mnmlist: A Musicians’ Guide To Twitter
So, you’ve bitten the bullet and joined the Twitterati. But what are you going to talk about? How do you make sure the right people are getting your message? What steps do you need to take to find your true fans amid all the spammers and self-promoters? Here are some tips for making the most of Twitter if you’re a musician.
Much more than just a vehicle for 140 character status updates, Twitter is a hugely powerful social network that provides plenty of opportunities for bands and musicians to connect with their followers. With more than 100 million users, there’s a massive audience that, with a bit of planning, can be turned into a fanbase willing to part with their hard-earned cash for your latest release, gig tickets, t-shirts or other merchandise. Now, I’m not saying everyone on Twitter’s going to follow you (unless your Lady GaGa or Justin Bieber), but connect with just a tiny percentage of users and you’ll have a decent chance of scratching out a living from your music.
In the dark days, before the Internet, bands had to slog for years on the UK’s toilet circuit to attract enough supporters to push their self-released seven-inch into the lower echelons of the indie charts. Nowadays, it’s much easier to get noticed. A massive network of bloggers and tastemakers have the power to transform your early demos into the next big thing with less than 200 characters and a bit.ly link. Ignore the power of Twitter and you risk being left behind. But how can bands make the most of the ubiquitous social network? Follow these tips and you’ll have a decent chance of finding your virtual audience:
Why Bother With Twitter, Anyway?
It’s the best social network for keeping in touch with your fans.
Twitter, by it’s very nature, is immediate. Throw regular messages out into your followers’ timelines and you’ve got an unobtrusive way of keeping them posted with news, tour dates, new releases and anything else you’ve got that’s worth sharing.
It’s built on conversation and personal interactions.
Gone are the days when rock stars locked themselves away in gated mansions. Nowadays, musicians are accessible. By connecting with fans on Twitter you can create personal relationships that are much more meaningful than the occasional music press interview.
It’s an easy platform for self-promotion.
You used to have to print out scores of flyers, pay for ad space in your local music rag and risk the wrath of the local fuzz by fly-posturing every spare wall just to get one man and a dog to turn up at your gigs. With Twitter, you can easily get news out to a global audience with a few clicks on your keyboard, smartphone or tablet.
What Are The Benefits Of Having A Twitter Presence?
Your fans can feel a personal connection with you.
If your fans feel like they’re part of the music and not just casual observers, then they’re more likely to part with their cash for whatever you’re offering for sale. Music is all about creating a sense of community around your brand. With Twitter, you can do that.
You can quickly get the word out about what you’re doing.
In the early noughties, when MySpace was the go-to network for tech-savvy music fans, The Libertines established a die-hard following with guerrilla gigs in flats and other non-venues, hastily recorded demos and live webchats. With Twitter you can tell your followers about what you’re up to almost instantly.
You can give your fans an insight into your musical life.
If reality pop has given us anything (other than a raft of talentless wannabes looking for an easy ride), its the knowledge that music fans love to be part of the creative process. By using Twitter to offer insights into your songwriting, rehearsals and recording, your followers will feel like they’re part of story.
How Can Musicians Get The Most Out Of Twitter?
By having an organised posting strategy that complements your other profiles.
Nothing turns your followers off quicker than blanket posting the same status update on every one of your social profiles. Chances are most of your Twitter followers (the real ones, not the bots) will have liked your page on Facebook. They don’t need you to tell them the same message twice.
By becoming part of a wider community based on your fanbase, genre or local area.
The true power of Twitter is its ability to allow users to connect with people they’d probably never run into in real life. Make sure you get involved in your ‘local’ community by forging online relationships with likeminded people in your area, the movers and shakers in your musical niche or the diehard fans who can help get your message out.
By discreetly pointing fans back to your latest release, download or tour details.
What would be the point of a social media presence if it didn’t boost your download figures, help you sell more CDs or get more people through the doors at your gigs? Unlike traditional advertising methods, by utilising Twitter in the right way, you’ll soon see a positive impact on your band’s bottom line.
Do’s and Don’t's For Bands On Twitter
Do: Respond to every post about your band – positive or negative.
Don’t: Slag off other bands, promoters, venues, DJs, music journalists, bloggers or anyone you might have to rely on in the future.
Do: Post more than just links to your own music – link to other bands you like, articles you’ve enjoyed, gigs your attending or anything else you think your followers will be interested in.
Don’t: Just use Twitter as an excuse for self-promotion.
Do: Try to forge a sense of community around your band.
Rock ‘n’ roll is all about rebellion. Think the music scene would be as vibrant today if everyone stuck to the rules? We’d probably still have a chart dominated by Sinatra wannabes. Social media, and Twitter in particular, gives you the tools to promote yourself your way. The points above are advice only. Think you’ve got a better approach? Then go for it. But be sure to let me know.
What do you think? How can Twitter help today’s musicians increase their fanbase?