Musicians' Tune-Up: Establish Your Web Presence with Authority
To establish your web presence with authority, whatever aesthetic or commercial form that presence takes, requires a solid network with an official website, an active social network presence and passive markers back to one's website and social accounts. Whether or not you're feeling the energy of a New Year, now's a great time to tune up your web presence so you can move forward with authority.
Bandzoogle CEO David Dufresne writes about the hub and spokes" model for establishing one's web presence where you use your social networks (spokes) to draw fans back to your website (hub), which you control."
I think more in terms of a network of touch points on the web and mobile that would be similar in construction to a hub and spokes model but would emphasize communication and movement between any two nodes in the network. I think of that as one's extended web presence:
Homebase: Artist's Website
Outposts: Social Network Accounts
Signposts: Listings and Pages
Though designed to describe connections between Twitter users, this network graph offers an image more akin to one's digital network than the hub and spokes depicted in Dufresne's post (click above thumbnail).
With action clustering, to varying degrees, around one's website and one's social media outposts, and a variety of connections being made between you and fans, fans and fans and all sorts of other people as well, the need for a tune-up to strengthen your signal in the noise should be apparent.
Establish Your Web Presence With Authority
Having a Homebase that you control is key to a solid web presence. It should ideally take the form of an official website with an integrated blog whether the content management system is an all-in-one site like Bandzoogle, a flexible service like Wordpress or a simple blog relying on third party services like Tumblr.
Take a look at your site as if you were a first time visitor and think about what they see. Is it easy to find out how to contact you, what your background is, how to buy your music, where to see you perform? If not, now's a good time to fix those flaws and freshen up any aspects you've been putting off.
Be sure to check all links out, especially to Outposts though you generally don't need to link out to Signposts unless they're something important like Wikipedia. Take a look at any outside content, including special notices and even your own social media widgets, and update, remove or replace those as needed.
Your blog is the best way to create, display and distribute content that can then be used to strengthen engagement on social networks as well as bringing people back to one's website, as Dufresne advocates. If your website does not include a blog, find a way to include that capability on your Homebase.
Go through each component that connects your blog to Outposts and points of distribution beyond your own immediate network. Take a look at your RSS feeds and your email newsletters for changes in output that may require updates.
If you use tools to automatically post blog headlines to social media and related Outposts and Signposts, go through and check out each syndication point to make sure the output hasn't changed in a way that undermines your efforts.
Outposts are places, like social media networks, where a lot of great interaction with fans can occur on terms often limited by the social media platform. Typically the ability to reach fans where they congregate outweighs the loss of control.
Be sure to check and update such details as one's basic About info, security settings and links to other accounts.
Get a sense of how productively your time is being spent on each social network based on such factors as quality of interactions and speed of follower growth. Consider whether you're simply neglected an underperforming network or if your time would be better spent where you're getting a good response and act accordingly.
If you haven't yet joined or created a new MySpace account, now would be a good time.
Though not a lot of social activity goes on around Signposts, they range widely in importance from an entry in Wikipedia to a page at About.me. Variations can include sites like Onesheet and Flavors.me.
Whatever their approach, each is ultimately designed to point back to your Outposts and Homebase. Wikipedia is the most important of all due to its high search engine ranking, its widespread use as a reference and its occasional use for validation.
Check to make sure all links are up to date and that all new Outposts have been added to each Signpost. If you're on Wikipedia, be sure to look for new media references to include in your update.
Add new Signposts such as Artists.MTV. If you're not on Wikipedia, get on Wikipedia.
Tune-up: Call To Action
Instead of focusing on bringing everyone back to your site and pitching them a call to action there, such calls happen wherever the fan may be. In particular, building one's email list should occur across one's network and, if you agree that email lists are a key asset for a musician's business, should always be the call to action in the absence of specific campaigns.
If one abandons the funnel approach implicit in the hub and spokes model, one then conducts campaigns and presents a call to action across one's network. So an email for free download" campaign could occur using widgets that enable fans and future fans to make the trade wherever they are instead of first bringing them to one's website.
Be sure your current call to action, from signing up for your email newsletter to purchasing your new album, is up-to-date and active across all your websites and social media accounts. Where appropriate, include them on your Signposts as well.
If you haven't yet tried a free music download for email exchange, consider using Topspin GoDirect or NoiseTrade to do so.
If you haven't been checking your stats for your Homebase activity, your Facebook page action and whatever else you can access, it's past time to get started. That's an important part of evaluating the results of all this activity.
Look for opportunities to connect tools, such as using Google Analytics for YouTube as well as your website, or to rely on third parties where data is otherwise scarce, such as for Twitter.
If you've got that down, consider exploring third party tools for activity related to you and your music that extend beyond your network. A variety of tools exist for specific social networks but try using an all-in-one service such as Next Big Sound for daily monitoring and trend spotting across networks.
Whatever Your Metaphor
Given that Dufresne's Bandzoogle includes a mailing list widget designed for both one's website and for social networks, I'm sure he'd agree with much of my approach when one gets down to cases. But whether you're drawn to a hub and spokes metaphor or to a more dispersed network model, take the time to tune up your web presence for a stronger start to the New Year.