Band Promotion on Facebook. Or not.

Adam Shahbaz has written a thoughtful and entertaining post about how Facebook has changed for him since his time as an early user connecting with his friends, through the minifeed, to an era when he has to friend his boss (hi, Brad!). Embedded in it is his report on trying to use Facebook to promote his LA-based band. Short story: it didn’t work:

Facebook became a great marketing tool for my band, rejn (pronounced “rain”). Now users would get our concert messages even if they had yet to join our global group. The group, by the way, jumped from a paltry 200-something local members to a growing 600 global membership of “devout” Facebook users in a very short period of time. For the effort (little) and the cost (free), we seemingly got a great deal.The original, more local fan group, however, allowed us to engage our users. People clicked on the band members and checked out our pages and saw the parties we played at and whether we passed their litmus test of coolness. They checked our individual pictures: bass player doing a keg stand, lead singer in mid-back-flip.

Things were looking up.

With the new global fan group, the one that killed the original, people commented less. For every message we sent, our fans became more resentful of the influx of spam. We had to resort to older techniques to get people to come to the shows. After all, with a small band as with a small business, local means golden. But the announcements became worthless.

We even paid for 30,000 flyers to be distributed exclusively on the University of Southern California Facebook network. At the show, I asked around and did not find one person who even saw the flyer, let alone anyone who found it compelling enough to come to the show. I never expected a big return, but I figured at least one person would have seen it. We were back to good old word-of-mouth.

Facebook has a ways to go toward being a meaningful way to promote bands (despite ReverbNation’s bold efforts to make it easier). The problem of notifications coming too fast and furious on Facebook to digest and therefore seeming more and more like spam is a big one. The very weak support for groups — there is no easy way to see if there are new messages in discussion threads, for instance — is another. FB groups, like so many on other social networks, seem to be serving far more as identity badges than meaningful ways to interact or build community.

Comments (5) to “Band Promotion on Facebook. Or not.”

  1. I’ve found Facebook a little difficult for band promotion as well. I’ve pretty much given up using it for that.

    However, I have just recently discovered – it’s like MySpace, but so much more user-friendly. It seems more and more bands are getting listed there.

  2. Interesting. I wonder though if there are long term advantages that are harder to measure?

  3. I found this post looking to see if I should be on Facebook for promotion. I couldn’t see how it would work. This confirms my suspicion. I concur with Robin’s comment. Virb has been incredible for finding fans internationally that interact with us online and buy our music.

  4. I have to say…I disagree with a lot of what you are saying in this post. I think that Facebook is an amazing way to promote your band as long as you go about it the right way. Thanks for posting this though…I will have to make a post on Facebook promotion in the very near future on my blog.

  5. Even thought there could be a few more bells and whistles in general for bands there, one is able to put a player on their main profile page via an account from reverbnation. That said, considering the mass popularity of facebook, it in fact does have a place in helping an artist promote his/her music.