I’ve been thinking about this recently as I’ve found myself in a new musical collaboration and have set up a Facebook page as our first port of call. I’m slightly potty about music, especially new music, so I follow a fair few myself, Facebook pages that is, and I know what works for me.

What makes a good Facebook page?

What doesn’t work, is information. ‘We’re playing at the Crab and Dragon on Tuesday, come on down.’ Despite the fact that that type of information is crucial, it’s also boring. I can usually find it out from your website anyway, and you’ve probably got loads of bookings – very few of them will be relevant to me. That kind of update, followed by ‘We smashed last night’s gig at the Crab and Dragon,’ doesn’t do it for me either. You were hardly going to say it was a disaster were you? If I went I’ll have my own opinions about how it was, and if I didn’t, I’m possibly not interested, or possibly slightly gutted.

Yes, we as a fan base do want to know when the gigs are, but actually we’re also interested in you – what you’re doing, what makes you laugh, what inspires you. We’ve already connected at the level of the music, but it’s the personal stuff that brings us along on your journey. There’s a way of interacting that feels as though it is on the ‘friend’ level. A certain level of vulnerability, sharing things that matter, that injects ‘personality’ into a page and makes the reader at least interested, but usually want to engage.

By way of example

I’m going to take Nina Nesbitt as my example. Currently a little known singer, though I have a feeling it won’t stay that way for much longer.

She’s only just turned 18 herself and her audience are young. She microblogs her life, and allows everyone to be involved. All the information about her tour dates and music releases is in there, but it is wrapped up in her general enthusiasm for life and for her work, it isn’t broadcast.

We know about her cat who seems to be a fairly good photographer, the cheeky squirrel that’s causing a nuisance in her garden, the laughs she has with her producer, the euphoria when she got signed. We see pictures of her radio interviews, pictures of her rehearsing, pictures of her new guitar and the tortoise she is babysitting, pictures of her mum popping into the studio and singing on an album track, pictures of her A&R team deliberating over an album cover. She has a picture album entitled ‘People I met on tour‘ – she connects with her fans offline and online.

When she was planning her tour, she ran a competition to cover two of her songs, with the winners each winning the opportunity to support her at one of the gigs.

She’s full of mad ideas – she’s just posted a code generator on her website then posted her messages in code, which you have to decipher again using the tool on the website. Fans were responding in code and then using it to talk to each other. She wrote a message on a postcard and sent it to a fan with the challenge of sending it on – each time it was received by a different fan it was photo blogged, and it was fun to see the different countries it passed through and the embellishments each recipient made. Fans connected with each other, a community has begun to form, and each one feels that they know something about the artist, as well as her music. They are involved in what she’s doing, so when she announces a new single it flies off the shelves. So to speak. Perhaps it seems banal to you, but bear in mind the audience. She knows who they are and what is interesting to them.

I’m not going to give an example of an uninteresting page, that wouldn’t be fair and they are easy to find, but for a wider audience, how about Rodrigo y Gabriela as another great page? They may not be posting pictures of squirrels, but the principle is the same. They help you to become involved in what they are doing around their music. We get insights into rehearsals, recording, preparation for gigs. Announcements about new music and tours fold naturally into that.

Steve Lawson is fairly niche in his capacity as a solo bassist. He has however built a relatively large community, just by being his mad self. Yes, he gets very enthusiastic when he releases an album, no-one is left in any doubt when there is new music to buy, but he also regularly shares about the music he is listening to, shares about the politics of the music industry that he is involved in, the ups and downs of life as a musician, and the personal relationship he has with many of his listeners is self evident.

What about my business?

Does this apply to business? I think so. It’s the ‘in between’ bits that make the story. As a business you have dates in your year – product releases, events you organise – and these things have their place in your ‘page.’ But what goes in between? What takes those things from being announcements to being part of the natural unfolding of life? That will vary from company to season to product, but will probably include a glimpse of your people, things that are inspiring you, problems you are tackling and what’s going into solving them. It will ask questions and opinions of those that are following you and responding to comments that are made. There might be a Friday pizza, a competition to name a product, a light hearted review of the restaurants in the town you did your last exhibition. Alongside this there’ll be announcements, and perhaps advice sought about feature development choices for example.

But you’ll involve the folk who come along with you, share the journey and develop a community. Communities have a tendency to be loyal.