The independent musician is running a business (if they're serious) whether they realise it or not. As a business independent musicians need to be constantly analysing and adapting their marketing strategies at the risk of being left behind.
I remember back when blogging first started in the independent music industry, when people told me, "you need to blog to keep up!" Initially went on a silent protest. Through time, I realised that, as a songwriter, why NOT blog? The thought of more than writing music used to be simply overwhelming at the time. That was in the mid-200's when I entered the online music industry as an independent musician. Further on down the road I became an author.
Then the social networks started popping up, begging for my time and attention. I all but ignored MySpace, and at first Facebook. LinkedIn lurked on the horizon, offering a little value if I was looking to poach someone for my company ... and then it all converged into a blizzard of gotta-be-here-hammering-it-daily networks that I felt like I had to invest in.
Turns out, only a few of them actually drove my independent music business. The rest are flotsam...time wasters...content vampires. Through this I've learned that you don't need to be everywhere, because that's like trying to dance your way out of quicksand. You'll never get there.
I then deliberately started subscribing to newsletters from businesses; music and otherwise. What the vast majority of these business newsletters had a common thread. I needed to think differently about the rise of social networking and all the opportunities that come with it. Here's what you should really look at: Are your business targets moving to new streams to find, connect and share? Are they harder to reach with your current marketing and CRM strategies? If so, then you likely need to setup a new camp, otherwise, wait until you have a real need to make the leap.
Some people say that it's easy to make this decision based on your type of business: Professional services on LinkedIn, Consumer offerings on Twitter and Pinterest, Technology and media services on Google+ and everybody on Facebook, but I think that's an over-generalization that is disproved by countless case studies. Here's a more scientific way for you to figure out where you need to be.
First, you need to be clear on who your targets are. By targets, I mean, who do you want your music to reach and who do you want to interact with more often? For independent musicians the prospective or current music lover represents your top target. For some independent musicians, reaching self-fulfilling 'statistics' are more critical. Hhmmmm.
Next, the independent musician needs to ask their best customers where they fish for solutions, graze for information and share their content. Ask them where you can connect with them, share their content, and give them updates and special offers. Create a survey (no more than seven questions), or better yet, make it part of your ongoing conversations and then distill the information to develop a top three social networks list. In my experience, my top customer has a media profile that closely resembles my top prospects, so this exercise will scale from current to prospective victories.
Now, create a program to serve NO MORE than the top three networks. If you can, limit your work to two. Often, you'll do this to serve multiple types of targets. In the case of McGladrey, they invest in LinkedIn for new customers and Facebook to recruit accountants. They use their Twitter account to drive traffic to their blog posts.
In my case, my targets include readers, conference planners and speaking bureau partners. I work my blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (in that order of priority). I don't 'really' do Google+ or Tumblr . They don't offer me ROI against my defined targets. If I tried to do everything, I'd likely be spread too thin.
Finally: Monitor the results, refresh your survey as often as you see fit and drop dead-weight networks. So far, my blog and Facebook have generated the most business for me, but Twitter keeps me directly connected to most of my targets. I've been investing more time in LinkedIn, but haven't seen much results yet...so I might drop it. This way, I don't end up with network creep, where I simply add new ones to the pile, ending up spread out eventually.
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