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Using Twitter For Your Band
Why Not Use Twitter To Push Your Fans Along
Everybody's talking about twitter these days, but I'll not say too much about how to acquire followers. That can be found anywhere. And most of the information that some of them will tell you works for a while but falls flat later. I'll get into that in a moment.
Maybe you already have registered on 20 social networks And are facing a meltdown because it takes 8 hours just to keep all of your friends on those networks up to date when you, say, post a new song on ReverbNaton or iTunes, or a new run down on how rehearsal went on your blog.
What I wish to focus on is what a few of the top band PR guys have said and give you a look at how some of the bands are using twitter. Plus I'll give my own two cents at the end about which twitter apps I like to use.
ReverbNation.com is connected to the twitter API so that you can tweet right from your dashboard. Consider using services like this to cut down on your web broadcasting time, but at the same time be aware that these thing might cost you in the long run.
Band Sites That Update To Twitter
Before I jump in and tell you to use an aggregating site to spill updates for everything you do on the web (even YouTube and FaceBook) please understand that more than five or six updates per day is all you really need. The rest of your Twitter experience should be talking with new followers and it's best to do that in the open, not in a DM! Besides hurting your rep with potential listeners, you also make it harder for your posts to be seen among the other streams. Twitter and FaceBook will both penalize you for updating too much, and you may not even know they are doing it. I will explain more in detail in a second...
ReverbNation.com is connected to the twitter API so that you can tweet right from your dashboard. This is a handy interaction right from your RevNat control room. You can twitter your current chart standings or update your band's followers on a new mp3 or video upload.
Also if you have accounts at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Plurk, and many of the other social networks, consider using FriendFeed to connect them all together. FriendFeed also connects many other networks and now allows pictures, music, and video to be posted. Besides that it is a free service that causes a post from one social network to be echoed across all of the other networks. But this might be unnecessary as many of these site now do this too. I will say this again later, but it can also hurt your ranking algorithm to do these "robot" posts, causing a TwitterSlap type of action. FaceBook calls this EdgeRank and there are many factors, but in essence your comment may not be echoed as much (impressions) across your friends and followers if it looks like the link or comment has originated from somewhere else.
Tweetspinner is capable of scheduled tweets, follow scripting, and some other powerful tools like intelligent response scripting. Tweetspinner can keyword follow - Meaning you can follow someone if they have recently tweeted about something you are looking for. Especially location. Enter a local city (for me I follow people from Fayetteville, Tulsa, Fort Smith, Bentonville, Springdale, and others). Now what that does is allows them to make the decision to follow you. Auto following or robot following however is typically not a good idea. As I already mentioned.
This brings me to another situation before I move on to the next service. You don't have to follow back with every one that follows you. You can but eventually you end up bringing on spam bots and others. Besides it is always better to have more followers than you follow back. You can keep up with your friend to follower ratio and make sure it doesn't cause you a TwitterSlap. More on the Twitter Slap and TwitterJail in a moment.
Another service that I highly recommend is HootSuite. It gives you control over multiple Twitter accounts as well as FaceBook and other social services all with an easy selection system to choose which account to broadcast from. It can also shorten and track clicks on your links and tell you the last time that link was used from your account or when someone else retweeted it. It also tells you which account (including someone else) that the tweet originated from. Hootsuite is also capable after upgrade, of making collaborations and group effort less of an effort.
You can also download the app called TweetDeck, that does the same thing but uses Adobe AIR to be a separate program from your browser.
Rules Of Engagement
1. Your @username Is Your Calling Card - This really should be self explanatory. But be sure to put your @____ on anything that your would put your .com. Or your phone number for that matter. Yes, it's that important!
2. Twitter Spontaneously OnTwitter waiting for something really important isn't necessary. If fans are following you, then they want to know anything and everything. Twitter is an easy way for artists to get involved, so your tweets have a very quick and authentic voice that can be a powerful tool from a promotional perspective.
3. Find Your Music's Sweet Spot There are ways that musicians can use Twitter that no other kind of user could take advantage of. Releasing exclusive tracks through Twitter is interesting. Twitter really shines during shared experiences like concerts because people are communicating in real time among a group. If an artist also became involved, that would be awesome. We've seen a few artists experiment with displaying live tweets from fans during a show, which is very cool because it makes the audience part of the show.
4. Establish Your Rules of Engagement While direct back-and-forth contact with fans is easy with Twitter, the simple nature of it allows artists to invent their own boundaries. Although Replies are possible on Twitter, they're not expected. This means artists can be as engaged as they want-some are very engaged and others are more reserved. Artists can connect with their fans on a personal, meaningful level but they can also use Twitter to promote a spontaneous concert or share a new track.
It Is Commitment-Free Fans don't need to have a Twitter account to start following a band right away through mobile texting. Twitter can create new accounts over SMS on the fly. For example, anyone can text "follow sirkeystone" to 40404 in the United States and start receiving my updates. This means that a fan who wants to get an artist's updates through text but isn't using the service regularly can easily do so. Bands and musicians can simply tell this to folks during a concert or an interview. This allows them to get all of your tweets by text every time you send one.
Etiquette Just a word on some popular things that irritate many users of Twitter.
#FollowFriday or #FF has similar hashtags for everyday of the week. For instance the authors use #WW for #WritersWednesday. The original purpose of this (and it still works if used properly) was to tell all of your followers that you found someone really cool on Twitter. In essence, you are telling every one on your list that they really should follow this guy. BUT... What happens every week is: Some users (way too many to be worth bothering with mentioning) will tweet all day long. These tweets use the entire 140 characters and might last for hours, a tweet at a time. These tweets look similar to this: Awesome peeps#FF @soandso @reallywierd @bebop @findwealthnow @superworkfromhome - the only point they are making to me is that they have way too much time on their hands.
A similar tag that can be used everyday is the #shoutout. Usually ends up being a total work of annoying graffiti on my timeline.
Another thing that bugs me are the use of @s to carry on a multi-person conversation. There are chat rooms for that folks. When my timeline gets filled with five people holding a conversation where their names are most of the wording, I usually start looking for the unfollow button.
One thing you should also avoid is the temptation to constantly post the same tweet all day long. If they don't see the value of your free track on Spotify at 10:15 AM they won't care at 10:30 either. That said, as long as you make sure to throw some honest engagement into the mix, maybe using a site like Tweetspinner or Buffer to schedule your tweets for not more than four or five times in a 24 hour span. I say that because, Twitter is world-wide. I have nearly as many followers in Europe and Asia as I do in the Americas. Just because I may not be up at 3 AM my time, doesn't mean that one of my followers in Aberdeen, Scotland or Odessa, Ukraine isn't taking a lunch and wants to see what I'm up to. Don't sell your music short! What may not sell well in the States, could be a viral hit in Romania or Brazil. Don't ever forget that Twitter is international! We have done collaborations with people in England and Australia, and I personally as an author have a critique partner in Ukraine who just happens to teach English there. You never know!
Photo Background courtesy of jdurham Image manipulated with WinGIMP.
The Twitter Slap
A mythical creature that is rumored to appear when ever you do certain things to try to bring too much attention to you. Usually this behavior is grouped under "suspicious practices" be we all know it as that lovely "Spam."
One of your no-nos is to just jump in and follow way too many people at once... which really isn't a good thing anyway, but it will gather a lot of followers. Most of them will be bots, but they will follow back. Once you hit 2000 followed and your ratio isn't close to that 2000 mark of followers, your account will get locked automatically. Speaking of bots? This is one of the normal practices by a shill-styled spam-bot.
Another no-no is to post the same links hundreds of times. Actually it won't take even 20. The rule here is to be engaging, talk to others. Join conversations. Follow links yourself then comment and retweet those links. Many people have a habit when they run out of anything linkful or conversational, they will use twitter to ask for blogs to stumbleupon or digg. Or they will post inspirational quotes.
Yet another reason for a Twitter Slap is to use too many hashtags or "@" to call attention to your spam. Hash tags should be used sparingly. This system was designed for searches and trend following. It can be used for specific "rooms" like a chat area, especially in conjunction with a feed profile in TweetDeck or HootSuite. Very handy! You could even make a hashtag about your band name. Using too many @'s is annoying to your followers. Especially when it's their handle you are using in all of those messages. Especially when they don't follow you. Keep it up and they will block you, which also does not look good on your profile's record.
Another reason to get a Slap is to tweet too many times per hour. I think the number is 100 tweets per hour. Seriously, who else but a spammer would do such a thing? I would unfollow you too.
There is no reason under normal use to get a TwitterSlap. What happens under a Slap? Your hash tags are ignored (unlinked and they don't rank) and I have reason to believe that a good ratio of your tweets don't get broadcast to you followers. This is also called TwitterJail.
Continued abuse of the system will get you banned for suspicious practices. In which case, you will get locked out of your account. Not good.
Aside from this, there is a good chance that if you don't behave you will get ignored or even unfollowed by people, even if you don't get a slap or a ban. Twitter is actually pretty generous. Most of your followers aren't.
Again the best thing is to just be yourself.
Some suggestions For Using Twitter With Your PR Campaign
First never follow more people than you can get to follow you back. You are limited on your ratio of how many followers versus followed you have from your account. Many tricks have been tried, still the best is just to be yourself and follow only those who seem to be genuinely following you for your accounts sake.
Be link-less. The more you can say without adding a link, especially a spam-ish link. The more personal you make the link the better. Never say the link is one thing then point some where else.
Now as far as quality links, there are a good deal many people will follow your links when you offer good advice, etc. Your fans or even prospective fans are going to be skeptical of the links. So like everything else, you will have to fine tune your 140 character spiel so that it 'sells' what you want them to see.
If you just post a regular reverbnation stat or a constant link to your myspace or facebook page, people may even stop following you on twitter, not just not following your links. If you have something big to say, post a blog then link to it a couple of times, don't just keep bothering people.
Chances are you are just getting started with this. You might get 20 or 30 followers the first week, which is a good ratio. Don't add followers too fast. Getting them too fast could get your account locked for suspicious practices.
Also, about the sites that tweet your every move? Those 20 or 30 followers will unfollow you if they don't hear new, interesting, and relevant news. They followed you for what you offered. If you turn your account into a spam account, they will not hesitate to remove your spam from their feed.
I personally use the site I mentioned earlier as a tool for updating my personal and band twitter accounts. Hootsuite not only is a handy interface for tweeting from, it allows you to broadcast from all of your accounts at once, or one at a time, or anything in between. You could also schedule your tweets for the day.
In the end, the best bet is to just be yourself. Monetizing your links doesn't work very well. Magpie and others are typically unwieldy and will cost you followers. Your energy could be better spent toward designing ETSY/CafePress/Zazzle products for your band and advertising them yourself on Twitter. And don't forget to post regularly to YouTube then tweet your video links!
Let me know how you felt about this page right here, or tell me at twitter!