I’ve hand-picked some ‘digital mentors’ for you to follow and model your social media strategy after. I’ve followed all these folks for quite a while and engaged with all of them, even though I’ve only met one of the 4 in person. I’ll look at each person’s style in detail, but first here are some ‘highly effective habits of successful artists’ online:
- They Engage With Their Followers– This is my number one criteria, as you know from Part 4 in this series, for effectively promoting your brand online, and all these folks do it. I mean they are all working, so they can’t respond to every single tweet or comment, but they do respond consistently.
- They’re Transparent – My definition of transparency is sharing something I couldn’t find on my own about you. Again, ?uestlove and The Roots were SO ahead of the game on this. The brilliant YouTube filmmaker Casey Neistat nets this out really well in this video he did about Instagram.
- They Post Unique Content – By this I mean they let you into their worlds a little bit by sharing posts, pics, videos, etc that we wouldn’t see or have access to otherwise. There are some celebrities who only post pics of themselves on Instagram. I KNOW WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE! Show me something else.
- They’re Smart – The celebrities I selected are smart about who they connect with, what they share, and the level of professionalism they show. They don’t get baited into profane rants.
- They Make You Feel You Know Them – Just as you should write to an audience of one when blogging, you should do the same when promoting yourself online. These 4 folks generally write as if you’ve known them since elementary school, some better than others, but still there’s a humble and personable quality to their communication.
You most likely know him as the iconic, afro pick sporting drummer and leader of the Grammy-winning band, The Roots, however this man set the gold standard when it comes to artists engaging with their fans. He launched their fan community site okayplayer.com well before Facebook or Twitter were even thought about. OKP’s infamous message boards are a case study in social media and true audience engagement and transparency. Early on ?uest saw the value of getting feedback from and building relationships and community with their fans. Track lists, song clips, teasers on who might have guest appearances on albums – the fans know all those things are posted to the boards first.
On the lighter side, when pics surfaced of ?uest with his ‘fro flat-ironed straight, I asked him on the boards how long he had to sit under the dryer, and he responded and told me (2 hours if you’re curious).
(While we’re at it ?uest, can I be taken off Twitter block now? I’m truly sorry for tweeting the Scandal spoiler when Fitz got shot.)
2. Lisa Fischer
Lisa Fischer is a virtuoso vocalist who’s won a Grammy for her own album, as well as sang backup for Luther Vandross until his passing , and now sings backup for Sting and the Rolling Stones. She is also an absolute joy to follow online. I became interested in her online after seeing her as the breakout star of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom .
Online, Lisa Fischer is like a “Zen Sista-girl” You get the impression she can do tai chi and run a Boston on you in a game of bid whist equally well. She crafts her responses to her followers humbly and graciously, and shares personal pics from her Stones tours, friends, and fan meetings. I’m also impressed that she consistently uses the persons’ name when she responds to them. She guards her privacy smartly, and never over-shares. Oh, and she’s totally unpretentious:
If you want a case study in online engagement, check her out on twitter here @lisafischersing.
You know that beer commercial with the most interesting man in the world?
Well, I really think it should star YouTube filmmaker Casey Neistat.
And perhaps most importantly, he is absolutely fearless.
His transparency and raw,quirky filming style have earned him video deals with Mercedes-Benz, Nike, and Banana Republic.
You need to watch his videos to understand his style, but put it this way: the most advanced film technique in Casey’s videos are straight jump cuts. He writes his subtitles and bumpers on his hand with a Sharpie OR on a sheet of paper because he never learned how to do it in iMovie.
He’s covered such seemingly innocuous topics as the value of carrying only $2 bills , how to make your Ray-Bans sunglasses look salt stained, and installing his own bike rack in front of his Chinatown NYC office (and being cited by the city to un-install it.)
While he’s not as responsive as some of the other folks on my list, he tells a unique story by letting you in to his world and his story. He’s very honest about making bad choices as a teen, ending up a father at 17 to his now-teenaged son Owen, being on welfare and washing dishes to support his son. Then one day, he discovered video, and his life changed forever.
More importantly for this post series, Casey brands himself without you even knowing he’s doing it. You can bank on certain elements appearing in most of his clips: his white Casio watch, his salt-stained Ray Bans, his skateboard, a .44 pistol (don’t ask), $2 bills, his name/date/New York City on the video closing bumper. You cannot watch just one of Neistat’s videos; and, I guarantee you will find yourself wishing you had his cool life at some point.
Here are a few of my favorite Casey videos:
Change in Plans – travelling w/his teenage son in Peru and missing a flight
$2 Bills – Why He Uses $2 Bills Exclusively
Stolen Bike in NYC – Casey installs his own bike rack on the street after his bike gets stolen.
Sasha is, in my opinion, the most brilliant dancer of this generation.
She should have been Season 7 champion on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance competition show, but was runner-up. She only went on to tour later that year as a dancer with this chick named Madonna…but I’ll just sit and sip my tea in the shade on that. Sasha’s content is fun, unique, transparent, and smart . It is so cool to see pics of her large, close-knit Trinidadian extended family, including her little god-daughter who she’s clearly not proud of (wink-wink).
Early on she and her sister, Natalia Mallory – also an accomplished dancer/choreographer – had some hilarious YouTube clips of their everyday escapades, such as Sasha’s trip to the tattoo parlor, with Natalia teasing her about being near tears. (I still say these 2 need a reality show, but I digress.) Given they’re both working so much now, I imagine they just don’t have the time anymore.
Mallory is also an accomplished artist (paint, photography,video), so her Instagram photos and videos are always well-composed, vibrant, with an artistic sensibility. Like Ms. Fischer, Sasha’s engagement online with her followers is always humble, deferential, and genuine. What I like about how she shares is that she goes beyond just dance-themed content to bring you into her world: skateboarding, her dog, whatever. Sasha lets us in and makes us feel we know her.
Finally, just to show you I practice what I preach, here’s a pic from when I met Sasha at the mall in LA last summer:
What other celebrities do you follow who do social media right? Put your answers in the comments; I may add them to the list!