As you know (hopefully), social media websites provide you with a platform to grow your fanbase, and expand your reach to people that you never could have connected with before.
What you need to understand is how to utilise your social media fanbase in order to market your music, promote gigs, and hopefully become commercially successful (If that’s what you’re going for of course). First, a brief introduction…
Word of Mouth: A Definition
A Changing Industry
In the past, for an artist to stand any chance of being commercially successful, they needed to ensure that they could get their music on the radio, and have a music video on MTV. This system of top-down marketing was essential in the past, as radio stations and MTV had a monopoly on the distribution of new music. Today however, with social networking allowing users to communicate and share information amongst their friends, bottom-up buzz marketing is now starting to become a large component of a record labels strategy when marketing an artist’s album.
WOM has always been a very important form of communication between humans, and now with social networking websites people can recommend products and services to one another at the click of a mouse. But is WOM important to artists? With people trusting recommendations from friends more than ever (With 78% of people acting on a recommendation from someone they know), the importance of creating socially relevant content is higher than ever. Chris Anderson, author of the influential book “The Long Tail” states, with the decline in the importance of radio and music videos, WOM is an important marketing factor to consider:
The question of whether an artist can breed success through instigating WOM amongst their social networking fanbase is one that many record labels and managers are looking to answer. Robin Bechtel of Reprise Records believes that WOM has become an industry game-changer:
Impact of WOM
The need to attract traffic to ones’ social media profile is crucial in order to be ahead of the competition, with artists who correctly implicate social media seeing great success, and others failing.
A good example of the success organic WOM can bring is My Chemical Romance (MCR). What MCR did successfully, was creating an online buzz through giving away free tracks to fans, made exclusive through their Myspace page (Myspace was quite good for this). This free content, and the promise of more, was rewarded by a huge buzz amongst their online fanbase, including a large number of radio requests for their songs; successful social network tactics were rewarded by natural WOM.
Having 450,000 Myspace fans, all who were buzz marketing for MCR without knowing, led to their 2nd album (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge) selling in excess of 1.2 million copies.
An illustration of how a lack of WOM affects album sales was demonstrated by 13-year-old singer/songwriter Bonnie McKee. Reprise Records (A subsidiary of Warner), put a lot of time and money into market research, trying to determine the demographic that Bonnie’s music would fall, and which of her tracks would be best for a first single. They had gone the same route to marketing Bonnie as MCR had, making tracks available online for fans to listen to and hopefully share, however, when it came to the release, her album flopped, only selling around 17,000 copies. Her head of marketing, Robin Bechtel, believed the reason for Bonnie’s failure, was due to:
Word-of-mouth is simply created by posting shareable and socially relevant content to your fans. If it is socially relevant, then your fans will share it with their friends, and then they will share it with their friends (See where this is going?). There are some fantastic books that describe in much more detail what WOM is, giving many more examples of the implications that WOM can have in many different industries (I wanted to focus specifically on the Music Industry).
I have posted a few articles on how you can increase the chance of WOM through successful fanbase interaction on the various social media websites out there (Twitter Article & Facebook Article), and Andy Vale has also posted on how to get better at social media. Check them out for some tips on how to instigate WOM amongst your fanbase - let me know if they worked for you in the comments below!
If you haven’t already, follow us on Twitter & Facebook, and keep your eyes peeled for a follow up article soon, showing how, by understanding simple algorithms, you can increase the percentage of fans News-Feeds you appear the next time you post!
Thanks for reading!
(Original article here)
James is currently working as an Intern at Music Dealers and is the Editor-In-Chief and Founder of MusicBud.co.uk. He considers himself a Music Business Enthusiast, Artist Manager, Music Consultant and Social Media Strategist. For more, follow him on Twitter