I’ve had a lot of discussion with artists recently about Twitter and the best way to grow and engage your followers. So I thought I’d offer a few tips that I’ve given them.
1. Variety. If you only post about stuff related to your career, people are going to get bored. Most people follow artists on Twitter to get the news, but also to see what you’re thinking, feeling, and doing (outside of your career). I’m not talking about posting what you had for lunch; I’m talking about posting some of your thoughts and feelings. What Bible verses are standing out to you and why? Is there a cause you’re passionate about? Did your daughter do something really cute (and post a picture)? Did you see something really funny at the restaurant you were at?
Asking questions will also increase engagement. If you’re on the road, ask your followers for recommendations about a good place to eat where you’re on the road. Ask them what movies they recommend seeing. Ask them what they think about a current news event. Fans love to be asked their opinions and to feel like they are being heard.
If you are brave enough, another idea is hosting a tweet-up in the towns you are passing through on tour. Let your followers know that you’ll be at the McDonald’s in Little Rock, AR at a certain time, and see if anyone wants to meet up for a quick meal. If you do this, however, make sure you actually show. And I would recommend not doing this if you are a solo artist and plan on being there by yourself… for many obvious reasons.
2. Respond. This is a huge one. Especially if you’re a small or indie artist, people will stop caring if they feel like you don’t care about them. Check your @replies often and try to respond to many of them, even if it’s just thanking them for a suggestion or for a compliment. Let them know that you read what they write to you. Sure, there are things they will say to you that may not need a response, but the general rule of thumb is to reply as much as you can. If they see that you are engaged and care about what they are telling you, they will engage in you more and pay closer attention to your tweets.
3. Search. There are many reasons to set up searches for yourself on Twitter. First, you want to know what people are saying about you. People are honest when they can hide behind their computers. You may hear good things about your music, shows, and personality… but you also may hear bad things. This can really help you know what you are doing right and what needs improvement.
Second, it’s an amazing opportunity to get feedback from people to help you grow. If they say something about how they like a song of yours or met you at a festival and think you’re neat, you can thank them for it. On the other hand, if they say something negative, you can also respond and try to get information that could help you improve your artistry. For example, if they say that they didn’t like your live show, you can thank them for your feedback and ask let them know that you are always trying to improve and get feedback about what they like (you can offer to exchange emails if you don’t want to make it public on Twitter). Or if they say they met you and you’re a jerk, you know you need to work on your off stage presence.
You can easily set up these searches by going to http://search.twitter.com and searching your name, album name, song titles, etc. You can also subscribe to the RSS feeds of these Twitter search results.
4. Follow Back and Comment. People love to be followed. I understand that you really want to just follow your true friends, but it feels good to be followed back. You can easily create lists on Twitter to sort out your real friends (and you can make them private as well so people don’t know they aren’t included on that list), so you really don’t have an excuse not to follow people back. Also, it can be fun to read random people’s tweets and respond, and it will make them see that you care what they have to say, even if it’s not related to you. Try responding to a few random tweets of your fans. See how they respond.
5. Twitter Client. I HIGHLY recommend getting a Twitter client to help you manage all of your Twitter business. I personally use HootSuite since it has a web, desktop, and mobile client that all sync together. TweetDeck is another good option. There are plenty of them out there if you search for them. You can update multiple twitters in one click (business and personal). You can usually update other social media sites in one click as well (such as Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, etc). You can create parallel windows for your lists, @replies, searches, keywords, etc. You can even schedule tweets in advance. It makes twittering extremely easy.
So those are some basic things you can do on Twitter to increase your presence. If you have any success stories from your personal experiences on Twitter, make sure to share them!