Guest post by Patrick Hertz of Tinderbox, a music promotion and distribution company.
As you (hopefully) know by now, Twitter is one of the best online marketing tools you can have in your band’s toolbox. It’s a free and simple way to communicate directly with your fans, but you’ve got to be strategic about when and how you use it to really make it an effective platform for fostering your fanbase. Here are nine strategies to make your Tweets count:
1. Make yourself easy to find
If you want to gain traction on Twitter, the first step is to make yourself easy to find. For starters, make sure your Twitter handle has your band’s name in it. If you have a ubiquitous name, put “music” or “band” at the end of your handle. If that doesn’t work, you can always try an abbreviation of your state or location. Lastly, make sure that you link your Twitter page on your band’s website and in the info box on your Facebook page.
2. Follow others
One of the easiest ways to get more Twitter followers is to follow others. Look for bands in your area and other bands that share the same sound. Follow the venues that you play at, or the radio stations that you’re getting played on, or the music supervisor that you’re trying to impress. It’s also a good idea to follow your followers back, but always double-check to make sure that you’re not following a spammer. Try to build a community of followers that are genuine Twitter users.
3. Make use of Twitter’s profile customization features
Your Twitter page should be consistent with how you represent yourself as an artist or band. Choose unique profile and header images, match your color scheme to your website and other social media pages, have a concise but descriptive bio with a link to your website, and pin important Tweets to the top of your profile so that it’s the first thing people see when they visit your page. Here are step-by-step instructions for customizing your profile.
4. Keep it conversational
Twitter is much more than 140 characters of space to gloat about your next show and how awesome it’s going to be. It should feel more like having a conversation with your friends – so in general, try to keep it light, keep it fun and ask questions! Your goal should be to make people want to interact with you. If you’re witty, let it show. Don’t force it though, because your fans will be able to tell in a split second that you’re trying too hard, which just comes off as inauthentic.
5. It’s not all about you
Part of the appeal of Twitter is that it can be so personal and you can allow your fans to peer into your life. But just like in a conversation with your friends, you don’t want to always make it about you. Keep 80% of your content about day-to-day life activities and thoughts, both band and non-band related. Share things that are interesting, amusing and/or relatable. Then, you can use the remaining 20% to talk about your shows and new music.
6. Use photos, videos and links to increase engagement
It’s been shown time and again that posting more than just a plain old status can do wonders for your fan engagement. Supplementing your Tweets every so often with relevant photos, videos or links will help tremendously with increasing your retweets and favorites.
7. Tweet often
If want to gain and sustain a Twitter audience, you need to post content regularly. With smart phones and near constant internet accessibility, there’s really no reason why you can’t. If you’ve got a lot on your plate during the week, a great solution is to set aside some time over the weekend and schedule out your Tweets in advance using a free service like HootSuite.
There are no hard and fast rules about how often you should post, but as a bare minimum, you should make an effort to Tweet at least once a day. There’s a ton of research out there on the best time of day to Tweet (mid-afternoon is generally agreed upon as a good time frame), but your best bet is to pay attention to when your fans are the most engaged, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Save your best Tweets for when your fans are most likely to see them.
8. Use the list function
Perhaps one of the most underused functions on Twitter, lists allow you to create curated groups of Twitter users. Try creating lists for radio stations, record labels, bloggers and fans to help you stay up-to-date in an organized manner.
9. Use proper Twitter etiquette
If you want others to interact with you, you need to interact with others in a genuine and non-spammy way. For example, if you’d like a blogger to consider you for review, don’t expect him or her to reply to your unsolicited Tweet that says, “Hey man, review my album.” Instead, try favoriting a few Tweets from that writer every once in a while, or replying to something that’s interesting to you. If you give first, it’s much more likely for others to want to give back. That being said, here’s a breakdown of best practices for Twitter interactions:
- Mentions and @replies: There are two different ways to mention someone in your Tweet. If you start your Tweet with @username, it will be treated as an @reply and will only be visible to people who follow you and the other user. If you’d like to start your Tweet with someone’s username but you want all of your followers to see it, a common method is to put a period in front of the @ symbol. Mentions and @replies are great ways to give a shout-out and get people to interact with you, but make sure your mentions are relevant and not excessive. It’s spammy to mention users just for the sake of trying to get more visibility.
- Hashtagging: You can use the hashtag symbol # to organize your Tweets by topic or keyword, which help others search for them more easily and therefore increase the chances of your Tweet being seen. Twitter recommends that you don’t use more than two hashtags per Tweet to keep it legit.
- Retweeting: Retweeting is one of the most essential functions on Twitter, and it takes very little effort to use retweets to help create content for your own Tweets. You can simply click the retweet button to share on your page as is, or if you’d like to add your own commentary, add the letters RT and the Tweet author's @username in a new Tweet.
- Favoriting: The Favorite button is similar to the Like button on Facebook – it’s less engaging than @replying or retweeting, but it’s a quick and easy way to show support on Twitter. Users whose Tweets you favorite will be notified, and Twitter collects all of your favorited Tweets under the “Favorites” tab of your profile so that you can look back at them.
It may feel like it takes a lot of effort to manage your social media – and it does – but make it a habit and make it fun so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. If it really starts to feel too overwhelming to keep up with (and you’ve got enough of a budget), it might be worth getting help from a social media manager. Otherwise, just follow our tips above and you’ll be a master Tweeter in no time!