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« Indie Artists in the New Music World | Main | 6 Shocking Reasons Your Facebook Fans Aren't Engaged [Part 2 of 2] »

Going Nowhere – The Pitfalls of the “Facebook Band"

Today I want to talk about what I call “Facebook bands”. This isn’t a term, of course, for every artist on Facebook (some are fully professional and use the site extremely well), but rather a term to describe those who misuse Facebook in predictable and typical ways, dooming themselves to stay on Facebook permanently without any outside exposure. Self-imposed social media prison.

To loosely define it, “Facebook bands” use embarrassing spam tactics, whether by posting their link randomly on other Facebook pages, on post comments in the place of valid responses, and through excessive event invites and similar outreach.

What most artists don’t realize is that all the time they put into diligently posting their links in as many places as possible is wasted. Though they are clearly following psychological studies that indicate seeing a name seven times increases the likelihood of purchase, or at least brand loyalty, they are forgetting that the name cannot be uttered from the horse’s mouth. You can scream your band’s name from the rafters all you want, but it won’t help me very much unless it comes from other mouths. The buzz needs validation, whether from individuals or from publications.

So, an easy way to look at the rules of public perception is this. If it comes from you, it’s not technically valid (in most cases, to be clear). If it comes from someone else, it’s legit.

If you take this as your starting point in the seemingly daunting task of growing your reputation, you’re building your band on the right framework. I think it’s important to answer the question, though, as to why the “link posting” tactic is really all that bad. That way, we can safely remove it from our repertoire.

1)  It doesn’t state a purpose. Therefore it’s aimless. Simply posting a link for your band without any explanation doesn’t really help your cause. Are you looking for “likes”? Are you more serious and looking for promotion services, label consideration, or management? Do you want review consideration? If you don’t explain yourself, no one will understand you.  

2)  It makes you look very rushed. Whenever I see an artist link, I always think that the artist must be extremely rushed to show such carelessness to their own art. No time to say hello. No time to send a proper email or to explain themselves. No time to talk to another human being.

3)  It wouldn’t work in the real world. Have you ever tried to ask for someone’s help by yelling your business name at them?

4)  It paints a desperate picture. Spamming smacks of frustration. It’s aggressive, and is generally perceived as a classless move. It says to the world that you are not willing to communicate.

“Come on. Give me just one “like”. Just one fix! We really need it.”

5)  It takes up all your promotion time, gives you no results, and dissolves the band itself. It’s easy for artists to spend all their time on social networks reaching out endlessly. It can even take away from the creative process in some cases. Bands, over time, tend to get more and more frustrated, wondering why no one seems to be paying attention. They’re not landing that elusive record deal, and yet they spend hours each day on “promoting”. Within a year or two, this dissolves projects that otherwise would have been going strong. Even worse, with all the time put into Facebook, most bands could have orchestrated a successful PR campaign!

The solution is multi-faceted. It’s critical to get into the habit of emailing and treating your outreach like real conversations. Always think of a human being on the other end. Ask a human question and get a human answer.

It’s also critical to state your purpose. Ask for what you want. If you’re not quite sure about what you need, ask for advice. Not many bands know this, but it’s a rare person who will refuse to give advice. Why is this? Psychologically it makes us feel good when people ask us for advice, and in turn we feel the instinct to help them. If they merely ask for help, we feel resistance. Test this out for yourself.

Outsourcing, whether by hiring freelancers to write about your band, or creating incentives for people to join your street team, means that other mouths will be talking about your band. There are infinite ways to get this started. Make the incentives worthwhile, and treat the people who help your cause well. It takes a small community of dedicated people to generate buzz. If major companies like Nike and Pepsi pay for hype people, so can you, unless of course you’re not “in business”!

Another way to build influence is to feed your own authority. Facebook does allow you to use one powerful tool that you can use to expand your influence. While many artists got mixed results with Facebook advertising, Facebook’s “promote a post” option allows a more natural and organic option. You can promote a post for as little as $5, and set it up so it reaches not only your fanbase, but their friends. I’d recommend doing this for every post that you deem important and worthy of spreading, such as your new album’s link on Bandcamp or a recent feature on your band with an eye-catching title.

This tactic is not perceived as spam, because it comes in the form of valid posts. Use it properly, and your Facebook fans will grow exponentially. Isn’t that what you were wanting all this time?

Reader Comments (5)

Facebook "likes" do nothing to promote your band, they promote Facebook ad revenue. FB goads bands to pester their fans into "liking" them and consequently creates this doomed scenario. Use your page as if it is a billboard in the middle of nowhere - to increase your search engine hits ONLY, just post it and forget about it.
Buying into FB, My(violated)Space, Reverbnation, and all their wanna-be competitors is a waste of your time, better spent on stapling flyers on telephone poles.

Hi Earl, thanks for commenting. Fair enough, actually. You're right on a lot of points...especially the pointlessness of pestering fans to "like" you/etc. Keep in mind, I feel Facebook/social media should only take up about 10-20 percent of an artist's overall promotion strategy, so I'm not advocating sticking to Facebook alone.

I have experienced first-hand, though, that the "promoted posts" option I mentioned in my piece has been effective, not just for "likes", but for engagement, for business (I have had many musicians contact me because of my promoted posts), and in sales for my book "Your Band Is A Virus". It's not a be-all-and-end-all, but it can be effective. I'm relaying this from actual experimentation, so those are my findings.

I think your main point is for artists to put effort into themselves using DIY methods and not just rely on Facebook, Reverbnation, Myspace, etc and I 100 percent agree. If you work only on those networks, that's where you'll end up.

April 9 | Unregistered CommenterJames Moore

Thanks for the post James. Some good stuff. I have tried various things on FB, none have worked too well yet, marketing is a bit of a mystery to me. But, I will give the "promote post" a shot. Thanks for pointing that out!

April 18 | Unregistered CommenterHeirToMadness

I'm about to crank up the volume on FaceBook. I've made a few videos on YouTube and on my private FB profile, but ready to learn how to use FB and other online stuff to anyone who will enjoy hearing me play and sing....that's how I found your site. Thanks! (;

Facebook works great for my band! Went from nothing to getting signed to a label, all from the exposure we got from facebook. That's how everyone finds out about our shows, new music, merchandise, etc.

December 17 | Unregistered CommenterJohn williams

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