My proudest moment on social media was the day that Ricky Gervais retweeted me and responded:
This is one of the many allures of social media - access and proximity to the unreachable people that matter to you. A simple “like” from someone that you admire makes the world of difference because it creates a level of intimacy that didn’t happen before these platforms existed. A “comment” or even an increasingly rare “follow” is on another level entirely.
So why did I wake up this morning with a notification that Natasha Bedingfield had just followed me?
And what has this got to do with classical music marketing?
(I’ll get to that second question…bear with me).
I’m suitably self aware to know that I have little of interest on my personal Twitter feed to warrant a follow from British pop artist Natasha Bedingfield unless she’s looking for Premier League football betting tips on AFC Bournemouth.
My instant reaction was to assume that this was a fake account. However, a simple click proved that she has the official Twitter “blue tick” verification for “highly sought celebrities and public figures and those at risk of impersonation.”
I dug around on her account and found that while she has a respectable 373.4K followers, she is also following a rather hefty 14.9K.
I was instantly dubious.
There exists a nefarious strategy of following tons of people on social platforms in order to gain followers. Some people are happy to gain thousands of followers in exchange for following many thousands more whereas some aim to at least maintain a healthy, weighted balance. But then there are those who take it even further that gain followers but then actively “unfollow” them in order to tip the balance in their favor.
It’s a deceptive game to play because you risk damaging your reputation through dishonesty.
Despite my suspicions, I was determined to give her the benefit of the doubt.
The next stage of my investigation included a simple Twitter search of her handle. As expected, I came across countless others that had received a follow from on a daily basis. Most of them expressed pleasure and happiness.
But I felt inadequate and unloved.
That tiny part of me that still entertained the notion that Natasha Bedingfield found value in my betting tips was over.
So why does this all matter? And again, what has this got to do with classical music marketing?
Your social media strategy is one of the key pillars for building a rock-solid reputation. Regardless of your industry or level of notoriety, perception and authenticity is essential if you want to build a loyal, trusting and invested following.
I don’t truly know what Natasha Bedingifield’s intentions are by following so many people on a daily basis. But I only have the outward appearance of her actions to form my opinions and as a result, I doubt her intentions. It even makes me doubt that it’s her and assume that it’s a social media team. For me, this brings her authenticity further into question and only serves to damage trust.
On a personal level, I don’t really care (despite crafting an entire blog post about it...). But from a marketing standpoint, I care greatly because it perfectly illustrates how easily people can lose at social media without even realizing it. Furthermore, this game of chasing popularity through metrics such as the number of followers only perpetuates increased self-esteem issues.
Nearly everyone is chasing metrics – likes, shares, followers – as if it really matters.
Yes, consistent engagement matters and to some extent, it helps social credibility but the long-term goal is to build an audience that is loyal and invested. Through trust, you create genuine relationships and then perhaps your fans might just buy your concert tickets, inquire about joining your teaching studio, download and share your music, or anything else that impacts your career in a meaningful way.
What is more beneficial? Having 25K followers with only 1K that deeply care and are entertained by what you do, or 5K followers with almost all of them hanging on your every word?
It comes down to patience.
Focus first on providing value and build your audience over the long-term. If people don’t take notice, your content might not be good enough or it is not resonating effectively. Or maybe, you are just misunderstanding the platform. Step back, analyze and fine tune your content creation efforts but don’t get drawn into the losing game of chasing false follower numbers.
All this being said, Natasha Bedingfield might just be a diabolical marketing genius because for the first time in over a decade, I’ve spent the whole day humming “Unwritten”…