/Business:
Whether you like it or not, a band is a form of brand/business and your site acts as a kind of shop window for your band, so try and treat it that way. It is there to help promote and sell your band, just like that shop window in the high street is. So, if you think like a business/brand you’re halfway there.
12 - Don’t Give Away Too Much:
Social Media sites are very useful, but they should really only be there to supplement your main website, if you have one. If you don’t have a band website, you should really think about setting one up, as it can help to make your band look more serious. I accept that this might cost a bit of money and time to set up, but it will be worth it in the long run. Use your Social Media sites to push people towards your personal website, where possible. After all, you’ll have far more control over a personal website than any Social Media site. Post a brief outline on Facebook, Twitter etc and then include a link to the full item on your website.
13 - Prioritise:
It’s an easy mistake to make, but don’t get so tied up sorting out all your Social Media sites that you then don’t have time for the basics. This is another one of those things that you see some bands doing. Social Media means absolutely nothing if you don’t rehearse, haven’t got the songs, or don’t do the gigs to back it all up. Being the best band on Facebook counts for nothing.
14 - The Numbers Game:
Don’t get caught up in the numbers game. Yes, it looks great to have a huge amount of Facebook friends, YouTube subscribers, or Twitter followers. But if hardly any of them actually engage with your band, buy your music, or come and see you live, they then count for nothing. Quality is always better than quantity.
15 - Help!:
If you follow all of the above suggestions it can be very time consuming and is probably the reason why so many bands don’t follow these guidelines in the first place. So, why not enlist the help of a trusted friend, fan of the band, or your Manager to do it all, or at least some of it, for you? That then leaves you to get on with the far more important tasks of writing new songs, gigging and planning your future career.
If you do end up posting updates yourself, make sure all band members/helpers have agreed who is going to post and when. Cross posting looks bad.
16 - Check Your Other Sites:
I have no doubt that you’ve signed up to many different Social Media sites, or services over time. So, now that you’ve read these guidelines and providing that you agree with at least some of them, go and check ALL of your Social Media/Band sites and make sure that you have a consistent policy on them all. You might be surprised at how many sites you’ve signed up to and what you’ve got posted on them. Maybe now is also the time to closedown some of those forgotten accounts and concentrate on the ones that work best for you? And when you have whittled the number down to what you can work best with, make sure that you link to all your sites from each other.
Hopefully, some of what you’ve read here has been of use? And if not, maybe it’s at least given you something to think about when it comes to your use of Social Media? Whether as a band, or as an individual.
In my opinion all bands should agree a Social Media policy amongst themselves and then consistently act upon it. It’s something that is becoming far more important as time goes on and could well end up being the difference between your band being a success, or not.
Andy Gunton, founder of Pierless Music
*photo: Gary Larson, The Far Side