Posted on Nov. 18, 2015 at 1 p.m.
by Shelby Bonner.
Not everyone is Beyoncé. Thankfully, for those who can’t release a successful album overnight with no prior warning to the public, there’s social media.
It’s no secret that being active on social media boosts popularity and can help propel you into the public eye. Some artists have taken full advantage of the possibilities that the Internet opens up to them. From using social media to promote tour dates, hype up music videos or simply connect with fans — technology has forever changed the way the music industry does PR.
Watch and learn
Bands like Weezer, formed in 1992, have stayed relevant because they have managed to keep themselves up-to-date during the changing times.
Weezer even made their very own “Weezerpedia” to give fans inside information on almost everything relating to the band including videos, articles and new songs. Weezer also has their own online chat room for “Weezer discussion.” This is a band that works hard to keep their fans engaged so that they’ll come back for more.
Carlota Zimmerman, entrepreneur and innovative social media strategist, has one theory on how social media can help bands keep their fans interested. “Social media, on the whole, is about giving people a reason to care. Once people are engaged, once people have a reason to care, they’ll sell themselves [on the band],” said Zimmerman.
However, older bands aren’t the only ones that can take advantage of the new technology. The newest band to emerge onto the social media scene is 5 Seconds of Summer. The band’s Twitter account has over 7 million followers, with each individual member’s account averaging over 5 million followers. They’re known for being fan-oriented and actively engaging their social media followers. They regularly respond to tweets and try to do live-streams to keep their fans in the loop.
This consistent approach, according to Graham Carpenter, communication studies professor at The University of Alabama, is crucial to keeping fans involved on social media sites. “The chance that your favorite performer or band could recognize you definitely adds to the fan involvement on that platform. For example, if a band consistently retweets their followers’ comments, then more fans are likely to post on that page. It also gives off the impression that they actually take time to recognize their supporters,” said Carpenter.
In the summer of 2014, 5 Seconds of Summer released their first hit single “She Looks So Perfect.” The song was constantly publicized online preceding its release. Promotions included a special lyric video, distinct graphics leading up to the launch and custom messages from the boys to all the fans regarding the release of the single.
5 Seconds of Summer released their new album “Sounds Good Feels Good” on Oct. 23, and the world knew about it. Social media sites were bombarded with information regarding the debut of the album. They did a Twitter chat to promote the album, and the band even left recognizable album artwork all around the world promoting the release. These boys know their fans, and they know what works for them. That understanding, Zimmerman said, is important in order to use social media more productively.
“There are certain rules for using social media more efficiently, but those rules really do depend on your message and your ideal audience,” said Zimmerman. “First and foremost, define your audience. Why are they an ideal audience? Why should they be interested in you? What makes you worth their time?”
Zimmerman added, “Understand your brand: understand yourself. Be true to your authentic brand, or else you might as well just buy followers.”
Why does it matter?
It’s obvious that social media has changed the way that PR works in the music industry.
With the emergence of social media, the public relations industry has a variety of options when looking to connect a band with their audience. Live streams are great ways to make big announcements to the fans, and they can reach more people than a press conference can. However, the public relations industry should not do away with the old way of doing things. There should be a unifying of old and new strategies to better understand the generations.
“You cannot be all things to all people. Respect your audience, and speak to them in their language, on their level,” advised Zimmerman.
In today’s digital world, there is more of a capability for two-way communication between bands and their fans, which could be what leads to the rise in popularity of certain artists.
“The Internet, specifically social media apps and websites, give the general public the perception of a direct line of access to seemingly personal information, and everyday ‘behind-the-scenes’ looks into celebrities’ lives at a never-ending rate. There’s constant connection,” said Carpenter.
In an article on CNN David Weinberger tells us, “On the Web, the medium isn’t the message. The medium is the audience. So, when someone becomes famous on the Internet, it’s because We the Medium decided to move that person’s message along.”
I’m sorry to everyone who’s automatic response is “the medium is the message.” But public relations is changing — and the Internet is changing it.
Regardless of your stance on the Internet, it has changed society as a whole. From the way we communicate, to how we get our information and even our attention spans — social media has made a global impact.
The main thing to remember when using social media to expand your audience is that if you don’t try, nothing will happen. “You have to be brave. Go online and use all the various social media platforms to share your art. Be brave and believe in the value and power of your art to influence and shape our world,” said Zimmerman.