Yesterday John Batelle posted a new article that didn’t so much have me nodding in agreement as leaping up and yelling “Yes! That! Exactly that!!”.
Entitled “Put Your Taproot Into The Independent Web“, John urged companies and brands not to place all their eggs in the Facebook basket, stating that –
“it drives me crazy to see major brands using expensive television time to drive consumers to a Facebook program that lives exclusively inside Facebook. (I imagine the reverse is true when Facebook executives see those same ads). I’m sure it works in the short term – you get folks there, they “like” or “follow” your brand, and they engage in whatever promotion or campaign is currently running. But if that campaign, promotion, or program lives only on Facebook, well, good luck deriving all the value you possibly can from it.”
Go read the article in full – its worth five minutes of your time. Whilst John is talking more in the context of companies and brands, I feel the exact same concepts apply to artists here.
Here’s my view: Facebook is now a place to share experiences. It is not a place to *have* those experiences. With the bulk of all interactions coming via the News Feed it simply isn’t necessary to centralise your campaign around Facebook: do something amazing and it will be shared on there anyway.
Your website is all yours. It can look however you want it to look and can do anything you like. For those of us still loving vinyl, look at it like your album cover: its your chance to contextualise your band and define it further. From a data perspective, it is also the one place you have total control over; you can retail within it, collect emails within it and generally run it as you see fit without falling foul of the litany of T&Cs sites like Facebook force upon users – some of the most worrying of which Batelle also outlines in his article. Take advantage of both of those factors to create something amazing that resonates with fans. Their bullshit detectors are more attuned and cynical than ever these days: be genuine or people will see straight through you.
In some respects, none of this is news; for years now people have pushed this point home. However of late it feels like perspectives have become skewed and persistent talk of the likes of Facebook and Google+ – of social-networks-as-the-internet in general – have made us forget that there is a free, independent internet outside of these very high-walled gardens.
So am I advocating some kind of “forget Facebook” stance here? No. I think what we need to do now is evolve from using Pages as a means to reach fans to creating experiences and incredible content that people will share to their feeds. Create amazing things and people will tell other people about it. People define their online persona via what they share, so give them something amazing and rest assured it *will* be posted to their social feeds.
To me music was always about standing out; setting yourself apart from the pack. Music is an art and art cannot be homogenous. Your website is the one place you have free reign to do what you will. Define who you are, connect with your fans and let their passion for your content resonate out across social media and beyond.