You’re no fool. You recognize the power of the Internet. You’ve customized your band’s page on MySpace and Facebook with your top singles and your favorite photos. You’ve even built your own homepage, or paid someone else to do it. Maybe you’ve gone the extra mile and joined a musical community like Linked-Musicians, ReverbNation, or HostBaby. That’s great. Now, what are you going to do with your new social networks?
1. There can be only one!
Your band is unique. Play your individuality up online. You’re real people with real messages for your fans. They want to know who you are. Add links talking about your history, including how you got together, your history and influences as a band, and personal biographies of every band member. Create new content available only on your site, like behind-the-scene photos and videos. All you need is a digital camera and someone to follow you around documenting your gig, rehearsal, or trip to the store to buy new guitar strings. Album artwork, upcoming performance schedules, lists of your favorite philosophers, and even snapshots of yourselves as small children all constitute high-interest content.
2. Talk to Me!
The Internet isn’t a one-way street. Once you start promoting yourself online, you need to provide an easy way for booking agents or promoters to reach you: your contact information. Don’t post your personal email address on the site unless you love unsolicited junk mail. Instead, designate an account just for band-related correspondence and post that information in a prominent place. If possible, make the “Contact Us” link a different color than the rest of the page. A corner of the page is a good place for this information. When you add this address, you can expect a certain amount of junk email to hit your inbox, but don’t worry! If spammers can find your site, so can real people. Services such as Gmail have excellent spam filters, and eventually your target audience will find you.
3. Feel the Love!
Toot your own horn. You’re musicians after all. Whenever your band makes the news or receives a positive review online, be sure you link to it so everyone sees how popular you are, and how people besides your mom think you’re great. Make sure to save these reviews to your hard drive, too. Sometimes sites fold or take down old content. You can always repost reviews (with permission and attributions) and other testimonials on your own pages. In addition, you can create an RSS feed so your fans can sign up to receive updates any time new content is posted on your website, blog, or news feed. When people are talking about you, that’s free publicity! Your website can turn up the volume on the buzz.
4. Right back at ya!
The Internet is all about community, and community means dialog. Give your fans that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from proximity to their idols by creating forums where fans can interact with each other and band members. Set up a message board where people can post questions or comments about the band or its performances, and make sure to answer those questions personally. If you can’t monitor these boards, find a host to interact with the community, set the overall mood of the forum, and ban trolls and other undesirables. You can even set up online chats during which fans can talk to the band online for an hour or so. This all helps to generate more positive press for you. You can cull the best of this information into testimonials reposted elsewhere on the site and use the contact with your fans to figure out what they want. If you can’t manage a forum or a board, keep a blog instead and write just for your fans. It’s an easy way to let folks comments and connect.
Stay tuned for part 2, in which we continue to reveal to you the awesome power of the Internet, the strength and beauty of your website, and the secret ninja skills of Web 2.0!