Don’t “get” Social Media? Think like a Musician.

2009 – The Year of the Social Media Explosion

2009. The year of the Social Media explosion. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter primarily, the world has found a new way to stay connected, interact and experience each other.

Of course, businesses and marketing types have noticed the power of these new fangled tools and the great ways they’re influencing both the masses and products.

One of the hottest new jobs in 2010 will be for people who know how to harness the power of these tools for individual companies and brands. Seminars are popping up everywhere with “experts” and “guru’s” willing to help explain this new landscape, why it’s important and what it all means. I’ve attended quite a few over the past year. Some have been worth attending. Many have just been common sense.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert. I’m not a guru either. But I like to think I get it.

I like music. Like most people, it moves me. It’s been a part of me all my life, thanks largely to early influence from my Dad. I’ve personally interviewed at least a couple hundred certified Rock Stars over the years (real Rock Stars…not to be confused with the Social Media standouts claiming the title per their awesomeness). The beauty of musicians is their willingness to expose themselves to an audience. Their words are intimate, if only to them. They’re more so than not, authentic in their personality and not everyone gets them because of that – but that’s ok. They have a tribe of fans who do get them and are willing to do anything to champion the success of their star.

Musicians are tied to community. They’re passionate about cause and the human condition as it often feeds their inspiration. When they write (just like Twitter and Facebook status’s), their words reach out and relate to someone else who sees things as they do. It creates a connection and apparent conversation. It’s personal between the artist and listener.

U2 360

I had the pleasure of seeing U2’s 360 Tour at Carter Finley Stadium this year. From the minute I walked into the stadium Bono was speaking my language.

“Do you like our stage? We call it “The Claw”. We built it this way to get closer to you…to be more intimate”, he said. It reminded me more of a giant spaceship come to take us all away. I dare say by the end of the concert if Bono had said “climb aboard”, we all would have. He was that good.

He had me. Not only did he just drop a concept right out of the Social Media handbook, but the stage was set up like the popular island exhibits you see at conventions. At trade shows, it’s routine, but out of the numerous concerts I’d seen, this was the first for me. U2 accomplished what I’ve been telling my exhibit customers since the early 90’s. Use the structure to stage the tone and message, but get rid of obstructions and allow free flowing traffic. Remove the barriers. Allow access (if only in perception).

Throughout the show, Bono connected. He delivered the pillars that make Social Media so appealing; community, engagement, conversation, transparency, authenticity, content, intimacy.

Another one of the most well rounded shows I’ve ever seen ranked right up there with U2 is jazz musician and trumpeter Chris Botti. The show was flawless. It was just a great ride. It rocked. It swooned. At times, he made it big. Other times, he brought us in nice and close. It was an experience.

One of the more disappointing shows this year was blues guitar phenom Joe Bonamassa. He only said one brief thing the entire night…at the beginning. His performance on the guitar was breathtakingly impressive not doubt, but it was a one-sided show. He lacked content so he never engaged or connected…at least with me. The blues are chocked full of stories and emotions to draw on. I never felt his.


If On A Winter’s Night” is the latest project from Sting. This past Sunday morning, CBS’s Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood featured an interview with the virtuoso. Sting talked about how playing in a church or pub is very different than playing a large stadium full of people. It’s a different mindset.

“In a large stadium event, your goal is to make it an intimate a setting as possible. In a small intimate setting, the goal is to make it an event.” [paraphrased]

Experienced musicians know how to connect. They make it personal regardless of the venue or transaction.

As your company moves into 2010 and considers implementing Social Media into its marketing and branding mix, keep this in mind. It’s not rocket science. It’s just personal.

We’ve all gotten comfortable over the years doing business a certain way and for the most part it worked, right? The barriers for your customers have been knocked down now. They have access to more information, education, choices and people now more than ever. They trust status updates and their friends more than what we as businesses tell them is good for them. We all can be replaced by something faster, better and cheaper in an instance.

The good news? It’s still all about the way you treat your customers. Remember the email and website explosion of the 90’s? This is so much cooler. Once again, you’ve got a new set of tools to play with…to stay connected, interact and experience each other.

The bigger the transaction, the more intimate it should be. The smaller the transaction – it’s still a big deal to them.

The world’s a stage. Go play.

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