4 Ways to Fire Up Your Facebook Fan Page

January 28, 2010

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Earlier this month, one of our suggestions for those just setting out on their online media journey was to create and develop an engaging Facebook Fan Page.

But how can you best utilize a standardized platform with

the potential to reach several hundred million people?

Got Facebook Fans?

In this post we focus on some specific actions that can be taken to transform the familiar – and slightly dull – wall of updates into an interactive forum full of compelling information and discussion around your chosen subject.

Fire Up Your Facebook

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1. Any landing you can walk away from isn’t always a good one.

For most users, the Facebook wall is the first impression (or landing point) they see of a fan page. As this is an ever present sight on both personal profiles and fan pages, it doesn’t stand out and rarely communicates a summary of what you offer or stand for.  So what can you show your first time visitor instead?

Any tab of your Facebook page can be set as the landing point for your visitors. Add to this the ability to create your own customized tabs with the Static FBML option (something helpfully explored in this how to by Snipe.net) and the possibilities for an eye-catching, informative first impression are greatly expanded.

Musicians, for example, may choose to display the artwork and details of their latest release, as well as a link to their bio for those wishing to dig deeper. Alternatively, a music tab from an application such as iLike could be the landing point, placing the songs front and center. As the latter is one of the main issues for musicians when considering increased use of Facebook – in comparison to Myspace, which traditionally places music at its core – taking a step like this can significantly improve the standing of their Facebook fan page for promoting and converting first timers to fans, via the music.

Other organizations may choose to emphasize some other compelling content on their fan page, whether a video, informative article, or a discussion around a new product or service. As well as providing a more eye catching landing, it also offers more control to the page admin as to how their visitors move through their content, which is often a major concern of those just starting out with online media, particularly social networks.

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2.  What’s in a name? Create a Facebook page vanity URL.

Another confusing element of starting a fan page can be where to direct potential fans, as the web address (URL) for these pages starts off quite large and unwieldy. Though embedded text links or abbreviated linking can assist online, attempting to communicate this URL over the phone or in print can be more frustrating.

By far the best option is to amass over 25 fans and create a custom (or ‘vanity’) Facebook URL, which can often be something as simple as Facebook.com/yournamehere. Initially this issue requires a workaround until the fan count is reached but, once up and running, this step makes your fan page much more memorable and easy to access.

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3. Two’s company, three’s a crowd. Engage the crowd.

As far reaching as social media networks can be for broadcasting to your audience and potential clients, by far its greatest power lies in attracting this crowd – your Facebook fans – to your content and engaging them to become a part of it.

Facebook allows you to include links, photos, videos, polls, and plenty of other media to expand your fan page beyond a simple wall of service updates. Share an article with a link and compelling picture, encourage your fans to read it and comment back with their related opinions and experiences. Design competitions aimed at having them upload their own content involving your product or service (for example, a photo of them having fun using a product at home or a video testimonial on their successful use of your services) and ask them to tag their personal profile so that the message spreads to their friends as well.

Unsure what kind of content your fans might enjoy? Place a poll on your page to ask them and encourage their comments after doing so. Anything that gets your fans invested in and a part of your page, rather than just an audience member. The added benefit of this lies in the increased activity associated with your page as fans interact, raising your visibility in both personal user feeds within Facebook, as well as externally for search engine rankings as they index the site.

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4.  Got any plans tonight? Add events for your fans to attend.

One of the key social aspects of using personal profiles on Facebook is the ability to see what events friends are attending. Anyone can create an event and invite their connections to it, as well as requesting they pass on the invitation to their own network. If approached in the right way, this can boost awareness and attendance of the occassion as the news is quickly passed from user to user and a buzz grows. In addition, the date and time is placed in the user’s Facebook calendar and a reminder appears next to their personal news feed as the big day approaches, helping even the most disorganized of fans to keep you in their plans.

Event pages also offer the equivalent of a mini fan page, on which attendees can discuss it and post related content. Organizers can then interact and encourage this activity, once again building anticipation for the occassion and increasing the activity associated with both the event and the fan page behind it. Musicians can discuss set lists, special merchandise they will be selling, song requests, and all manner of topics that get fans even more excited to be a part of the whole thing.

Keep in mind too that events need not be restricted to set dates and times at a physical venue. Special offers and promotional periods or the release date of a new product or service can also be set up as events to raise awareness. These require a little more creativity in getting fans to RSVP their attendance to a non-physical event, but the same logic holds that if the organizer is able to create compelling content and engage their fans to interact, then excitement and an attendance base for such events can be built.

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These are just some of the sound starting points from which you can create an exciting, engaging fan page. A place where your audience feels informed and involved enough to transform themselves into particants, interacting with others interested in your message and offering their own insights and knowledge to further increase the appeal for new visitors to perform that much sought after ‘Become a Fan‘ conversion.

And the fact that this increases visibility for you in all the places you need to be seen? Well that’s something that you’ll just have to deal with, right?

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Have you moved beyond a standard page to really fire up your Facebook fans? What steps have you taken to achieve this?

What limitations do you see on such Facebook pages that restrict your use or, worse, prevent you from joining at all?

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Tweeter Beware? Inadvisable Approaches to Twitter

January 21, 2010

Twitter tipsFrom occasional tweeters to seasoned social media gurus/ninjas/rock stars/fruit bats (delete as applicable), everyone has an opinion on the most effective ways to spread their message on Twitter. The truth is that no one method is guaranteed to be suitable for your particular needs and the solution often lies in combining a variety of advice, laced with enough of your own personality or brand identity to stand out.

There are, however, some sure fire ways to turn off potential followers, perhaps severing your link to them for good.


Here we take a look at some of the frowned upon approaches that have a high probability of damaging your online reputation. Avoid the following methods wherever possible, unless you subscribe to the policy that there is no such thing as bad publicity:

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  • The old ‘bait & switch’ – Never disguise or describe a link you post as something it’s not. If you promise a useful article but direct to a pure sales site with no value, trust is broken and the next click will be ‘unfollow’ rather than ‘buy’.
  • The bullhorn – Although sharing your news, products and service is a key component of Twitter, solely announcing your own developments without adding any other value to a feed is usually a turn off. The exception may be for purely informational services (e.g. weather reports or emergency services) or musicians announcing individual tour dates, but even then a little variety and personality will vastly improve a profile.
  • The Facebook Lite – Linking Facebook updates to your Twitter profile is often a solid way to add extra content to your feed. Adding nothing else to your feed is often a solid way to decrease followers and, at best, prompt the question ‘Why don’t I just fan you on Facebook instead?’. At worst? Ignore you altogether.
  • The Munchausen syndrome – Requesting that followers help you spread a particularly important tweet is a good way to foster support and interest in your tweets. Asking them to retweet every single link posted only smacks of desperation. Focus instead on putting great content out there and watch the RT’s pile up.
  • The 8yr 0ld txtr spk – Despite the 140 character limitation, any organization or individual representing themselves professionally will do best to avoid incomprehensible text talk. Even if it shortens your message (or , indeed, ‘yr msg’), relying on this shorthand regularly makes it harder to impart information and devalues your feed. Now and again to reduce that dreaded ‘-1’, sure, but not as a standard for every tweet.

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There are without doubt many more irritating practices underway on the platform but we feel like these are those to really avoid at all costs. Note that this is aimed at those representing a brand of some sort, be it private business, non-profit group, or a musician spreading their creative work. Personal profiles are just that, of course, and are subject to a different set of standards.

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What approaches to Twitter guarantee your ‘unfollow’?

Have we missed any absolute do not do’s here or do you disagree with any we have included?


Clash of the Titans? Blurring the Boundaries Of Traditional & Online Media

January 18, 2010

Watching the movie industry’s HFPA Golden Globe Awards over the weekend was a hit and miss affair, from the usual schmaltzy self-congratulation to real, heartfelt appreciation of talent. What particularly caught the attention here, however, was during the commercial break and how it relates to the blurring boundaries between traditional media marketing and its newer online sibling.

Tug_of_war

Is the media tug of war coming to an end?

It occurred during an advertisement for the new romantic comedy When In Rome. If you follow that link, you will probably be conscious of the fact that it takes you through to Facebook rather than a dedicated movie or organization site. It not only struck a chord, but raised a number of reflections as to the choices media and marketing teams are now faced with as the online social networks proliferate.

To step back a second, this was a prime time commercial for a Hollywood release, aired during a major movie awards ceremony and with just 30 expensive seconds to spare. The marketers made the choice to direct the millions viewing to a third party marketing space, as opposed to a site over which they have full control and design rights. For the time being, these control issues remain the foremost concern for many with a more traditional marketing mindset. Barriers that frequently relegate online social media to cast extras rather than the leading lights of marketing campaigns.

Avatar on Facebook

Avatar on Facebook - Over 950,000 fans & counting

Yet the lure of the 100 million plus Americans on Facebook and 18 million or so that frequent Twitter, not to mention the possibilities on YouTube and other platforms,  is increasingly compelling.  Especially when nearly 1 million of said Facebook users have felt strongly enough about box office record breaker Avatar to become a fan and interact with the flash community that has formed within its corner of that site. For those willing to spend time  and creativity putting social media at the core of their campaigns, the rewards seem to be limited only by the user base of their chosen platforms. And those bases continue to grow on a daily basis.

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CNN Tweets

CNN breaks news on Twitter....or vice versa?

Nor is this enthusiastic adoption of online social media by marketers limited to the movie industry. Increasingly, traditional media reporting on television and in print references sources on Twitter, often as the primary source for their story.

From trivial celebrity announcements to worldwide catastrophes like the tragic earthquake in Haiti, reporters not keeping a close eye on their web browser may well miss the opportunity to break a story. Or at least break it on their traditional platform after social media has done so online.

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In future posts we will examine this phenomenon in more detail across a variety of industries, particularly the beleaguered music business, for which online social media is rapidly becoming the channel to connect with and engage their customers. For the moment it is heartening to see savvy marketers embracing such platforms as a valued component of their overall marketing mix, blended with traditional television and print campaigns to grab the attention of a wider audience.

Have you noticed specific examples of traditional media engaging social network communities? If so, what were they and how effective would you judge them to be?

What are your thoughts on tried and trusted marketing practices when compared to the options presented by social networks and online media?


5 Reasons To Enhance Your Online Presence With A Blog

January 13, 2010

Start a blog today

One of our tips earlier this week for jump starting your online presence is to start a blog. But why would you want to add yet another site to update when you already have your own website and a Twitter account to funnel out your thoughts through the day?

We knew you were going to ask that……………

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1 – The personal touch

Blog is the abbreviation for weblog, which more or less started out as online journals for individuals to record their thoughts and opinions. Although the medium has developed a much broader form as more professional organizations have adopted it, blog readers still accept (and often expect) a more personal style of writing and content. Websites are generally designed to communicate information more formally and Twitter, while frequently informal in style, emphasizes short, snappy communication, often as a jumping off point to other sites with more detailed content. A blog fills that space very effectively, providing an opportunity to write and engage your audience as an individual while still spreading the word on your desired topic, product, or service.

2 – Two (or three, or four) heads are better than one

Having established that injecting personality into your blog writing is a requirement, it follows that having a variety of personalities contributing will keep content fresh and entertaining. The more you keep readers on their toes and offer a variety of insights into your particular world, the more they will want to check back and engage with your blog and, by extension, your organization or group. Again, a website is generally expected to be more functional, with a standard tone and style adopted throughout. A blog offers you the chance to involve employees, other group members, friends, or anyone else you believe might have a valuable and entertaining insight to share.

3 – Optimize yourself

Even more than social media, the online world has an overwhelming obsession with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and climbing ever higher on that first page of Google. Though not a standalone strategy to do so, starting and regularly updating a blog will healthily contribute to that overall objective. Blogs encourage link sharing to your other online media, as well as creating reciprocal links in the form of trackbacks, blogrolls on other sites, and any number of unseen connections beyond that. Even more so, if your blog is so well written that it inspires readers to comment and build a form of community. This again helps with return visits and potential link exchanges, all of which contribute to your all consuming desire to make friends with Google (and, yes, Bing too, despite its slightly-too-chipper name).

4 – Simplicity breeds frequency

Why do people tweet so regularly? The cynic in us all would certainly offer a snap judgment as to whether they have anything better to do, yet the real key lies in the simplicity of the tool. Type, link, send. Often there should be a ‘think’ stage before the final action but this ease and speed of use breeds regular content nonetheless. Though a blog has more complexities than Twitter, it offers a far simpler platform from which to broadcast your message than most website interfaces. Both WordPress and Blogger have a very similar feel to standard word processors in their appearance and use, meaning that anyone familiar with the likes of Word is able to jump into blogging with little difficulty. Furthermore, sites like Tumblr add an extra layer between Twitter and the main blogging platforms, emphasizing brevity and speed but retaining the ability to post more detailed content like photos, video, and music.

5 – Unleash the creative design in you

Most effective websites require some knowledge of HTML or other technical savvy to get up and running, hence the huge number of freelance web gurus living here in Brooklyn (and elsewhere, we just notice them a lot more here!). Although we have no wish to hinder the business of these skilled individuals, it should be emphasized how uncomplicated it is to switch and tweak the design elements of your blog. Themes in WordPress and templates in Blogger both provide relatively simple ways to amend your layout elements for free, with little risk of damaging the site beyond your ability to repair it if you implement something you later dislike. This makes it easier (and cheaper) to create a distinctive looking presence for yourself on the web without the need to trawl through code that makes learning Latin look like a more appealing alternative.

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Are you convinced? A well written, regularly updated blog can be a simple, cost effective way to enhance your online presence in so many ways, but we would love to start some discussion around this point and the pros/cons of blogging for a small business, organization, or group.

Do you write a successful blog that others can visit and learn from?

What other benefits are there to blogging that we have yet to cover?


Jump Start Your Online Presence For Success In 2010

January 11, 2010

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As a New Year begins, many will review the work of the previous twelve months and search for ways to enhance their performance  during the months to come.

For those with professions closely connected to the web, a productive and cost-effective measure will be to develop a strong presence across social networks.

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With a seemingly inexhaustible supply of online platforms to utilize, however, this activity could prove far more difficult to begin than one might expect. In an effort to set you off on the right foot, we offer the following suggestions for jump starting your online presence in 2010:

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  • START A BLOG

blogger-logoBlogs provide an outstanding and relatively simple platform from which to promote your activities. Whether used as an extension to your existing website or as a main site in its own right, a blog allows you to deliver information on products and services, share your expertise in your field, build a community interested in your updates, and keep in touch with customers and fans.

As an added bonus, your increased online output and links to your name and services will assist in your climbing the search engine rankings, making it easier for those with an interest to find you online. All of this from a platform that is generally free and no more difficult to use than a standard word processor.

TRY THESE: Blogger / WordPress

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  • BROADCAST YOURSELF ON YOUTUBE

YouTube_logoOften overlooked as a part of the social media community by businesses and artists alike, YouTube has the potential to access an extremely large audience, many of whom will have a keen interest in your activities. With over 300 million people watching worldwide – and 98.8 million of those in the US alone – it’s a community that should be right up there with Facebook as one you seek to engage.

Part of the hesitation is perhaps down to the relative difficulty in creating content for your own YouTube channel, as video is obviously more time and equipment intensive than simply writing a blog entry or posting to Facebook. With the proliferation of camera phones, webcams, and inexpensive digital camcorders, though, creating video content that is both entertaining and broadcasts your message is easier now than ever before. There are also plenty of enterprising young companies and individuals out there to assist your inner Spielberg, so reaching out to your network should be all that’s required to have you on the digital airwaves in no time at all.

TRY THESE: YouTube / About.com: How to get started on YouTube / Small Business Trends

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  • FIRE UP YOUR FACEBOOK PROFILE

Facebook_logoAs you may have observed, Facebook is no longer the exclusive outpost of college students finding another outlet for their procrastination. With over 300 million users now registered worldwide and the fastest growing demographic in 2009 being those aged 35-54 (broad, but telling nonetheless), the most well known social network of them all is another platform on which you are sure to find an important audience.  With its fairly rigid structure for company and artist profiles, however, it can be a challenge to make your page stand out and encourage return visits.

It can be a chore to locate the various tools that will make your page *pop* but it will be worth the effort when your audience lingers, then returns regularly, because your content and features stand out to them. Standard elements such as adding videos, photos, and links to your own sites are a great starting point, after which you should investigate adding applications to include interactive features like polls, games, and many more that keeps your audience engaged with your community.

TRY THESE: All Facebook Tips / Mashable’s 30+ Apps for Facebook Business

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  • DEVELOP YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

linkedin-logoWith the rise of social media, the dividing  line between business and personal activities has become increasingly blurred. Individuals have become their own businesses – or at least their personalities are inextricably linked to their organization(s) – and companies presenting themselves on networks like Twitter and Facebook are required to inject a more personable side to their interactions. All of which makes it an outstanding time to build your own personal brand.

Accessing more professional platforms such as LinkedIn provides outstanding opportunities to connect with other professionals both in and out of your chosen industry. Joining groups, participating in industry discussions, updating others on your current projects, and attending real-world member meet ups will all help to expand your business network and learn from those with knowledge you require. At the same time, you can do the same for those you connect with and build a reputation for expertise in your particular field. And, of course, you never know when that casual discussion online will turn into a critical connection that you couldn’t progress without. Dig your well before you’re thirsty, as someone wise once stated.

TRY THESE: LinkedIn / Personal Branding Blog

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Picking up on some (or all, if ambitious!) of these starting points will lead to a great many opportunities to expand both online networks and reputation, if taken up with enthusiasm and an open mind to the possibilities of each.

It is important to maintain an ongoing presence on any online platform, of course, keeping content fresh and discussion active to encourage return visits and converting your audience to a fan or client. If you have questions on any of these suggestions or success stories of your own, we would love to hear them in the comments or via e-mail.

Have you taken steps to develop your online presence so far this year? If so, what have you done?

What areas of your social networking and online media management should you prioritize for the coming year?


5 Ways Musicians May Be Missing Opportunities On Twitter

January 8, 2010

Twitter FollowOnly 140 characters? What use can an artist wishing to express the magnificence of their music make of such limiting space constraints?

A lot, is the unfortunate answer for the many musicians with an invisible – or even just a basic – presence on Twitter.

Though the social networking phenom has many detractors and its longevity is a subject for debate, there are undoubtedly huge rewards to be reaped in the here and now for artists willing to put in the time. Here are just 5 of the opportunities they could be missing:

1 – Unexpected Connections

How much time do you spend trying to connect with bloggers by e-mail? Furthermore, how frustrating is it when the response rate is barely measurable? Generally, their inboxes are overflowing with one-time pleas from musicians to check out their work.

The good news is that the connection you so desire may be only a few clicks away on Twitter. Many bloggers – and a great many industry folks to boot – make daily use of the site to post links, scan news, and just connect in general with the world of music. Chris Brogan makes several useful points in his post on the subject, including patiently building a Twitter relationship with the human behind the writing.

This can also extend to the venue you want to break the ice with to play, the PR specialist from whom you’d like some advice, and innumerable relationships with those that could assist your career. Today’s follow could be tomorrow’s champion of your music.

2 – Link Me In

A huge part of Twitter is sharing links to entertaining content. This means not only your music but also the witty blog entry you’ve just written, the humorous video you shot for your latest song, or even a picture of your cat doing something unusual (especially that one).

While some of this may seem facile and not directly related to your professional art, it’s the nature of social media in general and a key starting point for content going viral. Associating entertaining content with your own name and music can work wonders in spreading it far and wide, with Twitter being a main platform from which it can do so.

3 – Rewarding Hard Work

As previously noted, many people and organizations you want to attract to your band are tweeting away, promoting their own efforts and presence. If you’re doing the same on a daily basis and are connected, these people are going to notice.

Furthermore, it creates a subconscious association in their mind with your name and hard work, even if they aren’t working with you directly……yet. The next time your name comes up with regard to getting that choice slot on a weekend show or supporting that band that’s blowing up, that promoter or venue will recall your previous efforts and it can only count in your favor.  Retweet their content, suggest their services to your followers, tune others in to their presence and reap the benefits of your hard work in the longer term.

4 – Avoid The Static

Many artist websites are updated infrequently, perhaps with only major news or additions to sections away from the home page. Infrequent content updates keep the site static and can lead to infrequent visits from those you want to come through, sign up to your e-mail list, and maybe even buy some music (an outlandish concept nowadays, we know).

Sites like Twitter and Facebook can assist in making your homepage more dynamic by offering embeddable widgets that feed your more regular tweets and status updates directly into your website. Your less monumental but nonetheless entertaining communications and observations are now spread to your own corner of the web, keeping it a fresh source of information on a daily basis. This also creates a two-way street, alerting those who have only been visiting your website to your social media presence and increasing your follower/fan base on those platforms.

5 – The Importance of Real Time

Whereas many sites in your online arsenal only assist you to promote in a billboard manner, Twitter (and Facebook) enables you to put out a call to action in real time. People monitor these sites several times a day – perhaps all day, to the annoyance of their employers but to your benefit – meaning that your breaking news or last minute call to a live show is more likely to reach an audience.

Taking this a step further, artists like Amanda Palmer and The Canon Logic have utilized this real time forum to successfully gather a crowd for impromptu performances in busy public spaces. With the added benefit of engaging those fans that are a part of this musical flash mob, it creates a sense of community and excitement associated with your music that more planned efforts may lack.

We’ll be focusing in on these individual points in more detail across future posts but hopefully this is food for thought for those that have previously dismissed Twitter as a limited version of Facebook and Myspace.

Are you utilizing Twitter to its full potential?

Do you have any success stories rising from your efforts on the site?


We’d love to have your input on this, whether advocate or cynic! If the former, be sure to follow us @AboveTheStatic.


Artists – Are You Utilizing The Full Potential Of Online Media?

January 6, 2010

If 2009 was the year that social media and online presences exploded, 2010 will be the year the dust settles and users survey the new landscape. Simply being present on any given platform(s) will no longer be sufficient. Streamlined, intelligently integrated profile networks will separate the users that stand out from those just a part of the noise.

Make your music rise above the noise

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So, as an eager artist keeping up to date with the latest tools to spread your music across the web, how best can you rise above the masses?

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There are almost as many social networks and applications trumpeting their own unique services as their are musicians seeking to answer that very question. In the coming weeks, Above The Static will be analyzing the pros and cons of many of these tools in order to save you, the artist, time spent doing the leg work yourself. Time you would probably much prefer to spend, you know, creating the very music you want to promote?

If you have any suggestions that you would like us to test drive, we’d love to hear from you in the comments or via e-mail to abovethestatic@gmail.com. In the meantime, the fine folks over at Mashable have started the ball rolling by selecting ‘5 Superb Social Media Tools For Musicians’.

Are you using any of these platforms to promote your music already?

What online tools do you find to be most effective for elevating your work above the noise?