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How to Rock in Social Media: Connect with Customers

Social networks are rapidly changing the accessibility society has to new ideas, content and conversations. We have entered a new social structure that offers endless opportunities to expand your connections with brands and friends alike. Because of this shift in social interactions, we have blurred the line between being a “friend” or a “brand-loyal customer” — combining relevance to both relationships under one roof (the social web). 


For the music industry, the social web has created an online community that removes the traditional geographic and physical limitations once experienced by those seeking new sounds. Social networks provide musicians and their fans with an opportunity to share new music, establish a larger following and communicate on a personal basis like never before.

“Short of being a spouse or a roommate, social network sites allowed fans unprecedented access to artists and bands.” – Is Social Media Saving Music?

This shift isn’t unique to musicians. Observing successes in the music industry can provide valuable insight for any brand looking to increase awareness and develop personal relationships with their target audiences.

10 Lessons for Brands, From Bands

An important factor in a musician’s success is a strong fan base, and the same goes for businesses and their customers. Without a group of people who are continually aware of your presence, loyal to your products and willing to be brand advocates, the greatest content in the world can fall on deaf ears.

By emulating some of the strategies and tactics that music artisits have found success with online, brands too can use social networks to cultivate personal connections with customers in new ways. From encouraging interaction and responding directly to customer comments, to rewarding Twitter followers with special offers, to being proactive in response to criticism, brands can adopt a social media strategy that will add value to thier audience and increase loyalty among its customer base.

Following are several lessons from the music indstury for brands looking to connect with customers on a personal level:

  1. Establish an authentic social presence
  2. Publish original, quality content
  3. Provide genuine commentary that exhibits enthusiasm
  4. Dedicate time to respond to audiences wanting to interact
  5. Show appreciation for followers
  6. Accept criticism and respond in a proactive manner
  7. Provide special incentives to followers
  8. Monitor the conversations of your customers and competitors
  9. Seek opportunities to participate
  10. Capitalize on financial benefits

Read on for the stories of three musicians that have engaged their audience online through relationship-building approaches to social media, and have reaped the financial and personal benefits.

Example 1: Colbie Caillat

Caillat is a surfing, “bubbly” girl from L.A. who propelled herself into stardom using the social network MySpace. At the recommendation of a friend, she posted several songs to her personal MySpace profile. What started as a hobby quickly turned Caillat into the platform’s most-listened-to unsigned artist. Because of MySpace’s sharing capabilities and Caillat’s natural talent, in 2006 her page drew thousands of listeners, receiving more than 50,000 plays a day.

The exposure of social media landed Caillat a record deal with Universal, and in 2007 her first album, “CoCo,” debuted at number five on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart. She is now a platinum-selling artist and one of the most notorious MySpace success stories. 

The formula for her success is the result of:

  1. Quality content
  2. An authentic presence
  3. Passion
  4. The accessibility and sharing capabilities of MySpace

Example 2: Imogen Heap

Although slightly less involved in mainstream popularity, Heap (formally part of the group Frou Frou) is a British singer/songwriter who uses a variety of social network channels to connect with a multitude of fans. Between her personal website (which offers incredible transparency into her life and work), Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, she provides her fan base with frequent updates and access to a personal connection behind her creativity. 

Heap is an accomplished collaborator and solo artist, as well as a Grammy Award winner. Her music has been featured on a number of movies and hit television shows, including Garden State, V for Vendetta, The O.C., CSI: Miami, Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes and more.

“The music industry has gone through intense turmoil over the past two years with traditional business models being ripped to shreds and new models giving artists more tools and opportunities than ever before to market and distribute their music themselves.” – No Borders, “Imogen Heap is Connecting with Your Fans

The result of endless tweeting and an interest in fan input:

  1. Twitter: More than 1,455,000 followers (the first Twitter-sourced blog)
  2. Facebook: More than 332,000 fans
  3. YouTube: More than 50 video blogs posted

(Other accounts: MySpace, Flickr,

Example 3: Amanda Palmer

Palmer speaks to an even tighter niche of musical interests, but also enjoys success through social media involvement. One example of her communication with fans was fueled by a lonely Friday night and the aid of her Twitter community:

Palmer sent out a tweet about being a lonely loser at home on a Friday night. Her followers started joining in on her conversation and ended up creating a faux organization “The losers of Friday night on their computers.” When one member recommended the creation of a t-shirt, Palmer quickly responded, drew and uploaded an image of her sketch. Two hours and $11,000 later, she had sold more than 200 t-shirts and allowed her fans to be a part of a real conversation. The group even created its own Facebook group.

Because Palmer was listening to her audience, engaging them in conversation and willing to be authentic, she was able to capitalize on an impromptu marketing effort and expand her brand awareness. Hear more about Palmer’s Friday night success by watching her interview with David Meerman Scott.

From beginnings as a street performer in Harvard Square, to becoming half of The Dresden Dolls duo and a solo artist, Palmer has enjoyed a range of artistic success. Her quirky sense of style, candidness about her career and life, and commitment to being herself, has earned her an exceptionally loyal following.

Ways Palmer engages fans in authentic, two-way conversation:

  1. Blog: Regularly updated
  2. MySpace: More than 3,600,000 profile views
  3. Facebook: More than 45,400 fans
  4. Twitter: More than 413,000 followers

What brands do you know of that implement similar tactics to establish a social media presence, create a following and increase their dialogue with customers?

Dia Dalsky is an associate consultant at PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. Follow Dia on Twitter @DiaDalsky.

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Photo credit: Finding Josephine

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