People are human beings, not tools for promotion and personal gain.
We’ll be talking a little about Direct Messaging (or DM) campaigns today. Here are some bullet points on what we’ll discuss about them:
What they are
Related trends and personality in branding
Suggestions for improved reception
What they are: DM Campaigns have been trending this past year or two and are built on messaging people individually about goods, services, and events artists and other creative types use. Everyone uses it in slightly different ways, and I wanted to lend a personal take on this technique that would make it more palatable for anyone receiving these messages. I touched on this on Instagram on a September 4th, 2021 post and will go into a little deeper detail why I said what I said.
Related Trends and Personality: Part of marketing these days is put some of our personality into the things we post on social media and the goods/ services we provide. It’s become integral to that ever-evolving beast. As far as art is concerned people don’t just want an entertaining thing to listen to or watch, they want to know the person behind the art. Liking them is just as—if not more—important as the things they make. Some companies are taking this to an odd extreme, giving their brands full-on personalities and plot lines in their ads online. how effective they are in getting purchases I can’t say, and it’s a phenomenon loosely related to this topic.
Personality as a word will be used a lot in this post, since that’s what artists especially have to sell with as part of their brand. And with this trend, how we artists conduct ourselves with consumers I believe gives us a glimpse into what we value and how we think.
My favorite living singer, Eivør Pálsdóttir, just won the Nordic Council Music Prize a few days ago for all of her work in the Scandinavian music scene. Leading up to receiving that award she’s maintained a close relationship with her fans on social media (primarily Instagram), replying to their direct messages, comments, questions, and meeting them after her shows, all the while giving her fans a glimpse into her life. She even went so far as to include another artist and fan of hers, Red Moon, on her “Segl” album European tour, after Red Moon met her via an Instagram Live interview. As an artist Eivør’s been in video games such as God of War (2018), and shows such as Vikings and The Last Kingdom. And that’s just within the last eight or so years. She’s a musician that makes time for her fans, which is testament to a kind human being. “Kind” is the operative word, here.
I don’t mention this just to fawn over my (completely unbiased) celebrity crush. She’s someone to learn from. While she doesn’t have to do any DM campaigns to market herself, the things she does are what other artists can incorporate into their business practices to build sticky support among followers.
She treats her fans like people, not tools. And it must work well because they are eager for every performance and musical release she has.
Suggestions for improved reception: let’s explore a hypothetical situation with a DM campaign: let’s say I have new shirts to sell at an upcoming show to promote on Instagram. I’ve already put up a permanent post about it and will share it via DMs to those who may not have seen it. There are about 50 people I plan to personally reach who I'd like to see at the show.
Again, these are suggestions and how I personally would handle this kind of promotional campaign.
If I wanted to follow a personable example, I would do the following when sharing the post:
— Address the recipient by name
— Share necessary details about the thing(s) being shared
— Express my appreciation
— (Optional) Offer something in return
This process does take time to prepare and get done, which is the only con that I’ve run into. In my experience this helps recipients feel more seen and valued, and leaves a positive impression with an enthusiastic response rate. A business entity showing their customers and/or following that they can make time for them is among the best things they can do. Give a little to get a little.
Why not simply share the post? That way is faster, yes. It is also at its core an ad’s formula: broadly targeted, naturally imprecise, and generally unappealing. We all skip ads when watching YouTube videos (although the Dr. Squatch ones were pretty funny, to me). Minimal effort usually ends with minimal results. Also it can make the recipient (especially after multiple messages like this) feel less valued and like a vending machine. Reaching out to people solely when we want things from them tends to harbor resentment on part of whomever is receiving these messages. Doing this repeatedly to people cheapens the relationships we have, which nobody in their right mind wants.
Another thing we have to remember is that everyone has very limited resources right now. People will do things when they can and—most importantly—when they want to. If they do, they will find a way to do it sooner than later. It’s not something to be disheartened by, as hard as that may be to swallow. I am just as guilty of it as anyone else and can get into that emotional trap.
While I cannot make time for everyone in my life, I like to view my relationships like a garden. The seeds of our relationships need water and sunlight to flourish. We need to provide both. Telling the seeds we have water will only lead to disappointment and a plant waiting for nourishment.
I hope my sentiments on this are helpful to anyone reading. Please share your thoughts, I’d love to see what you have to say.
Skál and good health to you all,
Below: Eivør and me, Sept. 2018 at the Regency Ballroom