Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cracking The Twitter Code #BostonMusic

Joe Greaney & The Chasers
Over the past few months I have found myself meeting with curious friends and colleagues to talk about using social media effectively.  I get the sense that many people just don't know where to start.  Here are some tips about setting goals and networking on Twitter taken from a conversation I had with my friend Joe.

Connecting On Twitter Is Conencting In Real Life
Last weekend my good friend Joe came by for a collaboration video.  Collaborating with other motivated people is a great way to grow your audience and gain more exposure.  Joe and I ended up filming some fun and informative video footage to be uploaded in the near future.  We also had an impromptu social media brainstorming session.  Joe is the front man of the Boston based band Joe Greaney & The Chasers.  He is passionate about music and being an artist, but social media and all this new technology can distract from making music, recording and rehearsing.  However Joe understands that he needs to be able to effectively use Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, SoundCloud, Gig Salad, Gig Masters and Google+ in order to get his name out, get gigs and ultimately be a successful musician.  It sounds like a lot, in fact I'm a little overwhelmed just listing all those websites, but these are just a few of the many powerful networking tools that can be used to reach your goals.

Put It In Writing
Every six months or so I open up a Google Doc and brainstorm long term and short term goals.  I refer to this document throughout the year.  It helps me stay focused.  Unless you're a full time blogger you've probably got a job at an insurance company, wife, kids, dog, and plenty of other responsibilities.  Time management and sticking to a game plan is crucial for me because when I do have a few hours to invest in writing a video script, blog post, editing video or networking I need to make the most of it.  Keeping a running log in Google Drive, EverNote or OneNote will help you jump back into things right where you left off.  A simplified version of my process goes like this:

Set Big Goals        Set Little Goals        Evaluate        Adjust

Ask The Right Questions
I started asking Joe about his goals as a musician and writing them down.  Winning a Boston Music Award would be a pretty lofty accomplishment.  I think we can work with that.  Once that goal was written down a flood of questions entered my mind.  Who won an award last year?  Who were the nominees?  What venues did they play?  Did they have an agent?  Where do they record?  Who gets to vote?  What's the competition like in your genre?  What can you do now to position yourself for a chance to win an award in 2015?  Ultimately that one big goal gave birth to a series of baby steps that will get Joe moving in the right direction.  This is a very specific example for a musician in Boston.  My hope is that you can learn from this real life example and apply it to your networking strategy in whatever industry you wish to pursue.  Will Joe Greaney and the Chasers win a Boston Music Award in 2015?  We shall see.  No matter what, having this goal will get Joe moving in the right direction.

How To Master Twitter 
There are a million places to start.  It's best to focus on one thing at a time when you're brand new to social media.  I recommend Twitter.  Each of the big social media sites has it's own online ecosystem.  In some cases that means 100's of millions of users interacting every day.  Do a little homework about your industry and find out where people tend to congregate online.  Pick one site and spend a few months really digging in and mastering it.  In this case my advice to Joe was to focus on Twitter.  You might be wondering, "How do I master Twitter?"  Glad you asked.

I'll assume you know how to navigate to and create an account.  Once your account is all set up you need to master the hashtag, otherwise known as the pound "#" symbol.  Placing this symbol in front of any word in your tweet makes it a tag that other people can search for and sort through on Twitter.  Navigate to the search bar at the top of twitters website.  Search for topics related to your industry.  In this case #BostonMusic, #BostonBands, #BostonArtist.  Now you will be able to see the most recent tweets and people who tweet about that topic.  You should dig in more to discover other related hashtags that are already popular.  Many twitter users put hashtags in their profiles to show what they're all about, you should add some to your profile too.  And make sure to use these hashtags frequently so others will start getting familiar with you as part of their online community.  "Hey, aren't you that guy who plays live at John Harvards Brewery every month? #BostonMusic #NoCoverCharge"

Hashtag Tip: You can tell if a hashtag is popular when you search for it.  Check out the date of the latest tweet in the search results.  If it's seconds or minutes old it's probably a good tag to start using.  If it's a few months old you may want find a different one.

Now that you have explored the scene and discovered your primary hashtags you need to mention people.  Find people that interest you on Twitter and tell them how awesome they are.  An at mention uses the "@" symbol.  You place this symbol before someone's twitter username and it directs your tweet at them, kind of like a public text message.  So if you made it this far in my blog post, here is an example... (if you tweet this I will read it, retweet it to all my followers and reply to you)

 I'm actually reading your blog, you rock!
Everyone needs to follow this guy 

RT: ReTweet
Publicly mentioning other people by name and giving credit is key.  An easy way to do this is to retweet something.  There is a button dedicated to the function of retweeting to save you the hassle of copying and pasting.  Retweeting also gives the author of the tweet credit.  The abbreviation for retweet is "RT" in case you see an "RT" in someone's tweet.  If I'm Joe I'd be retweeting local venues, local bands, local brands, local music magazines and anything relevant to fans and musicians in Boston.

Public Lists
Make public lists of all the up and coming bands in your genre.  That way fans and other musicians can subscribe to your list and it can help other people discover new talent in the area.  This is a great way to help out younger less established bands.  Who knows?  Maybe someday they will help you out by getting you an important gig.  Private lists are also a great way to stay organized and sort your contacts in a way that makes sense to you.

#FF: Follow Friday
This took me a while to figure out.  One day I started getting mentioned over and over again.  And retweeted over and over again.  I then realized that I was being included in a #FF tweet.  It's kind of like a viral tweet.  The idea goes like this; Someone sorts through their followers and mentions clusters of people that have similar interests or people that they think are worth following or should follow each other.  Since I went to UMass Lowell and majored in sound recording technology I have been doing some #FF tweets to include alumni of the sound recording technology program so they can see what others in the industry are doing and connect with them.  Here is an example...

There's is much more that could be said on this topic, but this is enough information to get a social media rookie headed in the right direction.  Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @BigNate84HowTo and my buddy Joe @JoeGreaneyMusic and the amazing photographer who took this photo of Joe @MegHeriot.  Thanks for subscribing!

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