SOCIAL MEDIA FOR PERFORMERS – PART 1
With all the upheaval about Facebook for Performers lately, I think it’s time for a little education on the matter. You can use this weather you’re a performer, or not, or if you don’t believe me, that’s fine, too. This series will attempt to educate folks on how social media can be used when one is a performer, but also how it should not be your only source of networking in today’s world.
I have been using social media since before it was known as social media, and I have been an alpha/beta tester on most all of the world’s largest social networks. I am a professional social media marketer and I am a performer. I understand branding, connecting to your audience, and marketing yourself.
Now then, onward.
Tip #1: Social Networking Websites are not your friends.
Here is a fact; social networking websites do not care about you, your individuality, what you do, who you know, or what your last selfie looks like. What they DO care about is your data; what you like, what you watch, what you read, and where you browse. That is because this data makes them money. Analytics, or information about your audience, is the foodstuff of social media marketing, and it is big business. Facebook has tapped into this by getting every bit of data it can about you, under the guise of building a “More tailored and unique experience”. This means a better experience for those of us that need to buy ads on Facebook in order to get our material in front of you. It does not provide you with a better browsing experience, but you’ll be told it does, and you’ll believe it because Facebook says it is so.
So why doesn’t Facebook care about you? Because Facebook only sees you as a way to make money. Each time you are on Facebook, you are looking at ads – hundreds of them – and those ads pay Facebook’s bills. Facebook SHOULD care about you, because you might be one of the thousands of people who buys Facebook ads to market your business – and that makes you a paying customer. However, Facebook has no need to pay attention to your interests, and especially not what you think about how Facebook is run. Have you ever tried to call Facebook? That’s right, you can’t – and you never will be able to. Have you tried to get help from Facebook via email? Right again, you can’t. Facebook governs all that you see and do on its website, and you have no say whatsoever in it. You need to stop fooling yourself into believing that this is a community. It is not. It is a marketing tool of the highest nature, a machine which makes a lot of money.
When Facebook, Google Plus, or any other Internet service decides to shut you out of your “community” because your name isn’t your real name, or because of some other arbitrary reason, you should take it as a reminder of the fact that you have no control whatsoever over this network. It could go away overnight, and take everything you’ve done and built with it. That means you need to build outside of social media websites. You wouldn’t only talk to your mom through Facebook, would you? You’d probably like to have her email address, or phone number, right? Right. So read on.
Tip #2: You need to build an audience outside of social networking.
The reason that we use social networking is because we can reach thousands of people with one post, tweet, or picture, and potentially increase our audience in the practice of doing such. This is an immensely valuable tool – and one that we should all keep using as performers. Unfortunately, it is not the only tool we should use, and you need to remember this every day.
Because that social network could go away at any time, you need to focus on bringing your new fans you’ve made via Social Networking into your own personal network – and that means your website and email newsletter.
Case in point of why this is important; I used MySpace for years to market my music, and I gained over 15,000 fans on that social network – and then, almost overnight, MySpace wasn’t cool, and Facebook was the new hotness. As a result, I literally lost thousands of potential fans in no time and learned the hard way that I should have gathered those people’s emails. I didn’t, and I have learned from that. Now, I always ask a true fan for their email.
Why email? Because as much as Internet naysayers want to cry that Email is dead, it’s not true. Email will likely always be around in some fashion or another, and that’s why you should have someone’s email address if they are a real fan of your work. If you can get a phone number and get permission from them to send SMS, even better – but remember, in either case, you have to get permission to contact these people – use a service like Mailchimp to setup an email newsletter list – it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers, which works well for most people.
If you do not get your fan’s email addresses, please do not complain when a social network dies and takes your fans with it.
This is only one part of a greater whole on which I will be writing, but in closing: Social Media is cool, and useful, but you have NO control over it, so you should STOP putting so much stock into it.
You should ALWAYS connect with your audience via email, because if they decide that a social network isn’t cool anymore, it’s highly unlikely they’ll contact you to say, “Hey, we’re getting out of here, want to come with us?”
And of course, Social Networks aren’t happy little free speech zones where you can do and say anything you want with impunity, and they’re not run “for love”. They are run to make money. Stop fooling yourself into thinking you have a community that is not built on the back of a company that could give you the axe at any time, and have a backup plan. It could mean the difference between having to start all over again, or simply spreading your networking around and bringing it all back to one central location.