This year will see an increased scrutiny on social media marketing strategies, metrics and results. The last three years have been concentrated on making sense of how artists can best obtain more Twitter followers and Facebook likes. 2013 will be about figuring out both what to do with the numbers, and, making sense of what they mean.
Now I don’t possess all the answers. Though having to manage a social marketing platform for the last several years, I have gained some insight that might help surround the question as it evolves in the months ahead.
Awareness Is All That Matters
The hugest artists face today is producing awareness. This is predominantly true for developing acts and even more so for “Do-It-Yourself” artists. Just see the article over how little sales artists using CD Baby or Tunecore.com are generating. However just building a Facebook or Twitter account isn’t enough. The average artist on Facebook has fewer than five hundred fans. Very few have more than a thousand. And the average conversion rate conversion rate on Facebook is between 2-4 percent for Twitter is about 4 percent. These are estimates based on my experience, but I’m not alone. The best way to handle these kinds of rates is to apply them to larger numbers (example: two percent of four hundred thousand is a lot more than four percent of five thousand). And that requires creating more awareness not essentially more likes, ‘follows’ and ‘friends’. Artists need to feed the instrument at one end so that the conversions on the other end have more influence.
Bearing In Mind, the Costs
But let’s be clear, it does not mean grow at any cost necessary. Cost can be a major factor when thinking about your social awareness options. There are essentially two ways to increase your virtual fanbase. One option is to pay Facebook or Twitter to place advertisements into the profiles or feeds of users they believe are most likely to reply positively to your message. But while that’s fast, it’s costly. The average social marketing cost via these platforms is about one dollar for each new fan gained, and the more fans you have the more you have to pay.
The second way is to involve your fan base to make recommendations for you, such as creating and managing campaigns that reward fans for sending all their friends a link to your website, or something like that. This is a valid and even a useful practice, but now let’s looks at engagement. Liking an artist on Facebook is a minimal-impact action. It requires little time, exertion or thought. Getting those followers to do anything is hard. Look at the engagement rates of the top brands on Facebook. It’s all one percent or less. So while this method is much more affordable than buying advertisments, it’s far slower and requires much more time.
Social Media Is Allows For Conversation, Not For Buying, Yet
The other day I had to buy another external hard drive. But I surfed over to Facebook or Twitter to conduct research or get recommendations or to make a sale. I surfed by Google. People go to Google because they’re searching for items that they likely would purchase. They go there for info about products once they’ve decided they want to buy something. About seventy percent of people searching for information about merchandise on Google are in a buying mindset. People on Facebook aren’t. This is why sales figures aren’t the best metric to base the success of social media campaign. Consider Coke-a-Cola. Its Facebook strategy is to increase looks, not sales. Their marketing executives get their bonuses not on sales data, but on buyer intent metrics. It’s about brand memory, and that’s what artists, managers and labels should keep in mind as they consider their social strategy.
We live in an attention economy now. I can sign up for any any music subscription services and for a monthly fee stream whichever song I desire. And as that model grows, the question is going to be “what do I want to listen to when I can listen to any and everything?” Artists are paid for how many times their songs are streamed, not for one-off album sales. Song writers are barely paid at all. Now were on the verge, of superstar artists needing smart social marketing strategies to survive. Let’s just see how this turns out in two years.