Lil Wayne and Akon were impressing the folks at RootMusic, the creator of BandPage for Facebook, with the fact that both had amassed 20 million likes on their Facebook fan sites. What brought them concern, however, was the fact that each of Akon's posts generated only 2 million reactions while Lil Wayne's were generating three times as much.
"Lil Wayne was sending out short little posts - it could be 'hi' or 'go Green Bay Packers,'" RootMusic's doctor of pages, Matt Conn, said at the NARM panel "Social Music, Marketing and Monetization." "Those things were his personality. Akon's page would be posting three or four line paragraphs with no new pictures and they were usually about new shows being announced or songs."
The conclusion? Facebook updates need snappy text, high-resolution photographs and items that the artist asks fans to share. The focus in building fan bases has shifted in the last two years from the collecting of email addresses and sending out blasts to accumulating valuable "likes" on Facebook where an artist interacts with fans.
There's no "one-size-fits-all" strategy, the panelists agreed, but anything that engages fans in a give and take generates better results than any one way communication. Acts whose music is used in any visual media -- from advertising to YouTube channels -- have an opportunity to create income through their various partners, whether it be a car company or a blog that generates ad revenue.
"E-commerce is still in its infancy and in many case you still need to leave Facebook to do a transaction," noted Neurotic Media president and CEO Shachar Oren, who specializes in download and mobile solutions. "We have to let go of one-way broadcasts like emails and take advantage of the opportunity to crate a back and forth. Interaction gets [people] to spend money."
Conn contends that interactivity, whether its through Facebook, Twitter or other services, will be a driving force in getting people to attend more shows and buy more music. Most musicians' web sites "are really static -- you see tour dates but there's nothing making you buy (anything). There are no hooks there. That's the power of social media -- making you go to a band page for other reasons" than to look up tour dates.
Josh Gertz, VP, marketing and content, Hip Digital Media, Indaba Music's manager of business development Eric Swenson and YouTube business development executive Yenie Ra spelled out features their companies offer to assist bands in these areas.
"Engagement is marketing," Gertz said, noting that the beverage and food companies he has worked with in promotional download giveaways have expanded their programs by asking participants about their tastes. "There's more passion (displayed) when you're getting permission to communicate. The brands achieve their marketing goals and they're getting a valuable association with an artist."
Ra pushed YouTube's content ID program so that bands can share in revenue generated when their music is embedded on websites.