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An Idiots Guide To Social Media For Musicians

My name is @blokealex and I'm a Twitterholic. For my sins, I'm also the defacto leader of a band called BLKSWN and, as a combination of the aforementioned, I see a lot of musician output onto social media
websites... For a bunch of people who's sole purpose in life is interaction with people (albeit, sonically), an awful lot of musicians haven't worked how to use social media yet...

Why should you care about social media?
Let me put you in the picture: You're a musician, thus you spend a lot of time in pubs/bars and clubs. Look at what people are doing or better still, try and catch a stranger's eye. Oh, you can't. What you can see is their face being lit up by the dull (but battery-friendly) glow of their phone as they engage with cyberspace, checking in on FB to tell all their friends what gig they're at or creating a clever hashtag (#BLKSWNsuck etc). These are the people you have to connect with. Why? Simple: in the same way that gigs give you something to put on social networking sites, they now serve an important function for your audience by providing content for their virtual presentation of their online persona. An entirely unscientific study at a recent White Demin gig @ The Ritz showed more time being spent creating documentary evidence to upload on to social networking pages (photos/videos/check-in’s/tweets) THAN WATCHING THE MUSIC... Admit it, some of you are on your phone right now, ignoring the people around you while read this.

Connect is the crucial word here. It's a two-way street. With a few glittering exceptions (to be named later), musicians on social networking sites are utterly, utterly boring. They view it as nothing more than a resource to hawk their wares; a digital version of NME; a one-way mirror for their fans. They couldn't be more wrong. I'm actually pretty vicious these days; if a band's last five status updates/tweets have been "come to our gig"/"look at our new video", they're blocked/unfollowed/reported for spam... And, more to the point, I will actively avoid the gig/video and tell people I meet to do the same. That's what you're up against, people!!

Being "good" at social media is REALLY easy: pick the most street-wise / digitally literate of your band (As you're reading this, lets go ahead and assume that it's you; beautiful, erudite, charming you). Grab your iFail/Crackberry/GooglePhone and load up the band's twitter/FB account to the app. It's now YOUR job to update these pair on a regular basis. There aren't hard and fast rules regarding 'how to promote yourself on twitter/Facebook' but there are points you might want to bear in mind...

1 - CONNECT with people and ENGAGE them in conversation.

Post things which will generate a positive response and, be honest, you're not U2: You can take the time to respond to each and every reply from your fans... After all, you're asking for their time to listen to your record... When you have engaged people, they're more likely to buy your stuff / come to your gigs.

As I mentioned before, hashtags and check-ins are a great way of tracking who's at the gig and what they think... Kick these off yourselves and use them.


Alex "Designer" Mccann has spoken about this in the past but it's important so I'm going to reiterate the point... If you post too much too often, even if it's solid gold stuff (which it isn't, lets be honest), you're getting blocked / unfollowed. That's a fact.

3 - #drunktweets

Avoid tweeting / FB'ing from the 'band' account whilst under the influence of drink / tiredness / some dodgy cake your mate Dave gave you which must have been normal, I swear, but wow man, when did you get these melting walls installed? Some people will love it, most won't. Save your gin-fuelled meltdowns for your personal followers.

FINALLY: If you need examples of musicians "doing social media right", look no further than this list... Ignore the genres/labels, you may hate the music but, from a promo perspective, these are all diamond bullets:


If you have any to add to this list, leave them in the comments on facebook or tweet us , if you just want to call me horrendous names / tell me you love me, tweet me...

Cheers y'all

AC (@blokealex)

* Alex plays in the band Black Swan - check them out here http://www.facebook.com/blackswanband

* Designer Magazine sends out an extensive promo tools document to all bands that play our gigs - check out the book a gig section above...... and of course interact on those big facebook and twitter buttons below

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All Interviews by Alex McCann unless otherwise stated
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