You would be hard pressed to NOT have heard of Google+, the newest social networking and sharing tool from Google which after one month of existence boasts around 18 million users. Artists are already bombarded with a plethora of tools to help them connect with their fans, but Google+ truly adds some unique features which have great potential for integration into a musician’s marketing arsenal.
Google+ consists of a content stream, photos, sparks, hangouts, and chat. While these features are nothing groundbreaking, the feature pulling all of the others together is Circles. Circles allow you to put contacts into different, self-defined groups, which control what content you see and share. Since there are a number of good articles explaining the basics of the platform, let’s get into how each feature may be utilized by an artist.
Note: Currently only personal accounts exist and Google has suggested that businesses (artists) postpone creating accounts until special business accounts currently under development are made available.
Circles is where the magic of Google+ takes place. You can create as many Circles as you want, and add people by simply dragging their info into a Circle. Once your Circles are created, you can share content to select Circles as well as view content streams from specific circles. Artists should start by importing their mailing list addresses into Google+, posting their info on their existing marketing channels (facebook, twitter), and inviting those not yet using the service to join.
Now that you have your contacts, it is time to organize your Circles. It should be noted that your Circles are private, so others cannot view or be offended by your orginizational decisions. Some possible Circles include:
- Industry Representatives: You probably only want to share updates concerning your latest releases, videos, and press content with industry folk who may be following you as they are less concerned about the burrito you just consumed.
- Fans: This is where you can share the content your fan base enjoys reading. Let them know about your whereabouts, experiences, touring or recording progress, post photos and music etc…
- Breakdown the Fan Circle into smaller circles to have more defined targeting. For example, create Circles for different areas of the country and international fans to ensure you aren’t over promoting shows to fans thousands of miles away. If your fan base includes young teens, young adults, and older adults, consider categorizing these contacts as well. Each group prefers to be spoken to in different tone and filled in on different activities. Sometimes even male and female Circles make sense.
- Other artists: Much like yourself, other artists are learning from experiences, trying out new marketing ideas, using new services etc…Follow what others are doing and share what you know with others in your position.
- Following: Much like Twitter, you can follow others without being Circled back. This is good for keeping up with informative figures who may not call for reciprocal sharing.
Knowing which content your various Circles enjoy receiving will help ensure that only the most suitable posts make it to their stream.
Sparks are similar to your RSS feed or Google Alerts. Simply add some interests and topics you’d like to follow and check it ever so often to stay up to date.
This is another great feature for artists. Hangouts are hosted group video/audio/text chats. If you’ve used Ustream, it’s a little similar but even more interactive considering you can see and hear the other members in the Hangout. It is really a great way to allow your fans to get to know you as well as for you to get more acquainted with your fans. Host special Hangouts for your different Circles and maybe play an acoustic set, have an open question and answer session, or just let your fans connect with one another.
The features are there, but the success of Google+’s ability to provide artists with the ultimate marketing tool will largely depend on how many users ultimately adopt the platform. Overall, Google+ will provide artists a way to more meaningfully connect with their audience.
Please share your thoughts and ideas concerning Google+ for artists as this is unexplored territory that begs for creative implementation. If you aren’t yet a part of the club, post your email and I or another kind soul will send you an invite.
Scott Horton helps recording artists achieve the ‘sound in their head’ by providing his technical and creative sonic input through his online mixing service Virtual Mix Engineer.