Social networking is the most indispensable tool that an artist can use to maximize exposure, build a fan base, and capture the attention of the industry. The era of the major-label showcase that wins an artist a record deal is pretty much over and done. Today, it''s all about your number of Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and YouTube views. So here are a few tips and tricks for skyrocketing your online fan base.
It is crucial to create a profile on every social-networking site where users are eager to find new music. This includes Twitter, Facebook, Purevolume, Stickam, Formspring, Reverb Nation, etc. Each site allows for its own style of interaction with different types of fans. Twitter delivers frequent updates, Formspring is a great tool for answering individual questions, and Stickam is a live video chat environment where fans can interact with you in person. I''ll also let you in on a little secret: Industry insiders often employ NextBigSound.com to compile and track your fan base through all of the sites you''re utilizing.
Although your music is obviously the most important element for your success, your image is an attention-grabber in today''s Internet-dominated music scene. Potential fans are more likely to stumble across one of your videos or photos before they even hear your music, so make sure your image content is high-quality, unique, attention-getting, and regularly refreshed. You want people to keep visiting your site for new content, and, hopefully they''ll stick around to hear your tracks.
You have one shot to capture potential fans when they click on your page, so don''t blow it with a sloppy profile. Arrange photos into albums (“Roxy Gig, May 2010,” “Photo Shoot for Revolver magazine, October 2010,” and so on), clearly label all videos and songs, and make sure your biography identifies what you''re about in less than 30 seconds.
Fans don''t like to be ignored. To build up your audience, you must reply to every comment and message with a genuine response. Users typically seek personal interaction when they visit a social-networking profile, and if you give it to them, they may come back again and perhaps even spread the word about you.
Posting fan contests, daily music-related questions, or anything else that encourages people to comment or become involved is a great way to increase activity on your profile pages. My band will often hold “art contests” where fans will submit edited photos of us, as well as sketches of our band members. Not only is this a great way to get people involved, but, in the end, we have tons of fan-made artwork to post and show off our dedicated audience. Another example is when we let fans do their own cover versions of our songs on video. Soon, we had all of these videos of our songs floating around YouTube for people to stumble upon.
Reach out to other bands and artists who are also trying to build their fan base by doing a “status swap,” where you share links to Facebook and Twitter pages, websites, and so on. It''s mutually beneficial to open up your communities to promote each other''s gigs, songs, and videos to potential new fans.