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GETTING MORE TALE #436: To offend, or not to offend?
It’s 2015 and any serious business has an online presence on Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else. Ever sit there at your computer and wonder just what the social media guru for a business does? Ever looked at something online and said, “I could do what they do, and with the resources they have, I could do it better.” I know I have.
But could I?
There is a huge difference between a paid social media person, and someone like myself who is doing this on his own for the sake of the music.
Let’s look at the goals of the paid social media liaison:
- Engage in conversation with customers on social media.
- Make interesting posts involving questions, to kick-start the conversations.
- Give a peek behind the curtain of their business.
- Don’t offend anyone.
The first three points here are all pretty easy to accomplish, especially for us as writers. Just substitute “customer” with “reader”. Most music writers online that I follow and read regularly do these things, and with style and fun.
Rock journalist Mitch Lafon is a great example. Almost daily, he poses loaded questions to his many followers. Things like “Slippery When Wet, or New Jersey?” “Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest?” He also asks fans to choose which interview he’ll post next. “Slash or Geoff Tate?” (Slash won.) Mitch has a very engaged following on social media, thanks to his regular posts and questions. He’s quite a natural at it, and he has done a fantastic job. The great thing about social media is the ability for everyone to get involved and be heard.
As for a peek behind the curtains, this is all but expected on social media now, no matter who you are. Movie studios are always posting drool-inducing teaser photos from the set via Twitter. Bands do the same from the studio. I have always tried to give you a look at how my creative process works, showing you the mess behind the scenes at LeBrain HQ.
The exciting life of a music blogger
The tricky point is the fourth one: “Don’t offend anyone”. It is very difficult to go through life without offending anyone. I might be considered an expert on such subjects.
When I used to write CD reviews for our old company newsletter, we couldn’t really say anything negative. The reviews were one paragraph each, and had to be to the point. We only reviewed CDs that we could praise, because as a store, we were trying to sell CDs! We didn’t want to offend a fan, nor discourage one from buying a CD.
We did the best we could considering the circumstances. Our monthly newsletter had some humour content, such as “funny customer quotes”, similar to my Klassic Kwotes here, but watered down and tamed. You couldn’t have somebody read the newsletter and say, “Hey, they’re making fun of me! I’m never shopping there again!”
I’m not doing this to sell anything. I started this for the sheer joy of talking about music, and to shine a light on neglected albums that deserved more attention. One of my earlier reader’s comments said something like, “You like everything, how come you don’t have any negative reviews?” Very well, then! My negative reviews have since become some spicy favourites.
Surprisingly, the negative reviews (or stories) are no more likely to receive negative comments than positive ones! It seems that there are many people out there who will take the slightest words the wrong way, or personally. (My radio buddy Craig, who openly loathes all social media, refers to these people as “humourless bastards”. He has also noticed that many of them use three names on Facebook, and have a picture of a cat as their Facebook photo.)
Creative freedom is more important to me than ruffled feathers. It’s different for a business, and I’m glad for that reason that I’m not doing this as a business. I admit that I have purposely sought to get a reaction. I’m the guy who once wrote a Quiet Riot review by pasting a picture of a piece of shit on the album cover. It’s all supposed to be fun. If you’re offended by that, then you’re reading the wrong website. (I have a lot more toilet humour where that came from.)
Even if you’re using social media to promote a business, a little bit of humour never hurts. No, you don’t want to go out of your way to offend someone’s tastes, or sensibilities. You also don’t want to have bland, faceless content. Let your personalities shine, be creative and have fun with your social media. You don’t have to take a page out of my book and uses pictures of poop as a product review (tee hee)*, but if you’re not having a laugh, neither are your followers!
* I’m also not discouraging you from using pictures of poop in product reviews, either.
RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#333: Social Media
“Social media”, as they call it today, is nothing new. Before Twitter there was Facebook. Before Facebook there was MySpace. Before MySpace there was Friendster, and so on. What has changed is the degree to which we have included social media sites into our lives. They’re already integrated into our phones and software, making it easy to dive in. Some have shunned all social media, and who can blame them? It’s not for everybody to put your life out there, or to see these endless streams of useless info pouring in. If you only have “x” amount of online time a day, it’s easy enough to waste it all on Facebook.
Social media has its ups and downs. Obviously we can now see breaking news all over the world as it happens. We can also see false rumours start like fires, with “re-tweets” and “shares”. You know this and I know this, so I won’t spend too much time commenting on it. Social media can be a brain-killer. It can reduce our teens to near illiteracy, as they spout their “urs” and “lols”. (“Ur” drives me nuts. Is it so hard to type “your”?) Social media must be used wisely, if you choose to partake. To the ignorant, it can have devastating results.
I believe in using social media for myself, but wisely. Here are some positive things that have come from social media:
The one time I received a message from Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row) regarding something I wrote on MySpace about Helix was pretty exciting to me. Now, you can tweet your own thoughts to your rock star heroes, and some of them actually read them! Our good friend Heavy Metal OverloRd received a direct response from David Coverdale of Whitesnake, to his suggestion for a future Whitesnake DVD release. I’ve been thanked or complimented for my reviews and stories by members of Helix, Killer Dwarfs, Harem Scarem and Judas Priest. Dave Bidini liked that my reviews are “different” from the mainstream, and that comment really made me feel great!
The kind of interaction we can have today with our rock heroes is unprecedented. I don’t mean the types who hire a social media guru to do all their online posts. I mean the kind who are hands-on with their accounts. I enjoy having the chance to say to somebody, “I really liked that song.” Music is about communication and it’s nice to have another avenue of feedback.
2. Creating your own social groups.
Here on WordPress, there is a strong, supportive community of writers. Some of us are pros, most of us are not. Quite organically, many of us have grouped together to read, support, and offer feedback. There’s no organization to it, it’s just a bunch of us here who have similar interests and comment regularly. There’s no exclusion. It’s just writers who read and enjoy each other’s work. It’s a great, positive atmosphere that I believe has made us all better writers. Very little negativity seems to happen here.
3. Surprise “follows”.
I’m fascinated by the people who follow me on Twitter. Even though I’d never contacted her, followed her, or reviewed any of her music, Serena Ryder follows me. I don’t know why, but I still think that’s pretty cool. Other surprise followers included Olivia Black of Pawn Stars fame. Leatherwolf followed me, and I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time. Then, I was followed by local cosmetic surgeon Dr. Takhar. I assume she heard me on the radio, rather than thinking I need some work done…but I could be wrong!
Best for me though, a couple writers I really admire have read some of my stuff, and have left positive comments. That means more than any Pawn Star or plastic surgeon. I really looked up to those two guys when I was starting to write.
There have also been some drawbacks to social media.
1. Too much music.
For every band that I love who has followed me, such as the aforementioned Helix and Killer Dwarfs, there are plenty that I’ve never heard of. Some turned out to be pretty good! But each one would probably like if I had a chance to listen to their music and review it. I only wish I had the time! I have a home life, and I work full time. Mikeladano.com is something I do in my spare time, and it’s something I love doing. I love listening to and talking about music. I wish there were enough hours in the day to listen to everyone. I guess there is such a thing as “too much music”.
2. Haters gonna hate.
You’re going to encounter haters online. Geoff Tate fans, for example, have made a nuisance of themselves here in the past. Worst for me personally were the Record Store Tales haters. Social media meant it was inevitable that Record Store Tales would be read by people who didn’t like what I wrote, or that I wrote anything at all!
Regardless of the drawbacks, I don’t regret using social media to promote mikeladano.com. I’ve made readers out of people who only knew me as “LeBrain” on the radio, and that’s what I was going for in the first place.
If you don’t like social media, I get that. I support your decision to use it or not. Aside from a few bumps in the road, it’s worked well for me to get my stories and reviews out there. It’s part of the online landscape now, like it or not!