Presented at ADMA Forum on Friday, 24th August 2012, this is my attempt to show how a lot of the concepts we talk about in social media and content marketing are nothing new. In fact, there's a lot we can learn from nightclub DJs.
When ADMA asked me to do this talk, they gave me the topic of Keeping Your Audience Interested with the Best Content so they come back for more. And that got me to thinking. So this presentation has a second title.
Everything I know about marketing I learned inside a nightclub.
You see, when I left uni, instead of using my media qualifications to go get a job in TV or radio, I went and became a DJ instead. I did alternative music; punk, indie, grunge, britpop, industrial, gothic. I did retro nights. I even did the weddings parties anything circuit for a bit.But most of my time in the DJ box was here – at a small club in Gosford- This is before the internet. Before social media, and search marketing and real time this and digital that. But these are the lessons I learned that are still relevant today.
Rule one. You don’t start communities.Before I started at that club, there was no nightclub playing alternative music in Gosford.- If you were lucky the Leagues Club DJ might put on Smells Like Teen Spirit or something. But for all those people who wanted different music to the usual dance clubs, they would have to make a long trek into Sydney which wasn’t as easy 20 years ago.----- Meeting Notes (24/08/12 14:11) -----If you were lucky the Leagues Club DJ might put on Smells Like Teen Spirit or something. But all those looking for something different than the usual dance clubs woud have to make the long trek to Sydney which wasn't as easy 20 years ago.
The communities for alternative music already existed. They were listening to Primus and Nirvana and others at home, maybe with a few friends. They would hang at each other’s parties. And across the Central Coast there were probably many small groups like this coming together because they liked the same music.- What they needed was someone to improve upon that – make it easier for them to enjoy the music together and meet others who also liked the same music----- Meeting Notes (24/08/12 14:11) -----What they needed was someone to impove upon that - make it easier for them to enjoy the music together and meet others who also liked the same music.
So we launched The Pit in 1994. The other leaflet there is from when I did the same thing in Bournekmouth in England. Saw there was nowhere for these people to go, and provided it for them.The Pit ran every Thursday night until 1998 and was the most successful event they had every run on Thursday nights, which had previusly always run at a loss for the club. It was perfect.The regulars came every week, filling the place. Relationships started there. Weddings happened as a result of it. Bands formed there and would then have their first gigs on a makeshift stage in the same club a few months later. The Pit became such a part of that community, there is still a Facebook group where the regulars share photos, organise reunions and stay in touch, 14 years after it finished and I moved on from Djing to *ahem* get a real job.
What The Pit did was place itself at the heart of the community by providing the best content in the best environment and giving them reasons to come together and share in it.Because it was so successful, copycats did spring up. The club around the corner started a similar night. Others would come and go. None survived.
Most likely because I worked hard to keep it as fresh and relevant as possible. I would find new music to play each week, worked with record companies to organise album launches and CD giveaways. Eventually, I was booking bands every second week. There was always something new and fresh to keep the audience coming every week.
But producing lots of fresh content is a big challenge. I often get asked how a business, particularly a small business, is supposed to find the time to do social media, write blog posts and all the other content.- I think back to what it meant to be a DJ. We weren’t creating all the content we were sharing. We were curating it.
Some history. Let’s go back to before the disco. There was the dance hall. And every dance hal needed a dance band to perform live. The content had to be produced. And yes, that’s my grandfather Fred with the banjo, in the Revera Dance Band. He worked in a factory during the week and then would be out with the band on Friday and Saturday nights.
But in 1943 a young boy called Jimmy Savile decided to play records instead. He booked a room, put up a sign, and asked people to bring their records with them. He would play the records and they would dance.
Very soon he was running 52 dance halls. He also claimed to be the first DJ to use two turntables for continuous play. It was considered unheard of. Savile is considered by many to be the very first nightclub DJ.
Thing is, Jimmy Savile never owned a record. All of the content he played belonged to other people. And even if he did own the records, he didn’t perform the music. Sadly, Jimmy Savile died last year. I think he was an amazing guy and I’ve barely started to tell you the stuff he did in one lifetime. He’s a legend.
Anyway, record companies soon latched onto the idea that these DJs were actually good for business. It was free promotion. They started producing promo discs for DJs to play. White labels. DJs would be on mailing lists and receive packages of free records regularly. When I was running the Pit I could receive 2 or 3 parcels of CDs a week. I was running out of shelf space for them all.
Today, online content producers similarly encourage you to share their content because it’s good for business. It is possible to put together a vibrant collection of content by sourcing it from relevant sites around the web ad using social media tools to collate, curate, share and add value.- And when we do produce our own content, in our blogs and so on, we can hopefully have the favour returned to us when others share our content freely.
But let’s be clear. We’re talking about sharing content – not stealing it. This isn’t about scraping someone else’s content to populate your own. A DJ wouldn’t pass off a record as his own song.
But of course there’s more to it than just collecting and sharing content. If point 1 was the why, point two is the what, this is the how.
Even though a DJ is simply playing muysic recorded by other people, a good DJ adds a lot more to it in how he does it. The mixing, the tricks, the light show, the way a DJ works the crowd with the mike over the music, and so on. A DJ pulls all this curated content and creates a show that is greater than merely the sum of its parts.Of course there are many DJs that do merely just hit play on one CD after another without putting anything of themselves into it. I think we all know that’s not really being a DJ.
So merely retweeting content isn’t enough. That’s like just hitting play – one button to share the content. This is the Twitter feed for the Doctor Who Club of Australia. I’m amember of their committee and I’ve been advising them on their social media more recently. One problem they has was this. The person running the Twitter account was doing no more than merely hitting the retweet button on Doctor Who related tweets and vcontent. The result is that their Twitter feed was never them but just a collection of other people’s voices. Why should a Doctor Who fan want to follow that? They would do better just to follow those other people instead.
Far better to place a retweet in context by adding some commentary to it. Add your voice. Editorialise a little. Make it your own.
One tool I like using for this is Buffer. If any of you haven’t used it yet, I recommend it. It allows me to share anything on the web, add my own commentary and then add it into a queue or buffer to be released to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on a schedule of my choosing.
I think the importance of real time has already come up a lot at this conference, but here it is again.
A DJ needs to react to the audience in real time. He needs to watch the crowd. If the dancefloor empties all of a sudden he needs to change direction. The DJ runs alongside the crowd, moving the music in waves so that different groups can move onto the dancefloor and then after 2 or 3 songs the music will move on to a slightly different genre and some new people will come onto the dancefloor while othes will go sit down or have a drink. You learn to respond to them.
I’ve met many DJs who refused to take requests and I’ve always hated that attitude. Who cares if you have carefully rehearsed a DJ set if it’s not what people want to hear.
Of course, there are always exceptions and you need to make sure what you do respond to is still in keeping with the mood of the crowd.
It’s vital you always provide the content your audience is looking for and not merely producing the content you want people to have. You might want tot ell everyone about your great new product, but they probably don’t want to hear it. But they might want to hear about their interests, their goals, etc and then you can produce content that sits in the overlap between their interests and your product.