So far Bandzoogle's “The Tools of Music Fan Engagement” series has covered blogging, email newsletters, and Facebook. The next tool we’re going to cover is Twitter. Twitter is a social media platform that can no longer be ignored by emerging artists. Twitter’s active user base has grown 714 percent from July 2009 to January 2013, and now has over 500 million members. So chances are, your fans and potential fans are using Twitter, and it’s a great platform to engage with them for several reasons.
Why Twitter is Great for Fan EngagementThe common misconception about Twitter from non-users is that all people do is post about what they’re eating. Yes, there is some of that, but Twitter is an incredible tool to connect with your fans when used properly.
At 140 characters per tweet, Twitter is the king of short form communication, so you can quickly interact with your fans. Short updates, quick thank yous, a retweet, or even favoriting a tweet can make a fan’s day. And like Facebook, it’s a great way to show that you’re active and retain fan attention, which is essential for musicians today.
Setting Up Your Twitter Profile: 5 Essential Steps1. Select a Consistent Username
Your Twitter username should be consistent with your other online profiles like your Facebook page, YouTube channel, etc. If your Facebook page is Facebook.com/Bandname, then your Twitter handle should be @bandname. Individual band members can also have personal Twitter profiles, but there should be a dedicated Twitter account for your band/project. For solo artists, one account is really all you need.
2. Upload a Profile Image (No eggs!)
The default profile image when you create a Twitter account is the infamous egg. People generally don’t follow accounts with the egg as the profile image. You likely won’t be taken seriously, or people will think your account is spam. So upload your own profile image immediately before starting to use Twitter.
You can also upload a header image and background image to your profile. Here’s a great cheat sheet with all the info you need about image sizes: Twitter Cheat Sheet
3. Add Your Bio
Twitter gives you 160 characters for your profile’s “bio”. It might not seem like a lot of space, but you can make someone curious about your music and give them a real sense of your personality within those 160 characters. Take advantage of it, because leaving it blank could cause someone to simply move on to another profile.
4. Include Link to Your Website
Twitter allows you to enter a website that will appear under your bio. Many artists link to other social profiles like their Facebook page. There is only one link you should have, which is a link to your own website. Send people to your website where you can entice them into signing-up to your mailing list, where they can read your blog, watch your videos, and shop at your online store. Give yourself the traffic and potential upside, not another social media site.
5. Include Location
Twitter gives you a field to include your location. Use it. Fans often want to know where a band is from. Not only that, if another band/artist stumbles on your profile, it’s a great way to network with artists in your area.
Basics of Using TwitterTwitter and Facebook are very different tools, and therefore, you should not connect your Facebook and Twitter profiles. Twitter allows up to 140 characters per tweet, which includes @usernames, so it should be used for shorter, more frequent updates. If you flood your Facebook page with your Twitter updates, you risk alienating your fans on Facebook.
How often should you tweet? Whereas on Facebook you can get away with 1 update per day or every couple of days, tweeting several times per day is not only ok, it’s almost expected. Some artists tweet 6-10 times throughout the day, others only once or twice. Just be sure to spread your tweets out and mix it up between personal and promotional tweets.
The Language of Twitter
Twitter also has its own language and etiquette. Here are some actions you’ll be taking on Twitter that are important to understand:
Reply: If you hit “Reply”, you’ll be responding directly to someone on Twitter. The tweet will start with their Twitter username, and only people who follow both you and that other person will be able to see that tweet in their stream. Use this to answer fan questions, say thanks, or respond to people you follow to start a conversation.
Mention: If you want to mention another Twitter user and have everyone who follows you see it, you just have to make sure that your tweet doesn’t start with their Twitter handle. So you could simply add a “.” before their handle, or add their handle somewhere later in the tweet. You can use this to promote your show at a certain venue, publicly thank someone, or give someone credit.
Retweet (RT): To “Retweet” someone is similar to forwarding an email, you’re sharing their tweet with your followers. You can simply hit Retweet so that the person’s tweet appears exactly as it was to your followers. On the mobile Twitter app, they give you the option to “Quote Tweet”, which puts the original tweet in quotations and you can add your own comment after. On other Twitter applications like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Echofon, you can Retweet (RT) and add your own comment before the original tweet.
Retweet (RT) with Comment:
You can use retweets to share compliments about your music, retweet info about upcoming gigs, or just to share content you find interesting.
#Hashtags: A hashtag is the pound # sign followed by a word or group of words. The hashtag is automatically hyperlinked and creates a new stream if you click on it, which will include all tweets that have used that same hashtag. It’s a great way to be found on Twitter, start conversations, and join in other conversations with users who you don’t follow or don’t follow you.
Hashtags are commonly used by music conferences and festivals, where they create an “official” hashtag so that people tweeting about the event can see a stream of everyone’s tweets. So if you’re performing at a festival or conference, you can promote your show using the official hashtag and everyone following that stream will see the tweet and potentially retweet it, helping to spread the word.
Artists can also use hashtags to create a grouped conversation of their own, run contests, create surveys, and even use it during live shows to take requests or answer questions from the audience. Another use for hashtags would be to tweet info about an upcoming show and create a hashtag for your genre of music and the city name you’ll be playing in.
Favorite: You can click to “Favorite” a tweet, which in some applications is done by clicking a star. This has become similar to the “Like” button on Facebook. This can be a great way to quickly acknowledge a fan who compliments you on Twitter, or to end an interaction. It shows the person you’ve read their tweet and are appreciative of their comments.
Search: Using the search function in Twitter can be a powerful tool for musicians to help find new fans and promote shows. For example, if you’re going to be touring in a new city, you can search Twitter for your genre of music and the city name, and you’ll see users who tweet about your style of music. You can also search for bands that sound similar to yours, find fans in a certain city that are tweeting about those bands, and then strike up a conversation with them.
But when doing this, tread carefully, as it can be very easy to come across as spammy. Take the time necessary to develop a relationship with people on Twitter. If you think a user is in your target market for your music, follow that person, respond to their tweets, talk about music in general, and then mention your show at some point further down the road.
Use Twitter to Drive Fans to Your WebsiteAs was the case with Facebook, Twitter is a very powerful tool that can be used to drive traffic back to your website. That way you can find out more about your fans through detailed analytics, get them signed up to your mailing list, and hopefully shopping in your online store.
Here are just some of the ways to drive people to your website from Twitter:
Website link in bio: As mentioned earlier in this post, make sure to include a link to your website in the Bio section of your Twitter profile.
Blog posts: When you have a new blog post, post a direct link and invite your followers to read the post.
Music: When you have a new song, upload it to your website and then post a link to your music page and invite fans to check it out.
Video: When you have a new video, instead of simply posting the link from Youtube, embed the video on your Videos page and tweet a link to the page.
Photos: If you have some great photos from your last show, upload them to your website and provide a link to the gallery for your Twitter followers.
Merch: If you have some new merchandise, talk about it in a tweet and post a link to your online store.
Twitter (like Facebook) is a Conversation ToolThe most important thing to remember when using Twitter is that it’s a tool for conversation. If you only promote yourself, don’t respond to questions and comments, or rarely tweet, chances are, you won’t gain a following of engaged fans.
In keeping with the 3 Pillars of Fan Engagement, Tweets should be in your own voice as much as possible (authentic), you should tweet on a consistent basis, and to really see results, you’ll have to sustain it over the long term.
Hypebot contributing writer Dave Cool is Director of Artist Relations for musician website & marketing platform Bandzoogle. Twitter: @Bandzoogle | @dave_cool