So I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately with bands posting their social media reach on unsponsored posts. You’ll see a band with nearly 2,000 Facebook fans reaching a measly 19 people with a post. That’s a 1% penetration rate for those of you keeping track at home. This sucks, I know it does. You don’t need to tell me how rough Facebook has gotten. I know bands, not even especially popular ones who used to post a link to new merch and sell fifty shirts, now they need to invest hundreds to barely get a return on their investment. That’s just the dystopian reality we find ourselves in, it is late stage capitalism at its very finest. So what is a DIY band to do? One group I work with referred to it starting to ‘stink like the final days of Myspace’ and I sort of wonder if that’s what’s going to end up happening here to drive the entire thing to an ignoble end and force us to embrace the next platform that comes up from the bowels of the internet.
Now – I am kind of split on the idea of Facebook straight up dying because creatives leave. I think that some creatives have started to leave, but power structures are so used to having Facebook that there are entire micro economies based around it and I don’t necessarily know that if anyone is going to be able to replicate that elsewhere. That being said – a lot of people I really respect seem to think the site is headed towards the end and for good reason. Look at the attempted mass exodus that happens every time the new social media platform of the week comes through. Yet it never takes because those social media sites do not get the critical mass that they needed in order to properly expand and profit. That being said, in most cases the product is not nearly as good as what Facebook offers and Mark Zuckerberg has done a fabulous job of either copying or just buying his opponents. So it seems tricky to overwhelm this faction of the market.
So how do you use Facebook to best market your band? Well, first and foremost, you have to use your personal pages. I know this sucks but that’s where we are at these days. Facebook is trying to prioritize people and not businesses in the feed now. This means that the way we get shown things is determined by what our friends have to say. This is why meme content tends to do really well and why you are drowning in other peoples drama but never see posts from your favorite blog. I know that this sucks, it’s just another facet to the nightmare that is social media. If you are tying to be a public figure though you have to be that public figure throughout your social media. You can’t post about your problems because you are selling a fantasy and if you can’t sell that fantasy with every goddamn fiber of your being then people are not going to buy in. I know that being ‘always on’ sucks but even if you think ‘true fans don’t care’ if you want to make money, you have to show you are the best.
Of course – something I’ve championed at length on this blog too has been Facebook groups. You have to read between the lines with what Zuckerberg has to say. When he talks about wanting to encourage conversations – this is one of the main ways it seems that he hopes to do that. Groups are great for building community and I will continue to push them here until they stop helping me and all my friends raise awareness for our projects. Hell – at this point even people on Facebook just socially rely on groups for reliable sources of everything from news to memes. I know that sounds crazy to some of you, but this is how folks under 30 use Facebook and how a lot of older people have started to use it as well. People want to be able to interact with folks who have similar interests and viewpoints, the only way for this to truly work on a platform as diverse as Facebook is with functions like groups. I know it means you need to meet more people, but here we are.
Don’t think for a minute either that there aren’t bands out there that gathered social media followings without inordinate amounts of sponsored posts. There are tons of groups that are just really savvy and get good bang for their buck with their projects. Look at a band like Forming The Void – they share a lot of high quality memes, relevant content and generally work on expanding their brand with every single post and they have remarkably high engagement for a band on their level. They aren’t the only ones who seem to have cracked the code. Big brands like Metal Injection rarely sponsor posts, but again, place the focus on high quality content in order to cultivate a community who are actively interested in what they have to offer. This fosters conversations and interaction on a larger scale which serves to make them iconic in their own right. There are still ways – it’s just a lot fucking harder than it used to be.
Facebook is a hard thing to use and it’s probably going to go through some massive changes in the next few months given everything that has happened with Cambridge Analytica and the fact that the US Congress has no clue how to deal with technology, so there’s a chance this entire article will be invalidated. Still – keep in mind that we are probably going to be bound to this platform longer than any of us care to admit and we might as well take from those bands who have mastered it in order to continue to cultivate what we want do and to take on the world. Every day we gotta learn more, but if we do, then this whole game should be a helluva lot easier.