Social media marketing and the only true American art form, jazz, may have more in common than you think. As someone who loves both jazz and social media, I have noticed a number of similarities. Hopefully these comparisons can help you, and your company, improve your social media marketing efforts.
1. The Best Players Engage in Conversation – Average social media marketers have a message that they want people to hear and use their social media as a platform to project that message at the audience. The same is true in jazz; average players have an idea or a melody, and they will play it at the audience. However, the best jazz musicians feed off of each other and suddenly a song that was just one player’s idea is now a collaborative piece, a conversation. The rhythm section (bass, drums, guitar and piano) has to work, not just to support the rest of the band, but to engage them in conversation, playing off of the melody. The best social media marketers engage in conversation with their audience. Social media should not be a platform to project your message, that’s a one way street. It should be a place where you engage and interact with your followers, that’s why the word “social” is there. Make your content more interesting to your readers by conversing with them. If you are using Facebook, pose questions and engage conversations in the comments. If you are using Twitter, reply to your followers, retweet those who have good opinions. Having a conversation with your followers will make your social media presence much more effective.
2. The Classics Work – There’s a reason why year after year, jazz bands everywhere continue to play Take the “A” Train and Satin Doll: they work. Even though Take the “A” Train was written in 1939, big bands continue to play it because it’s what the people like. When it comes to social media marketing, it’s hard to call anything classic because of the newness of the industry, but the relative classics are Facebook and Twitter (depending on the nature of your business, LinkedIn, as well). With “social media” being one of the big buzz phrases of the decade, there are a number of new social media outlets and opportunities, but you should stick to the classics before you branch out. As hard as Google is trying, Google+ simply is not yet developed enough. Facebook and Twitter have tremendous audiences and are great forums for social engagement and brand building.
3. Play to Your Audience – This is a mantra for any musician or performer, even beyond jazz, but it is especially true of social media. Any jazz musician knows, if you have a gig in front of an older more traditional audience, you’re going to be better off playing some Duke Ellington or Count Basie, rather than late-period avant-garde Miles Davis. While it may be tempting to turn heads and be innovative, you have to be aware of your audience and what they want to hear. This is not to say that you should not be creative and only give the people what they want, but you must keep in mind what they are going to think of the message you are sending to them. For social media, keep your audience in mind when deciding what content you are going to share. A professional article that really gets into the technical aspects of your business may not be the best to share with your social media followers, even if it is relevant to your business, because they will probably not find it interesting. In jazz, you want to give your audience music that they can enjoy listening to and showcases your abilities as a technical player. In social media, content that is understandable to your audience but also makes you look like an expert source is ideal.
4. Have Structure but Improvise – Improvisation is a major piece of jazz performance. While most jazz tunes have a melody and a form structure, there is generally an opportunity for soloists to improvise over the form. Improvisation gives the individual an opportunity to show the audience some of their own ideas. Another beautiful thing about improvisation is the freedom it allows. While this freedom can be intimidating to amateur musicians, the best use it to capitalize on the moment, going where the rest of the band takes them or by leading the band in a new direction. In social media, you must have a structure. There must be a goal in mind in regards to your social media marketing campaign. Whether that is building your brand, driving traffic to your webpage, or making sales, this goal is the most important aspect of the campaign. However, you should be engaging your users in a conversation. If that conversation takes you in a different direction than you expected, don’t be afraid to improvise. Keep up with the changes, but don’t stray from the form of your original campaign goal.
5. Share Your Best Ideas – The best soloists when improvising are not really improvising. While it may look like they are playing ideas off the top of their head, their solo is generally the culmination of hours and hours of practice. Soloists take time thinking of ideas, short “licks,” and then thinking of ways they can integrate them into their solos. My favorite saxophone player, the late Michael Brecker, was brilliant at utilizing a number of really effective licks in solos throughout his career. He knew what worked best for him and he stuck with it. In social media, you should be sharing your best content. While the company lunch may have been tasty, this is probably not what your followers are interested in reading about. Be very selective with the content you share; quality beats quantity. The same is true in jazz, the quality of the notes beats the quantity. A lyrical phrase is much better than someone running up and down the instrument frantically. Use social media only to share that content which will work best for you and help your social media marketing campaign reach its end goal.