Social Media for Musicians Vol. 2: Twitter!
So, you want to take your band to Twitter. Twitter boasts a whopping 500 Million users, so why shouldn’t it boast you? Twitter has rapidly, irreversibly shifted trends in online communication, and is an ideal platform for engaging your fans—and perhaps more importantly—finding new ones.
Twitter champions brevity. Any message sent via Twitter is limited to 140 characters. They get used up fast, but you’d be amazed at how much info you can shoehorn in there with a little practice—more on that later. User connections are based on Follows, analogous to your Contacts list in your e-mail client or phone. When user X follows user Y, X’s tweets will appear in Y’s feed. This is a one-way street, and the inverse will not be true until Y follows X.
Any vanilla tweet you send out will appear in your follower’s feed. There are three other flavors of tweets:
Preceding your Tweet with the “@” character, as in “@PreSonus”, will create a publicly-viewable message directed at a particular user. It will show up in their feed regardless of who follows who, and is searchable on all of Twitter. The @Tweet will also show up in feeds of people who follow both the sender and recipient.
If you respond to a Tweet and you WANT the response to appear in the feeds of all your followers, simply place the @ later in your message, like “Thanks @PreSonus for the RT!”
A ReTweet is exactly what it sounds like. It copy/pastes another Tweet and sends it from your own account. If you find a Tweet from another user that you think your audience would enjoy, give it an RT. Keeping track of how many times a Tweet has been ReTweeted is a great way to measure how many people your message has reached.
Preceding your Tweet with “DM”, as in “DM @PreSonus,” sends a Direct Message. This is akin to an e-mail, and is not publicly viewable or searchable. You can only DM someone who follows you.
Hashtags are a sort of metadata tag. Think if it as assigning a category to your Tweet. This is a great way to find new followers who search Twitter for new music. So, if you release a new track (via @Nimbit, right?) and hashtag it with #NewMusic, said Tweet will appear to users who search for #NewMusic. Consider #Rock, #HipHop, #Country, #Recording, etc. Hashtagging has also gained prominence on Instagram, and more recently, Facebook.
Twitter’s interface is pretty simple, and Twitter applications are available on mobile devices like cell phones. For now, we’ll look at the main Twitter.com page:
Home: Tweets from users you follow appear here.
@Connect: Tweets addressed directly to you via @ appear here.
#Discover: Tweets from users you may or may not follow, custom-tailored to your interests based on top-secret Twitter algorithms.
Me: Your Twitter page as seen by the world. This is where you will also view DMs.
Head on over to Twitter.Com and fill out the really simple form with your name, email, and choose a password. With 500 million users, there’s a chance the name you want is already taken. There’s no shame in adding the word “Band” or “Music” after your name.
Once you get an account created, Twitter will guide you through many of the basics covered here, but it’s still worth your time to see the lessons in context. They’ll have you follow some people to get the gist, but don’t stress if you aren’t a fan of these folks in real life—you can unfollow later.
You’ll also be prompted to import contacts via their e-mail addresses. I recommend this. Twitter can connect to e-mail services like Gmail to search your contacts for which of your friends or on Twitter.
Next, you will upload an image and write a bio. Keep it brief (well, you don’t really have a choice) but always include a link to your website in the bio. Setup complete!
Now that you’re all set up, let’s get some followers!
The best way to get followers is to join in on conversations and contribute content of value. You can do this using the #Discover tab referenced above and start talking to people! The second-best way to get followers is to follow them yourself, just don’t get too spammy with it, and only follow people who you think will actually like your music.
Get the word out
OK, you’ve got an account, a handsome photo and bio, and some followers. So what are you going to do with them all? Interact. Post show dates, pictures from your recording sessions, tales from the road, and links to new songs.
Get the most out of Twitter with Nimbit
One of the most exciting factors of Nimbit’s Twitter integration is that it allows you to obtain your Twitter fans’ e-mail addresses. E-mail is more personal and direct than Twitter—not to mention the lack of a character limit—it’s more valuable than having access to your fans via Tweets. One of the best ways to build your e-mail list is via Nimbit’s Promo Tool.
Give away a free track via the promo tool, and an e-mail address will be required for your fans to start their download. This is found under the Marketing section of your Nimbit dashboard. The type of promo is up to you, offer a 50% discount off of a CD, free merch with purchase of music, etc. Your call!
Once you have your e-mail list set up, you can send your fans… anything. I recommend a thank-you follow-up, tour dates, new music and merch as you have it. Just don’t mass e-mail your fans more than, say, twice per month, as once you come across as spammy, you’re going to get folks unsubscribing to your list.
Viral love (the good kind)
There’s more to the one-two Nimbit/Twitter combo to just hoarding e-mail addresses. One way to look at Nimbit’s Twitter integration is that it elevates the fan community from just being fans to being an enthusiastic digital street team. When fans follow you on Twitter, the conversation is a two-way street. But, when you start sharing offers, discounts, and the like, they are much more likely to share these to their friends—because who doesn’t like free stuff? With this, the conversation is no longer a two-way relationship between you and your followers—the conversation becomes lateral, spreading your music and message to friends of friends who probably never would have heard of you otherwise. Further more, Twitter makes this whole process single-click easy for them. Remember the ReTweet mentioned earlier? Exactly.
So, instead of settling for a cliché, lukewarm, “Thank you, goodnight, thanks for coming out, drive home safe,” at the end of a show, you are able to actually reward fans with gifts, which increases their devotion to your music immeasurably. In other words, it pays off to buy love.
Anyhow, getting back to Twitter proper: Have fun with it. Twitter isn’t about rules, but I recommend the following Dos/Don’ts.
Follow back: If someone follows you, they like you. Following back is a show of respect and appreciation.
Hashtags: as mentioned before, this is where the party’s at. Opine on trends.
Lists: This is about as elaborate as Twitter gets, but over time, as you learn who your real supporters are, add them to a List. The list option is found on the Me tab. They will get an e-mail stating that they have been added to a list, which feels kinda special. Note that lists can be public or private, so if you want to keep track of trash-talkers, you want a private list called “haters,” not public. But the folks who like you? Create a public list called “Awesome Dudes” or somesuch. Worth noting is that Lists don’t allow you to simultaneously Tweet to the List—they are for reading Tweets.
Contact Journalists: Send your music to reviewers via Twitter, particularly local journalists in areas where you have shows coming up.
Leave room for the RT: I recommend against maxing out the 140 character limit all the time, because then the message cannot be Re-Tweeted, as your fan’s RT of your Tweet will contain “RT@MyUsername” at the beginning of the Tweet, taking it past the 140-character limit.
Shoehorn: Again, brevity. Use “3” instead of “three”, “&” instead of “and”, “cool” instead of “meritoriously commendable.”
Pix from the road: Let your fans into your band’s glamorous world of smelly vans, small dressing rooms, and moving heavy gear at 2:30 a.m.
Check in daily: Responding to a Tweet four days after the initial contact is lame. That’s an eternity in the Twitter world.
Follow similar bands to access and engage their fans: Yeah, yeah, I know you’ve spent years dialing in a unique snowflake of a sound, but fact is there are bands out there you share sonic similarities or influences with. Start communicating with and following their fans, as these are the folks most likely to enjoy your music.
Don’t make your account private: Make it easy for people to follow you. Private accounts require every follow to be hand-approved in order for your Tweets to be visible to them. Rather than cherry-picking who gets to follow you, the real answer here is to have a publicly-facing account where you don’t say anything stupid.
Don’t RT everything nice someone says about you. It’s self-aggrandizing and annoying. Better instead to Favorite these Tweets, and thank the person who Tweeted the nicety.
Don’t copy/paste/tweet the same thing multiple times per day, or even per week. Spammy and obnocious, it’s a sure way to lose followers, and a potential way to get your account reported for spam and potentially removed.
It’s not all business: Sure, you’re here to promote your music, but don’t simply talk about yourself all the time. Ever been to a party where some stranger just talked about himself all night? Yeah, don’t be that guy. But do be yourself.
Don’t make Twitter your only platform. 500 Million users is a lot, but it’s half of Facebook’s one B-b-b-billion users. Fact is Twitter still isn’t as mainstream as some would have you believe; 15% of online Americans are now on Twitter, and only 8% use it daily. So while you have the potential to reach a lot of people, you can’t reach them all here, or even ¼ of them.
Don’t say anything stupid. Seriously. There are a million cases out there of tweets gone awry, and even if you delete the Tweet, users are quick to screencap embarrassing online moments. Consider Tweets permanent.
Don’t feed the trolls: If someone talks trash about you, big deal. Responding will only beget more trash talk, and probably more haters. Never forget that the Internet is bigger than you are.
Use bit.ly to track popular tweets and shorten links: Popular link-shortening service bit.ly reduces the length of links so they fit in a Tweet better, but more importantly, Bit.ly links track how many times the link has been clicked on, so you can measure your successes.
Use third-party apps: Once you know the ropes and are Tweeting like a pro, check out Hootsuite or TweetDeck for free, monster Twitter power. These apps allow you to sort twitter lists and searches by multiple columns, giving you a great overview of many trends and conversations simultaneously. You can also schedule Tweets in advance on these apps, which is great if you’re headed out on tour soon as you can set up all the “Here’s where we’re playing tomorrow” Tweets on the day you book the tour, instead of from the van during that burly 20-hour Bozeman to Chicago haul, where you will experience lapses in cellular service.
Followerwonk: Followerwonk allows you to search users by Twitter bio, a service no other app I know allows for. They also provide analytics.
Bringing it all together: Twitter plays nicely with others. You can, for example, link your Twitter account to your Facebook page, so your Tweets also go out as Facebook posts. We’ll look at this in greater detail in a later post.