SOCIAL NETWORKING SPAGHETTI TOSS
October 5, 2010
Brody Harper in Brody Harper, Christian Music industry, SkorInc, social networking, spaghetti, strategy

Originally I was going to classify this post in the Dear Christian Music Industry section but the more I thought about it, I realized, I think it goes way beyond that.  While I primarily work in the ‘Christian Music Industry’, I think when it comes to “Social Networking” there is so much going on that to pin-point it to one section of one industry doesn’t seem fair.

The bigger SkörInc gets and the more client promotion things we are behind, the more I get asked about different aspects of the web.  I was asked the other day, when it comes to Social Networking, how do I know when something will work.  How do I know that this campaign will be more effective than that campaign?  How do I know where to lay my ‘chips’ that day?  I thought it was a pretty interesting question considering things are so new and it seems like we are in a stage of the game where there’s a crazy amount of options for promoting things.

If I’m honest, I don’t.

No one does.  And if they say they do, they are full of it.

Sure there’s self-proclaimed guru’s out there that will write their bullet-pointed blog posts about what has worked for them, and what they think will work for you.  In the music industry there’s the ‘in-house’ label team that has done their homework and will recommend what they saw Coldplay do and it worked for them.  There are even independent companies like SkörInc who’s sole priority is to focus on what we think is going to be the next best step.  And we may have some of it figured out, but with things changing so fast, we’re all playing catchup.  I think all these avenues have value, but when it comes down to it we are all saying the same thing.  “Here’s what worked in this situation, but there’s really no way of knowing it will work in any other situation.”

In fact in the music industry, more than once, I’ve described any Social Networking strategy as throwing noodles against a wall and seeing what sticks, and I think there’s a couple reasons for that.  Most importantly, not every artist is the same.  What is successful with MercyMe may not work with Amy Grant and what brought Shane & Shane all sorts of attention isn’t going help The Afters one bit.  Sure, there might be some overlap, but if fans of artists aren’t the same what makes us think that we can have a checklist of “promotion actions” that will work for different artists.  It’s a different playing field than it’s ever been and it’s changing not only daily but with each “online personality”. Another reason I think it’s a little like throwing spaghetti is simply the fact that there might be too many options.  

From the beginning of SkörInc I’ve believed one thing.  Your online value is in your Real Estate. Myspace came and went, and is now fighting it’s way back.  Facebook showed up and exploded with personal pages, then came the “Fan” page (which threw a wrench in the artists with personal pages), now we’ve switched to “Liking” things.  Twitter quickly became a valuable connection piece that, almost as quickly, became a way to pimp products and now we are auctioning off Celebrity mentions or “Follows”.  We’re doing “Fan Only Content” on Facebook, where you can only see certain things if you “Like” the artist.  We’re doing “Tweet to Win” type of contests, widgets, now we’ve got Gowalla and Four Square involved.  The list goes on.  Spaghetti.  Good spaghetti, but still spaghetti.

All of this is moving and changing, but one thing that isn’t going anywhere is (A.) The Internet and (B.) An Artist Brand.  The biggest question that the music industry should be asking themselves is ‘where is that brand being built?’.  If it’s not at the artists Real Estate (their website) something is wrong and eventually you’ll be chasing another rabbit down another hole.  Sure it’s awesome to have a massive number of Twitter Followers, or Facebook Fans, or plays on Myspace, or whatever… but how is that building something that will last?

So here’s my point in all of this.  We don’t know what will work.  Plain and simple.  It’s a crap shoot.  It really is.  You think Ok Go knew that filming themselves running around like idiots on treadmills would have over 52 million views and launch a legitimate, successful career?  Heck no.  And I’m willing to bet that wasn’t part of the ‘marketing plan’ either.  It was spaghetti that happened to stick.  Then you go to their website where there’s more videos like the one that went viral.  Real Estate.

So I think with more and more “experts” popping up it’s best to keep one thing in mind.  We’re all standing here with our pots of freshly cooked spaghetti just waiting for someone to give us the opportunity to start throwing.

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (http://www.musicthinktank.com/).
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