Twitter’s Guide to Maximizing the Artist Tweet

Yes, you can overdo Twitter, especially when it comes at the expense of your music.

But this is undoubtedly a critical channel for connecting with fans, and some ‘best practices’ are emerging.  Here are a few from Twitter itself – be warned, this is a little self-promotional and superstar-heavy at times, but a good review.

Twitter for Musicians and Artist

Sound and vision

For music fans, Twitter is the next best thing to being backstage. And for performers, connecting with your fans in an authentic way is one key to your success. A Twitter connection tells fans how much you appreciate them, and it also enables you to tailor your messages. The fact is, Twitter provides more authenticity and creative control than any other online medium. Tweets come straight from you, and go right to your followers all over the world, in real-time.

Twitter styles are as varied as the people who use Twitter. Whatever your goal, Rule #1 is that your Tweets should reflect the things you’re passionate about. And you won’t be surprised to hear us say that practice makes perfect— just like learning an instrument or writing music. That’s why we’ve put this guide together: to help you and your fans get the most out of every single Tweet.

Whether you’re a mega-pop star or a self-funded indie band, here are some examples that will work for you.

The artist’s voice empowered

Musicians are always surrounded by people who want to tell their story. Whether it’s a publicist, a manager, an agent, a label rep, a journalist or that guy or gal you dated in high school, it seems no one hesitates to share their take on you and your work. But the most powerful voice is your own. Whether you’re celebrating a career milestone or need to clear the air, Twitter is the easiest and most powerful way to get your message across, directly and clearly.

Katy Perry offers a great example for us. During a period of personal difficulty splashed across the tabloids, rather than do interviews, Katy posted this:

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That’s direct and powerful — and it illustrates that when all is said and done, speaking your own truth is the best way to make your point.

Use hashtags

Hashtags are Twitter’s way of collecting Tweets around a topic or conversation. You can click on a hashtag to see search results for recent Tweets also using that hashtag. Great hashtags are creative, and the best ones compel followers to join the conversation by tweeting with them. Read more about hashtags here.

For the South American leg of Selena Gomez’ We Own The Night tour, she tweeted to ask fans to help her choose what to wear, and included the tour’s official hashtag:

Reply to your fans

Twitter will be more fun for you and your fans if you connect with them directly. The best way to do this is through @ replies. A good practice is to take a few minutes a day replying your fans this way. Not only does this supercharge your engagement rate, but it lets your fans know that you care about them. Equally important, it can signal that you manage your own account, and not someone else.

Gavin Rossdale of Bush is a textbook example of how to reply and retweet to fans effectively. Every day he replies to scores of fans. He answers questions, thanks them and sometimes wishes them happy birthday.

Fan interviews

Sitting down for interviews with reporters can be laborious and time-consuming—but doing fan interviews via Twitter isn’t! There are few ways to do these:

On The Fly

Simply tweet something like, “Hey guys, killing time before my flight for the next 30 minutes… want to ask me anything? #Ask[YourName]”. Then start replying as the questions roll in.

Once fans start asking questions, retweet their questions with your answer and add their handle. Remember that if you start a Tweet with an @username, only the mutual followers between you and that person will be able to see the Tweet (read this article for more clarity on @mentions). Therefore, we suggest the “retweet, then answer” approach.

Advance Planning

When Tom Petty did an interview with fans, the date and time was announced in advance on his website and Twitter account. An official hashtag was also featured so fans could easily tag their tweets and he could answer their questions. Then, just like a regularly scheduled program, Tom started answering questions as promised.

Live-tweet events

Whether you’re about to play a festival in front of 50,000 fans or you’re watching the GRAMMYs from your cozy couch, you have a perspective that no one else in the world has— until you tweet it. So give your fans something they can’t get from anyone else: your unique point of view.

Singer and musician St. Vincent did exactly this when she live-tweeted about the GRAMMYs and was able to share little facts about herself that her followers probably didn’t know:

Live-tweeting not only gives your fans an inside look into your world; its impact on rate of follower increase and engagement can be remarkable. During the 2012 GRAMMYs, 25 musicians live-tweeted the awards from home. Those who posted 15-25 Tweets over the program (St. Vincent, Tegan and Sara and Hunter Burgan) gained on average 25 times more followers than they usually do every day. And by tweeting with one another and their fans, their engagement rates shot up almost 32 times. For more tips, check out our Live-tweeting Best Practices.

Include photos

Tweets come even more alive when they include photos. If you’re already owning your Twitter space by @-replying fans and conducting tweet interviews, up your game by including photos of unique images and scenes that could only come from you. This is your chance to show not only your backstage point of view, but also your sense of humor, newest song lyrics— even a comparison of your hairdos:

Another good resource: our guide to photos on Twitter.

Tips for running band accounts

Expressing yourself on Twitter can be a little more complicated for a band than for a solo artist. Here are two possible approaches for a band: The first is to have one member manage the band’s account, but consistently point to the usernames of other members. The second is to have a primary account in the band’s name that all the members share.

If you don’t want to share one account, you can create one primary band account for news and feature individual band members’ handles in the profile. This way, you can tweet updates, tour news and promotions, and individuals members can have their own accounts that match their own style. Another great reason to do this: the band can aggregate a larger “total” number of followers by having multiple accounts.

Foster the People does a great job of this: band member Mark runs the account, but their profile tells you how to find the rest of the group on Twitter:

Silversun Pickups all reply to tweets from their primary account, and sign their tweets with an initial so you know if Nikki, Brian, Chris or Joe are responding to you. For general posts, they don’t add a name. This is an easy format with an authentic touch.

The _b marks Tweets written by Brian

Break news and break bands

As an artist on Twitter you hold the power to break your own news anytime. You can choose when to tell the world about your next release or new baby. You don’t always have to rely on a publicist to say that you’re excited that about your GRAMMY nominations; simply tweet it and share the joy instantly.

And if you have a lot of followers, Twitter gives you the power to help your followers discover other artists. Just saw a cool band nobody knows yet? Have a friend whose new band you adore? Think your opening act is amazing? Tweet it.

Use Twitter to source your album, your show, or your life!

It all starts with having a bit of vision and an genuine approach.

Musician Amanda Palmer is a Twitter ninja. Not only does she communicate with her fans in a very real way, she’s also a regular at “Twitter crowdsourcing”. Whether it’s designing a shirt and selling it via Twitter (with just 30,000 followers at the time, she made $11,000 in two hours) to finding costumes for a show or finishing up song lyrics, she has made her followers part of her creative process, collaborators in her music.

Amanda sees a high amount of interest in her Tweets because she manages her own account, and writes from the heart. It’s clear that she cares about the content she shares. Her followers see this, and in return, they care more about her. And when Amanda asks, her followers answer. She was one of the first artists to leverage Tweet-ups (real-life meetings arranged via Twitter) effectively as a means of getting fans to secret shows.

Remember

Twitter is your platform, where you can interact with your fans, followers and band members all in one place. Here are a few final tips:

    • If you want to put your music on Twitter, we recommend using a YouTube video, Rdio link, or iTunes link, as all these services show up inside of a Tweet on the Twitter website.

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  • Remember that your @username is your URL. Promote it on your website and other official communications so your fans know where to connect with you.
    @neildiamond = twitter.com/neildiamond
  • Put a follow button on your website to help people follow you easily. Then fans will be able to connect with you wherever you happen to be rocking in the world.

Tweet us at @TwitterMusic if you have a question, an experience you want to tell us about, or just share some tunes.

13 Responses

  1. @Alison_Lamb

    #twitter is incomparable for its fan interaction.

  2. Music Business Registry

    This is really great information. Thank you for sharing. I love seeing more and more artists embrace Twitter. I find it to be a very powerful tool for information, resources and networking.

  3. duh

    “For music fans, Twitter is the next best thing to being backstage”

    No, fuckers. For music lovers, the next best thing to being backstage is our personal e-mail addresses. Twitter is public. Backstage is not a public area.

    By the way, “music fans” don’t exist.

  4. Visitor

    You can set up your website so that you can interact with people exactly like on Twitter, if you like. It’s just a few lines of code, really. Why do you need to work for free for Twitter?

  5. @OpenSourceMuzic

    ‘For music fans, Twitter is the next best thing to being backstage.’

    Great read!