Social Media Nightmares

Posted on December 9, 2010

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The music world used to be magical. My friend Jerry and I were talking the other day and we discussed how before the advent of modern technologies and social media, artists used to have a mystery about them. Robert Plant used to be this mystical wizard of words who might have been a Satanist, he might have been a God, but his lyrics were magical and his talents were unreachable.

Party bands like Poison and Def Leppard used to hold the envy of teens that could only imagine what the backstage party life was like, girls, beer, sex!!! Life on the road was legendary and you could only dream of what happened in those hotel rooms when the show was over.

Now, Robert Plant is just an aging singer with a Twitter and a Facebook and you can message back and forth with Bret Michaels and read up on how they are currently shopping for Christmas presents with their kid. They simply became another friend request in the social media networks. The magic is gone and it isn’t coming back.

Social media is a factual and massive part of today’s music culture. It’s completely altered the lives of everyone on the face of the planet. It’s how we communicate now, educate ourselves and pass the time. When was the last time you sat down with a pen and paper and hand wrote someone a letter? Do you even remember how to write in cursive, outside of signing your name? Probably not. If you’re an artist promoting your craft, chances are you are plugged in to all those social networks already. Here’s a little mention of defending yourself online as you trod through the murk of Internet social media.

Your fans want to talk to you, either because they are interested or maybe just bored at work. Chances are, devoted fans want to “follow” you and interact with you when all you want is  to make dinner and watch Family Guy. Strangely, your fans want to know what you ate and what you are watching. It’s just creepy in more ways than one. The social networking ability of these sites is great for quick contacts, but when your personal life becomes more like “What is Snookie doing today?” chances are it can seem all too personal. Lets look at a few ways to cope with this phenomenon.

1. For your own protection, choose the words you use with care.

It’s easy to think, I can just be myself and post what I feel, but this is to a mass audience of people who feel and think their own things, with their own opinions – and despite their devotion to you – those opinions are more important to them than yours are. It’s easy to offend someone who is crying out online for attention and receiving a disagreement of opinion with you; someone whom they are a fan of. If they rant about the evils of clubbing baby seals and you mention that you own three Louisville Sluggers, chances are, that person and her girlfriends aren’t going to be at your next show, buying your CD or requesting radio spins for your band. Those words of yours that brought them to your fan base in the lyrics you wrote can also drive them away easily with a quoted social network comment … and that comment will come back to haunt you even years down the road. Everything is logged on the Internet; there are no bones about it. If you don’t want the world to remember it, don’t put it in print.

2. Mind the topics you discuss online!

If you aren’t a politician, don’t rant like you are one. If you aren’t religious, don’t discuss it and vice versa – you are guaranteed to offend! It’s also good not to gay-bash, preach about your sexual conquests or for that matter, mention sex, religion or politics at all. Moms that will ban you from the household in a second are monitoring your 16-year-old crowd! Also – don’t simply vent in a public forum, your opinion is best kept in your lyrical content. Keep the mystery!!!

3. Keep the tone of a positive nature.

Why even offer trash talk at all. Maintain a positive tone and if you haven’t got something upbeat to say – it’s best not to write or post anything at all. If you go through life and no one has anything bad to say about you at all – you’ve won! That one time you called someone a dirty cunt on Facebook however, that will come back and slap you around later if you find any fame at all. Even the smallest bit.

4. The best way to capture your fans is to inspire them.

By being positive, avoiding the conversational pitfalls and topics that muddy up the water; you will be well on your way. Why not offer fans fun and creative ideas on enjoying your work, sharing your news, seeing you in person or distributing your music. Inspire people to include you in their daily lives and maybe offer an incentive. If they are your social media friend, give them a song, a personal message or a letter or why not hand write them a correspondence to just say hello and thank them for being a fan. Take the personal touch to an actual personal touch! Get off the social media network and give them something tangible that they can actually hold, show off or keep for personal reasons.

5. Maintain the personal privacy.

Keep those private things you do private. The world doesn’t need to know you and your girlfriend went to Maine for the weekend. They don’t need to know your dog had an operation or for that matter, that you are single and banging every rhino that walks into the veldt. Keep “private stuff” private and it will help protect your personal interests in the real world.

6. If you fuck all the above rules up, watch your back.

The last thing you need is someone who really isn’t a fan going up to your girlfriend and trying to start trouble. “I saw your boyfriend talking to a hot chick on Facebook and he said he wanted to lick her ass!” Like this is something you need – learn from those who have fucked it up before you – and don’t post your email, telephone number, street address or girlfriends name online. That stuff is intended to be personal and keep the mystery that will sell you to people down the road.

7. With all this said – don’t ignore your inquiring fans.

Sometimes jut posting your life respectfully isn’t enough. Fans will email you constantly for the latest dirt they can spread around town about you. Respond to them kindly, with a positive attitude and with only the info that is pertinent to your growth and development as an artist. Be enthusiastic about it and share yourself to only the extent necessary to keep fans around.

Remember, social media sties are a great way to keep you in the eyes of the public, but only let them see so much. It’s easy to make mistakes that will come back and bite you in the ass later – it’s best to keep the mystery and make them wonder.

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