Saturday, February 19, 2011

How to Successfully Grow Your Fan Base Using Facebook (And Not Spend a Dime)

BY: ROBIN DAVEY |

When it comes to your music, people are predominantly concerned with one thing - not what your music means to you, but what your music means to them. This is one of the most important lessons any musician can learn.

The birth of social networks allowed fans an insight into the more mundane aspects of celebrity; as a result, this sparked a newfound intrigue into their normality. However, now that everyone from the drummer of the Black Keys, to the State of North Korea are all Twittered up, the days of dietary intake being shareable news are long gone.

The tides have turned.

Now it’s time for the artist to use social networks to learn about their fans. Facebook is actually a great place to gain vital insight into what makes your fan base tick. It’s like a customer survey at your fingertips.

4 Ways To Grow Your Fan Base:

1. REELING THEM IN. Someone liking you on Facebook doesn’t make them an instant fan. It really means very little unless you can draw them further into your world. When you post on your wall, those who have opted in to your page have the option to like it, or go one further and make a comment. They could have liked you in the first place for a plethora of reasons, and your music might actually be further down the list then you think.

They could have thought your photo was cute, that your band had a cool name, or that you might be the band they heard on the radio. If you love a band or a song, then post a link to their video and briefly say how much you love it. If they like it too then then that is step one in to getting them to also connect to your music.

2. UNDERSTAND THE LIKE. When a post of yours is liked, it is important to take a step back from that. Don’t think too highly of yourself for saying something that enticed a click on the “Like” button. Instead, understand that they have clicked that button because, in some way, they feel your post defines them. They are endorsing you, putting their name to your comments. If you get an above average number of likes, it’s not just because you said something clever, it’s because your fans are responding to something they want to associate with. Look for patterns in this and hone in on them.

Was it something funny, meaningful, or controversial?

This is important because you want to get fans coming back to your page. You can reel them in with something that interests them, and when they are there, they will want to look deeper. Maybe even download an MP3, or go one further and purchase something.

For instance if you were outraged by the Prop 8 result, or thought an SNL skit was funny, you can bet that a portion of your fan base does too. If you are passionate about something, people will relate and interact.

3. TAP INTO THEIR EMOTION. A post that makes them laugh, think, or invokes some sort of emotion will make them much more likely to check out what you have to offer musically. Posts that simply promote a review of your work or continuously plug a show are great for you core fans, but your core fans should have already been captured and signed up for your mailing list. The casual clicker on Facebook is not that dedicated yet. Boring generic plugs will quickly look like spam amongst other people genuinely sharing things that captivate them.

“I’m going to Las Vegas this weekend, where should I stay?” will inspire people to join in the conversation far more than “Check out our review on this music blog…”

4. DRAW THEM IN DEEPER. Everybody is faced with the same fears about life and these themes are universal. They are looking for a place to belong and feel safe, and ultimately be reassured that everything is going to be OK.

Somehow you, through both your music and your connection to you fans, have to be uplifting. It can be uplifting because they see that there are others like them, who share a common view, or mirror the pain they are going through. It can be uplifting because it makes them laugh. It can be uplifting because they are looking for something spiritual and you provide an insight into that. Or alternatively, they are sick of religion and looking for something anti-theist, and you seem to speak their mind.

Again, to reiterate the opening statement, this is where you have to be aware of what your music means to other people and not just yourself. Don’t be afraid if people take offense to what you say, it just means they never really got your music in the first place. They were never going to be a fan. But for every one that walks away because they didn’t relate you, will find 10 that were drawn in deeper, because they do like what you stand for.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Your music is an extension of you, and the best music translates because it becomes a conversation with the fan. The more they understand and relate to your thoughts and feelings outside of the music, the deeper their conversation with the music will become.

So pick what you say wisely; don’t bombard people with “Buy our album” posts. Ease them in with something that gets their brains stimulated. If you can do that, then you are on the way to ultimately making your fans believe that - liking you is intrinsic to making them look cool. More importantly, you will have successfully set in motion the most powerful tool in marketing - word of mouth.

DO’S and DONT’S:

Don’t inundate your fans with endless plugs for your new single or release. It’s too likely to be seen as spam.
Do share info that is relevant to your fan base, but not necessarily directly relevant to you music. A link to a news story that you relate to for instance. Offer a small concise commentary. Fans like to feel connected to your tastes, especially if you share the same taste as theirs.
Do ask your fans their opinion on things - inspire debate and don’t be afraid to chip in a reply here and there, but don’t overdo it; you don’t want 23 comments on a post, and 20 of them are yours.
Don’t talk about yourself all the time - how the world will soon realize your greatness or how hard it is not being recognized for you art. No one cares except your mama (and she’s probably sick of it by now).
Do speak your mind. If you have a strong opinion on something, say it. However, read your post clearly and make sure your point is well structured, and if you are drunk, it may be best to leave posting it until the morning.

Robin Davey is a Musician, Film Director and Producer born in the UK and now residing in Los Angeles. He was inducted into the British Blues Hall Of Fame at the age of 23 with his band The Hoax. His current band The Bastard Fairies achieved over 1 Million downloads when they were the first band to release an album for free via the internet in 2006. As a director he won the best Music Video award at the American Indian Motion Picture Awards. His feature documentary The Canary Effect - an exploration into the hidden Genocide of Native Americans, won The Stanley Kubrick Award For Bold and Innovative Film Making at Michael Moores Traverse city Film Festival in 2006. He is also head of Film and Music Development at GROWvision - A full service media, management and production company.