27 engaging twitter tips for musicians

Being a musician, you have one fantastic advantage over everyone else: you can make music. And if people take time out to listen, jam with you or even shell-out to watch you doing it in a dingy venue, how hard can it really be to attract an audience on Twitter?

Loudmouth rockstars have had a platform to gob-off since time began. The birth of the internet made it easier, blogs made it easier still and now, Twitter is the latest icing on the cake for communicating. In 140 characters or less, of course.

But while @britneyspears‘ record label can Tweet about ‘shopping trips to Coral Gables for purses and sunglasses’ (yay!) and still attract 362,781 followers (and counting), the average bedroom beatmaker is going to have to try a bit harder.

We’ve put together the 27 tips you’ll need for successful music Twittering – from basic etiquette to chart-domination and every Tweet in-between. If you make music and you’re not on Twitter: start here. If you’re already a member: STOP, and start again from here…

27 engaging Twitter tips for musicians

1. Have an objective

What do you want to achieve? If you want to widen your fanbase by building a Twitter community around yourself, talk about making music and eventually try to take over the world, you’ve come to the right place. Knowing what you want is half the battle, stick to the following and you’ve a great chance of achieving it…

2. Be descriptive

 

Choose an appropriate username, don’t call yourself @TheDarkKnight if your band is called Loose Change. Provide as much information in the bio section as you can – believe it or not, people will read it, as you should read theirs…

3. Get to know your audience

People fill their bios in for a reason – read them, see what they’re into and talk about it. That way you will…

4. Engage with your followers

 

The golden rule. Don’t just talk about yourself, take an interest in everyone else. Reply to messages and be as personal as possible. If it’s good enough for Trent Reznor…

5. ENGAGE WITH YOUR FOLLOWERS

Seriously, it’s that important. More of how to do it effectively below.

6. Learn from the pros

@stephenfry has a gazillion Twitter followers for a reason. Keep an eye on thetop Twitter users and learn from the masters. Here are 21 musician Twitters to get you started.

7. Get noticed, make headlines

 

John Mayer makes the news merely by Tweeting about going to the toilet. He’s an international celebrity bed-hopping superstar, however, so we’ll have to try harder. Paul Smith was an unknown blogger from Newcastle, UK, before mutating into the headline-grabbing @twitchhiker. His faithful followers offer him accommodation and choose his next round-the-world destination. So do the musicians’ equivalent…

Next page: thinking big, Twitpic, Twitterfall and sharing your music

 

8. Think big

It could be as simple as allowing fans to choose your setlist, but why stop there? Let them plot your tour. The bigger you think, the better. Twitter is still relatively young so, like Paul Smith, it’s not too late to be a trailblazer.

9. Talk topical

A fail-safe way to get noticed is to have an opinion… on anything. OK, perhaps Noel Gallagher’s relentless spiel of social commentary can grate after a while, so let’s keep on subject. Talk about the music you like, make and the gear you make it with.

10. Search for it

 

The social networking industry (that’s FacebookMySpaceTwitter etc to you and me) is making a lot of fuss about Twitter’s search functionality. It’s advanced, so let’s use it. Search for keywords and join in other conversations.

11. Be specific

The search facility is ‘advanced’, remember? If you want to talk about your new synthesizer, don’t just search for ‘synth’, search for “Moog Little Phatty” etc. The quotations tell the search engine you’re interested in a specific string of words.

12. Eliminate the useless

You can also use the minus sign (-) to eliminate words: search for “Moog Little Phatty” –virtual, if you’re only interested in hardware, for example.

13. Or, let Twitterfall do the hard work

 

There are countless applications for keeping up-to-date with Twitter. Twitterfallis one of our favourites for following trends and feeding us content we care about most (er, music). Twitterfall’s concept is explained rather neatly here.

14. Use the hash tag (#)

 

When you’ve finally decided what you’re going to Tweet about, add a hash tag to your keywords like this: “Anyone else going to #SXSW this year?” It helps the search functionality and helps people find you.

15. Retweet

 

Copying is a form of flattery (unless it’s copyright material, of course!), so follow your peers and Retweet their most interesting content. Write ‘RT @musicradar‘ followed by the Tweet you want to copy. Hopefully they’ll repay the favour, spreading your updates around for all and sundry to see.

16. Always use the @ tag before a username

 

If you click on the reply link next to, say, one of MC Hammer’s Tweets, the reply box opens up with an @ before the username (@MCHammer). If you’re referring to any other Twitter user, always manually add the @ tag. It creates a link back to their Twitter homepage and, as before, hopefully they’ll repay the favour. More eyes = more followers = more exposure for your music.

17. Follow the 90/10 rule

90% of what you share on Twitter should be made up of personal insights and thoughts along with a heavy dose of helpful links, while 10% should be made up of messages that more directly benefit you.” TwiTips 90/10 argument is a compelling one – try and stick to it.

18. Use Twitpic

 

Everybody loves looking at pictures – it’s easier than reading and can be a lot more insightful. Post a photo of your new guitar, a studio session or even the sorry excuse for a backstage area at your local pub’s gig night. The average Joe will be impressed, even if you weren’t.

19. Share your music

 

Don’t forget you’re a musician – so share you music! Post interesting remixes and demos or early tracks that your new-found audience might not be aware of. You can post links to YouTube or your MySpace page in the usual way but if you’re feeling adventurous use Twt.fm of Blip.fm. Sign-up for a DJ account and amaze your audience with your musical taste.

Next page: thinking bigger, collaboration and exclusive content

 

20. Share your work-in-progress

Don’t stop at demos, either. If you’re working on a dance track, post the half-finished drum loops. Or if you’re recording with a full band, post the separate guitar parts as you go.

21. Ask for opinion

Asking a fan or fellow music maker for their opinion might sound dangerous, but allowing them involvement in the creative process will endear them to you no end. Hey, if it’s good enough for Kanye West…

22. Why not collaborate?

Back to thinking big: if you’ve recorded a track, why not put a shout out to would-be remixers to give it a going over. Or get others to upload their own guitar solos – you might end up recruiting a new band member!

23. Offer exclusive content

Reward your Twitter crew with music unavailable elsewhere. It might be an early demo, or an alternative take that never made the cut, either way, your faithful followers will feel rewarded and, hopefully, boast about it to all their friends…

24. Find locals, secure your immediate fanbase

 

Not only can you search Tweets by the language they were written in, you can search by the location they were written. Enter your postcode into the ‘places’ section of Twitter’s advanced search feature and choose a search radius (within 10 miles, for example). Ideal for communicating with locals and offering local discounts, perhaps?

25. Follow industry types, bug them

 

You’ll probably find a number of music executive types will, eventually, come round to the idea of using Twitter. When they do, you’ll be a seasoned pro. Keep an eye out for newcomers, befriend them and bug the hell out of them until they give you some attention. You might even get signed (hey, think big, remember?).

26. Spread the word online

Devoting all this time to Twitter might leave your other social networking pages looking rather stagnant. So add a Twitter widget and keep them updated, too. Go to Twitter’s widget section to add a pre-built feed to your MySpace,Facebook or Blogger profile. Check out MusicRadar’s MySpace page to see what we mean.

27. Spread the word offline

And finally, don’t miss any opportunity to pimp your Twitter presence. Add a note to your gig flyers or even announce it during a set.

Good luck, see you on Twitter! @ronnyrod1

 

 

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Twitter and Business

Here are my top ten basic Twitter tips for business owners… If you’re new to Twitter these tips will get your business started on one of the most dynamic, cost-effective, and fun social networks for businesses 😀

 People go to Twitter to share what they know and learn in return. Twitter users are hungry for new ideas, opportunities, information, services, and products. If your business is not part of this exchange, you’re leaving two huge opportunities untouched—growing your business and improving it.

Business of all sizes use Twitter for a variety of reasons, from marketing to customer service, but for the small- to medium-sized business that’s still finding its footing on the microblogging site, we offer these five tips and best practices.

1. Define Your Purpose and Goals
Why is your business on Twitter? If the primary (or only) reason is to drive traffic to your website, you need to rethink your strategy. The Twitter community values interaction with real people. If the only thing you’re adding to the conversation is a push to visit your website, you aren’t going to have a strong and valuable reputation on Twitter. Some people will still follow you and click your links, but you’ll be leaving several unique opportunities on the table, untouched.

1. Define Your Purpose and Goals

 

Setting Twitter aside for the moment, what does your business or organization need to do better? Some misguided business leaders think they need to be Twitter because “that’s where our customers are,” and don’t see that Twitter is a tool that can help a business achieve its real goals. Is the business growing rapidly, and you need to find new employees or contractors? Is one of your business’s pain points that it doesn’t listen to its customers or clients? Do you need to improve internal communication between employees? Twitter can help you address those issues and many more—read on to learn how.

2. Assign the Right Tweeters
You’ve just hired a young, bright intern who’s active on plenty of online social networks, which is why her first assignment will be to set up a Twitter account for your business. Bad idea! If you want to really leverage Twitter for your business, you need dedicated employees involved. The intern can certainly help you monitor the account and maybe teach your staff basic Twitter etiquette, but she should not be the sole person behind it.

Knowledgeable. Depending on what goals you’ve set, you need someone who knows the issues related to those goals inside and out. Let’s say your business is growing and you need to hire six Java programmers in the next three months. The person you want tweeting in that case would be someone who codes in Java, not the human-resources manager. If your goal is to better address customer comments—and these will include complaints, questions, and praise—you need someone on Twitter who handles customer service, which in a very small business might be the CEO.

A good listener. The person or people you assign to manage the Twitter account should be as good at listening as they are at speaking and writing. It’s very important on Twitter to respond to people who post messages at you (using the @ symbol next to your Twitter account name, and through direct messages that are more like email). I’ve interacted with several professional businesses on Twitter who have never once answered my messages. I no longer follow them. You don’t need to say much to acknowledge another person’s existence on Twitter. A simple “@TwitterName It’s a known issue. We’re working on it” or “@TwitterName Thanks!” is all that’s needed.

Trustworthy. Most important of all, put people you trust behind Twitter. It’s a powerful platform that spreads information to millions of people very quickly, and one misguided employee can cause disastrous effects. You need to trust the people who represent your company on Twitter completely. Larger businesses may want to have their employees agree to a few basic guidelines for social media, although I personally feel that a contract-style social media policy is usually unnecessary. One of the problem of contracts is that they don’t convey trust. The employees representing your business on Twitter need to feel trusted in order to cultivate their voices and write like a human being. Twitter is not an advertisement or slogan—it’s a real person talking with a community of other people. Find people you trust completely, and give them reasonable autonomy.

 

3. Cultivate a Voice

3. Cultivate a Voice

Real names. People on Twitter want to know the name of the person on the other end. Here’s how some of the strongest businesses on Twitter do it: they use the company name as the Twitter handle, and in the profile information, they list the employees who manage the account by their real names. The employees then identify themselves when they tweet by include a carrot and their initials (like this: ^JD).

Identity. If it’s important for a brand to have a “voice” or identity, it’s even more important for a real human with a name to have one. Photos help, but with Twitter, you can only upload one photo per profile. How do you get real faces on your Twitter page if more than one person is using the account? General Motors, often named one of the best business on Twitter, came up an elegant solution. The company designed a background image that contains the names and photos of the four employees who tweet for the company. It’s a brilliant solution.

Guidelines, not rules. Getting an individual’s voice to blend with the organization’s can be tricky if the employee is not a PR or marketing professional, but with some general business guidelines and good common sense, it should happen quickly.

Personally, I don’t think most companies need to shroud their employees with a full-force “social media policy” because the rules usually focus too much on what not to do, and that runs counter to community values, like honesty, openness, and sharing. If you trust the people tweeting for your business, let them do what’s natural and comfortable for them—their voices will come through, which will improve their reputation on the site. The one guideline they need is this: “If another person on Twitter asks you anything you’re not sure about, tweet, ‘I’m not sure. I’m going to ask the right person and will get back to you by the end of the day.'” Encourage your tweeting employees to be honest and upfront. Push home the point that tweeting is an integral part of the business and that other employees should be involved, too, if only as a resource for the designated Tweeters.

4. Follow the Right People
I’m a firm believer that on Twitter, quality outweighs quantity. It’s best to follow and be followed by interesting, influential, and useful people. Remember that your profile is open to the public (only in the rarest of circumstances would a business make its Twitter account private). Anyone can see whom you follow and who follows you, and those people can affect your credibility.

Clean lists. Block, report, or delete all the spammers and people pushing adult content (unless that’s your line of business, of course) who follow you.

Find connectors. Keep the list of people you’re following chockfull of relevant users who will be interested in your content and will feed you interesting ideas that are worth re-tweeting. Look for active Twitter users who post frequently (at least a few times per week) about your field of business. Try to develop a relationship with these people, and be as valuable to them as they are to you.

Use search. Twitter’s search bar is one of its greatest assets. Search for your business name and terms related to your field of work often, and when you see the same names and faces turn up in the results day after day, follow them. You can create saved searches for terms you look up frequently, letting you perform this action in just a few mouse clicks. Get in the habit of it.

5. Have a Sense of Humor

5. Have a Sense of Humor

Related to the third tip on this list, having a sense of humor helps immensely on Twitter. No one likes a drone. When people are free to cultivate their own voice and speak freely in 140-character messages, a like humor is going to come through, and your customers will appreciate it.

 Business-appropriate. Keep your business Twitter account business-appropriate when it comes to humor. You don’t have to be funny and crack jokes; just keep a positive and light-hearted attitude. For example, I tweeted at Starbucks Coffee, “I keep reading that you are one of the best biz tweeters! Care to share a tip or two for how it’s done?” and the reply was, “smile a lot. And drink coffee, lots of it.” It’s not ha-ha funny, but it’s not a straight and dry answer either.

For more tips on how to use Twitter for business, see Twitter’s list of best practices for businesses.

Follow me on twitter @RonnyRod1