The objective here isn't to update every single profile you've got on the web. Rather, acknowledging that time and resources are limited, this is all about guiding you to make sure you're covering the biggest value drivers (make or break items) when it comes to setting up your online presence. Think of this as creating a net that will catch the majority of the interest/demand you generate via performances, publicity, or other means. Without such a net, you may be effective in creating buzz online, but that buzz can quickly be diffused before you've had a chance to turn it into a meaningful and productive fan relationship.
Ensure your website and leading profiles are marketing-optimized.
Ensure your website and profiles are discoverable when fans try to find you.
Measure performance to know what is working and what isn't.
Now, in more detail:
1) Ensure your website and leading profiles are marketing-optimized. Quite simply, this means that when fans land on these pages, they are presented with a clear, simple conversion path...a way to turn their attention into a meaningful result. This means presenting an offer that induces one of the following:
Trial/engagement: giving your content a whirl via streaming, downloading, etc.
Fan acquisition: giving you permission to contact them at a later date (e.g., email, friending, following).
Sharing: telling others about your offer by directing them to your page/profile.
Sales: handing over their loot for your goods :)
"Simple, clear conversion path" means:
The offer is clear to the fan and visible without searching/scrolling through the page. I.e., "above the fold" design and a simple call-to-action that directs them where to start.
The goal is reached with minimum friction - don't make your fans jump through hoops to get it done. Minimize clicks required, don't ask for information you can't put to immediate use, etc.
In short, the difference in conversion between artists that follow these ecommerce best practices and ones that don't is measured in hundreds of percentage points.
One other point worth mentioning here is that an optimized conversion path is not a substitute for authenticity - simply a reminder that the copy and look/feel you choose should reinforce the brand you are establishing with your fans.
Where? There's no shortage of places where you could setup such marketing-optimized pages, and you should certainly seek to find where your audience is hanging out (we'll drill down here in section 4 of this article). As a good baseline, we recommend:
Establishing your website homepage as your primary landing page.
As we'll discuss in more detail in the 'Plan goal-based promotions' section, your offer should correspond to your current marketing goal. You'll want to make sure your setup on these sites allows you to change the offer regularly as your goals and knowledge of your audience evolve. We'll revisit this in the "Establish a weekly marketing routine" section.
How? Topspin widgets are designed to implement this very pattern. Create new widgets that correspond to your marketing goals, and place them on the sites mentioned above in the manner described above. Although the widgets themselves contain simple, clear conversion paths and calls-to-action, you can augment the widgets by using additional imagery and copy on the page in a manner that emphasizes the conversion path and reinforces your brand.
It's worth noting that twitter profiles are exceptions here as you can't embed widgets on them, at least not yet. In lieu of this, ensure the profile links to you primary landing page.
2) Ensure your website and profiles are discoverable when fans try to find you. Fairly common sense, but oh so important. You can have the most marketing-optimized page around, but if fans can't find it, it will do you little good.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Search engines are generally the single largest referrer of traffic to artists' pages. If you're ignoring discoverability, you could be leaving a large chunk of conversions on the table. For starters, do a Google search on your band name. Most bands will find their myspace profile, wikipedia page, maybe a last.fm page, and hopefully, their own websites in the top few results. Regardless of what you find, the goal here is twofold:
A) Get your marketing-optimized pages (website, myspace, twitter, facebook profile) at the top. B) Capture traffic from other pages (wikipedia, last.fm, etc.) by ensuring they link to your primary landing page (website).
For A), if your website is surfacing at the top of a Google search, congratulations, you're probably covering the basics there. However, this could simply be because you've got little competition on your search terms. Regardless, we recommend making an SEO audit a part of your setup. For details, read this: Search Engine Optimization. It is worth mentioning here that, aside from relevant content on your page, the single biggest factor in search rank is "link-in," other reputable sites linking to your page as the source for your content. As such, whenever you've got the opportunity for placement in a music blog or other media outlet, be sure to ask them to link to your primary landing page.
Myspace does a good job of generating search optimized pages. Your part is simply ensuring your profile name matches your leading search terms...i.e, a myspace profile is not the place to get creative with your profile name - keep it simple, and make sure it includes your band name.
Likewise, with Twitter and Facebook, choose profile/page names that match your leading search terms, and ensure your privacy settings allow your profile/page to surface in search results.
For B), ensure your wikipedia and last.fm pages include prominent links to your primary landing page. This is especially important for artists having difficulty getting their website to surface in the top results. In this case their wiki/last.fm pages may be the best shot at capturing search traffic. However, it's important to be mindful of context here - both of these sites are intended to be informational reference pages, not your marketing pages. If your edits to these pages have too much of a promotional flair, your comments are likely to be removed by another editor. Keep it simple, to the point, and ensure your website link is prominently displayed.
Social-network-specific search mechanisms Google is the #1 spot where fans will search you out. However, the social networks also are a spot where they'll go to find more about you, especially Myspace. Despite continual grumbling that they're losing prominence as a social network, it still serves as one of the leading artist lookup services - folks expect to find you there and may assume you're not a credible act if they can't find you.
So, in the case of myspace, facebook, and twitter, use their search mechanisms as your fans would. If you're not surfacing in the top results, you've got some work to do - perhaps some tweaking of your profile name, contacting the networks to apply for "official" status, and/or some editing of your privacy settings to allow for surfacing in search results.
3) Measure performance to know what is working and what isn't. Tracking the right metrics to know how your offers are performing on each of your pages/profiles is essential if you want to grow your fan base and online business. Through a combination of Topspin and Google Analytics, you'll be able to get the essentials:
Topspin widgets: If you create unique widgets for each page/profile in your online net, you'll be able to track performance per page/profile.
For each Topspin widget, you get "views" and and a response stat. The response stat will vary by widget. It may be "clicks," it may be "plays," it may be "fans acquired." From this you get a response rate: (response metric) / views. This tells you how many fans seeing your offer/widget respond to it in some manner. If you're not seeing a response rate you're happy with, you can try a new offer/widget and measure how it performs.
Google Analytics: This lets you track activity on your website. With some Google integration we've built into the Topspin purchase button widget, you can also track sales by traffic source and marketing activity on Google Analytics...a powerful way to see what sources/activities on the Internet are driving actual sales conversion.