Social media is great for measuring growth trends for an artist, but how do you measure the conversation? And more importantly, as an artist (or their representative), how do you effectively control and grow its reach?

I assume as much as a song like Bazzi’s “Mine” has been shared this year via social media and streaming services, it probably also lead the charts in how much it has been sent through texts. I refer to this form of sharing as dark social.

“Dark social is when people share content through private channels such as instant messaging programs, messaging apps, and email,” as described by Sydney Parker from Hootsuite.” 
You can’t perfectly measure how many times your artist is talked about, but those can be the most valuable shares in sparking the conversation and building the narrative – Some sites estimate up to 70-80% of sharing actually still occurs through dark social. 

As fascinating as it is the way fans interact with each other, I am more intrigued by an artist’s ability to take their fans off of social media and own the communication channel. 

Conventionally, this has been accomplished through email. However, the next level of this marketing format is through text messaging. Artists are starting to use texting services, such as Avochato, to mass text their fans and then respond to them individually. Any artist can easily activate their fans on social media to submit their phone numbers as can be seen hilariously achieved here by our artist Krewella

Texting is a more intimate way to engage with fans than social media – most importantly, it has infinitely higher conversation rates on purchasing. Unlike social media where only 10% of an audience may see any given post, 99% are going to open a text message. Furthermore, since utilizing these services for our artists, we have seen increased social engagement across all platforms,which leads to the conclusion the intimacy of consistent texting has spillover effects across the brand.

We had an artist on our roster who had collected 1000 phone numbers from his New York fans at a show. When we launched his first headline tour, we texted all those fans and were able to easily sell out 7000 tickets in New York. Even though the artist had double the amount of fans in Los Angeles than New York on social media, the show crawled to sell out 5000 in LA. While not perfectly statistically accurate, the initial surge we saw when we sent the text message to the dedicated New York fans could not be denied  – we believe it sparked the difference in the markets.

We were sending fans a link to the purchase tickets, however, commerce through actual text is poised to take over. As China has showed us, social shopping is the future – a closed communication chain which combines social media platform, messaging, and payment all through one app.

Following in WeChat’s footsteps, Apple recently announced the upcoming rollout of payment via imessage this spring. As this functionality becomes available to the public, there will be a massive shift to interacting with businesses through text over time. I predict the artists who get ahead of this trend and find the most innovative ways to communicate with their fans through texting will see sharp increases in their ticket sales and merch revenue compared to artists of similar sizes who don’t text their fans. 

There is a reason why an artist like Joyner Lucas is using his phone number as the title of his debut project – Text message marketing is no joke! It is going to drive the rise of the most organized fan bases we’ve ever seen and increase conversion rates and revenues substantially as a result.

I am interested to learn from more case studies on phone number marketing and successful facebook stories if you know somebody who has one.

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