I am a big fan of metal (if you have not yet heard of Mastodon, you need to check them out!) and rock, sometimes heavy – sometimes mellow, depending on my mood. Over the past two years I really got into concerts and music festivals (nothing like a muddy, outdoor heavy metal festival on a sunny & rainy summer day at Heavy TO in 2012).
Recently, I have been invited to go to a small venue for a local Hamilton, Ontario band called Monster Truck – I had my doubts. I heard a couple of their songs on the radio but that is about it, the venue was small – but I gave it a shot.
They did not only stump all of my assumptions, but rocked out in the best way possible. The amazing energy, sound – crowd involvement and best of all: a great musical experience. I went from leaning back on the bar to jumping, headbanging (its just not the same without long hair) and video recording most of the songs.
So how does this tie into small business branding online? Well just like me; a not-so-familiar concert goer of a local band, some of your audience members probably do not know too much about your local business. Once they enter your social media sphere, your brand has to bring the energy, content and genuine interaction in order for them to have a memorable experience, and hopefully become fans going forward.
Let’s breakdown the connection even further:
The band = your team. The band is made up of 5 members: the singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer and band manager. Without each teammate the band would not be able to function, much like a great small business or marketing team. The world wide web, social media networks and ebalsts (virtually anything digital) is your concert hall.
Once you step onto that stage you have to constantly be focused, bring your a-game and have a set list ready to play in order to engage your audience. All eyes are on you, and everyone has paid for their ticket – eagerly waiting to hear what content you put together for the show.
The digital brand strategy is your band’s tour plan, while your individual concert set lists is the content you plan to deliver on a nightly basis.
Now that you have the plan laid out, and the tour has been finalized – let’s look at each team member’s role in this rock tour.
The front-man of the group; always bringing the emotion, energy and directly engaging with the crowd. Finds creative ways to get the group involved and makes sure that everyone is having a blast. This would be the SEO/social media specialist of your team.
Directly interacting with your brand’s audience members and coordinating all content efforts – as a front-facing role, this person has to be ready to engage the audience, provide timely customer interactions and find creative ways to keep the community rocking out.
Shredding epic riffs, and providing the main sound for each song – the guitarist takes each song to the next level. Once the vocals die down, the drums slow down – the guitar solo brings on sounds that make the entire concert hall go crazy. Having epic riffs and sounds is crucial; just like having a digital strategist to plan out epic content.
Your digital branding strategist comes up with content, the schedule, ideas, execution and everything that makes a good blog post, social media update, infographic, video, or any piece of content look great.
Usually overlooked, but nonetheless important part of the band. Hangs out in the back – provides depth to the sound and gives each song that completing sound. Bassists usually do their research and are very knowledgeable on music, giving feedback and direction to the band. This would be your analytics and analysis person, responsible for measuring the success of all online efforts.
Good analytics professionals have a keen ability to take data and turn it into meaningful analysis. Continuously monitoring and improving all strategies is key to adapting to an ever changing digital landscape.
Usually taking the back-seat to the rest of the team, the drummer provides the sound that connects the entire song. Follows the tune of each song, makes sure it sounds good and ads the connecting drums beats without which none of this would be possible. This of course is your technical developer role.
If your organization is involved with anything online, you need to have a dedicated IT/web developer teammate that knows the how-to of all the efforts; social metadata, web development, social apps, database integration, API, etc.
At some point in time you will run into technical difficulties or challenges, and having someone who understands the language will ensure you can utilize all of the necessary tools to make your concerts (or online interactions) go smoothly.
The person that makes it all happen, believes in the band and goes out of their way to make sure it succeeds. This of course is the small business owner, or marketing manager.
The manager constantly learns new ways to stay relevant, gives motivation to his team and ensures that they have the necessary tools to be successful. They usually go out of their way to make things happen and give regular feedback (both positive and negative) to the team based on performance.
What separates a good band manager from the bad? They allow autonomy, encourage development, provide direction and give the band confidence to truly create an epic sound (or brand personality).
Alright now that we’ve covered the band, lets see what the audience is made-up of!
The real reason any band or brand exists in the first place – the people who listen to the tunes, buy stuff or in any way interact with the b(r)and. The audience members for each concert are made up of three different types of fans: crowd surfers, casual listeners and new to the scene.
Each of these audience members experiences the concert differently, and depending on how your concert goes – they could move from one category to the other.
The loyal fans that try to make it out to every show they can – they buy all the records, they actively talk about the band in forums, social media and eagerly wait for new music to be released. This would be your brand loyalists – people who love the brand and regularly consume it.
This is your bread and butter, the people who re-tweet, share and like most of your social media updates. They can’t wait to see what is going on with your brand and willingly encourage others to become brandlievers (terrible pun, I know).
However, if they attend your concert (or join your social media network) and you fail to perform with epic content, or bring energy like they are use to your brand bringing, they may slowly lose their interest and move into the casual listener section.
This group of fans listens to the music occasionally – depending on their mood they may or may not go to your concert. If it’s convenient for them to attend, they will – but will not go out of their way to see a live performance. These are people who sometimes engage your brand and use your services/products, but do not actively seek it.
The best way to reach this segment is to have a contextual approach – when they need something you offer, make sure that you are available and relevant at the time of need.
Think of it as having a concert in their home town, on a night they feel like heading out with their friends and listening to some great tunes, by no means an easy thing to do. Depending on their long-term experience with your brand they could either become crowd surfers or remain casual listeners.
New to The Scene
Last but not least – these are people who have not yet heard of your band (or have to a limited extent) and got convinced by their friends to come along for the experience. These are your potential customers.
These will be new followers on social media, new visitors to a website or first-time consumers of your brand. The first experience you create is a memorable one – if you cannot deliver the first time around, the potential will not be realized.
This audience group is the most interesting as it has the potential to become a brand loyalist, casual buyer or completley opposed to the brand. It all varies by their first experience at the show.
That is the connection between rock and digital branding. Of course some team members may take on shared or less responsibilities than what is mentioned here. Sometimes a band has two guitarist, or the singer plays guitar and sings – just like many online professionals are both the social media strategist and analytics professionals.
Each band is made up differently, as is their sound – it all has to be relevant to their unique audience so that both sides can rock out to the same tune.