Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's The Most Important Social Network For An Artist?

Artist social network image
When it comes to social networks, most artist's have the same question - which is the best one? That's a difficult one to answer since our social world is such a moving target as technology and tastes constantly evolve. That said, Jacob Tell of the digital services company Oniracom has some answers in this excerpt from my Music 4.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age guidebook. Here's what Jacob had to say.

How have things changed since we talked for the last version of this book?
Actually the techniques are somewhat the same but the platforms keep changing. There are new ways for artists to get content out to the world, but that content is now two fold. Where before the content was mainly generated by the band or artist directly in regards to a new single or behind the scenes video or something similar, now we’re seeing more user generated content as the other half of the story. 

Some of our most effective marketing is based around user-generated content where we might grab hashtags from Instagram photos, throw them on a map based on geo-location, and then visualize the fanbase across a geographic region that’s posting content around a certain campaign. A good example of that is something we did for Thirty Seconds To Mars called You can see hundreds of Instagram, Twitter pics and Vine videos from all over the world on a map. This has become an extension of community and it really helps the artists connect directly with their fans on another level.

What’s more important today - Vine or Instagram?
For a minute there we really thought that Vine was going to be the most amazing new platform. There was something needed in the short form video space and Vine did the trick. I think the format is a winner, and being that they’re owned by Twitter, they have a built-in audience right off the bat. That said, because that there are so many Instagram users, as soon as it released its video feature to catch up to Vine, the Vine user numbers started to drag. Now you have this split of really hard-core users between the two, with another small contingent on Viddy. The Instagram people say, “I’m already on it and since it pastes to my Facebook wall I’m just going to stay there.”

We always tell our artists that we don’t want them to do things that feel like homework, so if they’re already on Instagram, we don’t want them to try to learn something else and have yet another social network to track. I don’t think Vine is going away, but I think the convenience factor of having both photo and video on Instagram is a huge benefit for artists and managers who have too much to manage already.

How important is Google+?
You ask most people and they’ll sort of scoff at Google+, but I’m one of the outliers who really believes in it as a centralized platform. There aren’t as many active users or bands or brands on it yet, but those numbers are definitely increasing, and there’s a lot of content available if you’re following the right sector. I get a lot of new information and news that way personally. There are also a lot of influencers in the music and tech space that I follow on G+, and I find that its mobile and tablet interfaces are very compelling. 

The fact that everyone in the business world is now moving to the Google Apps ecosystem and Google+ directly integrates with that is important. And Google Hangouts have been one of the most vital collaborative tools to our business. We started those with managers and artists as much to collaborate with them on as to show them the technology and how easy it is to use, so you can plant that seed of “You can do this with your fans.”

What’s the most important social network to an artist right now?
Personally I think visual content wins, so I’d say Instagram and YouTube. YouTube is ubiquitous across every device, the content is instantly searchable and available, and within seconds it can tell the story of a brand or an artist.

When it comes to the other networks though, personally I’m a big Twitter guy. I’m not so much into the Facebook and Google+ world on a day to day basis because of the obligation to connect. For an artist with a busy life, Twitter’s great because it’s more of a broadcast technology yet you can still engage with people and stay authentic and true to your brand. There’s a little bit more of a wall there so that offers some protection if that’s needed.

What’s the first thing you do with a new client?
We have a whole process that we call DNA that stands for discover, engage and advance. The first step is discovery, which means that we listen, since it’s all about hearing the client’s story. Marketing is all about story telling so I get the client to tell me theirs. They may not even think they have a story but they always do, even if we might have to coax some of that information out sometimes. 

Once we understand the story, then we dive into goals. How to achieve those goals is really based on audience demographic. Without a fanbase you’re not going to monetize and sustain a business, so you have to proactively listen back to your audience. It’s a game of give and take. We’ve had a lot of success in listening to audiences because we ourselves are indeed fans of art, music and culture, so that really makes it easy because we’re so passionate about the subjects. That means we can explain why it might be necessary to do something that maybe the artist isn’t so comfortable with in the social space.

Do you do the social day by day with them? How much do you ask them to engage?
It’s a case by case basis, but if we’re talking about an artist on tour, we absolutely want either the artist themselves or someone with day to day access to them like a tour manager, publicist or assistant to be posting content. Anything that’s more from management like an announcement of a tour cycle, album cycle or product release, we become more hands-on, crafting the copy to make sure that it matches the brand and voice and goals. 

Even with the day to day content, we’ll work with them to craft their content strategy document. We have a website called New Media Rules of Engagement or that outlines the best practices on every single social network. We take all those practices and filter them down based on their audience and goals. From there we come up with a content strategy document that says how frequently you should be posting content, how you should be posting that content, how you should be generating that content, how you should be repurposing content from your fanbase, and how you should be responding to your audience. That’s the blueprint for the artist, the management and the publicist to stay within the framework. 

With wireless bandwidth and speeds enabling us to engage with audio and video content from anywhere we are, it should be easer than ever for an artist to be able to engage with their fanbase. 

You can find out more about Jacob and Oniracom at"


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