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Engaging with fans is crucial for an artist at any level. Today, maintaining an active connection with fans involves a strong online presence, especially on social media. As you are likely already aware, Facebook has recently made changes that have resulted in content from pages only appearing in a small percentage of fans’ newsfeeds (of course, there is the option to pay to increase that distribution, but for the average independent artist, this is not realistic). While this makes it harder to remain in front of fans, there are other social websites that artists can use to create meaningful connections with their fans. Here is a look at two social media tools that you can use to connect with your fans online.
Unlike Facebook, Pinterest is not all about self-promotion. Instead, Pinterest is a way for artists to share information about themselves with their fans. Pinterest calls itself a “virtual pinboard,” and it really is that simple. Users can create different “boards” and pin images to them, creating a visual collage of images. Artists can share images of things that might be interesting to their fans, and that reveal more about themselves (for example: artists who inspire you, instruments you drool over, examples of awesome tour posters or album artwork, etc.). Fans can then “re-pin” things they like, which is viewable by their followers. This viral aspect enables an artist’s reach to extend far beyond just the users who follow their pins.
For bands, Pinterest can also be a way for each member to show their individual personality. Bands can create a band Pinterest profile, which could link to the group’s other websites, contain a bio with searchable keywords, and contain a profile image. Then, each band member can set up a personal profile with their own information. The individual band members can then be made contributors to the band’s boards, giving each the opportunity to share and contribute to the overall band profile. Band members can share their favorite albums, instruments, “rock and roll moments,” or anything else that reveals more about who they are as individuals and how they contribute to the band.
In addition to sharing general information about your likes as an artist, you can use Pinterest to share some promotional material, such as press clippings about your music, behind-the-scenes photos, pics of your fans from shows, etc. Just make sure you are sharing more than just promotional information on Pinterest to keep fans interested and keep the content fresh and unique from your other social profiles. Remember that you can link your pins back to the source, so you can link back to content from your website, blog, etc., which is helpful for your search engine rankings as well.
Sure, Twitter is an excellent tool for musicians to interact with fans. And the fact that it can be used seamlessly with most of today’s mobile phones makes it easy to update, even when on the road. While most artists know how to use Twitter, the fine line tends to be finding a way to use it productively, instead of over-sharing minute details of life. Twitter should be part of your overall social media strategy as an artist – supporting your “brand” or image – but also giving insight into your personality and making you accessible to your fans.
One way to use Twitter as a promotional tool is to follow artists who have a similar fan base, as well as the tastemakers in your genre. Retweet, quote, use their hashtags, and reply to their tweets to be seen by their fans, and to make the connection between yourself and them (and potentially pick up some new followers). You can also network with other artists, even those outside your geographic area, to establish new relationships. By following and tweeting at other artists, you are opening an informal dialogue that could lead to new career opportunities.
While using Twitter for networking is great, the real value can be found in tapping into the power of your fans. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has a real-time feed that doesn’t select which followers see a post (and doesn’t require a pay-per-update fee to ensure all of your followers are seeing your updates). This gives you greater power to reach those who follow your fans, and hopefully pick up new followers yourself. Some ways to encourage fans to interact on Twitter are to have contests (for example: design a poster for our next show, come up with a title for our new song, retweet this message and be entered to win a t-shirt, etc.), offer a “Tweet for a Track” program where fans who tweet a message their followers can download a track for free, or offer real-time Q&A sessions where fans can tweet questions at you and you tweet your answers (filmmaker Kevin Smith is great at this).
One more important thing to remember about Twitter is that you should have fun with it. Show your personality, and let your fans see that you are real and accessible. Share photos (aka “twitpics”) of moments in your life, such as tour shenanigans, funny/beautiful/memorable moments, band members off-stage, photos from the recording studio, or anything that gives your fans a glimpse into what is happening in your world. You’ll find that fans are much more likely to support an artist with whom they feel a human connection.
–Pamela Ricci is an artist manager and consumer marketing manager in the Boston area.