Boost Your Facebook Post With Caution

With email newsletters you can ask for location information (city, state, zip), and instead of blasting (and annoying) your entire list, you send to subscribers in states where you’ll be playing. You can even customize subject lines with the states you’ll be visiting, which means more people would probably open your email.

Mailchimp is free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers. You can also see succesful delieveries, unlike Facebook which doesn’t tell you who saw the post – and fuck, they could be making that number up anyways. It wouldn’t be the first time (please read ‘Facebook miscalculation significantly inflated average video view times for years‘ from 2016).

How We’ll Live Without Social Media

Question: “without social media, how will anyone find me?”

On social media, every brand, band, label, personality, website, vlogger, photographer, writer, etc x 1,000 is begging you to find them.

Your social media post of “hey, come look at my thing” sits between news of some gruesome murder, a horrible story of workplace harassment, a post about puppies and how cute they are, and someone’s Gofundme because their house burnt to the ground and they lost everything.

So, you wanted me to click on what exactly?

How will people find you? With social media right now it’s a miracle that anyone can find anything.

Here’s what you do:

HAVE A WEBSITE

Boom. There it is.

Now yes, I realize when you publish something it doesn’t get 54 comments, 12 stars or likes, and 54 reblogs. That’s fine.

Just post something again tomorrow, too. Or next week, at least. After a bit of time, someone may bookmark your site. Yes, bookmarks are still a thing. People also still share links in emails to friends, and messaging apps, and in email newsletters.

The sharing won’t be entirely visible, and that’s okay (social media sites are designed to mimic slot machines in a casino, by showing you all the likes and shares and stickers – all to KEEP YOU ON THEIR SITES), but if you make good stuff people will share it.

HAVE A NEWSLETTER

“BUT SETH, NO ONE READS EMAIL.”

Well, maybe you don’t becasue your inbox is a garbage pile and you have no one to blame but yourself (HINT: filters, unsubscribe, Sanebox, etc.) but if people like you, LOVE YOU, they will subscribe to your email list.

Will you have as many email subscribers as Twitter followers? Probably not. But you know how much effort is required to follow someone on social media? Zero effort. It’s just a click, next to three other accounts someone followed.

I bet if you could look at each of your followers you’d notice:

  1. 30% of those people probably haven’t tweeted in six months.
  2. 70% of those people probably follow 2000+ accounts, so they’re not seeing your stuff 50% of the time anyways

Say you “only” have 200 email subscribers and 60 people open your email (that’s a 30% open rate). You can have 1,500 followers and maybe 400 even see your post (a 30% impression rate – meaning alls they did was SEE it), but as I mentioned above, your social media post is competing with a social media post on top of it and below it. You’re part of a social media sandwich, and a lot of times people ain’t clicking your thing.

So if “only” 60 people read your thing, THEY READ YOUR THING. In their inbox.

From there, things spread. No, it won’t go viral. But you know what viral gets?

(I’ll keep this vague, so if you wanna know the details email me)

A friend posted an episode on his podcast. In the podcast their guest said something “controversial” about a certain someone in the industry. Well, two of the biggest sites in that industry linked to the episode. A total of THREE posts in two days, from big sites. A lot of the discussion was transcribed, but still, there was a link for people to click and listen to this person talking “controversial” things.

Two big sites. Three total posts. All linking to this podcast.

Result: 250 extra listens.

All the social media chatter, those websites posting that “hot story” to their huge audience, the subject matter, all linking to these episodes and… not even 300 listens.

Big 👏 viral 👏 wins 👏 usually 👏 aren’t.

And that “viral traffic?” It comes and goes and it’s gone. No one subscribes, no one magically opens their wallet and gives you $5/mo to your Patreon, no one cares. It’s drive by traffic, people looking for a quick fix of internet rage to jolt their brains from their mindless internet wandering.

Fuck that traffic.

DELIGHT YOUR CURRENT FANS

Only have 20 people on your email list? Delight them. Treat them as if they were dinner guests. Respect them, take their coats, nourish them, make them smarter for having read your newsletter. Don’t waste their time with copied and pasted, zero effort, RSS automated bull shit all begging for clicks back to your website. That’s amateur hour and worked in 2006.

Do this well enough, and maybe you’ll have 40 people subscribed to your email list next month.

NOTE: I’m not saying community doesn’t exist on social media. I know not everyone loves emails and such. But if your entire brand sits on a social media platform, you are at the mercy of that social media platform. That platform determines (via computer algorithm) who sees what, and you don’t want to wake up one day and see that 90% of your community isn’t hearing from you. THAT’S why it’s important to get email addresses and own your own website.

We’ll Be Fine Without Social Media

This blog post is basically my Twitter replies to my friend Jocelyn’s Tweet above.

If the “fix” is something to replace this bloated social media websites that employ 2039482 people, I don’t think we can do that. But if we seek focused, sustainable, and healthy sites and events, I think we’ll be fine.

I don’t believe the answer is a daily newsletter with links to cool things that our creative friends are doing because it’d be so easy to lose track, then we’re not even opening the email, and it’s just one more thing we archive / delete. I also don’t believe it’s private Slack channels where it’s like a run-away group text, where you leave for an hour and then there’s 234,902,984 new messages.

Because we can’t do the “real life” thing if we’re scrolling through an app for hours a day. That’s not “keeping up” or “staying informed,” that’s taking time away from our creative pursuits! And emailing friends! Calling people. Have coffee with friends.

What we need is hyper-focused print. Video channels. Occasional email newsletters. Gatherings. Retreats. Live streamed conferences for accessibility and budgets (* see also ‘The End of the Conference Era‘).

And any creative media endeavor that’s “hey, this is about ART!” or “MUSIC!” is too broad. No one is lacking for “we interview creative people” podcasts.

Give me magazines and zines devoted to noise rock, pottery, or band posters. These would be small operations, quarterly, sustainable – the exact opposite of Instagram, or any social media outlet. Online things updated multiple times per hour ain’t doing anyone any favors (as well as using unpaid labor for all that attention). It’s time to slow the heck down.

“Aim for the edges,” as Seth Godin says (back in 2015).

“And that’s the secret to thriving on the edges: Build something that people will look for, something that people will talk about, something we would miss if it were gone.

Not for everyone.”

The more it’s for “everybody,” the more it’s for nobody.

Stop Paying Facebook to Reach Your Fans

Steve Lambert of the non-profit Center for Artistic Activism wrote a fantastic piece called, ‘Why Facebook Is a Waste of Time—and Money—for Arts Nonprofits,’ and I (of course) love it. With a Facebook account with over 4,000 “likes,” they were only reaching about 3% of their audience.

“This is by design,” writes Lambert, “people think the Facebook algorithm is complicated, and it does weigh many factors, but reaching audiences through their algorithm is driven by one thing above all others: payment. Facebook’s business model for organizations is to sell your audience back to you.”

It turns out that Facebook doesn’t even offer a discount to non-profits to reach their supporters. Classy.

“For now, we’ve found our email newsletters much more effective because at least we know the message reaches the subscribers’ inbox. And while we are no longer investing our time or our donors’ money into Facebook, it’s not a complete departure. We’re letting automated systems repost from our website and from other social networks.”

Emphasis mine. At least you know they got it. Then you can see who opened, and who clicked a link. You can also see who didn’t open your email, and a week later send it to them again. Don’t be dismayed that you don’t have 4,000 email subscribers, or even 400.

When you get 100 people to hand over their email address, then you’ve got a subscriber. Likes and faves are easy, but someone opening an email (in 2018) is raising their hand and saying, “I want more of you.”

 

 

Anyone Can Contact You

Listening to Roderick On the Line episode #275 (here, at the 41:00 mark), Merlin Mann talks about the old method that ANYONE can contact you – email, phone, (and recently) Twitter – and maybe how we need to step back away from that. It’s not working.

  • Anyone can interrupt your dinner
  • You can receive an email on a quiet Sunday morning
  • Your lunch date can be ruined by 1000 angry replies

This open communication can be weaponized, with bots, and scripts, and RTs. If you piss off the hive, they’ll come after you. Then your phone is buzzing, buzzing, buzzing. Your inbox is now filled with sewage. Twitter becomes unusable, breaking under the stress of what it was not intended for.

I’ve been near someone whose tweet went viral. Whereas our phones are mostly a comfort, it felt like a thousand angry demons were pushing their way through their touch screen, buzzing and flashing. The small rectangle on the armchair of the sofa became the trap in Ghostbusters.

Buzz, buzz. The chaotic force from the internet; “it’s in there.”

Could Patreon become a Facebook?

Patreon will always need to grow to keep making money, and to do that, they’ll need more people visiting their site.

I’ve been using Patreon since late 2014 for Skull Toaster (you can see it here), and it’s served me well. I am thankful beyond measure that I have the support that I do from the audience I love.

But something that Jason Kottke mentions in his recent interview with Nieman Lab really struck me:

That’s the other thing I really didn’t like about (Patreon); I wanted to keep control over my membership experience. I didn’t want to outsource it to Patreon if in three years they do some sort of Facebook-esque thing and start hosting more and more content on their site so that it becomes more about them and less about the creators. I could just see that happening, and I didn’t want to go anywhere near it.

To get people to support your work via Patreon you have to tell people to visit your Patron page. You do this via social media, in videos, your email list, in messages to friends.

Posting content on your Patreon page a good way to get people to your Patreon. If you make a public post titled “Here are my five favorite music videos from January 2018,” that will get you more clicks than “go check out my Patreon.” That’s just how the internet works.

More clicks increase the chances of getting more support. Not because your fans hate you and aren’t enticed by your pleas to “check out my Patreon,” but because your fans are busy watching Netflix, Instagram Stories, replying to FB messages, and answering texts and emails till 1:30 am.

You have to post stuff that will get noticed, and cut through the clutter of social media in 2018.

The downside, though, is that putting more of your content on Patreon gives you less control. It becomes Patreon’s content in a way, surrounded by their branding. Their colors. Their photo format (they already have the worst blogging interface, uggg).

I think Kottke could be onto something here.

Driving traffic to Patreon is good for Patreon because it can lead to more supporters which puts money into Patreon’s pockets (as it should! They do a great job). But when (not if) Patreon flips the script (which they tried in December 2017), you’ll be left with a bunch of your content sitting on their servers – just like so many of us have already done with Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.

Seriously – if you’re not sending 100s of clicks a month to Patreon, you’re not much help to Patreon.

As Derek Sivers recently wrote in ‘Use the Internet, Not Companies,’

“It’s so important and easy to have your own website. Instead of sending your fans to some company’s site, send them to yours. Get everyone’s direct contact information, so you don’t have to go through any one company to reach them.”

Jason Kottke mentions Memberful, which allows you to set up subscriptions right on his own website. “If you go to my site and sign up for a membership, you never actually go to Memberful’s site,” said Jason, “it’s all done with JavaScript overlays and stuff on kottke.org”

Driving traffic to your own website should be an artists number one priority. Your website is where people get the latest, most accurate information about what you’re doing (or where you’re playing). Or buy merch, or join your email list.

As we should have learned from the MySpace days, directing your fans to a 3rd party site (like Facebook, etc.) for something as sacred as your original content can be a risky move when that 3rd party site makes big changes, disappears, or starts charging you to reach your fans.

 

We Know Everything Now

Hearing and reading a lot more conversations that pertain to leaving social media, or at least lessening the habitual checking-in. The magnetic pull of “likes,” as well as the “fear of missing out” on something that happened 12 seconds ago.

“Is the never-ending psychic tinnitus of social media worth suffering through in the ever-dwindling hope that you’ll be exposed to something enriching, thanks to algorithms that favor paid advertising and “growth hacking?” The answer–for me, at least–is increasingly no.”
Escaping the Social Media Morass and Rediscovering Delight,’ by Tenebrous Kate

There is still value in “getting the word out,” of course, for both projects and worthy causes, but the problem is noise. Everyone is getting the word out. Everyone knows someone who has a GoFundMe. Every town has some asshole that got caught doing horrible things.

In 1998 or so I remember this interaction with a friend. I started telling a story, and before I got too far along they said, “yeah, I know, I read your Xanga.”

Now in 2018, 20 years later, we know what our friends are eating in real time. Or we can watch a video from the show they’re at right this second. That immediacy can be overwhelming at times.

What do we do with that information? We take in the videos, the cute filters, the badly lit and even worse sounding concert footage, and then… then what?

We know so much now, and yet we know so little.

Just Keep Copying

Tweet via Austin Kleon

I’ve been telling people over the years that they better start an email list. Social media is on a collision course for the sun (or a Nazi takeover, whichever happens first), so better to get ahead of that disaster with an exit plan. To me, that’s an email list.

Everyone has an email address. If everyone has social media, they had to use an email address to sign up for the account. Every. Has. An. Email. Address.

That doesn’t mean everyone has a tidy email inbox, but that’s their own fault. They probably follow 234234 social media accounts, too. Lost souls.

When discussing email lists, after the initial “ewwww, how boring” faces, the subject turns to “well, what would I even send out?”

Well, copy somebody’s style, even if you’re not copying their emails. What do the cool brands bands and labels send out to their social media feeds? Ummm, cool photos. Some quirky copy. Probably mentions of places they’ll be, or things they have to sell. Congrats, you’re now an email marketer.

Now, the first email you send out will suck compared to the tenth, but you have to start at number one, so just get it over with. Sign up for a Mailchimp account, make some mistakes, and before you know it you’ll have your own style.

Twitter Actually Made Money

The social media sewage pool that I call Twitter actually turned a profit, its first since 2006.

It may not grow into an advertising behemoth like Facebook, but at least it’s no longer sinking. And if it can keep turning a modest profit, that’s something—except for lingering problems of abuse and hatred on the platform, and the rampant bot problem that may or may not have affected the 2016 US election and the UK Brexit vote.

If you’re trying to get noticed on Twitter, good luck. They are not in the business of sending you free traffic, and I’m guessing soon we’ll see more throttling of traffic from feeds that just send out link after link, begging for a click.