Twitter and Musicians – V 3.0

A Songwriter friend asked the other day, about Twitter.

I referred her to my last post on the subject, which talked about things like filling in your Bio, your picture, your website… some of the basic Basics.

I also wrote a post about Musicians protecting their Tweets, which is STILL one of the most stupid things I’ve seen.

But in the months since the last post, there are still a lot of folks who don’t “get” Twitter.

So, to them:

The Twitter Cocktail Party

Twitter is about engaging, and having conversations.

Twitter is very like a cocktail party… If there are 200 people in a room, I don’t talk to all of them at once.  I drift around the room, and chat with someone here about Hockey… over there I talk to someone about their Mom… another I talk to about songwriting… another I just trade jokes with.  I join in where I feel I can participate, and when the conversation is not interesting to me, I drift elsewhere.

I have over 1600 folks following me, and I follow about the same number back.  I do not feel I have to be involved in every tweet from every one of them.  But, I DO feel that I can join into a conversation when it strikes a chord with me… and those folks can either engage me back, or ignore it, if they don’t care for my comments.  (I tend to try for funny, and what is funny to me, is not to everyone.)

I also use LISTS to help me break down my Tweeps into smaller, more manageable (although sometimes overlapping) groups.  So, for instance, I have a group for Music folks, Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge folks (my home town), Hockey fans, Bloggers, Fraser Valley folks, Vancouver Island folks, and so on.  Often folks grouped regionally will chat more, so it makes it easier to follow a conversation, if you can see both sides of what folks are saying.

Hashtags (#)

Hashtags are great for finding interests.  Hashtags (the number sign, if you will) are used in Twitter to denote a searchable field.  So, if I’m Tweeting about a Songwriters’ Showcase in Langley, I would perhaps Tweet: #Songwriter #Showcase tonight in #Langley at McBurney Lane – 20405 Fraser Hwy. 7:30-9:30 pm

In the above example, someone could search Twitter and “find” my tweet using any of the words preceded by a hashtag.

The Interface  (aka: What Software I Use To  Tweet)

Stop using the Online Twitter interface.  NOW.  Immediately!


I like TweetDeck, some folks prefer HootSuite.  There are tons of other apps out there, as well… and almost ALL of them are free to download.

But you need to start using a Twitter interface (software, app… call it whatever you want) that will allow you to see multiple columns at a time.

So, for instance, at the VERY minimum, you need to have columns so you can see…

All Friends / Mentions / Direct Messages / New Followers

… ALL at the same time.  (See the image above)  It just makes it easier to converse, and listen to or be part of, a few different conversations at the same time.

You can also add a column for any Lists you make, or for a Hashtag search.  (ie: #Songwriter #Langley #Hockey #Canucks)


Bait and Switchers

Bait and Switchers (my name for them) are folks who either don’t do enough research before following someone, or are trying to boost their follower numbers.

Many time, someone from the other side of North America follows you out of the blue, and you shake your head, think “random” but they look okay, and you follow them back.  They frequently use an auto DM to thank you for following them, and saying how much they look forward to reading your tweets and engaging with you… and a few weeks later, you run an assessment program like TweetKarma, and they have unfollowed you.

No biggy… their loss.  Unfollowed !

The Hard Sell

A lot of us on Twitter have a purpose.  I use Twitter to promote my Blog, to support my musician friends who have gigs, and to support and promote businesses and Charities I believe in.

But if you look at my Tweets from when I’m writing this, I also tweeted about:

– a suggestion for a Tweeps’ Daughter’s Hockey Jersey Number… (7 for Cliff Ronning.)

– Had a conversation about the Tooth Fairy being reachable through Social Media (only MySpace, ‘cuz she has a side gig, playing in a band)

– Made a couple of suggestions of how folks can get help from Shaw Cable (No, I don’t work there)

– Commiserated with a tweep over a weekend lost to bad colds

– Dancing with the Stars (yeah, it’s a guilty pleasure)

Some of these were direct comments made to a specific person… (an @ message)

Others were just tweets that people responded to.

My point is, that most folks won’t follow you, or will unfollow you if you have a succession of tweets saying:

– Buy my stuff.

– I have good stuff.

– have you looked at my stuff ? It’s unbelieveable stuff.

And that is ALL you talk about.  Nobody likes someone trying to shill (sell) something at a Cocktail party, so don’t do that.

However, it IS okay to, every once in a while, say I found this really cool thing.  If you’re interested, here is the link.

Nobody wants to read or hear hard sell, all the time… so you have to mix it up, and beware “over-selling.”

It is a good idea (at least in the beginning) to go back, every once in a while, and read your own tweets, to make sure you are “mixing it up, enough”

Okay, I’m chatty, and social, but it isn’t happening for me…

I had this asked of me, and so, when I checked… that person was following 21 people, and only 9 had followed back.

As the person asking was a Songwriter/Performer, I suggested she look at folks like: @RachaelPachel @Leighmusic @one_more_girl @blakehavard @ThornyBleeder and see what they are doing, and how they developed and kept their following.  There are a lot of local musicians on Twitter.  Not many are using it well… and these folks are using it well, and making the most of it!

  • 2023 Update – I have deactivated my Twitter account, due to the unchecked rise of hate and bigotry openly spewed.  As I cannot verify these accounts are still active, I have removed the links.

Celebrities generally will not follow you back, or engage with us “run of the mill” tweeps… so if you are on Twitter to have conversations with Lady Gaga and John Mayer… good luck.  They Tweet, but don’t listen.  Find and follow LOCAL people with interests similar to yours.  Until you’ve made a name for yourself, you cannot adopt the “I’m just gonna Tweet, and people will listen” mentality.

Again, using the Cocktail Party analogy:  It is like you got an invite to the Party, but instead of getting out and mingling, you are standing in the coat closet, saying “Twitter isn’t working for me” and “this is dumb”

In order to have a conversation, and engage with people, you have to venture outside your family and friends.  They ALREADY know you’re a songwriter/musician/performer… and it is written into their contract that they have to say supportive things, and come out to your gigs.  We’ve already established that Celebrities don’t care about you.  Find a hundred people that you’ve looked at their Bio’s… looked at what they are tweeting about… and think you could (in the cocktail party scenario) see yourself having a conversation with.

Plus, you have to think about the Percentage.  Remember that everybody, (just like you) have lives and other stuff, so out of that 100, maybe 15% is online at any given time. (depending on time of day, and day of the week, etc… the percentage will fluctuate.)

So, you see, the 1600 doesn’t loom so large, when you take that percentage into account.

Number Players

There is a certain “type” of Tweep who doesn’t care about content.  I’ve talked about going, and looking at Bio’s… Reading the Timeline (their tweets)… investing some time to try to make sure your base is constructed of quality people.  It is easy to add quantities of followers.  It is WAAAAY harder to add quality followers.

If you want a gazillion followers, who won’t interact, and will do nothing but clog your Twitter Feed with spam ?  There are programs and MLM networks that will do that for you.  But those folks aren’t at a cocktail party… they’re at a sales conference… and just parrot over and over, whatever the head guy says.

Build your base carefully.

A good way is to find someone you like and respect, and see who THEY are following…

There is something called Follow Friday, which on Twitter is denoted with the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday. It is something that some folks do on Fridays, to highlight the tweeps that they think others should be following, because they find their tweets to be of value.

Branching out

The other thing to consider, AFTER you get your feet wet,  and have expanded your base, is whether you have a series of conversations that tend to be topical, with the same group of people.  For example, with me, it was Hockey.

Last year, I had a few comments, and a fair number of UNFOLLOWS happen, after Canucks Hockey games.  I would tweets and discuss the ebb and flow of the games with other rabid Hockey fans.  But some of the folks who DON’T follow Hockey, made comments about it, and (in a generally kind way) let me know that I was “polluting” their twitter streams.

So, I created @NucksBob… my Hockey ONLY account.  When someone follows me at @NucksBob, I look at their profile,a nd their tweets, and if they seem to have nothing to do with Hockey, I send them a kindly Direct Message: Hard to tell from ur Bio, but I’m guessing you are not a Hockey fan. You might want to try @BobSongs.  This account is only about NHL Hockey, sorry!

But… get your feet wet with one account first !

Hope this helps, and I hope more singer/songwriter types will get “better” at Twitter.  It is a great place to meet and talk to people !!!


  1. Marianna on October 2, 2010 at 1:45 am

    You bring up a great number of excellent points, Bob.

    Twitter is all about balance and finding one’s wings, so to speak.

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