Journal: Diversifying your Social Networking Channels

"MySpace is dying." I wrote in 2006. Millions of bands lost their fanbase as MySpace collapsed. I think there's a lot we can learn from this: Diversify your social networking channels.
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I stumbled on a segment of an article I wrote in November, 2006. I titled the article, MySpace is Dying. I’ll admit, the title was a bit sensational. Suggesting that MySpace was about to collapse was laughable. It would be like suggesting that Facebook is about to collapse. At the time, MySpace was king, but Facebook would overtake it in follower count eighteen months later. It didn’t take long for people to abandon their MySpace pages.

I wrote:

MySpace is dying, and three million artists will either realize the importance of having their own well developed website or they’ll chase after the next trend, hoping to rebuild their fan-base. I’d rather focus my energies developing my own traffic than nursing off of a corporate monster.

The “corporate monster” was a reference to billionaire Ruppert Murdoch (owner of News Corp., Sky News, and Fox News) buying MySpace. Seeing that I was running an “Indie Music Journal,” as I called Puddlegum at the time, I was against any form of corporate control over artistic expression.

I explained that I believed that MySpace was going to collapse. The main reason I thought this was because MySpace had developed a site that allowed people to hack in order to personalize their page (using HTML and CSS in what should have only been text fields). So if MySpace wanted to develop further, they had to break millions of profile pages, which they eventually did. Facebook was growing rapidly, and I saw that MySpace would quickly be outpaced since Facebook could evolve and MySpace couldn’t.

In the article I pointed out that the amount of time people were spending on it had already peaked. I explained:

The problem I foresee is that it won’t be long before the MySpace bubble bursts. Since most of their users are teenagers, studies show that the masses will naturally migrate to the next big fad, similar to the way they change their circle of friends. Popularity of a website is measured on how long the average user stays on their site and MySpace has already reached its pinnacle, peaking at 2 hours and 25 minutes in October of 2005.

A few hours after I pressed the “publish” button, the article hit the front page of Digg. It sparked quite a few people to write their own response, some favorable and some mocking the suggestion. Whether people agreed or not, the message went everywhere.

When I wrote the article, my main concern was this: all of these artists were depending on MySpace to continue to exist. Many of them had abandoned their own websites, others didn’t bother. I was receiving an increasing number of bands who use MySpace as their sole professional channel (I preferred a website, and links to listen to their MP3s). They trusted their top friends on MySpace to pull them through, or to book their tours (and it worked well for a while for many artists). When MySpace collapsed, they had to rebuild and find a way to reconnect with their fanbase.

To this day, there is not one social network where all artists connect and share their music… nothing that is as large as MySpace was, with both bands and consumers. We have Bandcamp, but it isn’t nearly as large, and it lacks networking tools. Spotify is great, but it doesn’t have the ability to connect and talk to other bands like MySpace did. Instagram might be the closest of all social networks to fill that space.

Instead, bands need to use every social network (that is feasible) to connect with their listeners. Artists tweet, create content for Instagram, post on Facebook, upload videos to YouTube, and ensure their music is on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Music… the list goes on. And bands still need a website on top of all this if they want to look professional (please don’t just use Bandcamp, as much as I love the site).

This is an overwhelming task. One could easily spend three hours or more updating all of their accounts, and interact with other people. I get how difficult that is to do on a consistent basis. The temptation is to focus on one or two and ignore the rest (Instagram is the hot network right now for artists). By doing so, you risk being left empty-handed if one of these networks collapses or is bought out (it could happen, especially in today’s economy). What’s more likely to happen though, is you will miss a segment of fans or followers who spend time on their favorite social network.

Think of social network accounts as investments. You never want to solely invest in one company or commodity. You want to diversify so that if one stock is losing ground, the others are more likely to make up for the loss. When you post content to Instagram and receive 200 likes, does it come at the expense of not interacting on Twitter? Or if you have a strong Facebook game, does your website have the latest information? Make sure you are diversified because each channel reaches a different segment of your fanbase. To accomplish this, you may need to share the load and coordinate as a team so one person isn’t doing it all. I know it isn’t easy.

How do you accomplish this? Sound off in the comments below. (You can now log in with Facebook, Twitter, or Google.)

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Kevin Flick
Kevin Flick

Kevin Flick founded Puddlegum in 1997 and has been engaging in music journalism off and on since. He's also a recording/mixing engineer and loves to help bands work through the creative process. He has coproduced and mixed for artists such as Saeyers, Midi Memory, and Cathedral Bells.

Rumors are that he's a Brighton Hove & Albion FC fan. He's also obsessed with coffee. Kevin resides in the college community of Bloomington, Indiana, where he studied at Indiana University.

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