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Artists on Social Networking Sites: You’re Doing it Wrong
Now that social networking is basically synonymous with human interaction in virtually all corners of the globe, it is obviously a popular place for those in the entertainment business to sell their wares to the public free of charge. With millions logging on to Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, it makes total sense for a musician or actor to have a presence on these sites. And the public shows its support by following and liking these artists and celebrities in hoards of thousands, if not millions. But are those in the entertainment field making the most of their presence on Facebook and Twitter? Are they maximizing their value? Not always. And ironically they are sometimes hindering or stalling their careers by doing just what they erroneously think they should be doing: pushing their product.
In order for artists to understand how to properly use social networking for career advancement, they must keep in mind that they are dealing with primarily two factions: the converted and the unconverted. The former is easy. Converted or longtime fans will follow blindly anyone they adore and admire, regardless of the artists’ status updates or tweets. Many actors and musicians on Twitter and Facebook never post at all. They start an account and then let it sit stagnant or have some bland representative post for them (which is blatantly obvious to everyone, and cringe-worthy). No matter. They still amass a mob of followers who just want to be associated somehow with the artist. But ironically these people are somewhat redundant to your cause on social networking. They already buy all your music or see all your movies. You don’t need to do or say much to keep them around. They are ecstatic to see even an automated update about where the album is available for sale or the movie is being screened. They are devoted fans. But they are not your primary focus on social networking. You are there to win fans, which is what truly makes your career thrive. And that brings us to the unconverted, where the true potential value lies.
When it comes to fans you haven’t made yet, nothing says ‘kiss of death” like shameless self-promotion. The problem with these endless reminders of an album release or the time that your show is coming on is that they will not attract nor retain new fans. If a person decides to follow you out of curiosity, then receives nothing but “check out my new show” or “here’s a link to my latest interview,” they will tune out and drop you like a dead fish. Only the converted like to hear you brag. You will not attract the curious by showing your fancy feathers right out of the gate. Here is what artists forget: on social newtworking sites, people want to know YOU before they know your art. They want to feel as if they could be your friend. Yes, they realize it’s all an illusion. Twitter and Facebook are an illusion of reality anyway. But it’s a separate reality that everyone accepts, and most people play along. But when an artist is constantly pushing product, no one is really impressed. People want to feel as if you’re just like them. That you’re there for the same pathetic reasons that they are.That you rammed your gums with your toothbrush this morning. That your dog shit all over the new carpet. And the latte at the Rodeo Drive Starbucks tastes like motor oil. Or the nectar of the gods. Whatever. If you sell yourself as a person, they will buy the product.
After all, what truly is there to be afraid of on Twitter or Facebook? No one can get at you any easier in the real sense. You can even answer fan questions and engage in conversations. You both know that no real friendship is being formed. After all, you don’t follow them; they can’t send you a private message. Everything’s up in front of everyone. The playing field is moderated by the public. And once you thrill a few people by retweeting them or acknowledging them, you create a storm of fandom that snowballs into even greater fame. And this is all possible by letting them discover and crave your product because you come across as not being there primarily for the sell. They feel that you’re there because of the human interaction, which is in line with the basic purpose of social networking. Use it like everyone else, and they will flock to your movie and album in droves. When in Rome, hide your wagon of wares until people trust you enough to buy them from you.
(Featured image courtesy Flickr: uploaded on June 16, 2008 by davidking)