Facebook for bands is a Rubik’s Cube. If it works, it can really work. But if it doesn’t… it’s embarrassing.
A lot of bands use Facebook on a less-than-monthly basis, but there’s some power to steadily creating a stream of content for fans. In fact, I realized the impact of social media when I was waiting to buy a CD, “The Catalyst Fire” by Dead Letter Circus, for almost three months.
That’s kind of a miracle. The “album” as a concept is dying because singles are selling so much better. Not only that, “anticipation” for a creative product is almost a foreign feeling on the Internet, where we’re entitled to instant downloads and streaming.
But there I was, waiting impatiently for October 29 when I could finally buy an album that had been on YouTube since August and available in Australia for months.
So what happened? Social media. Specifically, Facebook. Dead Letter Circus – and what I suspect is some help from the band’s album label, UNFED – brought social media marketing to some next level craziness and it worked. The album debuted at #2 on the ARIA Album Chart.
Here’s what any band can learn about social media from Dead Letter Circus:
1. Get Your Stuff on Pandora and YouTube.
The first time I heard Dead Letter Circus was because I was watching a music video from another band, Karnivool (whose email marketing I wrote about before). It wasn’t from the suggested videos, though, it was from a comment from a user. More proof, of course, that we trust anonymous commenters more than any flashing banner ad.
I watched two music videos and immediately bought the album. I guess I was in a risky mood.
Pandora continued to drag out Dead Letter Circus songs, too, which helped me keep them in mind. And, as I’ve said, internet radio also helps inspire people to purchase albums and go to shows. Even if it doesn’t pay that well. Or at all.
2. Give Exclusive Content to Fans.
When Dead Letter Circus created a custom Facebook app, “The Inner Circle,” I knew things were getting serious. The little app appeared one day as an option for fans who wanted to know things about the new album first, whether by tour diaries, interviews, trailers for music videos, contests and more.
I signed up by giving my email and country of residence, which is information that UNFED can use later, if they want… whether to email me about a show or pinpoint where fans are located.
“The Inner Circle” was a constant stream of YouTube videos, contests and giveaways. Now, I’m always skeptical of Facebook’s actual power to reach your fans, since only about 16% of them see any given post if you don’t pay to promote it.
But “The Inner Circle” gave me a new notification whenever additional stuff was posted into the app. That alerted me about updates in a way that normal Facebook updates don’t.
Bands may not have the ability to program an app, but anyone can offer albums or songs or merch for something new. I would recommend asking for emails in exchange for an EP. That way, you can get in touch about future shows with the people who got your album.
3. Get Good with Photoshop. And Be Funny.
Facebook is, first and foremost, a place where people are looking for entertainment and information. They’re not necessarily going to be interested in constant promotions or self-involved posts, unless you’re sharing something that is genuinely compelling.
Dead Letter Circus matches a keen sense of humor with some ungodly Photoshop skills. Fans respond very well to it.
Yes, that’s one of the band members.
Basically, your band needs to have a personality to stand out. The market is saturated, yet elastic with competition. What makes your music special? How do you show that to fans? What do fans expect from the band’s personality? How do you create that personality?
If you’re looking to create some funny Facebook posts, I would recommend using PicMonkey.com. It’s free image-editing software. Just pull in a photo from your iPhone, screw around with it and add some text.
4. Show Tour Pictures.
Tour photos are exciting. Fans want to know what it’s like to be on the road, even if you’re just driving a few hours to a city. Remember that nothing has to be a masterpiece.
We may not all sell out venues like Dead Letter Circus, but even a picture of you holding your guitar in front of a dingy bar is at least a little interesting. If you can, get someone you know to film the stuff with an iPhone 5 or better. The quality is absolutely ridiculous.
5. Involve the Fans.
The artist-fan dynamic is changing. The people we’re supposed to idolize and put on a pedestal are often begging for scraps, be it for money or attention. The way to balance this is to show your appreciation for the support… by giving fans a way to get involved.
Leading up to the album release, Dead Letter Circus hosted an “air bass” competition, a drum cover competition, and more. This encouraged fans to take videos of themselves – while embracing the new music – and share it across their own social channels.
Or something more simple, like a caption contest, can work:
When it comes to Facebook, humor and cameras almost always pay off.
The Internet, music and social media is all about entertainment and information. If your Facebook Page serves fans with those things, they’ll get more involved with the Facebook Page.
It’s a tough road. Some of your posts will be left out of the cold, shivering without that warm blanket of a “Like.”
Just remember that 84% of Facebook fans don’t “Like” stuff. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention to it.
Want to learn more? Check out For Bands.