The "Facebook Music Marketing: Pages, Feeds, and Games" panel at SXSW Music served essentially as a rundown of sorts for every way an artist can maximize Facebook's platform - especially its new features rolled out in Timeline, which will become mandatory for all pages March 30 - to connect and engage with their fanbase.
The panel was moderated by former Inside Facebook reporter and current TechCrunch writer Josh Constine, who led a discussion featuring Facebook product communications manager Meredith Chin, BandPage founder/CEO J Sider, Bopler Games CEO Albin Serviant, and Headliner.fm CEO Mike More.
Facebook's new Timeline features - cover photos for self-expression, pinning posts to the top of a page for a week, clearer friend activity so a user knows how many friends have liked a band and listened to its music - help the social interaction between artists and fans, but the more important features for an artist on Facebook comes through the use of third party apps.
BandPage  serves as a one-stop shop for fans to find out everything they need to know about an artist, whether it be tour dates, album releases, or merch information, and the platform also rolled out new features such as the ability to favorite tracks (it also announced last week it hit the 500,000 user mark, making it the biggest music app on Facebook). Headliner.fm pairs artists with othe similar bands and asks them to share each others' posts, hoping to foster a cross-marketing community and gain new fans that might not have heard of a band but that might be of interest to them. Bopler is a leading social game app that creates music-based games, allowing fans to listen while they play.
"It's great to have likes, but you need to engage fans, and games are a great way to do that," said Serviant. "People spend an average of 18 minutes at a time playing Facebook games."
Engagement was a point that came up again and again, as page posts only reach an average of 16 percent of fans who have "liked" a page. "Likes are great, but where is the engagement?" asked Sider when asked the importance of a Facebook like. "What you should really be focusing on is how to get more people listening."
"Offering a listen and engaging and keeping that fan afterward is the most effective," said Chin, noting that trying out creative posts - incorporating video, photos, and more than just links - and seeing which get the most fans to talk about it is the best way to decide which type of content to deliver. "Never be focused on just the likes."