This week we had the incredible opportunity to interview Shana Naomi Krochmal. We were able to see her in action at the SXSW 2014 panel “Letting Your Fandoms Build Your Kingdoms” and we really loved her! Shana is a writer, producer and shameless enthusiast who creates and develops editorial, interactive and social content. She’s been working in media since she was 17—(more than) half a lifetime ago—but she still loves to use the Internet like a teenager. She’s works at Al Jazeera America and is a longtime contributing editor of OUT magazine, where she has most recently written cover stories about Josh Hutcherson, Chris Pine, Portia de Rossi, Adam Levine, Billy Joe Armstrong, Jane Lynch, Adam Lambert, Pete Wentz and the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. She’s contributed commentary to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, created the world’s first Twitter-based soap opera (a tie in for Showtime’s The L Word) and, depending on who you ask, may actually be the nation’s leading expert on the relative gayness of pop stars.
Shana brings an incredible amount of useful information for developing brands and your personal story. Learn how to develop a digital strategy as an artist or label that can help you reach more fans and create more loyalty with your existing ones.
1. What do you believe are the key elements labels and artist should focus on in order to develop a digital strategy?
Like any other comes strategy. This should start with really basic questions and goals: Who are you as an artist? What do you want to accomplish? What is most important to you about your fans? What would it look like to be hugely successful online? You really need to understand what you’re most excited about as an artist — both to make your own work and what you take back from the world around you — in order to know how to approach it digitally.
2. With so many social media platforms today, what suggestions do you have on which ones you should dedicate your time to? Oppositely, are there any that people should dedicate less time to?
I can’t do a better screed on Facebook than Eat24 just published, so I won’t try. But the short answer (this is my short answer to a lot of questions like this) is to ask your audience. Where are they? Where do they want to see you? I’m still most excited about Twitter and Tumblr overall, but if your fans tell you something else, listen to them.
4. What platforms to do you recommend monitoring and tracking in order to stay in the loop about what’s happening with new artist or current ones a label might have?
This depends a little on who’s doing the tracking and why – if you’re the label and you want to keep up (and figure out how to amplify) your artists’ work, you’re going to quickly find there’s not one great tool. But I think TweetDeck is the most powerful to track anything Twitter-related (and far better than most paid platforms I’ve used, frankly) and Google Alerts are still the free tool that completely democratized what used to be a very expensive product (clipping services) offered and oversold by PR firms.
5. With so much content being pushed these days, how can a label or artist find new fans and better engage them?
Know yourself, embrace and amplify what makes you different — but only if it’s a genuine difference — and worship the fans who get excited about you. They are gold. The better you treat them, the farther they’ll take you.
6. In your own thoughts, what makes a GOOD brand?
Thinking less of yourself/itself as a brand and more as a person. That sounds reactionary but I mean it. Companies and bands and labels have voices (or should); the less time you spend thinking of that as a sellable product and the more you devote to making it feel like a living, breathing entity, the better.
7. Do you have any tips on how to develop your brand story?
Can someone else create a parody or tribute to you? If not, your “brand story” is still too flat. Also, if you don’t see that as a compliment, you’re probably in the wrong business.
8. What recommendations would you give labels and artists when they’re trying to grow their brands? What are big don’ts when it come to developing your brand and using social media?
Don’t try to be something you’re not. Don’t act too cool. Don’t wait too long to apologize and own it when you fuck up (and you will fuck up). Don’t turn anybody away. But don’t let anybody tell you who you are. These are the same rules for how to be happy as an artist, it turns out; it’s not any different because it’s a brand (product) or social media.
10. Aside from the obvious Facebook and Twitter, what up-and-coming social media platforms do you think brands should start utilizing?
I can’t believe bands still don’t know how to use Tumblr, but it’s true.
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