9 Mistakes Musicians Make On Twitter


1) Starting Tweets With @Someonesname

People, if you start a tweet with @someonesname ONLY your followers WHO ALSO follow @someonesname will see it. This is Twitter 101, but so many people (especially musicians) tweet stuff like “@spoontheband’s show was great last night. Who was there?” and wonder why they don’t get any favorites, RTs or replies. If you can’t come up with anything more clever to start your tweet with, then start the tweet with a period. Like “. @spoontheband’s show was great last night!”

Twitter does this so you can have semi-private conversations. This is how you reply to someone. I’ve had these semi-private conversations with friends on Twitter where we’ve had 20 back and forths. This would be awfully annoying if every one of my followers saw every one of my tweets directed at only that one person. BUT it’s fun for my followers who also follow the person I’m interacting with. It’s as if they are eavesdropping on the conversation. Who doesn’t love a little inside gossip?

2) Replying To Hate

Haters gonna hate. Those who succeed the furthest (in life) are those who have impulse control. Engaging with haters diminishes your status. Take a breath, realize that they have a small penis, and let it go.

Look at it through your fans’ eyes: they don’t want to see their favorite musician get in a cat fight with a d-bag. You’re better than that! Remember what happened when John Mayer and Perez Hilton battled it out? Sure, it was hilarious and amusing for their mutual followers to witness, but it brought on a sleuth of negative press and mocking bloggers. It diminished Mayer’s status (because Perez is just a hater). That was the beginning of Mayer’s social media free fall which lead to him eventually quitting Twitter.

Prepare The Screen Shots, John Mayer Is BACK On Twitter

3) Paying For Followers

Twitter and Facebook have begun to crack down on fake followers. One of the most affordable and popular sites to buy Twitter followers is Fiverr. A quick search leads to sellers who will get you up to 20,000 Twitter followers for $5. (You can also get a hipster logo designed or a child voiceover recording for $5. Pretty nifty).

Going this route will absolutely increase your (initial) clout (and Klout score). But, people know that followers can be bought and it looks a little foolish if you have 30,000 followers with virtually no interaction (and low Instagram/Facebook numbers). And beware, Twitter has done a fantastic job at deleting fake accounts. These newly acquired followers are very short lived and will disappear within weeks.

A better way to obtain large numbers of legit followers is by actively following the followers of musicians similar to you. Make sure you put a link to your music in your bio. People you follow will inevitably check out who followed them (out of burning curiosity) and if they like what they see (and hear) may follow back.

This practice is against Twitter’s terms of service, but you can get away with it if you’re careful.

This route takes a bit longer, but will bring you many more high quality followers over the long run.

4) Not Replying To Fans

Gone are the days of the rock star mystique. We have arrived at an age where anyone in the world can send a message to their favorite star’s pocket. Pretty crazy.

If you’re a baby to mid-level band, you absolutely should be replying to every one who tweets you. People expect it! And they get seriously snubbed if you don’t.

Once you are receiving more tweets than you can handle, then you can pick and choose who to reply to. You’ve reached the next level of status! Congrats! But, you should still be replying to as many as you can. This will make their day and it will increase their loyalty. If you have less than 50,000 followers and you don’t respond to a fan giving you a complement, you’re just a dick.

5) Syncing It With Facebook

You must learn to use the social media sites the way they are intended to be used and understand the proper etiquette on each site. Believe it or not, each site is a “community.” If you act like an impostor, you will be ousted (unfollowed and unliked). DO NOT automatically send your Facebook posts to Twitter. This is a surefire way to be flagged an impostor.

For some reason, musicians take time to learn Facebook and many can navigate it quite well and know how to appropriately tag, Like, comment and post, but when it comes to Twitter they are lost. Most bands’ Twitter profiles look like a disjointed stream of half tweets with links to 3rd party sites where the content originated.

Current 2014 Twitter etiquette dictates that syncing your BandsInTown and Instagram is totally acceptable. Syncing your Facebook is not. No one likes to see the fb.com link (that is included at the end of every tweet sent from Facebook). It means that the post originated on Facebook and I have to click through to see it. Most often it is way more than 140 characters so to get the full content I must click through. However, most people use Twitter on their phone. Clicking the fb.com link from a phone does not take us to the Facebook app we are signed into, it takes us to Facebook.com in our browser (which we are not signed into – ever). It’s super annoying and makes me hate you for forcing me to take all of these steps just to read your extended rant on US Airways.

Senator Gets Involved After US Airways Kicks Musicians Off A Flight

6) Only Tweeting Band Updates

LEARN TO TWEET (not just send content from your ReverbNation, Facebook, ArtistData, BandsInTown, Vine, Instagram, Four Square).

Twitter is not meant to be your band’s news stream. It is meant to give your followers an intimate glimpse into the inner workings of everything “behind the scenes.” It is meant to get much more personal (and frequent) than Facebook.

7) Not Pinning Important Content

This past April, Twitter rolled out the pinned tweets feature for the desktop version. It has yet to hit the mobile app. The pinned tweet is so you can showcase your best work at the top of your profile. You want to pin something memorable. Something that defines your feed in 140 characters. OR, better yet, pin a SoundCloud, BandCamp, iTunes, Spotify or YouTube song (which will beautifully displayed with a play button at the top of your profile).

8) Not Creating A Header Photo

Twitter also recently revamped their header and profile photos (to look more like Facebook). If you haven’t updated your header photo to the new standards (1500 x 500) and double checked the formatting once embedded, it looks like you are out of touch. It looks like you don’t have your shit together. It looks like you don’t care about your music career. It looks like you’re lazy. It looks like you don’t put in any effort to anything you do. This may sound harsh, but that’s what having an incomplete Twitter profile in 2014 screams. Get it together!

9) Having a Bland Bio

Don’t write “Heavy metal band from Milwaukee.” That’s boring. Are you boring? Then why would I follow you? Along with your pinned tweet, this is an opportunity to show off your personality (and explain what you do). Why not write “We play rock music. It gets loud. linktowebsite.com” That’s better. Or even better: “We fight about whiskey, chicks, sesame chicken and music. In that order. linktowebsite.com” Give a glimpse into your personality with this bio. Yes, make sure you have a link to your website and your new video, song, album or anything else you’re currently promoting.

Above all you should have fun on Twitter. If it’s not fun for you, no one is going to have fun following you. Find a way to make Twitter enjoyable. Don’t be like everyone else. Be you. If you love poetry, tweet 140 character poems. If you love politics, go on political rants. If you are hilarious, well, then, that’s easy. Tweet your daily thoughts. If all you care is about guitar tones, then by all means, tweet photos of pedal configurations and amp reviews. Twitter is for everyone, and is becoming the most important social network for musicians.

Ari Herstand is a Los Angles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Writer, Musician, Whiskey Drinker

Ari Herstand is the author of How To Make It in the New Music Business (Dec 2016 - Liveright / Norton). He has been a DIY musician for over 10 years, has performed over 600 shows around the world and released 4 studio albums and 2 live albums. He has had songs featured on multiple TV shows, commercials and films and has shared the stage with Ben Folds, Cake, Matt Nathanson, Joshua Radin, Eric Hutchinson, Milk Carton Kids and Ron Pope. He created the music business advice blog, Ari’s Take in the Spring of 2012 to help DIY musicians navigate the independent world of music. Herstand was born and raised in the Midwest and got his start in the Minneapolis music scene. He rose to prominence locally and consistently sold out the 800 capacity Varsity Theater. He became the go-to musician in the scene for music business advice before he moved to Los Angeles in the Summer of 2010. Currently residing in West Hollywood, Herstand still spends a good portion of his time on the road touring. When at home he splits his time writing music, writing articles, writing his book (out December 2016 with Norton Publishing), playing shows at the Hotel Cafe and acting in TV shows (see him in his co-star appearances on Mad Men, 2 Broke Girls, Aquarius, Transparent, The Fosters, and others)

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar

    haha do not go on Political rants, very dangerous game that one.

    John Mayer back on twitter to check out some birds yeah!

    He didn’t get hurt from that, people love train wrecks, all good in the hood, im sure he had plenty of fine ladies running to his aid to comfort and console him through that debacle.

    140 characters is tough business, i haven’t even revved the engine once by the time i get to 140 characters, im still doing the walk around to make sure no rabblerouser messed with my ride by the time 140 rolls around, i mean, im 0-60 in like 2 seconds flat and all that, but you get the gist anyways…

    • Avatar

      You are obsessed with John Mayer and getting laid. It’s creepy.

      • Avatar


        John and I have some History, but we also have the same last name, do the same thing in the same game, so I’m just tossing whatever respect his way that I can and having some fun in my promotional and marketing attempts.

        And it’s not so much about getting laid, it’s about finding love, which might result in someone or a few someones who like getting laid a lot.

        I’m pretty certain our real core purpose and reason for existing is to reproduce. I wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for some nasty sex somewhere many moons ago, so yeah, it’s kind of like everything.

        And I always have a bit of fun with Katy, so of course you know I’m going to bring that bit of the show into my show, for a few episodes anyways.

    • Avatar
      Nina Ulloa

      Yeah, break all the rules from this list. I’m sure that will go great for you..

      • Avatar

        Yup, really risky to do things like i do things, i do not recommend it in most cases, i do recommend most musos and arteests follow the advice above…

  2. Avatar

    I have a question about how other people read Twitter and if their experience is like mine. Personally, I gloss over, as in don’t even try to read, tweets that are “@” more than one person, or have more than one hashtag. Tweets like that look like a mess of garbled computer code to me. Honestly, at this point it’s not even a decision to ignore those tweets, my eyes sail past them as if they don’t exist at all.

    I wonder if anyone else’s experience is similar?

    I’ve heard that something similar happens when people read text that contains too many hyperlinks. The changing colors and distraction of clickable words derails most people’s concentration and causes subconscious agitation. I believe there are studies that show this as a common thing, or else I I have no idea how I know about this phenomenon. I wonder if the same thing happens with “bloated” tweets?

    • Avatar

      I’m with you, Patrick, there is SO much to read already throughout the day and life is damn busy not to mention getting in some music practice and rehearsal, editing instincts take over and I just have to ignore things that are too cluttered or take too much time to figure out. My sense is that complicated posts & texts & emails & FB msg’s etc. mean the person sending the is not really trying to ‘share’ but more like kind of dump… that’s my shorthand way of explaining it to myself at least.

  3. Avatar

    Does this apply to facebook posting aswell? If not could you link me one for facebook posting! thanks

    • Ari Herstand
      Ari Herstand

      So, Facebook is a totally different community and has very different etiquette. I’ll put one together for Facebook as well and post it soon.

  4. Avatar

    Funny enough…I don’t follow anyone who does any of the above.

  5. Avatar

    This was a really outstanding article! Thank you!

    I consider the 140 character limit as an interesting challenge. The key is to make only one point per Tweet. I vastly prefer Twitter to FB as Twitter is all about the here and now and what’s relevant for the moment.

    Feel free to follow me at @songwriter4 !