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Lessons in Social Media from Jimmy Buffett and the Grateful Dead

Lessons in Social Media from Jimmy Buffett and the Grateful Dead

Music insider Steve Jones reveals the core marketing and branding strategies behind the success of the world’s greatest bands in his bestselling book, Brand Like a Rock Star, and how their approach can be duplicated by any organization:

 Excerpt: Building a Tribe: Lessons in Social Media From Jimmy Buffett and the Grateful Dead 

By not getting in the way of their fans’ passion, the Grateful Dead and Jimmy Buffett both created massive networks of passionate people to help spread the message about their music. Incredibly, all of this happened before the rise of the Internet, and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Imagine how fast the Deadhead and Parrot Head viruses could have spread through the power of technology!  That’s the opportunity brands have today if they are willing to lose some control and let the fans take over and own their experience.

Who maintains your brand’s Facebook profile?  Most likely, if your brand has a Facebook profile, it is maintained by someone in your company.  Most brands use their Facebook profile to spread their corporate message, simply interpreting social media as another advertising venue. What would happen if you turned the administration of your Facebook profile over to some of your biggest fans? Would the message change? Instead of corporate press releases, your Facebook wall would be full of real-life comments about your brand and how it impacts the lives of the people who use it. Instead of a one-way advertising tool, it could become a two-way communication street. Is it risky? Sure it is, but what smart move doesn’t carry some risk?

It may soon come to be that creating a customer-driven brand is impossible to avoid.  You may either have to surrender some control over your brand or risk becoming obsolete.  That’s because today’s marketers are speaking to a generation raised on a personalized experience.  The very kids who a decade ago created their own teddy bear at Build-A-Bear are now buying cars and appliances.   These are the children who created entire communities on the computer game The Sim’s that were completely unique to them. These consumers won’t settle for anything less than brands that are responsive to them. Allowing these new consumers to take some control over your brand will give them the chance to create a customized experience and deepen the bond between the brand and the customer.

Five Keys To Social Media Success

Jimmy Buffett and the Grateful Dead are two of the best examples of musical acts that have established massive fan networks, and they did so without the benefit of the numerous social media tools that exist today.  If you want to build a successful network of fans for your brand, there’s no doubt that social media will play a role.  Entire books are dedicated to how to use social media to advance your business, but here are a few key points to consider as you embark on a social media strategy.

  1. Have a conversation – You aren’t broadcasting your advertising message to people. Social media is a dialogue… a two way street. Rock star brands use social media as much to hear from their customers as they do to send messages to them.
  2. Listen carefully – People are talking about your brand and they are using Facebook and Twitter to do it. Rock star brands monitor the social media channels and observe what is being said about them.  Often they can prevent negatives from spreading by address customer concerns quickly.
  3. Be authentic – Fans of Twitter celebrities like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber see Twitter as a chance to hear directly from their idols. Charlie Sheen has used social media to show his true colors. Social media isn’t a place to put on a fake front, it is a place to be real and honest.
  4. Encourage feedback – Ask your customers to tell you what they think. Involve them. Coke partnered with rock band Maroon 5 in March of 2011 where fans were invited to be in the studio with the band and provide input into the creation of a song. The 24-hour session resulted in a song that fans took personal stake in, because they were asked to provide feedback.
  5. Be frequent – Jimmy Buffett and the Grateful Dead didn’t establish these huge fans networks and then ignore them. Continue to develop conversations, share information, and talk to your customers. Become friends. Build trust. But don’t expect your social network to flourish without frequent updates and constant attention.

Excerpt from chapter four of Brand Like a Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll To Make Your Business Rich and Famous by Steve Jones ©2012.