Twitter is radically changing the way musicians are building communities of supportive fans around them. Are you still resisting it?
Musicians Twitter Roadmap
By Ariel Hyatt (@CyberPR) & Laura Fitton (@Pistachio)
[Note from Music Think Tank: This is a comprehensive post on Twitter. If you are an artist and you have not heard about or used Twitter, you shuold read this post.]
It has been over 18 months since I joined the Twitter community and since I began to really use it something has shifted for me radically. Using Twitter has directly contributed to my life in meaningful ways.
I must admit that when I first saw it, I wanted to cry. Why would anyone care about what it is I do? As a still recovering traditional publicist I couldn’t really understand the benefit for my artists if I was using Twitter. After all, it’s about my clients not about me. How wrong I was…. It turns out the social web isn’t directly about you, it’s about other people: The audience that you become engaged with, and how you interact with them and with them in mind magic can happen.
Some things that happened since I joined Twitter:
Kept Up With Old Friends
I can keep up with distant friends and feel engaged with their lives even though we don’t speak on a regular basis. I love that I can keep up-to-date with my best friend in Antwerp as you can send international Twitters without getting charged on your mobile.
Saved Precious Time
Because of all my Twitters go straight to my Facebook updates, and I only login to my Facebook twice a week.
We recently began to work with a huge client, Wendy and Lisa because a friend of mine, Twittered, that he was meeting me in Los Angeles for coffee. Wendy and Lisa’s manager read his tweet, checked out my company and called my office within hours.
Met (and Continue to Meet) Interesting People
I met a slew of new artists, podcasters, and bloggers to add to the Cyber PR family. These people are now active users of our system.
Speaking of which, I met someone I now call a friend because one evening she sent out a message asking if anyone had a place to stay in Brooklyn for an upcoming conference NYC Podcamp. Since I had been following her and reading her blog for months, so I pinged her back and said please come and stay with me.
Indeed she did and the two of us had a wonderful connection and a great time at NYC Podcamp where we were both speaking.
Because Laura AKA Pistachio is now one of the most known personalities with over 7,000 followers she is officially part of the “Twitterati.” Her activity on Twitter has led her to get an agent with ICM, and she is now writing a book.
I interviewed her to get her perspective on how you can use Twitter to grow your own fanbase and we discussed some practical things that musicians can do that will help get you on the Social Media court quickly, so that you feel like it’s making an impact…
Ariel: Hi Laura. I love the way you talk about Twitter and how it’s radically shifted your life. How in the heck did you find Twitter? Can you tell the story?
Laura: I found it in a fairly typical way, which was just that as I started my serious blogging in March and April 2007, it was definitely the talk of the town. The blogaratti or whatever you’d like to call the particularly well-known bloggers in the social media space were all saying, “oh my God, this thing is great.” None of them could really articulate why in a way that was particularly convincing. But they talked about it enough that I went and I signed up and looked at it and I thought it was dumb. Just like everybody. It looked stupid. Twitter is the dumbest thing you will ever see. But the truth is it… Now I sound like an evangelical crazy woman. It has incredible power and it takes time to learn that.
What happened was that those first couple months I thought it was dumb. I even blogged it was dumb. Yes, the post is still up. You can go read it and laugh. Around May, I noticed a guy and he mentioned it very incidentally in a blog post and I clicked into his Twitter stream and it was full of really productive things he’d been doing. He’d been taking mentoring meetings. He’d been going to networking events. He’d been doing a bunch of really smart things. This is a 19-year-old kid out in Silicon Valley who’d already founded two companies. He was kind of an inspiring person to watch anyway and this idea that you could watch little snippets from his life, as he felt inclined to unleash them made me realize that’s one of the oldest rules in the book of business success is surround yourself with successful people.
So I started following him and because of the way Twitter is set up, you just kind of wander around and find people. It’s very much accepted that you would be reading someone’s Twitter who you don’t know. So I wandered around who he was following, who he thought was motivating, and I picked up maybe a dozen, maybe twenty people to read. They say follow on Twitter, but follow’s a little freaky. I call it read. Who were just doing and saying smart, interesting things. So, I really enjoyed watching the Twitter stream come by when I had time.
It’s a great work break. It is easy to get drawn in and spend a little too much time there. You do have to watch for that, because you’re going from being who you are your whole life to suddenly being surrounded by people who are really intellectually stimulating, who maybe have common interests with you that you didn’t know that many other people were into the thing you’re into before. It’s a really refreshing, exciting experience.
Tweetup – Meeting people in Real Life
So what happened, four days after that blog post, a group in Boston got together in public and just said, okay, you know, if you’re following me on Twitter, you’re invited to come out for a beer. Okay, that struck me as really bizarre. But I went. As a young mom, two kids under two. I did not need big excuses to get out of the house. We were all meeting at a public place so it wasn’t particularly worrisome. These turned out to be some of the real rock stars of social media. Scott Monty’s gone on to head up social media for all of Ford worldwide. Steve Garfield, who’s one of the first video bloggers ever and has been in Time Magazine and Brian Person, who’s just the heart and soul of Twitter for many of us. We had a great time and that really cemented it.
Fast forward about four months. People started to really start following me out of nowhere and I wasn’t sure why because I really wasn’t trying to build an audience or pursue an audience. But from the New Media & Podcasting Expo… I think I had somewhere between 300 and 600 followers then. Now I’m starting to approach 7,000 already. It’s really kind of crazy.
Ariel: What Can Musicians Learn?
Laura: The opportunity for musicians is huge. If an ordinary person like me can suddenly get an audience and a micro, micro, mini celebrity kind of thing going on, someone with a bona fide audience and something to constantly give their audience, like their music, and relationships to build and peaks into their lives, can really build something substantial using Twitter.
The other thing to remember is you’re not just sharing text and it’s not even just text and links. Through those links you can share audio, you can share photographs, you can share video, you can share live video streaming off a cell phone that you carry with you. Imagine that. You’re backstage at a gig warming up and you suddenly give your fans a little sneak preview into what that looks like.
Twitter = Free Portable Marketing
Laura: The type of content you can offer your fans for essentially free, because it’s just the time you take to put into it… And from a mobile base, because I think if you’re on tour, musicians, actors, and executives all fit this profile of probably having some kind of mobile phone with them and being constantly in motion. So it’s very hard for someone like that to sit down and blog or really spend a lot of time in front of a computer trying to share content. Being able to do it through your mobile is really powerful and cool.
How Twitter Changed Laura’s Life
It’s been absolutely surreal. I’ve been in a lot of newspapers (The New York Times). I’ve been in some magazines. I’ve had a lot of professional opportunities come my way. Marketing and business guru, Seth Godin, in his new book Tribes mentions the effect of what I’ve done with Twitter and what’s happened to me and the kind of business outcomes that have come from it.
It’s been absolutely surreal. I’m being followed now by a childhood friend It’s so funny because he knows me from “real” life. Now he’s sort of stumbling into my work life. Last time I mentioned to him that I was included in Seth Godin’s new book, he said, “oh, you really ought to write a book or something, ha, ha, ha.” I said, “oh, yeah, no, actually I have an agent with ICM, I am writing a book.” He’s like, “really?” So, even my friends kind of don’t understand what’s happened and I’m really still coming to terms with it.
Give It A Try
Laura: It’s something to explore and I always encourage people to feel free to rip on it. Feel free to say it looks stupid. Feel free to say, “I don’t get it.” But give it an honest try. And I met you through Twitter.
Ariel: Yeah, this is the back-story of how I met Laura.
That was a great story, that we were following each other somehow and so we had some vague awareness of each other. You were, from the kindness of your heart, when I was coming to New York for Pod Camp and said, “anybody got a couch I can surf?” you opened up your home to me. That meant so much. I can’t even say.
Ariel: That’s the other thing I’ve found about Twitter. It’s amazing how you can really connect to people. Someone I was following tweeted that his dog got really sick and passed away quite. It was someone I didn’t even know, but because I love animals I wrote him a tweet and said, “I’m so sorry.” I actually ended up meeting him at the New Media Expo conference and he said, “You know, some of my best friends didn’t say anything to me and you did.” It’s interesting. You think it’s this weird impersonal thing, this giant IM in the sky which is how I like to explain it to people who don’t know what it is. And then you can end up making these real, real connections through it.
Anti “In-Your Face” Communicating
Laura: I tried to blog about that this weekend because I got going on a few Tweets in a row about, look, it’s… A lot of what makes Twitter so powerful is that it’s not in-your-face business communication. It’s not that face-to-face, I want something from you, here’s my business card, trying to really make it transactional. It’s this very authentic… First of all, you’re only remarking on stuff that you would just remark on out of the power of your own heart. For companies wanting to learn about how people feel about their products, it’s powerful because it’s very authentic information.
Twitter Reveals Depth and Authenticity
Laura: That depth and authenticity also means that you could go to a total stranger’s Twitter page right now and read their last one to four pages of Tweets, just little, short, 140-character SMS links comments and remarks and jokes and complaints. You read four pages of that, it’s maybe 80 little Tweets. So from 80 little tiny remarks about somebody, you get an amazingly accurate sense of what they’re like. It’s very hard to convince people that that is so, but the more I’ve interacted with people, the more I’ve discovered new personalities on Twitter.
It’s About Meeting Offline Too
Laura: Incidentally, one big mistake that people who haven’t seen this before make, they think it all happens online. The really major friendships and business relationships and opportunities that have come to me have been lasagna, different layers. Meeting online, meeting at a conference, hanging out online more, seeing each other at another event, building up a big kind of connected thing. But when I do meet the people in person, it is true that I know them pretty well, just from those little offhand remarks. And it always astonishes me.
Ariel: It always astonishes me, too. People will see me and be like, “how was California?” “How do you know I was in California?” Then I realize, oh, yeah.
Laura: And it’s not just knowing you were in California. It’s the remarks you made when you were on the Pacific Coast. They feel the same way about the Pacific Coast and you’re that much more connected to them now.
Ariel: Exactly. Let’s move on to Twitter specifically for musicians and some practical things. We’ve kind of now given you an overview of whom Laura is how she ended up in Twittervile. But I think that there is a plague that happens in the music and artistic community. That plague is thinking that the only way to make a community is by exposing people to your music. I see artists make this mistake consistently. They’re so trained to talk about their music and just go up to someone and give them a flyer or whatever, that they forget there’s an entire other side to them.
When I learned about Twitter and I started getting into it, I had to really lobotomize my old “traditional publicist, “ self as the person that was trained in a very specific way: You create buzz by writing a press release and then you release it all over the world via blasts and PR newswires and this type of communication is a one-way conversation. I think this is how a lot of us still perceive “promotion” to this day.
Ariel: Old school PR is all about: “I must tell everyone everything in one page and blast it.” What Twitter is about is it’s the antithesis of this approach. It’s actually scorned upon to over-hype or over-market.
Can you outline a roadmap for musicians that might be interested in joining but are completely confused and they don’t know who to follow? That’s another big complaint I get musicians tell me: “No one I know is on Twitter.”
Laura: Yeah, you need that critical mass for it to make sense. One of the first thing I would say to any musician listening to this, let’s face it, obviously, you don’t only write music and you only perform music so you can sell it and make money. You do it for emotional connection. You do it for artistic expression. You do it because you want to change something in the world. You do it because you feel a certain way and you want other people to understand how you feel. Right?
All the basic motivating things that drive you to be a musician are the things that are going to make you really good at something like Twitter. Because Twitter isn’t about push, push, push the music.
Obviously, you need the music to sell, to survive and to be able to pour more into your art, but all the things at the center of your art itself, the work you’ve put in, the talent you’ve acquired, the things you know about music, the things you’re trying to figure out in your lyrics or in your performances, all those really soulful things…
This sounds silly when I talk to executives, believe me. But for musicians it’s great because all those soulful things are going to be what makes you successful on Twitter. People want personality. They want authenticity. They want a genuine look at the person behind the music. The beautiful thing, especially as you start to get famous as a musician, is that these tools give you the control over your privacy. You’re not dealing with paparazzi coming in and invading. You’re saying, “well, when I want to share something personal, I’m going to let it get out there in a way that is totally on my terms and in a way that benefits my business as a musician financially.”
As for pushing your music, the key is really pull to get people involved with your life, get people involved with your artistic ideas and expressions, even share little snippets of your music.
With Twitter You can share a photo, say “this is where I write most of my songs.” You can share what you care to share and get people excited and involved.
Then, when you do have a new album, when you do have a signing party, when you do have a tour going on, you can let your fans know in a way that they’re going to be excited to tell other people and advocate for you because you’ve spent most of your time just engaging with them as humans.
Musicians Twitter Roadmap
By Ariel Hyatt (@CyberPR) & Laura Fitton (@Pistachio)
Ariel: If you were a musician and you were coming to Twitter and you didn’t really have a lot of technological “social networking know how” What do you do?
Step One – Think About Your Brand First
Set up and account and use your brand name, your band, whatever name it is that you want people to be able to find using Google. That’s very important. Don’t just pick a name you like. Whatever name you choose on Twitter it becomes very Google-able.
So the thing you want fans and prospective fans to find you as. If you’re just starting out, you might use a generic like singer/songwriter or something. But choose something you’re comfortable with, that you want to do well in search results and that’s the name you want to get out there.
Step Two – Sign Up
Go To: http://twitter.com
First: You may want to watch the video that gives an easy-to understand overview of Twitter – It’s right on the homepage – just click the button that says Watch a video!
Second: Twitter will take you through a few sign up steps and you will enter your username and your password and your email
Third: Twitter will help you search your email address book to see if anyone you know is already on it. You may be surprised at just how many people you know are already using it. You will also have the option of sending email invites to your friends.
TIP: Take some time and set up your profile properly. Think about it this way. You probably had a website made for your music and that either involved spending a bunch of money or hitting up a friend for a favor. You put a lot of thought into it and you really worked it out. Well, here’s a chance to have a free website. It’s not going to be as souped up as your own website, but put a little bit of time. You can set up a static electronic image as your background, just single image, maybe an album cover, maybe a candid of you on the road. Put up a good profile picture. That’s the little, tiny square picture that goes next to all your messages. If you’re in Twitter, you’ll see what I mean. Write a couple things about yourself. Make sure there’s a link to your web page. Just get it all nicely set up so it looks cool when you get there.
Step Three – Link your Mobile
You should enter your cell phone number (up to you if you want to accept tweets via texts) this depends on your text messaging plan and your tolerance to loads of texts hitting your mobile constantly. You will have the option of receiving tweets to your phone from individuals so you can have only a few select people tweet straight to your phone.
TIP: To text from your phone send messages to: 40404 and they will immediately go to your Twitter feed
TIP: To message friends that follow you from your cell phone you can type d (for direct) then their username.
Step Four– Search Keywords
Next go to the search page: http://search.twitter.com On this page, start searching key words, words that are important to you, topics that you like to write about, words about the music you play, whether it be the genre or the instrument. And f you want to really bond with other musicians just to start, you can even search the brand names of your band equipment. Like your amplifiers are from so-and-so, you search that keyword, you’re going to find a bunch of other people who’ve made remarks about that word. That gives you a jumping off point.
You can click in each of their profiles. Remember how I said reading one to four pages of someone’s Tweets gives you a surprising accurate sense of their personality? Just find random strangers that way and start following them and see if you have anything in common. If you don’t, you just stop following. That’s the way to find people with common interests.
Step Five – Link Twitter To Update Status At Facebook
Next go here:
and you can link your Twitter page directly to your Facebook and you will be able to update your status on Facebook by using twitter from your phone
Step Six – Follow Lots Of People
Twitter does not work in a vacuum (OK – unless you are Dave Matthews!) But even Dave is directly responding to people and really connecting with his fans – It’s amazing to see.
Here are some people to check out and follow:
Me - Ariel
Musicians Who Twitter
Music Industry Thought Leaders
Music Bloggers & Podcasters & Zines
Web Thought Leaders & Brilliant Marketing Peeps
The Superstars Of Twitter
News Feeds, Celebrities & Products
People Who Work At Ariel Publicity/ Cyber PR
Step Seven – Tweet 3X A Day
At first it seems really weird – just keep answering the question “What are you doing?” It will feel strange to just broadcast what you are doing at first but soon it will all make sense!
TIP: Don’t Over Hype Yourself
If you set up a Twitter account and every day, every Tweet just says, buy my album, buy my album, you’re not going to get any audience there.
Step Eight - @ People You Like!
To comment back at things you would like to react to or to connect directly with someone just tweet: @ and then their username. So if you want to say something directly to Derek Sivers type @Sivers – this will turn up in the # Replies in Derek’s Twitter dashboard and he will see your comment.
TIP: This is a public message that everyone on Twitter will see.
Step Nine – Connect Directly
To send someone a direct and private message – go to your dashboard homepage at Twitter and click on the right where it says “Direct Messages” and then choose the person you want to send a message to from the pull-down menu at the top of the page
TIP: This is a private message that only that user will see.
Ariel: What should they Tweet first?
Laura: As far as the first things to actually say and write, Twitter’s cue question, the jumping off point is, what are you doing. That’s a fine thing to answer. You can just say, “oh, I’m having lunch. Oh, I’m meeting with a band. Oh, we’re rehearsing.” Especially because, as a musician, your life is thought of as very interesting by outsiders so just simply answering that will get you some cool stuff.
I challenge you to maybe take a note here or write down a couple other questions you can think about answering. One of the big things that I think we’re all doing on Twitter is that we’re answering and at the same time asking, “what do we have in common?” I know I’ve gone into situations that I thought were fascinating and I’ve Tweeted, okay, I’m here and I’m doing this and I’m seeing this. People are kind of like, “oh, that’s cool.” But then I Tweet something really dumb like why do we all throw rocks into water. Why is that so compelling? And I get 40 replies because everybody knows that feeling of standing on the shore and just lobbing rocks into the water. So it’s the things people can really identify with.
Here’s an anecdote that has good play into the music world. This was specifically regarding promotion for a play in New York. The person Twittering it was telling about the play and giving a link to buy tickets and saying, “yes, this is my client, but it’s a good play.” I said, “look, I think a more effective approach would be to Tweet questions about the experience of going to a play.” If you say, “what was the first play you ever went to? Have you been to a Broadway show and which one? What do you love about being in the theater? “, People are going to really engage with that and then you can still deliver the same content with the name of the play and the link to buy tickets. But you’ve gotten people’s attention around it. They have a reason to think about that experience and maybe even an urge to want to go see a play. You can do the same thing with concerts, with albums, with whatever stuff you are talking about at the time.
Once you get to be a little more comfortable with the platform and a slightly more advanced user, or right away if you have good tech support, you can create something called a Widget. A Widget is just a little box that can go on any website in the world that is going to contain all the Tweets you’re doing. Because one point for a musician is you’re trying to use this to engage your audience and to share more with them. They may not be on Twitter yet. They probably aren’t on Twitter yet. So rather than try and teach them about this new platform and make them go sign up and make them go log in, you can deliver all the stuff you’re sharing, the photos, the videos, the audio, the remarks, lyrics, whatever it is you’re producing on your own website using a Widget.
TIP: To send someone a message or to react to a tweet that they wrote so that they will see it @ them so to send me a note type @cyberpr
Ariel: How do we follow you on Twitter?
Laura: I am Pistachio. https://twitter.com/pistachio and if you have any doubt about what I said about the search engine thing, pick a name that you want to be searchable, go to Google from anywhere in the world and search for the word Pistachio, which by the way, is a product, a nut, something people buy, lots of people selling them. Nonetheless, I’m the third result. Sometimes I’m number four or number seven. But generally I’m behind Wikipedia and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Just by interacting with people with that name, I’ve come to own that word in Google. So, yes, please come follow me on Twitter. I’ll warn you, I Tweet a lot, so follow a bunch of other people, too.
Many people are on Twitter but don’t quite get how to use it to their advantage. MTV did a promotion from the Music Awards almost over a year ago and it was cool, but it kind of fell flat because there wasn’t a lot of run-up to it and there was no follow-up after it.
Once you’ve built your network there, it is fantastic for organizing little flash mobs, getting extra people to come to your show. It’s just such a great tool for that because people see the Tweet. Oh, ten o’clock at the Orpheum? Yeah, actually I’m around tonight. Maybe I’ll run into town and see that.
Laura: Thank you so much for your time.
To contact Laura, just @ her on Twitter!