Building your community takes planning, attention, and patience. Here's three key things artists should keep in mind when making connections:
Do Your Research
The fatal failure of any strategy is to get down to work without understanding the landscape - and that goes for social media as well. The tendency is to think that your potential audience is EVERYONE - in order to make the most of your efforts and resources, you need to focus. And a little research goes a long way.
Your research brief should include:
- which artists do you compare yourself to? Pick ones in similar situations to yourself (local artists, with the same musical profile in a similar stage to your career - don't put yourself in the Lady GaGa league!) Choose five favourites to focus on and dig deep into.
- build a profile of their fanbase. What type of people do they attract? Look across the usual channels - MySpace, Twitter, Last.fm, Facebook.
- what does this audience care about? Examine how they react to engagement with the artist. Do they like new tracks? Live shows? Videos? Exclusive interviews?
- look at their tastemaker champions - which blogs have written about them? what radio shows support them?
Putting all this together will give you valuable insight to create a profile of your potential online community.
Construct Your Content
Now that you know the community you could attract, make a plan of the content you to engage them with. This is key - you need to plan this out in advance to be proactive.
Think about this as you build online tools, like your website or Facebook fan page - and how it links to the other social media channels you could use (like your own blog, SoundCloud page, YouTube channel etc).
Check out this great post about Lady Gaga's social media success - which points out how she used great content strategically across various online channels.
Twitter is the best place to keep the engagement going. Remember that your community isn't just an audience - it's bloggers to support you, potential people to collaborate with, and other artists to form connections with.
Find a tone of voice and topics to chat about that relate to your content (and avoid talking about what you ate/what your cat ate!). Follow people, listen to their conversations, and retweet the things you like. And above all, make a contribution.
This is jus the start. Eventually the community will build, and will become the megaphone of your voice. Communities support each other. It's about being authentic, and getting involved - and about making a quality - not quantity - connection.
Image from Flickr by alles-schlumpf