Social media kinda sucks, but whether or not you view it as a “necessary evil” or a way to pass fifteen minutes waiting for the bus, there are some smart ways to go about your online social engagements. As part of our ongoing #BandBasics series, we have some helpful hints to make your Twitter time a little more beneficial for your band and its brand.
If phrases like “social media engagement” or “branding” freak you out, it’s okay. We get it. There are different approaches to The Industry, but it’s hard to deny the fanbase-building power of The Internet.
So, if you’re seeking to expand your listening audience, I definitely suggest looking into Twitter. BUT, and this is the kicker, you have to do a little more than just create an account and wait for fans to flock to you.
We pulled together seven simple suggestions to help you maximize the potential of the Twittersphere…
Step 1: Engage
Okay, this one might seem like a gimme, but a lot of bands are actually guilty of fucking this up. Sure, you created the page and secured the handle. Maybe you even went so far as to complete your Twitter profile, but the buck stopped there. No posts. No reposts. Nothing. The page is a wasteland of untapped potential and spam followers.
Maybe you’re just using the page as a place-saver for when you get famous so you don’t have to buy it off some early fan or speculating spambot. You can do that. Sure.
You can also take advantage of Twitter’s format to post regular updates or tidbits and engage with fans through this online arena. And, as Facebook continues to move more toward the creepy-side of the corporate spectrum, Twitter is now getting a lot of traffic from bands and their fans.
It’s a good idea to post regularly and respond to tweets directed your way. Or, at the very least, update the page every couple of days to let folx know your band is active in the world of Twitter.
Step 2: Make New Friends
I know, I know… putting yourself out there is hard. Just the word “networking” sends a shiver down my spine, but it’s one of those things that becomes totally worth the effort once you make a few worthwhile connections.
Follow musicians and artists and blogs you like. Follow writers and comedians (locally, nationally, internationally) and start engaging with their posts. Comment, reply, repeat. You don’t need to devote yourself to endless hours of reading tweets, but regularly checking in can bolster your online presence and lead you to new listeners.
If you aren’t sure where to start, allow me to point out that YabYum’s twitter account maintains a list of “Music Makers” for all our band and music-making friends.
Step 3: Follow-Back… Or Don’t
This is a bit of a tricky one and there are very different schools of thought on the matter. We, at YabYum, adhere to a Follow-Back policy based on the ideological premise of mutual fandom. “You like us and we like you.” That sorta thing.
Following-back (f/b or FB) means that when someone starts following your account, you follow theirs in return. Sometimes that means following some accounts that you might not always have interest in reading about (like that podiatrist in your neighborhood or a dog groomer in Anthem). Maybe you filter those out (we sometimes do) and maybe also filter out the spammers (which we always try to do), but for the most part, a policy of following back can yield you new followers.
At the same time, maybe you don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter or you don’t want to follow your city government representatives or you just want to be that cool, aloof band that doesn’t do things online to make your fans come out to your shows in droves. That’s cool. YabYum will selectively F/B, but we’re not going to tell you the criteria for getting passed over.
Step 4: Keep it Real
There should be a whole separate article addressing the divide between personhood and persona, but I don’t have that kind of space to work with today. Instead, please remember that Twitter’s short, quippy atmosphere lends itself to a bit of bravado.
Just as Instagram encougages onpoint eyeliner at unrelastic hours, Twitter can get a bit blustery. It’s important to remember that you are not your online persona, but your online persona is merely a reflection of your actual self. Things you say online will follow you back into the real world. The world of friends and family and jobs.
That being said, if you’re band relies on a gimmick or you assume an alter-ego for the sake of your songwriting, I expect you to ignore the last two paragraphs. Don’t be a dick, sure, whatever, but don’t break character.
Step 5: Keep it Professional
Treat your band like a business and act like a professional. Maybe don’t use your band’s Twitter page as a public forum for rants. Don’t trash the promoter that gave you a shitty slot or the music writer that gave you a less than glowing review (unless you’re going for that Sid Vicious angle).
Down the road, other promoters or publications might look to that page to see what sort of engagement they can expect if they work with you. And maybe publicly wishing a local club owner develop a particularly vicious STD is not the way to put your best foot forward.
Step 6: Get Verified
Ugh, I hate this one. There is a longstanding YabYum-Twitter feud over the verification (or lack thereof), but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that BANDS can get verified if they have an active (and actively engaged) Twitter account.
Verification is in no way necessary. It’s just Twitter’s way of letting other people know that your account is authentic (not a bot or a one-off of another account) with a little blue badge.
You can go here to plead your case for verification to Twitter. FYI: Individuals (musicians/writers/radio show hosts/etc) that can show a driver’s license or state-issued ID have an easier time navigating the ropes of the Twitter verification process.
Step 7: Keep it Separate
You as individual exist entirely separately from the Internet. You could wander off into the wilderness today and live an entirely different existence AS YOU without the Internet. It’s true.
In fact, you don’t even have to wander into the wilderness. You could just turn off your computer and make music with your friends and record it analog and share it with the people you know. You could spend your entire life making beautiful music and never touch a computer.
Now, let’s say you maybe want to make something of your band and you’re willing to engage in the online world to help get your music out there. That’s great. Just go in knowing that you are not your profiles. You are not your number of likes or follows or “friends” you have online. You are a different person. A real person. A real person who also shares things online in the interest in fostering real connections – personal, spiritual, professional.