Creating a web presence is one of the most important marketing tool a band has. Today our fans aren't local, they can be all around the world, loving your particular niche of music. By having a solid web presence you can reach those fans that would never have heard of you.
Last time we left off we had installed a Wordpress website on your own domain, and we had created all the necessary pages that a website should have. If you missed the first part, check it out here.
Now we'll be looking into making your e-mail account look professional, as well as setting up all the must-have social media accounts.
Step 1 – E-mail
Having your own domain has its benefits when it comes to e-mail. You can make your e-mail look professional by adding your domain name to it, but the downside is that most host e-mail sucks. Luckily, we can use your domain name in your e-mail address while still using a good e-mail client. I don't understand anybody that doesn't use Gmail, because it's the most convenient and intuitive e-mail program you can use.
If you already have a Gmail account you can easily hook a new e-mail address to it. No need to create a new account or log into separate accounts, just add your band or studio account to your personal account in the Mail Settings.
First thing you do is you click “Add another email address you own”, and it takes you to a new window where you put in the email information from your new email address and then you just follow the simple steps until the end. After you do this you will get a confirmation email from Google to your new account with a confirmation code number that you put into the window at the end of the aforementioned window. Simply follow the directions in the Google emails and you should be all set. They're pretty good at explaining everything you need to do.
Now you need to add the Pop3 email account so that you can check the mail on your server. Because the email you get to your band account doesn't go automatically to Gmail, you need a way to tell Gmail that it needs to check an external server for mail as well. Like before, it's pretty straightforward if you just follow the steps.
Make sure you tick the Label Incoming Messages box so that you can keep track of which e-mails are which. It's easier to keep track of.
Now we should have a working email address hooked to Gmail, making everything easy to track but also professional on the outside. email@example.com looks much cooler than firstname.lastname@example.org, or even email@example.com. That's why we connect them, because if you have a domain already there's no reason you can't have a professional looking email.
[Editor's note: Alternatively, you can have Gmail look after the e-mail for your domain by setting up a Google Apps account.]
Step 2 – Social Media Accounts
Depending on your needs, some social media accounts are more useful than others. However, in a musical context there are three that you should really focus on: ReverbNation, Facebook, and Twitter.
Reverbnation is the hub for online music presence. Myspace is dead and Reverbnation is its rightful heir in the music realm. Not only does it offer you a whole plethora of possibilities to set up your music profile and market it, but it also links to both Facebook and Twitter. This makes Reverbnation a really streamlined hub for all your social media activities. Bobby Owsinski recently published an interesting post about the Promote It tool in Reverbnation and how to use it.
Reverbnation is really the hub where you can sync everything up, so even if you don't create your webpage and get your domain, having a Reverbnation account is definitely one of the more important social media steps you should take. However, having a separate domain and site that's run solely by you is, and should be, on your list of priorities.
Attention: Don't post a lot of pictures at the same time on Reverbnation if you have it hooked up to your Facebook or Twitter. Because every time you upload a picture it will update your Facebook status. So if you're uploading 20 awesome pictures from a gig it will completely spam the newsfeed of all of your fans, which you should never do. I have done it, and I learned it the hard way. With a lot of apologies.
Facebook is great for connecting to fans, and if you are a studio it's a great way to showcase your business and your client's work. Posting pictures, stories and small notes on your Facebook page is much better than mindlessly posting your rates or deals that you're offering. If you look at Facebook more like a hangout instead of a one way tunnel for your marketing spiel then you'll definitely do better. I don't really use my Facebook to its utmost advantage but I still try to connect to everyone who asks a question or posts a comment.
Attention: Make the most of your friends and family to begin with, because you'll need 25 fans to get an actual Facebook domain. A Facebook domain is a must, and it just goes back to the email section. You want to look like you're serious, and an unrecognizable Facebook username is not going to cut it. If you're having trouble, there's nothing wrong with soliciting your friends to like your band. They should like you anyway right?
Rockable Press has an amazing book, Successful Facebook Marketing that touches upon many of the successful tactics you can use in order to get more exposure on Facebook. Whether you're a musician, a home recordist or a commercial studio, you can definitely learn tricks from this book.
Twitter is a great social networking tool for bands as well as recording engineers. You can easily create pretty good relationships, and it's easy to find likeminded people to follow. I use Twitter a lot as a blogger, and equally so when I was promoting band related stuff. Like the Facebook account, I hooked Twitter up to my band's Reverbnation page and sent out updates of shows, photos and other music related material out from Reverbnation.
Use hashtags for the city you are in, and look for other bands and accounts that are in your local area. This is great when you're promoting a show and you've established a relationship with a big local Twitterer. For instance, @tucsonnightout was really good about retweeting all of my shows to the greater Tucson area, hopefully generating some buzz and greater outreach than my very new Twitter account that I had just set up. Twitter takes a little time to get useful, but once you've got followers you can really get a return on effort.
Youtube is a great social networking tool if you like creating music videos or recording yourself live. The band 1860 used Youtube to great success when they were starting out. They basically recorded a bunch of their songs as they were being born during practice and uploaded them to Youtube for everyone to watch. This gave the fans an interesting way of following the evolution of a band they liked. Many people are perfectionists and don't like uploading or publishing anything unless it's studio quality stuff, but sometimes posting works in progress and song ideas can be very beneficial for a band.
If you follow the steps in these past two tutorials, you're well on your way to having a formidable web presence. However, don't expect that just because you've set everything up, people are going to come rushing to your website and listening to your songs.
It takes time to gather a following, and getting actual true fans can be difficult. But doing so on the web isn't nearly as difficult as the old way of playing shows every night and having one on one conversations with fans. You have a bigger reach now, and a voice that can be heard all around the world. Use it to your advantage.