My Open Letter to Labels + Bands About Twitter Part 2
by Joshua B. Hoe A few weeks ago, I started an open dialog about using Twitter more effectively.
My big push has been about using "Retweets" instead of "Likes" on Twitter.
First, my apologies, I can come across as a bit blunt sometimes.
I started out in punk and hip-hop which are both very much DIY cultures based around grit and hustle.
If nobody will teach you guitar, teach yourself.
If you don't have a club to play in, find a garage.
If you don't have promotion, make your on flyers and put them everywhere.
If nobody knows you, put a mixed tape together and sell it out of the back of a car.
Punk culture was also very much about artists helping artists, and most "labels" were just bands coming together and trying to help promote each other more effectively.
Many of my idols were people like Joe Strummer and Ian MacKaye who believed in making sure their music and shows were affordable and Democratically accessible.
It has formed an ethos that I hope you see on my blog, sure I try to make money, but I also try to push unrepresented bands, independent artists, and independent labels.
That said, as of today, I have gotten lots of music to people and made zero money (I am pretty happy with that).
My heart is with getting the music people don't get to hear (without digging) to their ears.
When I say "help me help you" I mean, help me help your bands music get to people's ears.
The Basic Idea Of Social On Twitter
When I was in college, I sometimes worked putting up flyers for shows.
The vast majority of people probably saw the flyers, of those people a small percentage actually really checked them out and thought about attending the shows.
But, by putting out the flyers the clubs that hired me were trying to:
A) Increase people's subconscious awareness of the existence of the club
B) Increase people's awareness of the bands
C) Get people to come to see the show
So, while it might not have been efficient advertising, it could have residual benefits beyond just getting people to come to any particular show.
Reach on social media platforms kind of works like flyers used to work.
When I post something, a large percentage of my followers might notice it and some detail might seep into their subconscious. A smaller percentage might look at it and think about the specific things I wrote. And a much smaller percentage might actually engage with it.
This isn't at all scientific but lets assume that if I have 2,000 followers:
1,000 at least have each thing I post tickle their attention
500 might think about what I post
and 100 might interact with each thing I post
This is wildly optimistic, but all that needs to be accurate is the declining ratios.
When I send out a post, just like the clubs I used to work for, I am trying to get people subconsciously aware of my brand, the brand of the bands and labels I am pushing, and to get some people to actually engage.
But social media can make these numbers even better. Every new viewer is a potential multiplier.
So I have 2000 followers, and each of my followers have followers - every time I Retweet them and everytime they Retweet me virtuous circles can get started.
One time, one of my tweets cycled for about three hours. Something I tweeted was passed from list to list and person to person so often my account seemed like a pinball machine.
Of course, back then I was Twitter naive and did not take full advantage (now I would have messaged every one of those people back and tried to create a connection).
Without a doubt, these viral experiences happen very rarely. But, you cannot generate much excitement if you don't try.
And, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter if things go viral or not. Most actions (like hitting RT) take mere seconds and can only increase value.
Every connection is an opportunity, every one person who becomes aware has the potential to eventually buy your music, go to your shows, or get interested in other bands on your label.
What you want to do is move more and more people from passive to active.
In marketing terms, there is "reach" and "effective reach."
All reach is good, but the more engaged you get people the better.
Why "Likes" Kind of Suck
Look, I get it, traditional marketing is all about shaking hands with the big wigs.
Maybe you even got into music because you wanted to be a gatekeeper (only paying attention to the people that you think matter).
But from a marketing perspective, this is short-sighted.
Every single time someone mentions your label or any of your bands, that is an opportunity to make "reach" into "effective reach."
Likes don't add much value to either reach or effective reach.
To go back to the flyer-hanging metaphor, Likes are what happen if you were to walk by one of the flyers I already hung and just signed your name.
No multiplier effect, no multiplier potential, it is still the same flier and only people already looking at it would know you left your mark.
Very little potential impact.
Why "Retweets" Don't Suck
I went into this a great deal in the earlier posts, but Retweeting is like cloning flyer hangers.
It takes a flier to more people, and every person that sees it is another person who can potentially take it and share it with other people.
This is true even if they are your followers precisely because at the exact moment I hang my flier about your band, you are NOT hanging a flier about your band.
It is free advertising for you, all you have to do is reach out and make magic possible.
It takes literally one second, and hitting "like" takes exactly the same amount of time as hitting "Retweet"
The difference is that only one of the two has the potential to improve your bottom line.
Lets say you hate me.
You can still loathe me, you can look down on me as not being cool enough, and you can still use my flier to get more awareness, attention, and potential network effects to your products and bands.
If you don't piggyback, you wasted an opportunity to make money. Doesn't mean you will always make money, but it is zero-sum, you will certainly NOT make money by hitting nothing and rarely make money hitting only "like."
Why not hit the button that has the potential of increasing your take?
Not asking you to do anything new, just asking you to maximize the effort you are already making.
Business is about making money. Always be growing. Twitter has 300 million active users and people are talking about it dying because why? Because it is not growing its user base.
Growing new clients is what labels are about, effective social media marketing helps you do that.
The Feed Problem
In the conversations I have had with people on this subject, the argument I hear the most often is this:
"Retweets will clog my feed"
I am guessing all the people who say this do not follow very many people.
Twitter, for most people, is a very fast moving beast.
Feeds ZOOM, they don't crawl.
I promise, if you set up a notification column on your twweetdeck that follows @ mentions of your label and a separate column that monitors @ mentions of all of your bands - and you RT every mention just once - you will get near zero backlash (and much more support).
People follow other accounts to get news about those accounts.
They follow you because they want to hear from you.
How often are you giving them content? If you are not, piggybacking provides you content to send. If you are, piggybacking gives them more things to notice.
I post every hour on the hour (not the same thing - different things) and have never done anything but gain followers and readers in my time on Twitter.
Why Do I Care
Believe it or not, I care because I want good music to get to the maximum amount of ears.
When I post an article or playlist including the band Mothers, I want everyone who follows Wichita Recordings because they like Waxahatchee to think about checking out Mothers.
I want fans of Cloud Nothings to also listen to Mothers.
I would think Wichita Recordings would want that too?
Anyway, I love music - sharing music - and talking with other music lovers.
Is that so wrong?
I hope this communicates my philosophy of the blog a bit better.
I hope this helps facilitate more connections between music lovers!
Thanks for listening.
Do you believe in using "likes?" Why do you think they add value? I would love to hear your opinion, your voice is important to this discussion, leave a comment!