Late last week we posted a think-piece questioning how an artist like Soulja Boy could have 2.5 million Twitter followers but rake up only a measly 13 thousand in first-week sales of his new album, and solicited thoughts from readers.
Not only did our readers respond, but various other press outlets weighed in on the matter as well. Thought ranged from poor marketing strategy, to Twitter overpopulation, to just bad music. Here are some that caught our eye:
ANY social relationship count has little bearing on the effectiveness of that tool. The only metric that really matters is engagement. I've sold just as many pre-orders to a 1000 person email list as a 25,000 person list; I've had just as many click-thrus from a 5000 follower Facebook group as a 400,000 follower one. It's all about the relationship between the artist and fan, and the level with which they engage each other. Just because you have numbers doesn't mean fans are paying attention. It's particularly bad when a big artist organically gets a massive following, but is not guided (or interested) in proper use of the platform and the fans tune out. Massive missed opportunity that is often arduous or impossible to resurrect.
- Jason Feinberg, Vice President, Direct To Consumer Marketing, Concord Music Group
There was once a time when being a fan meant the fan had to do something... you know purchase a record, wait in line for an autograph, attend a concert, or stay up late to watch a televised performance. It is action that forges commitment and loyalty in any given relationship. Now through the wonders of technology a potential fan easily does very little and is overexposed to tweets, facebook updates, ustreams, youtube videos, etc. Because of this, there is no time for the average fan to ever miss the artist. A type of desensitization happens and the talk of an album release does not create a frenzy.
Couple the aforementioned with the mindless, reckless and unbridled exchanges that many of these artists similar to Soulja Boy tend to offer in social media land and there is no wonder why people simply have the station on but are not actually watching. Artists have to learn to engage the fans without desensitizing them. Make the encounters count; make real "FANatics"! Last but not least, make the music that matters to your fans!
- Torrence "T. Riff" Burnett, Perfect Artist Management
Soulja Boy certainly has an amazing number of fans! BUT, even with that impressive number, the music industry is still about the music and his fans are not feeling it. If he had a song that connected with them, they would by it!
- Sarra, SGMusic
Whether it was MySpace a few years ago or now Facebook/Twitter, my theory is that the vast majority of people follow/friend popular social networking accounts in order to get exposure for themselves not because they love or even like the entity being followed/friended… I think a big mistake music marketers are making is thinking that because of the internet and social networking everyone is now a "super fan" willing to buy everything the act is selling because they are a friend or follower. I believe 90% of people who buy music or go to concerts are casual to moderate "fans" at best. When it comes to singles acts, I believe that number gets close to 95-99%. There are exceptions, of course; but the majority of artists see their fan bases rise and fall with the popularity of a certain song or sound or trend.
- Seth Keller, SKM ARTIST MANAGEMENT
Twitter may not be the right promotional vehicle for pushing album sales. The timing for the launch may have been off, due to market conditions. Twitter may have been flooded that week with tweets to do with global events, meaning promotional tweets got lost in the flow. There could've been any number of reasons--including the fact that the new album simply may not be as good as the earlier release--why the Twitter campaign didn't work. As a point of comparison, Toyota is currently trying a promotional campaign that gives $500 to buyers of new qualifying Toyota cars who send a specific tweet to mention their purchase: "If I get my new Toyota during Toyotathon they'll give me $500 just for this Tweet. http://buyatoyota.com @Toyota #shareathon." Essentially Toyota's PR team are valuing each of these tweets at $500 worth of promotional material. The users have to sign up, tweet, and then get their money if they buy a Toyota by January 3 2011, so there's a degree of marketing-to-sales conversion in the mix, but Toyota's obviously hoping that there's some independent PR value in the event.
- Fast Company blog post
Soulja Boy's "call to action" was weak. Soulja tweets 15-20 times a day, but asking fans to buy a new album in a track driven genre is obviously no longer enough. Perhaps the response would have been different if his Twitter fans were offered an exclusive "I Do It The DeAndre Way" t-shirt with a download code attached for $15? Or if Soulja had tweeted a series of private concerts where having a copy of the new CD was the only way to get in.