Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Best Practices In Social Media.

November 20th, 2008 | No Comments | Categories: Geek · Managing Information Streams · tips for musicians |

Weeks and weeks ago, I was ‘tagged’ by the very lovely and talented Ben Ellis of RedCatCo, in a blog-meme about best practices in social media. It’s a great subject, because with social media stuff being as young as it is, we’re not as clued up on how to ‘use’ it as we are with say, a phone. No-one talks about ‘using the phone‘ as a business strategy, and people who misuse the phone (prerecorded spam calls) are generally vilified for being a total pain in the arse. The same could largely be said of email.

But social media has a different engagement curve than phone or email – the one-to-many nature of the conversations lends itself rather too well to getting the balance wrong.

So my suggestion for best practice surrounds the idea of parity. Parity in terms of messages out to messages in, followers to followees and the nature of the information you throw out there. So much of the strategising people do with social media (be it facebook, twitter, myspace, linkedin, or whatever else) still treats these platforms as a broadcast medium. I can’t stress strongly enough, social media is crap for broadcast. If you want to carpet-bomb web-users with info about your product, just buy some dodgy email spam software, and stop misusing twitter as an ad medium. It’s not designed for it, it doesn’t facilitate it, and the rubbish lengths you have to go to to try and shoe-horn your strategy into the platform make you look like a berk.

So, if you’re lost in the midde of it all, try to keep a degree of parity in terms of the numbers of people who follow you and you are following. Moreover, with Twitter, don’t follow more people than the number of tweets you’ve sent – it’s not a hard and fast rule, more a best practice for easing your way in. The excitement of joining in with the fun on twitter often leads to people ‘following’ tonnes of people before actually posting anything, but it just makes you look like a spammer. So slow down, use the ‘reply’ button liberally, don’t feel the desperate need to tweet the link to your site every third tweet. Just have fun, and talk to people.

If you see it as a conversation, and talk the way you’d want to be talked to. If you get annoyed with people who do nothing but talk about their business, don’t become that person.

So beginners best practice?

  • Back off,
  • seek a degree of parity,
  • listen as much as you speak,
  • follow as much as you’re followed,
  • give as much information as you take,
  • offer more free advice than the amount of service-related tweets you do for your own product.

Bottom line – friends are more likely to be into what you do than strangers. So make friends first, and let the other stuffs take care of itself for now.

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No Comments so far ↓

  • Carl Morris

    Is this the first of a series of blog posts?

    That’s bang on for Twitter I would say. And applicable in part to other platforms.

    But I’d be curious to read your specific guidelines about the others. They could go a long way towards matching the elegance and simplicity of Twitter!


    YouTube suffers as a social medium because of the number of haters and negativity in the comments. It’s too anonymous – you can comment and vanish, without even an avatar next to your name.

    Facebook take a dim view of members who are not people. A couple of venues I know had their accounts instantly deleted after gathering several hundred friends! (Bands take note.) The “correct” way enforced by Facebook is to use groups (for communities) and fan pages, but the difference is not intuitive.

    I think we all need to sit down and sort out email too… Yes, email.

  • steve

    Hi Carl,

    it wasn’t intended as the first of a series, but looks like it could become one! Need to finish the Social Media First Principles for Musicians series first 🙂

    But you’re right, we should look at each platform, what they get right and wrong, and how to make them work. I’ve been doing that in workshops and consultancy situations of late, looking at the pros and cons of specific platforms for different areas of the arts and business…

    And email… yes. we do. 🙂

  • Brian Sharples

    I think you are absolutely right on this. I’m fairly new to the whole social media thing and I’ve sort of been following you around the web in an effort to see what it’s all about (not a stalker! LOL).

    As Carl noted above, I’d also be very interested in guidelines about the other platforms. My biggest problem in this area has been MySpace. I thought that to get listeners I would just get lots of friends. Now I have almost 10,000 friends and very little conversation and no extra listeners. I think I’ll follow your example and cut down the number of friends to people actually interested in bass. Put relationships and conversation above numbers.

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