One of the reasons I started this blog was due to the increasing number of really bad social media and marketing ‘experts’, who are all over the internet. Obviously as social media is a passion of mine, I follow more than my fair share of self proclaimed experts who are really nothing more than modern day direct sales agents that sound like robots and that increasingly I find I don’t connect to and often unfollow or delete. These ‘experts’ are the subject of another blog that I’ll come back to on another day.
I’ve noticed whilst following these people, and doing a little research, that nothing is more disingenuous to your fans, followers, friends and audience than being something you’re not. Social media, especially in the music and creative industries should reflect your personality. On a wider scale this also applies. Brands such as Klout, Moo, Spotify, Apple etc all realise that in order to connect with their audience, they have to offer something other than a corporate interaction, there has to be a brand personality there as well, and most good content/community managers these days will realise this.
When you are just getting started online – whether it’s a blog or you’ve just taken over a Facebook page, or you have to do a video or put out a podcast, I won’t lie, it’s going to feel weird and it’s going to feel like everyone will judge you. You’ll feel awkward, you might sweat, you’ll start to find excuses for not doing the thing you have to do and before you know it, you’ve probably hit the whisky and passed out on the couch. I’m here to tell you that EVERYONE feels like this the first time. The trick is to work at it and have fun with it and most of all, don’t beat yourself up over it.
So how can you make this work for your band, your brand or small business. It’s easy. Utilise your personality. It’s really that simple.
This may seem easy, but to many it’s a culture shock to take their own personality and apply it to something on the internet, especially when your band or brand may indeed be followed by thousands of people. Don’t expect to nail it overnight. Don’t try to be anything other than you. Just write. Eventually at some point, your online personality will emerge and ultimately find you. And then you’re stuck together.
A great tip is to keep a note of ideas, funny comments and quotes, jokes and interesting articles you find on the internet and use these as the basis for your social media activities. No one wants to be continually sold at. Mix your official activity with useful articles relevant to your sector, pictures that you find amusing, videos you’ve found on the internet. But start small, whether it’s a status update for your Facebook page, or an entire blog for your website – don’t sit for hours stressing about it. Just sit down and write as if you were talking to your friend, your audience, the guy in your local bar, right there. Don’t force anything, let it come naturally to you and most importantly be you. People can smell a fake a mile away and will disengage immediately.
Find the voice that is uniquely yours, apply it to your band, brand, business, project and work and work and work at it.
OMG BUT I HATE WRITING AND HAVE NO IDEA HOW OR WHERE TO START. CAN I GO BACK TO BED?!
Go back to bed by all means, but take your laptop, macbook, ye olde clickety clackety type writer with you and get on the internet (granted, this might be harder if it’s a typewriter!) Do some research. Bands, why not check out what your favourite bands are doing, check their social sites, check their websites, see how they are doing things, is it bad? Is it good? What would you do differently?
Think about the sites and feeds that YOU enjoy reading and why you enjoy reading those and in some way, inject your own personality into that and apply it to your site.
OK I WROTE A THING AND NOW SOMEONE RESPONDED. HAAALP!
As Captain Picard says….Engage! Talk back to your audience. If someone takes the time out to respond to something you’ve written, speak to them. Thank them. Ask them how they are. Don’t be stuck up your own ass and feel smug, actually stop what you are doing, write back to them, keep that dialogue going. If someone retweets something of yours on Twitter, say thanks. If someone makes a comment on Facebook, talk to them. If you said something during a conversation to someone in real life and they responded, you wouldn’t just stare blankly at them as if your brain had just crawled out of your ear and run away, you’d talk back. It’s no different with social media. In fact, it can be construed as rude, cold and uncaring if you don’t. It only takes a minute out of your day, but it can make a huge difference to the person who left you a comment. Try it.
OH BUT THEY CRITICISED ME!
This is where the fundamentals of online interaction come into play. Thank them for their input but don’t cry or whine or call their mother something nasty. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if theirs is wrong, simply thank them and move on. As soon as you engage in any kind of negative interaction, you as the face and representation of your brand, have lost. Someone doesn’t like your new music, video, blog, status update – that’s their problem and you shouldn’t feel compelled to take any sort of position on that. Walk away. Bite a pillow. Hug the cat. Just don’t turn into an internet warrior and defend yourself, because it always, always ends up in a dark place. And in that dark place there are no cookies, that internet meme is a lie!
I’M THREE MONTHS IN NOW AND I’M THE KING OF THE MOTHERFRACKING INTERNET!
Good for you, by now you should be blogging in your sleep, chatting to your audience and every day is an adventure in Internetland. Don’t forget the basics that mother taught you when you were a kid, they apply online too. Be polite, never be rude or arrogant, don’t lie, always say thank you, eat your greens and wear clean underwear. I’m still trying to figure out those last two points and how they apply to the web, but they’re good advice nonetheless. Be fearless, be fierce and be consistently brilliant.
OK BUT I’M DOING ALL THIS “ONLINE VOICE” STUFF, LIKE I’M CHRISTINA AGUILERA’S LONG LOST CHILD AND I’VE NO AUDIENCE YET
Well, that’s the subject of another blog my friend. And right now, my oven has pinged and it’s time for dinner for this little blogger, so come back another day, we’ll sort out how to get your audience from zero to a squillion without having to pay for it and by using your new found online brilliance. You’re awesome. Now go forth, be awesome and see what happens.
Check out two artists who are incredibly good at being themselves and engaging with their online audiences – Jon Gomm (incredible acoustic guitar god) / The Dillinger Escape Plan (outstanding tech/math metal)
- Be yourself and leverage your own personality
- Keep a note of ideas
- Don’t beat yourself up and don’t hit the whisky
- You don’t have to be a guru, expert, whizz or anything else to be the voice of your brand
- Do some research
- Start Small
- Engage with your audience
- Keep at it
- Be Fearless
- Wear clean underwear!