Using twitter to promote your band

Many bands starting out have a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm – they want to evangelize and spread the word about how good their band is. The internet revolution has meant that – as opposed to when bands like the beatles, u2, or even nirvana were starting out – bands nowadays have a huge amount of tools that they can use effectively to do that evangelizing. One of the most effective of these can be twitter.

But hold on a second, because all that nervous energy can work against you as well. Twitter is a great and welcoming social network, but it’s also wary and unforgiving of people that jump in and send hundreds of tweets with the simple ‘buy my stuff’ message. You can easily build up a following on twitter, and just as easily lose it thanks to the crap you post.

So here are some points to keep in mind, to get the most out of your twittering:

#1 Make sure you have a site/page for people to go to

While the purpose of each of your tweets shouldn’t be to directly push people to your site, you do need to keep in mind the overall purpose of being on twitter – in this case, letting people know about your band.  So make sure you have your band website set up well first, before investing energy in twittering.  At the very least you should have a myspace page or similar, though we recommend you have your own site and possibly blog.

#2 Make sure your twitter profile page is eye-catching and contains important info

The basic information displayed on a twitter profile is limited, but there’s a way to get around this. Customise your profile page, setting a background image that also contains other important pieces of information – for example, the urls of your other social network profiles (facebook, myspace, etc)

#3 Search people out

You’re not on twitter to sell your album to each follower you can manage to pick up (though fair play to you if you manage that as well). You’re on twitter to network, and networking means identifying people who you think should get to hear about your band.

Check to see if your favourite dj’s, music journalists, club promoters are on twitter – and follow them.

Go through the lists of who they’re following, and follow the people that interest you.
Go slowly!. Don’t exaggerate with the amount of people you follow. You want to build a reasonable ratio between those who you’re following and those who follow you. If you’re following 2,000 people and have 4 followers (the rest of the band), you’ll come across as a desparate wannabe.

#4 Make your tweets worth reading

This maybe #4, but in a real sense it’s the most important of the lot. The best way to build up followers, and make them interested enough to head over to your site is to tweet regularly and interestingly. There are some golden rules to help you in this:

  • Avoid the banal ‘having a cup of tea’ type tweet. That have some charm if it comes from Jay-Z, but in your case most people will respond with a ‘who cares’ as they drop you from their following list.
  • Avoid a barrage of self-promotion. Do give out useful info – for example your next gig, album release etc. But try to ensure you keep a healthy ratio between tweets advertising the band, and tweets that talk about other stuff
  • You’re a musician – tweet about music you like. Tweet about what it’s like to be a musician.
  • Be generous – re:tweet other people’s messages, if they’re relevant to your audience.
  • Respond to other people’s tweets – one of the great things about twitter is that it can be the starting point of conversations

#5 Get savvy about tools/directories that will help you twitter

Twitter is a great tool, but it’s admin leaves a bit to be desired. Luckily, there’s an army of developers out there releasing tools regularly that can help you get the most out of your twittering. For example, one of the simple rules that seems to exist on twitter is the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ one. If you don’t twit regularly, people lose interest and are liable to move on elsewhere. Twitting regularly, though, is time consuming. One handy way to do it, is to use a tool like tweetlater to do your work all in one go. Instead of tweeting 20 times a day every day, you can spend an hour or two over the weekend writing some good tweets, and then using the tool have them scheduled to publish throughout the week.

There are lots of directories springing up for twitter now – get yourself added to ones that seem popular and useful.

#6 Last but not least – enjoy it

The final point is the one that will probably make the experience the most useful to you, if you can manage. Relax and enjoy using twitter. It’s a tool for sharing information, and as such can be fascinating. Allow yourself to be fascinated, and share that with other people on the network. The more real conversations and relationships you strike up, without worrying about whether they’re going to get into your band or not, the better. Rest assured, people who appreciate your twittering will eventually make their way to your band site.

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