The care and feeding of social media

I’ve blogged about the band and social media many, many times. I’ve had fans tell me that I’ve got it wrong – that we fans should be thrilled that Duran Duran are even on social media at all,  and that they really don’t need to do much of anything. They don’t need to respond, follow people, or even come online unless it’s to sell us something. The band already has a loyal, thriving and growing fan base and we should be happy with whatever they choose to do, right?

I’m thrilled to tell you that this is not that blog post again.  🙂

However, let’s pretend we’re not talking about Duran Duran. What if we’re talking about someone who might not have quite the fan base that the band has. What if it’s someone who is working to cultivate that type of loyalty? Would that change our thinking on how he/she should handle social media??

Let’s take two cases in point: Anna Ross and say…Dom Brown. Anna has been on Facebook now for a relatively short time, since June 5th, actually. She already has just over 4000 “likes” to her page, (4140, actually) which is pretty remarkable given the short length of time she’s been involved. Dom, on the other hand, also has about 4000 likes (just a little more than Anna at 4238), but he joined Facebook back in November of 2009.

The other day, Dom noticed that while he has over 7000 followers on Twitter, he has decidedly less on Facebook. Being the smart ass that I am – I chose to point out that he might do better if he took the time to respond once in a while. I figured he wouldn’t ever even take time to read comments, much less respond (which is exactly why I believe I said it in three places. I like pushing my luck.) Turns out, he did see and he did respond. After nearly choking from shock (it is apparently dangerous to eat while checking out Facebook or Twitter…), I responded with “Damn…you replied!”

Well, then. (as my friend Amanda might say.)

Going back to Anna Ross, if you’ve been following her at all on Facebook, she is the exact opposite of Dom. (Sorry Dom, I’m really not picking on you – I’m trying to help, I promise!) She is extremely social, asking her fans questions, asking for pictures of previous gigs she’s done for Duran Duran, responding to comments, and so forth. She’s spent quite a bit of time really engaging the Duran Duran fans she obviously knows we are, letting us talk all about the band and basically letting us get that out of our system before reminding us (very gently and kindly) that while she LOVES talking about them, she’s actually trying to sort this Facebook page out to be her own, to discuss her OWN projects. Fair enough, right?

Once upon a time, I lightly broached the subject of social media with Dom during an interview. I remember his answer: he didn’t mind it, but it wasn’t something he could get into a habit of doing for some reason.  I think, purely as an interested bystander, that much of the problem is not knowing what to talk about, or what to do. Women seem to love Facebook – it’s natural for us to chat with friends and know what to say, although I have plenty of guy friends that do very well with Facebook. I can’t decide how I feel about Twitter. On one hand I think that I see more men regularly participating – but I can’t tell if that’s just because of the group of people I follow or if that’s really the culture of Twitter. I think the less open-endedness of Twitter (merely posting status updates in 140 characters or less) probably helps.

So, after gently pointing out (along with others) that Dom should try talking WITH us, he agreed to start interacting. I don’t think he should be afraid to respond directly to people – most of us won’t bite. (I said most.) He also doesn’t to be a slave to social media. A few minutes at the end of the day, or even once a week to either ask a question of us or respond to a few things asked of him would be a great start. I think that in some ways, seeing how the band interacts with fans has not been a great learning tool. First off, they have “people” who handle the band’s Twitter, although John and Simon have their own accounts. Secondly, we must remember that the band has thousands upon thousands of fans. Twitter and Facebook aren’t going to be handled in the same way by the band as they need to be by those who are trying to grow a fan base. The loyalty and interest is already there for Duran Duran, whereas Dom and Anna are trying to not only create that sense of loyalty in their fans, they’re trying to create an interest for people to see that not only do they have a job to do for Duran Duran, but they have their own creative breadth of work.

I suppose the real test is whether or not Dom really keeps at it. I hope he does, and not just because he’s a favorite of mine. I’d like to see him succeed, and if I can help him – I will. I noticed that someone responded “We’ve heard that before” when he mentioned that he’d really try. Fair enough. I think it’s easy to just put social media on the back burner and pretend it doesn’t matter, especially if it doesn’t come naturally to you, or if you feel like you’re having to “come up” with things to say every day…which is what I suspect might be part of the case here.

On the other hand, I think Anna will not only keep at it – but she’ll continue to grow her fan base exponentially as a result, and we might hear an even larger applause for her each night of the next tour for Duran Duran. I know that even for myself, I didn’t know much about her until she joined Facebook. I had no idea that she was doing her own projects, and so I’m looking forward to hearing her own music, just as I do with Dom.

Like it or not, social media IS a habit that one has to get used to.  I think my advice, to Dom and others, is to just talk to us. Talk as if you’re talking to friends. 4000 of your good friends that, if given the opportunity, will bombard you with questions and ask you umpteen times if you’ll come play a blues show in Los Angeles, or if you’re still really involved on the next Duran Duran album.  I mean, there’s only 4000 of us, right? How bad could it possibly be???

All joking aside, it IS true. Social media isn’t difficult. It’s not rocket science. In order for it to be successful though, you DO have to be social. You can’t just post dates for gigs and maybe an occasional “this is what I’m doing right now” tweet every couple of months, and expect to cultivate a Facebook following. That just isn’t how it all works, but again – no one expects slavery to the system. Spend the time you can with us, and even an occasional “Hi, how are you?” is a genuine way to get to know the people who love your music enough to follow. I speak for all fans when I say that getting a response from someone I’ve seen onstage for years brings a smile to my face even when I’m having a really lousy day, and it makes me even more excited to buy the next album and go to the next shows.  It’s such a simple, yet effective thing.  Use it!

-R

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6 thoughts on “The care and feeding of social media”

  1. Let me give you an example of an artist who TRULY interacts w/ his fans and solicits questions/interaction. Check out Bright Light Bright Light. He’s a cross between Erasure meets Pet Shop Boys meets Depeche Mode…and I could not love his music more!! Let’s put it this way…he’s creeping up on the scale of my favorite musicians equal w/ DD. Yes – hard to believe but it’s true.

    Check him out on both Facebook as Bright Light Bright Light or on Twitter as @brightlightx2. He does everything on his own…a total grassroots movement, and he LOVES his fans. He wants our interaction. And check out his two albums: Make Me Believe In Hope and Life Is Easy.

    I’d LOVE to see him open for Duran Duran when they decide to tour again.

    Al

  2. Amanda Palmer is another artist who has woven social media into everything she does. Her and her husband (author Neil Gaiman) — are online and interacting with fans (and each other) — frequently. I think Rhonda and I have had some interesting moments with her in the past. 😉

    Palmer and Gaiman also set limits on their social media — and will post when they need to get away “Going offline for X amount of time.” They keep this promise to their fans as well.

    Another interesting thing I notice with Amanda Palmer, is that she uses her fans to feed her muse. She frequently asks questions and opinions. If she is writing, she might ask twitter “What is a good word that means…” — you might not know the context of why she asking the question, but it is related to a current project and it always sparks some interesting conversation. Recently she asked what the female equivalent to “Silver fox” was — not counting MILF and Cougar.

    The point being, that being involved in social media CAN be a two way street, if the artist is interested in that kind of relationship. They can promote their work, as well as get inspiration. I get the impression that Amanda Palmer finds the relationship enriching (I am sure that she can cite the dark side, as with anything). Then again, I’ve found my own participation with Twitter to be incredibly enriching as well!

    1. Exactly. I would only add that as you say, “social media CAN be a two-way street, if the artist is interested in that kind of relationship”, in order for social media to truly be rewarding and effective to an artist, they really do have to use it as a two-way street, otherwise people tend to float in and out. They lose interest and stop following. I know I do, and I am definitely not alone. It can be a very enriching experience if it’s used properly. -R

  3. Andy was always with us when still on Earth.
    TV Mania needed Nathan Stack to be again interactive.
    The guys, Dom and Anna all are social: I won’t let my support fade away shortly.
    I only have to figure out why they’re letting the Forum of their paying Community die in such agony and Second Life is following the same sad mood.
    BJ Nelson, their legendary former backing vocalist is a FB friend of mine, she’s polite and sweet, as well.
    Warren on the social? Mmmm, it sounds to me a temporary thing to promote his album, but fingers crossed, my love is there!

    1. I have to completely disagree with you, Manuela. The guys are NOT “all social”. Far from it, really. Comparatively speaking Duran Duran themselves do very little when it comes to truly interacting or being engaging with fans. You yourself mention TV Mania and how it’s curated by Nathan Stack. Maybe they don’t need to bother interacting with fans more than they do…but that wasn’t my point with this particular post at all.

      Putting the rest of your comments aside – because Andy has all but retired (he hasn’t left earth as far as I’m aware, only Duran Duran), I wasn’t speaking about anyone else here but Dom and Anna. I really wish we could stick to that point instead of trying to show how active the band might be – because I would quickly argue otherwise.

      Clearly Dom has not been quite as interactive as others…I see how often you (and others, such as myself) post on his page, and until this past week, he never replied much at all. I was only trying to describe some of the differences between the way he utilizes social media and the way that Anna has so far.

      I’d really like to point out that there is a difference between posting something about an album or posting about a show once a month or so….there’s no “give and take” there. No exchanging of ideas. Anna asks a lot of open ended questions, allowing fans to engage with her. There’s a real conversation, and I think that’s why fans have flocked to her FB page so quickly. (that and of course she’s extremely talented and we support her!) It is just more fun to talk WITH someone than be spoken to once in a while with no hope for more conversation. I think the people who are truly successful with social media, Amanda Palmer AND Neil Gaiman at the top of the list – know how to talk WITH their fans. That was the point I was making. -R

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