Last time, we talked through an overview of the Four P’s:  Product, Price, Place and Promotion.  In the next several columns, we’re going to dive more deeply into Promotion, covering Public Relations, Advertising and in this column, the basics about Social Media.

Social Media is one of the newest and most valuable tools in your Promotion toolbox.  I’ve been involved from very early on, starting in 2007 when I brought the largest Christian social network into my media group family at FrontGate Media.  After a year of watching clients not understand how to use social networks, we started to provide Social Media services.  Social Media started with an explosion of online community sites including today’s leaders: the Facebook community, Twitter’s micro-blog service, and YouTube’s video sharing site.  There were many, many different Social Media sites bringing together people who had similar interests or connection points.  Obviously some caught on more than others.  MySpace grew to become the early leader, especially for music artists, and now has fallen far from its high point of glory, becoming almost irrelevant.

Friend Scott on FacebookWHERE DO I START?
Today, most of us should focus mainly on Facebook and Twitter for communication, and YouTube for video content.  You also should consider Christian specific sites including the online community ShoutLife.com, and for videos, GodTube.com.  For more traditional business purposes, I’m also a big believer in LinkedIn.  There are many more Social Media or related sites you can get involved with including MySpace, iLike, Tumblr, Friendfeed, Blip.tv, Vimeo… the list goes on, but for most of us, we will likely only have enough time to do a decent job with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Once you have some experience with those, then certainly dive into ShoutLife and GodTube.  Start with the leaders: the audience there is enormous and your audience probably already is active there.

FAN DEVELOPMENT
Our Social Media strategy at FrontGate is based on one idea: Fan Development.  If you approach all of your Social Media activities with the idea of Fan Development, then you will succeed.  Social Media is all about developing a relationship, and in your case as a Worship Leader, it’s a relationship with fans of your music. If you don’t like the term “fan,” then let’s say with the people who have been touched by your music.   Your “friends” or “fans” want to be more involved with you. Social Media allows you to reach a lot of friends instantly and consistently. This is something we’ve never been able to do before!   You can now have DIRECT contact with your fans anytime from any place!

WHAT MAKES A GOOD POST
Social Media can be a total waste of time.  If you’ve spent any time on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve seen someone stream a bunch of wasted posts. If all your posts are about laundry, eating and television, you probably aren’t developing fans.   You posts should help your friends to connect just a little more to you. A GOOD post gives your friend or fan something of value in connecting with you. A GREAT post gives them a direct interaction with you.  For example, I think you can see the difference in value between the following posts:�
“I’m working on the album cover for my new album today!” vs. “I picked the album cover for new album today! See it at //www.jadonlavik.com/” vs “Help! I need to pick my new album cover today: what do you think? Vote at //www.jadonlavik.com.”

Social Media is not just a short or text based form of advertising. Do not just push out ads for yourself.  Share things about you, just like you would in any relationship.  It’s great to help your fan know all about your music.  It’s also going to connect you more deeply with different fans when they find out that you love “It’s A Wonderful Life” or that you are a big Chipotle fan, just like they are.

HOW OFTEN
To be effective, it is generally accepted that you want to post relevant content approximately 4-5 times per day.  Just doing 1-2 posts per day is like tossing a pebble in an ocean.  Doing more than 5 posts per day may get people tired of you, and will probably result in poor quality posts as you try to come up with stuff to say.  Post as often as you can deliver something of value.

TweetDeckTOOLS
My favorite and FREE tool for managing my Social Media accounts used to be Tweetdeck, until Twitter bought it and removed all that was good about it.  Arg! Now we are using HootSuite which was #2 behind the original Tweetdeck.  It allows you to manage all your key accounts in one piece of software to view, post and schedule future posts. Look it up on Download.com.  For advanced Social Media users, check out the Twubs excellent hashtag content aggregator.

There is so much more that I can say about Social Media… I think I’ll have to write some additional blog articles at www.FrontGateMedia.com/blog.  When I do, they will be under “Marketing Tips.”   Stop in and friend me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ScottShuford and also at www.Facebook.com/CLNetwork.  On Twitter, you can find me at www.Twitter.com/ScottShuford and www.Twitter.com/CLNetwork .

So far in the MAP, we’ve talked about your Mission, Fan Development, the Non-Profit option, God’s Growth Strategy, the Four P’s, and now Social Media.  Next time we’ll go deeper into Promotion with Public Relations.  Until then… 🙂

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You’ll find Scott’s regular column in Worship Musician! magazine: “Ministry + Artistry = Profitability? Creating your MAP”. Scott has led classes for us at NAMM and the Christian Musician Summit. He has been featured in Adweek and is the CEO of FrontGate Media, the #1 culture-engaged media group reaching the Christian audience (www.FrontGateMedia.com) and is the co-founder of Creator Worship: online radio for worship leaders (www.CreatorWorship.com) .  Email your comments or questions to Scott@CreatorLeadershipNetwork.com.