A Musicians Guide To Managing Your Online Brand

image from www.google.com This guest post comes from Jon Ostrow (@miccontrol), the cofounder of MicControl, a music resource blog community, and MicControl Consulting, a social media / blog consulting company for the social music market.

By now it should be more than obvious that as an artist or a band member, you need to be thinking about how you can leverage the power of blogging and social media to create a strong brand, an ever expanding online presence and a growing fan base (both in terms of loyalty and size). While social media and blogging offer an incredible amount of opportunity to organically grow a meaningful brand through positive fan interaction and social sharing, there is also an unavoidable truth that all musicians must be aware of:

People love to talk trash on the internet.

Public platforms like Twitter, Facebook Pages and the like have become havens for 'unsatisfied customers' to speak up in a negative manner about anything, from a long wait at a restaurants to a movie they walked out of to a song they think sucks. 

The Most Resilient Parasite

While many may feel that a negative review or response is 'freedom of speech' and is okay, it can be very damaging. Unfortunately, when someone expresses negativity towards a brand online, it sort of acts like a virus. Once people start to view a brand in a negative manner, it will spread and spread. 

The best example of this is MySpace.... their brand image has been so trashed by the general public that there is no coming back for them.

Now, this shouldn't be something that keeps you away from social media and blogging; there is no question that the positives outweigh the negatives here. All it means is that you simply need to be aware that brands are susceptible to the negativity of others online and should set a proactive plan in place to monitor and respond to mentions of your brand all over the internet.

image from exchange.ariba.com Where Should You Be Monitoring Your Brand?

Your 'brand' is made up of many different components, including your active online presence, your physical image and even your direction and focus. Properly monitoring your brand will require that you take all of these different pieces into consideration so that you don't overlook anywhere or anyone that could be talking about your brand. 

  • Blogs
  • Comments
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube (and other video)
  • Images
  • The Wild, Wild, World Wide Web

How Often Should You Be Monitoring Your Brand?

Truthfully, you should be constantly aware of how you and your brand is being perceived, but just like social media marketing, you want to avoid spending too much time obsessing over it or you'll never get anything else done. So, you should try to automate the process as much as possibly by setting up alerts and reports that are delivered via RSS or email that are set at different time intervals:

  • Detailed daily report
  • Weekly summary of brand mentions
  • Monthly summary of most important mentions of brand

With these three reports in place, you will be able to get the full picture of your brand online without having to spend hours every day searching all over the Internet.

How To Monitor Your Brand

Thankfully, the actual monitoring of your brand is by far the easiest part. All you need to do is set yourself up with one (or a few) of the many free tools available that will help you track exactly what you are looking for. The only additional advice to give here is that you may want to consider searching more than just your band's name; remember that your personal brand (aka YOU) is just as important so you should set yourself up with a search of your name online too.

Obviously there are far, far more options available to you that can be used to supplement any or even all of these options, but I've had good experiences with all of these below so they are the ones that I can truly recommend:

  How To React To Negativity

Of course, monitoring your brand online is really only just the beginning. Ultimately you want to maintain a positive perception of your brand. So if you do come across negative responses and comments, you will need respond properly and effectively if you want to right the wronged situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • When responding to someone attacking you or your brand, it is in almost all instances better to be gracious, accepting and inviting rather than defensive.
  • No matter how negative, thank the person for speaking up. 
  • Find the positives and points of mutual agreement within and bring those to light.
  • Being honest is critical in these situations. If you can't fix something, DO NOT promise that you can. This will do nothing but hurt your image even more. 

An effective response could mean the difference between making a bad situation worse or turning a negative response into a positive brand interaction. 

The Good Will Always Prevail

While this article has primarily focused on the negative reactions to your brand, it is very important to remember that the good will always prevail! While a few bad apples may try to bring you down, ultimately those who feel very strongly about you will support you through it all. 

So, while you are monitoring your brand for negatives, don't forget to look for brand evangelists! These people should be your biggest hero's and should be found, thanked personally and supported at all costs. These people could mean the difference between success and failure!

How Do YOU Monitor Your Online Brand?

There are so many different techniques and strategies involved with properly monitoring and managing your brand online that there is no way I could cover it all. If you've had any success with monitoring your own brand, please leave your ideas below in the form of a comment!

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