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Q&A: Artists must build brand through social media

So, your artist Facebook page only has 15 fans?

Many budding artists meet the same problem: Gaining Facebook fans and expanding your audience is not easy.

Social media professional Phil Cobucci of BAM!, a social business firm, has some advice on giving exposure to your site and product. Vision staff writer Nicole Bright, who has also worked for BAM!, asked Cobucci to share some of what he sees as essentials.

Nicole Bright: Many Belmont Students are budding musicians looking to get their name out there. How can social media enhance this quest? Phil Cobucci: It’s not a question of enhancement; social media is a requirement in any type of marketing you’re going to do. Connecting with an audience on social media accounts is very important. It’s not a question of “Do I need this?” It’s a question of whether or not you’re maximizing its ability to benefit you.

The most important element is that artists need secured social accounts for their brand. Social media accounts are required elements of marketing your band from the very minute that you start recording. The next step would be to have a presence in some of the other social platforms: Instagram, Pinterest, GetGlue and Storify. It’s also important to connect music-related apps like BandPage and Artist Data and explore connectivity between music streaming services like Spotify or Pandora.

NB: Which social medium is best for this endeavor, and in what ways is it more effective than others?

PC: It’s a tough question, and it depends on the genre and who the artist is. An artist may see the best result on Facebook, but they might also see a better result on Instagram or Twitter. There are some artists that rock at Instagram and their posting something every single day. They’re posting their experiences, and that results in a positive engagement with their fans. It’s important to engage your fans wherever you are, on all platforms.

NB: What does a successful social media presence look like?

PC: There’re a lot of opinions on that, truthfully. I believe that a successful social media presence is one that is engaged on daily, whether that is responding to fans, engaging fans or posting images/updates. It also depends on the number of fans that you have. If you have 50 fans, you most likely don’t want to be posting every day of the week; don’t wear them out. But if you have 5,000 fans, you want to post every day. Study your page and find out what is most beneficial for you. Above all, engagement is key. Interact with your fans. That’s where you see success.

NB: What is the best way to get more fans and followers on social accounts?

PC: Truthfully, with Facebook right now, the easiest way is through promoted posts. Essentially, paying for fans. There is a way to do it organically alongside of that, by sharing your through traditional, non-social means. For example, if you’re at a concert, find unique ways to get your fans to like your page right then and there at the venue. Facebook offers services like text-to-like. You can also utilize QR codes or mobile websites, but they have to be shared correctly. Even just by providing your fans some sort of traditional flyer or a download card that offers ways to connect with you could be beneficial. When trying to boost your audience, it’s very important to merge traditional marketing efforts with your digital campaign.

NB: What are your top three do’s and don’ts for artists’ Facebook accounts?

PC: The first “do” is engagement. You have to engage your fans. You can’t just put the info on your page and expect people to care. Think of it as a brand talking to the fan. It’s a conversation, and its so much more valuable than just shouting at your fans online. You have to realize that even though making music may be your passion, you are a brand.

Second, know your EdgeRank, and study analytics like it’s your job. That’s how you’re going to know how you’re doing. It’s how you’re going to get to know your demographic, and it’s how you’re going to know if you’ve reached people. There are quite a few services out there that can help you monitor your rank and analytics — some are free but a majority of them do charge a service fee. Also, utilize the analytic reporting that Facebook offers for Page Managers.

The third thing for an artist would be to utilize BandPage. Use the Plus Version, it’s nominal annual cost for this service. You can have custom art, upload three or four songs, add app connectivity, upload videos… If you are focused on it, it can make your page look fantastic.

Don’t “set it and forget it.” Don’t schedule posts and then never go back and check your page. Answer questions, and comment on those that are engaging with you. If they’re a fan, even if it’s your mom, and they say that they love your song, respond to them.

Don’t have bad art. Know the proper sizing for your cover art and icon photos. Those are very important to know. Having crisp and clean art grabs the attention of the consumer.

NB: Foursquare, Instagram, and Pinterest: Do they have any value for upcoming artists?

PC: Foursquare is interesting. They have tools for setting up fan pages on Foursquare. You can leave tips on different venues that you’ve been to, check into venues, and upload pictures of venues that you’re at. It’s a great means for engagement. And the interaction between Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook is very good, the two link well.

Instagram is a must have, there’s no question about it. Twitter’s ability to interact with Instagram has proven to be a bit of a headache since Facebook’s taking over of Instagram. … However, there is an ever-growing community on Instagram, which makes it an extremely valuable tool.

Pinterest depends on your genre. If you’re an artist that relates to more of a female demographic, then Pinterest is great for you. We’re seeing a spike in male users on Pinterest, but it really depends on whether or not your audience is using it. This gives you an opportunity to engage with fans. If your fans are using Pinterest, you should be as well.

NB: Any last words of advice for musicians?

PC: Be true to who you are. Your music is your business; it is your brand. Be authentic. Your fans can see through inauthenticity easily. If you’re not speaking honestly about who you are, you’re not going to connect with an audience.

NB: What do you see as the future for artists’ social accounts? PC: Facebook has not been friendly for the independent artist in the past six months or so Whether you are an independent artist or small business, Facebook’s recent adjustment with EdgeRank isn’t friendly and ultimately will cost you money. I see that it’s going to start costing money in order to gain fans. With Facebook now being a public company, it’s focusing on revenue for its shareholders. So it’s going to cost money to reach fans.

Also, I think that MySpace could come back. With all this chatter about the new MySpace, I am excited to see what happens over the next months. The new MySpace creates a community where musicians can interact with one another, but where fans can also go to find new music that is similar to what they like.

In the meantime, it would be important to keep your ear to ground to learn about all of the new features and apps that can enhance your social presence; follow your fans and remember, most importantly, engage.

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