When dealing with the various social media platforms, I find that most people are confused about twitter — which is understandable considering the speed, real-time interaction, and terminology.
With that in mind, I’ve written this post as part of my Social Media For Musiciansseries, to provide some clarity and give you a better understanding of the world of twitter.
WHAT IS TWITTER?
Twitter is a microblogging platform, meaning, a type of blog where you can text short updates about your thoughts, observations, and day-to-day happenings. Often, twitter gets a bad rap due to some people’s updates that are predominately about what they’re having for breakfast or the latest episode of some crazy reality show.
The fact is, every social media platform including YouTube, Facebook, and others have gone through the ringer in public opinion at some point or another. As I stated in my last post, social media can be very effective provided you knowhow to use it. Twitter is no exception.
Tweet: Tweets are short updates with a maximum of 140 characters, spaces included. The character limit seems harsh to some people, but twitter is meant for short interactions and as they say…brevity is profundity.
Retweet: Part of the twitter fun is sharing someone else’s information that you find interesting and informative. Much like Facebook, when you read a status update that catches your eye and peaks your interest, you “share” it — well, a retweet works the same way. It’s simply sharing another person’s tweet on your twitter stream.
You can either do this by clicking on the “retweet” button on your twitter page which will duplicate the exact same content on your stream:
…or you can manually type “RT” before the twitter handle, paste the tweet content, and add some of your own comments as well.
@replies or @mentions: When you want to reply or mention someone in a particular tweet, you can press the reply button on your twitter page, or type the @ “at” symbol followed by the person’s twitter handle. For example:
Hashtag (#): A hashtag (#) is a way to organize your information on twitter and/or create a buzz on a particular topic such as, an album title, local event, news, concert venue, etc. You can create a hashtag for anything and once you do, it becomes a searchable link.
For example, a popular hashtag is #MusicMonday. Every Monday, people tweet their favorite music and/or artist followed by #MM or #MusicMonday to generate exposure and/or discover new music.
You can use an already existing hashtag or create a new one.
As social media consultant for singer-songwriter Melody Walker, I worked with her in creating her own personal hashtag — #GoldRushGoddess — to generate exposure on her debut album and upcoming tour.
Since the start of this part in her social media strategy, her album and twitter handle, @melodiouswalker, are now viral with her music being played nationwide and even in Europe!
In addition, she’s grown nearly 100 new quality followers.
Keep in mind when using a hashtag (#) there are no spaces between words and remember, consistency is key!
DM (Direct Message): A DM or direct message is a private message between you and another twitter recipient. Think of it as a twitter email with only 140 characters. You can find the DM box on the upper right hand corner of your twitter page:
List: As of February 2012, it’s estimated that there are 290 million tweets streaming through the twittersphere per day. Wow! And while that’s a world-wide statistic, the more people you follow, the more overwhelming it is to see tweets passing through your stream at the speed of light.
This is where the twitter list comes in handy.
A list groups certain followers into a specified category making it easier to can get an overview of what people are tweeting. It’s also a great way to find new people to follow.
Here’s an example of a “world music” list by @MyWorldMusic. As a member, whenever I want see tweets specifically on this topic, I can just pop over to this list and check out what’s going on.
URL Shortener: Since there are only 140 precious characters to use in a tweet, it’s a good idea to suscribe to a URL shortener service like, bit.ly. Services like this shorten a longer web address freeing up character space.
So, there it is.
Now that you have some basic twitter terminology under your belt, as a musician, you can use twitter to share your music and connect with other artist and fans. You can tweet about tour dates, status updates in the recording studio, manufacturing process on your CD, photos of concert/shows, and more.
Take a look at how Melody uses instragram (iphone photo application) and Youtube to post photos and videos of her tour and recording sessions:
It’s all about building relationships with your fans and having a little fun. People may not come to your concerts and buy albums right away, but with time and patience, the relationships you cultivate will likely bring people around to your gigs and buy your music!
Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. Cheers!