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Social Strategy: How Artists Can Make the Most of Twitter

June 1, 2018 | Written by: Stem

Words by Cherie Hu. This article is the final installment in a three-part series about how and why artists should develop separate strategies for major social platforms. After focusing on Facebook last week, we move on to Twitter strategy.  

For many indie and DIY artists, social media presents a daunting challenge. How can someone possibly stay accessible to fans across a growing number of fragmented platforms? How can someone possible do that and dedicate enough time to making great music?

Cross-posting often arises as the first solution. The term refers to sharing the same content across multiple social networks. However, this common crutch artists lean on to save time acts as an immediate red flag to fans. It implies that the artist has taken a promotional, mass-broadcast approach to audience engagement. The tactic will often disappoint in an era that values perceived authenticity.

Artists who leverage platform-specific strengths to engage fans position themselves for improved performance. Stem is here with actionable tips to help. These strategies and examples elevate, rather than sacrifice, creative integrity. Furthermore, they translate online connections into tangible, sustainable revenue. Our series concludes here with Twitter strategy.

Twitter Strategy

Twitter Strategy

Unlike its competitors, Twitter prioritizes ideas and opinions, not just people and images. Passionate fans and curious onlookers use it to read and debate the latest streams of consciousness from their favorite public figures. Artists, constantly taking the pulse of pop culture, thrive on Twitter. Six of the 10 most-followed accounts belong to music makers.

Take A Stance

For artists, ‘Twitter strategy’ often means showing your true colors. The platform benefits those who embrace it as an unabashed, unfiltered personality showcase. Creators like Rich Brian embrace this to a particularly comedic effect.

In the context of music, a retweet is like a text-based SoundCloud repost. Twitter’s share feature has become one of the most effortless, intuitive methods of cross-promotion. Artists looking to share reactions to each other’s ideas or to express mutual support can use retweets to tap into multiple engaged audiences.

When it comes to quote retweets, the more conversational, the better. Socials present an opportunity to color your persona in a way streaming doesn’t. For example, 24hrs wrote a clever response to fellow rapper Russ’ call to action with this retweet, which also gave a glimpse into his personal and professional connections in the industry.

Several under-appreciated Twitter features can also help artists grow their audience. For example, threads (enumerated series of connected tweets) enable more control over how you can present information. Lists (curated feeds containing content only from specific groups of Twitter accounts) enable more control over how information is collected.

Thread Your Thoughts

The threads feature has many impactful use cases for artists’ and creators’ Twitter strategy. Fortunately, the company recently made threads easier for everyday users to build, publish and browse. Artists can share personal stories or perspectives that go beyond the 280-character limit. You can build structured suspense or intrigue around certain product releases over time, or follow-up on older tweets with new thoughts or ideas. In fact, this mindset reflects a common business practice in the music industry. Think about how record labels today would resurface old catalogs to generate new interest and streaming revenue.

Surprisingly, few musicians take advantage of threads today, but there are some compelling examples from elsewhere in entertainment. For example, in 2017, actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani crafted a thoughtful thread reflecting on memorable moments from his promo tour for The Big Sick. An excerpt is shown below, but the total length of the thread is 22 tweets, with consistent follower engagement across the entire thread. Artists can use a similar format to share experiences from their tour, explain specific lyrics and reflect on their wider careers.

Perform Efficient Market Research

Among other use cases, lists are particularly effective for DIY research around certain groups of fans and influencers. Artists and managers can build and browse their own custom lists of fans and influencers to see what these stakeholders like to talk about on a daily basis or what brands and products their target markets use. As a result, crafting release campaigns and seeking strategic partnerships becomes much easier.

On any Twitter user’s profile, you can identify which lists that user has subscribed to, as well as which lists feature that user as a member. For example, Canadian rapper Allan Kingdom is a member of over 150 public Twitter lists, many of which are focused on rap and are curated by his biggest fans. Managers and labels can reference these user-generated lists to identify power users and double-check their hunches about artist and brand affinities.

Empower Your Fans

More than Facebook and Instagram, Twitter presents a potent opportunity for both artists and fans to drive tangible career growth through the power of opinion. Some of the world’s most passionate fan communities, supporting celebs from Beyoncé to BTS, utilize Twitter to mobilize each other to stream music or break the latest news about their favorite artists.

Occasionally, fans even tweet at terrestrial-radio Twitter accounts to encourage airtime for up-and-coming acts. It’s no coincidence Chance the Rapper tapped Twitter for his 2016 Rapper Radio campaign, which mobilized fans to help get independent artists on the radio across the country.

While the built-in audiences of Beyoncé or Chance facilitate engagement, anyone can learn from them to maximize artist-fan interactions. Fans, not artists, define the mechanics of their own fandom. This holds especially true on Twitter. The artist’s role is not to impose their own vision onto their fans in a top-down manner. Instead, artists can meet fans on their level, then elevate the hard work and opinions these fans already generate—even if it comes down to a simple retweet.

twitter strategy

Today’s music landscape consists of an integrated ecosystem. Socials and streaming interact and overlap. Consequently, creators can leverage data-driven tools like Stem to connect the dots and see how social media campaigns impact their bottom line. Has your video rollout on Twitter translated to improved Spotify performance? The answer is easier to uncover than you might think. Stay tuned for more guides from Stem to help make music simple.