by Allyson Bills
“Social Savvy” is the column where we interview creatives in our community to talk about the the impact and challenges of navigating through this crazy world of social media, as well as how social media has affected promoting their craft.”
If there is someone who has changed the Podcast game in the Valley of the Sun, it is Matthew Slusser.
A former member of the now-defunct surf-rock band Phantom Party, Slusser started his Podcast “Getting Stoked” in 2017, which has quickly become a channel for frank, open discussions with local bands with topics ranging from mental illness and getting real about the entertainment industry. Slusser’s earnest and accessible candor has also landed him interviews with nationally-known artists, such as Culture Abuse.
With his natural knack for the Podcast realm, don’t be surprised to see Slusser hit it big time within next few years. Especially since he recently added YouTube to his repertoire. In order to take “Getting Stoked” to the next level, Slusser designed a studio in his new Tempe house, which he shares with his girlfriend and friend. I caught up with Slusser on a chilly Saturday at his former Tempe apartment to delve into the importance of knowing your audience, why Facebook will eventually become a thing of our past, and tips on how to slide into those DMs of your favorite creatives.
Allyson: What was the first social media promotion that you used for bands? What were your initial experiences?
Matt: As far actual promoting goes, just Facebook and Instagram in 2015. It wasn’t as hard then as it is now, but it was still kind of pain.
But I guess going back with the first time I was ever in a band with social media was 2008, and we had MySpace. MySpace at that time was a still really good hub for music. Their music player was sick.
How have your experiences promoting on social media in (in your old band) Phantom Party helped you with promoting your new venture, “Getting Stoked?”
By the end of Phantom Party, I ended up doing a lot of the social media stuff. I’ve always used social media for myself personally, so I already kind of knew how everything worked. (If) you’re able to use Facebook for a band or Instagram for a band in the same way that you use it for pushing a Podcast as long as you are promoting something. It all kind of works the same way. So having that information was extremely helpful ahead of time. I made all the mistakes with Phantom Party that I didn’t have to make here (with “Getting Stoked”).
What social media mistakes did you make, or recently made? What lessons did you learn?
With Phantom Party, we learned pretty quickly to not post on the weekends at 1:00 P.M. when people aren’t really going to be paying attention to social media.
Release your album on Friday because that’s when all the lists get generated for people who search for new music (on the social media platforms). It is what I do every Friday.
With “Getting Stoked,” it wasn’t necessarily mistakes, but finding out what works better. The Podcast isn’t it nearly what it was like it is now. Back then, it was just a picture that I took of a guest on Instagram or Facebook, and then I would write about it. And then I started taking my own pictures with them, and I added text. Now it’s just video clips in addition (to text). It all kind of evolved.
Also, putting up a nearly-naked picture of yourself as an average white guy doesn’t get as much positive attention as I would have expected. I did that on “Getting Stoked,” and I got flagged within an hour and lost a bunch of followers. But I guess it makes sense because I didn’t preface the next slide. My Instagram is flooded with nudity because I just follow a bunch of girls who just show their butts. So I just never thought it was gonna be a thing. But apparently that’s not the audience that I had, so I learned that really fast. You have to actually kind of prepare people for seeing certain things. I didn’t realize that’s not what other people see on their feed all the time.
What are your favorite social media platforms to promote on and why?
Instagram is my number one, favorite place to promote. I feel like stuff doesn’t get buried as much. It’s very interactive. Also, there’s more people (on Instagram). I’m sure Facebook technically has more users than Instagram, but I think that the users on Instagram are more active than they are on Facebook. And the younger audience isn’t on Facebook like they are on Instagram. My Podcast doesn’t necessarily fit super well with teenagers, I guess. A lot of teenagers, and even young adults, aren’t on Facebook anymore so it’s (Facebook) already kind of seen as like “you’re an old man.” I used to work with kids, and I was talking with the kid who was thirteen or fourteen about Facebook, and they’re, like ‘you have a Facebook! Wow, you’re old.’ I was like, ‘holy shit, Facebook is going to become an evil LinkedIn.’
So yeah, I like Instagram a lot. I also like the interface of it, they don’t change stuff very often, they have a formula that works perfectly and all they’ve done is made small, little updates to make things nicer. They haven’t actually taken away from your experience, except for not having posts in chronological order anymore. I wish they could just make an option for that (chronological order or not). That would be really fun.
I think they should do it on all the platforms, except for Twitter because they are already pretty good about having posts in chronological order.
Yeah, Twitter is great, but I don’t have an audience on Twitter. For a long time, I would just post all my idiotic, hot takes on Twitter because I didn’t think anyone was watching. Then later on, I found out that people were watching, they just weren’t liking anything I posted. Which is so much worse. I’m still trying to figure that (Twitter) out.
What’s your least favorite social media platform to promote on and why?
I guess Twitter, which is unfortunate. I like that they kept true to their initial thing of wanting everything to be in chronological order but I don’t like how heavy-handed they are and how much they censor. That really bothers me.
Which social media platform do you think needs improvement? And why?
Facebook. Definitely. The algorithms. They (Facebook) need to make it to where people are actually receiving their content when you like pages. I like so many pages of bands that I want to start following, and then but I have to make a concerted effort to actually go through their page and like a bunch of other pages. As soon as I follow them, I want them to pop up in my feed. I think their (Facebook’s) improvement needs to be making everything chronological (order) again. Or chronological (order), but maybe the chronological with highlights mixed in…I feel like that would be perfect.
How do you overcome the algorithm?
I just kind of learn little tricks along the way-I haven’t beaten it by any means-by putting a question mark in a status gets people to like it (a post) and to be more visible. I know that “outrage” and a lot of exclamation points gets higher up. Just trying to appeal more of the things that I’m saying to the audience, and learning what capture people’s interest. It’s all just about names of stuff and at what time. I always make sure I get my stuff up in the early afternoon or late morning.
What are your experiences with using paid advertising on Facebook and/or Instagram? Do you think it’s been helpful with the algorithm?
It’s super helpful, but it shouldn’t have to exist in the first place. It’s very helpful to allow the services to do exactly what they were created to do. With Facebook you, have to pay thirty bucks just to have followers on your page see your posts. But with Instagram, thirty dollars can go a long way.
How has your social media presence impacted your Patreon? What have you learned from using this platform?
Without social media wouldn’t have a show, it’s all based on social media. It all exists because of the Internet. I enjoy the social media portion. I like tedious tasks and I like sitting down and just slaving over a page, making sure all the words fit right. Whenever I’m gonna promote a post, I advise and revise and edit all the things that I’m going to say, and make sure that everything “hits.”
Patreon is great. Our Patreon doesn’t have very many patrons right now, but I’m not really worried about it because we’re going to keep adding content to it every single week. I would be more inclined to pay money for a Patreon that, when I went on there and saw that they have been posting every single week, I’m going to get my money’s worth. Right now, every cent counts and we put it all into the show. It’s really nice to just of build that foundation that is later going to hopefully payoff.
And that (Patreon) will be helping out with your YouTube?
Yes, exactly. It (Patreon) will help out just paying for all the video stuff and helping us stay on YouTube. We’ll put up content that should should be on YouTube in the first place.
Do you have any any juicy social media troll stories?
I used to troll a lot. I used to be such an instigator just for the sake of being so. Now I try to kind of try to Trojan horse all of my instigation behind other things. I’m still kind of instigating. When I was younger, I would post awful things online. Like the “On This Day” feature that Facebook has, I now just used to edit my past. So every single day I look and say, ‘oh my God, I cannot believe I said that ten years ago.’ It’s ridiculous, and I immediately delete everything.
Oh, I have a great troll story. It doesn’t involve me. It involves my buddy Austin in No Lungs. I’m going to give any names of any of the band, but it was so long ago it wouldn’t matter. But it’s not my story, so I’m not going to give away anything away (that I shouldn’t)
The story goes…there was this band that sucked, and they are really rude and full of themselves. This is 2011, and they would make statements on stage about how they’re changing everyone’s lives, but they’re just a little local band who were nobodies. So Austin (I didn’t know him then) and a few of our other friends kind of committed identity fraud and created a whole Facebook that looked like this really well-known promoter’s Facebook. Then they (using this fake Facebook account) invited this band to play at a festival that was a really big deal.
So the band showed up asking for their tickets, and everyone’s like, ‘we don’t know who you are. You’re not getting tickets or anything.’ They (this band) quickly realized that it was all a hoax. They got their hopes up, and they were posting all these really exciting things about the festival that they are going to be playing. They got fucking trolled by Austin. I don’t what they did to deserve that, it was just really mean. I just thought it that was so funny. They (Austin and his friends) created this whole thing…that one can Catfish somebody so easily and so quickly. It’s really, really creepy.
Did they ever find out it was really him?
No. I don’t even remember that band’s name anymore. That was the craziest one I’ve seen. He was pretty ruthless back in the day. I love the Internet, but I love Austin more. Austin is the best.
What has been your most rewarding social media experience?
The only reason that I was ever even in a band in the first place was because I was friends with Josh (Capati), our (Phantom Party’s) singer on Facebook. Josh and I go way back. We met playing a show in 2011 when I was seventeen and he was fifteen. We had a great time. It was a really fun show. He got in trouble at The Nile Theater for walking around without pants. His band sucked, but they were so much fun. And my band wasn’t having fun, so I always knew that was the dude I wanted to be in a band (with).
Years went by, but we stayed friends. Every once in a while, I would “like” his stuff (posts on Facebook), and I would pester him about playing bass in his current band. I’d always hit him up every year or so, and be, ‘hey man, I really wanna play bass for you guys.’ That band was the Semester Review. He hit me up years later on Facebook, saying, ‘hey, do you want to?’ So this all is because of social media. I have no idea what I would be doing or how to be doing it without social media. I probably still be doing it, but in a weirder way.
So, Phantom Party would not have existed in the first place then?
Yeah, definitely not.
What advice do you have other creatives on how to promote on social media?
Be consistent and be genuine. Be honest. There’s bands who I will immediately write off and not listen to because I can tell that they’re trying to be rock stars and it drives me crazy. People can see through it now. It used be where people could create a fake persona for themselves over the Internet, but I think that’s going away more as we get comfortable with the platforms. I think, and I hope, that the general population can tell when someone’s not being genuine or where they’re being annoying. You don’t want to be annoying. You want to be consistent, but you don’t want to be consistently annoying, posting all the time and sending everyone DMs (without intention).
Make sure that when you’re when you’re writing people to get into your music, try to personalize each message as much as possible. It takes a lot more time, but it’s so worth it. I can’t even count how many DMs that I get where they’re supposed to look like they are for me, but they are a perfectly templated thing that they have a copy and pasted. I get that, I’ve done that before. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but if you make it more personalized-you can even use the same template.
But at the top, say something beyond, ‘hey, cool post’ or ‘hey, I like your stuff.’ Say at least two things that are personal about the person that you’re messaging by going through their Instagram a little bit and see (for example): they’ve posted the thing about the Boris Karloff (of “Frankenstein” fame) and also something about NOFX. Hit them up with two quick things that are that are about those subjects, and then you can go into the thing (the original intent of your message). Give a little bit of your own opinion about whatever it is that they have on their page that you like, and kind of go from there. I’ll respect the time that they went through (my Instagram) and it feels more genuine.
So this is a good way to “slide into those DMs?”
Yeah. I also want to leave a link (for the readers) at the bottom to slide into my friend Mo’s (Rodriguez, radio personality at 93.3 Alt AZ) DMs @mororadio. I just bully her all the time. She’s one of my best friends, she’s just great.