SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

Choosing the best web strategy for promoting bands is a subject that often elicits heated debate (I think I hear “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background). Before the days of social media, everyone moved along just fine with a static or dynamic website. Then along came MySpace, and later, Facebook. These sites were free, easy to use, interactive, and best of all, very popular. Many bands abandoned their websites and invested large amounts of time developing their MySpace presence, only to see it decline in favor of the current leading giant, Facebook.

As it stands now, rabid Facebook users believe it is THE place for bands with all else being unnecessary. Others will argue that they are not even on Facebook. Serious bands often opt for the multifaceted approach. A large number are unsure. They remain dumbfounded due to the rapidly changing nature of the Internet. However, all parties will come together and agree on one thing: promotion is central to the life and well-being of a band. With that in mind, let’s take a sober look at the pros and cons of both. From there we can begin to develop a strategy for web promotion.

AND AS WE WIND ON DOWN THE ROAD

The first step in strategy development is determining where you are, and what your long-term goals are.

1. If you are a hobby band playing an occasional gig here and there, Facebook may be your best choice. You may not be looking at promotion and/or building a fan base. You might be happy making sporadic announcements, and posting a few photos.

2. If you are a serious band just launching, with no gigs and/or no fan base, you might opt for a Facebook page to get things started. You can use it to create some buzz about your band, and let your friends know about your new project. At this point, things may not be in a settled form, and you may not have much content to display.

3. If you are a serious band with:

  • Some gigs behind you and in front of you
  • Some good promotional photos
  • Some good live photos and videos
  • A desire to build your fanbase and get them to your gigs

…you will need both – Facebook and your own website!

DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’

Here comes the inevitable question, “Why do I need both?” This is the point where the debate usually heats up. Many bands believe they only need Facebook to interact with fans and promote their shows. Yes, you need Facebook. Facebook is an excellent tool for promoting your band. Use it and squeeze every bit out of it that you can…BUT you also need a website. Here are a few reasons:

1. Own your own content
This has always been Rule #1 on the Internet. You should have a place where you control all of your band’s content. Sites like Facebook are their website, not yours. You do not own, nor control, the content. You may place content on Facebook, but you do not own it. They have full legal rights to do whatever they like with your content including deletion or modification. Over time users have seen their content disappear. Do you remember the “discussions tab?” A lot of content disappeared forever at Facebook’s whim. After all, it is their website. They can do what they want, whenever they want. Remember also, Facebook allows you to place your content on their website so they can use it for advertising purposes. Now that Facebook is a publicly-traded company, they will increasingly be serving investors and not users. In the end, your content alone is not the important item. It is only useful as it serves a purpose and that is to get users to visit pages so they can sell advertising. When certain content gets in the way of profits, the executioner comes with axe in hand.

2. Your website is your Internet hub
Your band should have a dynamic website that contains all of your important content, and it should serve as a hub to all of your Internet activities. Rather than posting directly on Facebook, you should update your website and have it automatically post to Facebook. There is no extra time involved, and you kill two birds with one mojo rockin move. Facebook, along with other social media, should be tools to drive people to your website. Your site should be constructed to be the Grand Central Station of your band’s Internet presence. No matter which social media site is in vogue at the time, your website will remain your band’s intergalactic headquarters!

3. Facebook is not the only social media site
Yes, Facebook is the largest social media site, but other sites continue to grow in popularity. Many of them have a growth rate much higher than Facebook’s. The Internet is changing more rapidly than ever before. Who knows what will be the next really kewl trend. Look at AOL and MySpace. They were the biggest thing in their time. Everyone thought they were here to stay (more on that in a moment). The wise band will not put all of their promotional nest eggs in one basket. They may come to really regret it later.

4. Control the look and feel of your content
Facebook has a standard format which changes over time. You have no control over it. With a website you can customize most every aspect of it. You can design and configure it to meet the image of your band. Your website brands you…your Facebook page brands Facebook. Every band is in the same boat. Though you may be a killer Rock band, your Facebook page will still resemble the little garage band down the road.

5. Control the organization of your content
No one likes having to dig around for information they are searching for. They want to be able to land on a page and get their info quickly and easily. A website can be organized any way you like with all important info at your fingertips.

6. Search Engine Optimization
SEO is a big concern on the Internet. Your band must be easy to find in search engines. With a website, you control the keyword content. Someone may find you on Facebook by searching your band name, but what if they are looking for a “Rock band in Biloxi?” You can also optimize each page on a website focusing on different keywords. You are normally discovered on Facebook through friends while search engines point to you through keywords. It is good to have both, as well as other social media sites. Your Google rankings will be higher the more quality backlinks you have.

8. Band Merch
Facebook has not been very successful as an e-commerce platform. You can easily integrate an online store into your band’s website, and make some extra cabbage off of your merch sales. The extra traffic will also benefit your search engine rankings.

10. www.yourband.com
You already know how kewl it is to have your own .com but it is also impressive on business cards and your press kit. It is more impressive to display john@yourband.com than johnc1969@yahoo.com. Remember the website is your hub, so users will still get to all of your social media sites from there. Your website should be the URL displayed on all band promotion.

SYNOPSIS OF PROS AND CONS

FACEBOOK

PROS

  • Facebook has a lot of users and is popular
  • Facebook is easy to use
  • Facebook is a free service (for the present)
  • Facebook can show up in search engine results
  • Facebook “pages” have improved for bands
  • Facebook pages are good for fan interaction

CONS

  • Facebook owns the content
  • Facebook controls the content
  • Facebook has a standard format and controls appearance
  • Facebook can only interact with other Facebook users
  • Facebook has very poor e-commerce
  • Not everyone wants to join Facebook (I know many)

WEBSITE

PROS

  • You can do the same things Facebook can do, even the social aspects
  • You have ownership and control of your content
  • You have complete control over the appearance and layout of your site
  • You can optimize each web page for search engines
  • You have access non-Facebook users
  • You can create an e-commerce site or blog site
  • You will appear more profession to venues, promoters…and record execs

CONS

  • You may have to pay someone for the initial setup and configuration
  • There are annual fees (Domain & hosting cost $75/year and up)
  • You may also incur subscription costs in your use a specialized software

There are excellent pros and cons to both. Why settle, then, for just one when you can do both and get the best of best worlds. They should not be considered competing products, but rather complimentary marketing tools that work together.

LAST DANCE WITH MARY JANE

IS FACEBOOK REALLY HERE TO STAY?

That’s what everyone once said about AOL and MySpace, just to name a couple. It wasn’t that long ago when people spent a lot of time developing their MySpace presence: customizing the appearance, adding articles/photos/songs, and spending a lot of time packing in the “friends.” What is that all worth now? NewsCorp purchased MySpace in 2005 for $580 milliion and sold it in 2011 for a mere $35 million. In the rapid-changing ever-evolving world of the Internet nothing is carved in stone. There is no Rock of Gibraltar. The odds are very high that another social media platform(s) will arise and supplant Facebook. The Internet is becoming more “in-my-lil-click-centric” than just a mass conglomerate. For instance, most business professionals choose LinkedIn over Facebook. And since Facebook has seen a marked decline in usage from the very generation who carried them to their present heights, Google+ has been their to cater to their liking.

The Internet changes so fast that big companies find great difficulty in trying to stay current. I liken it to a motorboat and a cruise ship. Both are moving forward, but if they have to take a sharp left turn or right turn…or even an about face…they cannot respond equally. A motorboat can whip around like it was nothing. However, a cruise ship will have traveled many miles before it can make the complete turn. These big companies, including Google, have found that the very size of their enterprises has cost them the cutting-edge innovation advantage. Therefore, look for more small innovative sites rising up, setting new standards and taking the users with them.

Let’s take a look at the man behind the curtain. I have a background in accounting and economics so I can’t resist sharing a few tidbits of financial info for those who may have an interest. Facebook recently went from a private-held corporation to one that if publicly-traded on NASDAQ. The stock went public on May 18, 2012 with a feeding frenzy of about 573 million shares traded. The IPO opened Day one at $42.05/share, and went as high as $45, before settling the day at $38.23/share. A lot of people made serious money and a lot of people lost serious money amidst accusations of misrepresentation. Several lawsuits have been filed. The following week saw the stock decline to $25.87/share. As I write this article, it still only sits at $27.15/share [Update: The 1st of August saw it drop to $19.82]. Many thought the stock would take off and quickly hit $60/share. The truth is Facebook has proven it can attract users, but has yet to prove that it can make serious money from it. To show how ridiculous the IPO was, it would take Facebook over hundred years to raise the same amount of money if it kept 100% of it current annual profits, and gave none back as dividends. Are investors that stupid these days…or that misinformed?

The bottomline is, Facebook is no longer a privately-held company. They now have to serve investors. They have already made some changes, and many more are coming. Whether you like it or not money greases all the wheels that turn this world. Another difficulty for Facebook is the increasing use of its ad-free mobile app over its ad-filled website. How long do you think that will last? The more people use the mobile app, the less Facebook earns. Currently Facebook quarterly earnings are $1.21/user compared with $7.14/user at Google. Investors will be out for blood if Facebook cannot find a way to increase its revenue. It can only do that by increasing advertising on the website, add advertising to the mobile apps, or by charging a subscription price. None of these will be appealing to members and Facebook will find more and more users migrating elsewhere.

GIMME THREE STEPS

So, where do you want to take your band? If you are a hobby band, hanging with Facebook may be all you will ever need. However, if you are a serious rocker and want to take your band to new heights, you will require a multifaceted approach:

Step #1: Facebook is important and every band should have a page.
Step #2: Other social media is important and should be embraced.
Step #3: Your website is important and should be the hub of all things Internet.

Now for the question you’ve been waiting to ask: “If Facebook fails in the future can’t I just build a website down the road?” Yes, but you will have lost all (maybe years) worth of traffic that may have placed you king of your keywords on Google. You will have lost the benefit of loads of content that would have permanently been on your site, including a history of all your events, articles, photos and so forth. All the while you could have been doing both!

John Cripps, Google+
Originally Written: 07.18.12

Nods to: Survivor (Eye of the Tiger), The Clash (Should I Stay or Should I Go?), Led Zeppelin (“And as we wind on down the road” from Stairway to Heaven), Journey (Don’t Stop Believin’), Tom Petty (Mary Jane’s Last Dance), and Lynyrd Skynyrd (Gimme Three Steps). Long Live Rock…make it part of your daily conversation!