Future plans (part two) – social media

Cold Turkey at Summerhall

It never ceases to amaze me that most people don’t understand social media and how it works. Now if you just want to post a picture of a nice cake you are about to eat that doesn’t really matter but if you want to reach people with information or even sell them something then blindly tweeting or posting is pointless. For some I understand they aren’t that keen anyway so they just half-heartedly use social media so they can say they are using it. However most frustrating are those who claim to be experts and in particular measure their success.

Truth is you can’t accurately measure reaching people with social media but there is now an entire industry based on doing so. At the core of all this is clickbait. All those “you won’t believe …..” stories at the bottom of news pages. All those 30 best whatever where you have to keep clicking to the next page. Don’t get me wrong you can measure reaching people to a certain extent but then you certainly can’t measure what they then do with that information beyond the immediate click-through. 

When I occasionally help people with a gig or album I have to explain that yes the Avalanche social media accounts reach a lot of people but all that means is that folk will know about the gig but not go or know about the album and not buy it as opposed to not knowing about it at all. Of course that isn’t to say the odd person doesn’t go to the gig or buy the album but it will be a very small percentage indeed. 

On the other hand just because you don’t have a lot of retweets or likes doesn’t mean folk aren’t paying attention it is just that most folk don’t feel a need to interact and that of course is absolutely fine. Now being a sad statistician I know how to measure things that don’t as such exist to be measured in a way that is never very accurate but is far better than counting clicks. You can also compare basic available data so for instance I know Avalanche has a far greater reach and engagement than some accounts ten times our size.

Another way you can gauge your reach is because people tell you. It always amazed me to have somebody in the shop ask something and when I’d start giving the standard answer they’d say that that knew that as they followed on twitter, read the blog, checked on Facebook and were looking for more information. It always felt especially strange when they were from South America or a small town in places like Russia or Australia.

There is however loads of basic stuff that has a sound statistical basis. Tweets with a picture are four times more likely to be viewed. Music related things will have several times the click-through rate of the average link. Plus plenty more. There are different approaches. I prefer to make something as interesting as possible so people will click the link while others will make you click to find out anything. The latter is more a clickbait attitude – “you won’t believe what 80s heartthrob looks like now”.

If you can tie up a strong social media presence with the regular media then it becomes even more powerful and of course I have a regular column in The Edinburgh Evening News but that really is a bonus. Properly managed, interesting social media accounts with original comment are always popular and is part of the reason I was offered the column. 

Pic @AHMcKay

I often get asked why shops don’t use social media more and the answer quite simply is that for the time it takes to do it properly the payback isn’t worth it. Avalanche does better than most but the vast majority of people “like” that we sell stuff rather than actually buy anything. The Avalanche account is of course far more than a record shop account and many would say unique. There are lots of different strands to it so people need to filter the things they are interested in but I like it to be that way. When I set up the Scottish Music Centre account it was to promote all Scottish music without regard for any Avalanche preferences and again that has been successful.

I am asked why there is no other account that promotes Scottish music the way we do and the answer is simply nobody is being paid to do it and the official bodies don’t do anything without being paid for their time. It is irritating to see those claiming they support Scottish music doing very little but there is often a gap between what people say and what people do in the music industry.

So moving forward the good news is that for the Scottish Pop Music Exhibition Centre the media and social media could not be in better shape and if sponsors and financial backers recognise that then there is a lot the centre can offer. I’ll continue to try and help artists and make followers aware of gigs and other events but people still need to help themselves and a lot of the work I do is not taken advantage of and there is nothing I can do about that. 

What both accounts hopefully do is encourage discussion beyond the obvious nostalgia that will always have a place but can easily take over especially when dealing with the past as much as the centre’s account does even though of course I’ve always been keen to look to the future too.

The bottom line is people seem to enjoy the twitter feed, Facebook posts and reading the blog/column and you can’t ask for more than that. Anything else is a bonus. The last few days have included a pic of a Paris record store in 1963, a Borussia Dortmund CD and toaster, The Fall at Buster Browns, Edinburgh in 1983, news of a new Smackvan album and gig, a pic of a Grundig Majestic music centre and a plug foe Cold Turkey a music and poetry night at Summerhall that also featured in my paper column. Add in a couple of William Crozier paintings of the castle and the Mound, a quote from Peter Capaldi about his old band Dreamboys, an old pic of the Pastels playing with Strawberry Switchblade and an imagined poster for Trainspotting directed by Godard and there is  something for everybody ! 

Pic @Birmingham_81


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