[Editor’s Note: this article was written by Hugh McIntyre.]
Twitter isn’t just one of the biggest social media platforms out there, it’s also an incredibly important vehicle for connecting with fans, forming relationships with people in the music industry and for spreading news about your career. It can be a time suck, but it can also be a great promotional tool…if you do it right.
Below are several things that I witness musicians doing all the time on Twitter that are just plain wrong. Some are ill-advised, while others see artists going out of their way to annoy countless users in the hopes something will click (it won’t). I’ve compiled this list not to show you all the best ways to use the site, which I could discuss all day, but rather what not to do.
This is incredibly annoying to everyone on the internet and it literally never works. In fact, not only will it fail to deliver the desired result, it’s more likely that the complete opposite will happen.
When I say spamming on Twitter, I am referring to those people who reply to tweets with nothing but a short message and a link to their latest song, video, album or mixtape. If you’re active on the platform at all, you’ve seen this activity, and you know how obnoxious it is. Sometimes artists choose to do this to people in the industry, in the hopes the recipient will help advance their career in some way. Sometimes they hop on a viral post and pray that the thousands of users who catch the tweet will see their semi-viral response as well. Either way, it’s never personalized, and it’s never appropriate.
I understand why artists do this, but please, stop. It is incredibly annoying, and it rarely, if ever actually helps you in any way. This spamming practice has become a joke online, and at best it’s something to simply be ignored. At its worst, when a musician goes out of their way to copy and paste the same message on a tweet shared by, say, someone who works at a record label, a DJ, or a journalist, it’s sure to make that person not care for the spammer.
Posting The Same Thing Over And Over
Whenever you have some new piece of content or special news, it’s a great idea to post about it on Twitter more than once, but you have to do it right! If you’re trying to get your followers to listen to the new song you just dropped, you should craft several different tweets that encourage them to press play, and there are innumerable ways to do this. It’s incredibly lazy to just write “go listen to my new song” and share the link and then upload that to the platform over and over.
Not only does it show you’re not willing to put in the work to properly promote your own work, it proves you don’t really know how social media works. You may not care about these websites and you may even feel they’re a waste of time, but this is the world we live in, and if you want to be a working musician, promotion is a big part of your job.
If you post the same tweet over and over, you run the risk of bugging those who chose to follow you, and they may quickly unfollow you, thus missing out on your future announcements.
This is one of the absolute worst things I see on Twitter, and while it’s not common, it still happens, and it is almost never called for. If someone talks about your music on the radio, makes fun of it on social media or writes about it on a blog or magazine, it’s almost always going to help you. The review may not be flattering, and you may not agree with the sentiment, but the old saying that “all press is good press” almost always holds true.
If a writer goes way over the line in some way, perhaps a conversation can be started, but you have to be careful how you phrase things. If they simply didn’t like your music and they say so, this is no reason to go on the attack.
I myself have experienced this in the past, I can promise you I will absolutely never engage with the musicians who chose to come after me on social media, no matter how great their future creations may be.
Hashtags can be a great way to join in on a conversation or attract eyeballs that might otherwise never reach your posts…but you have to be smart with how you utilize them. If not, you’ll look clueless and desperate.
Overusing hashtags is when someone writes a tweet and includes more hashtags than are necessary. This is also something everyone reading this has probably seen before. It looks like a sentence or two and maybe a photo followed by seven hashtags. It comes off as wrong and quite ugly, and who wants to interact with that or learn anything more about the person who posted it?
Leapfrogging On Unrelated Hashtags
Again, I encourage everyone to use hashtags, but if social media is going to be a big part of your job and your public persona as an artist, please do just a tiny bit of research before you begin employing them incorrectly. If, say, you drop a new song on a Friday, feel free to hashtag your tweet with something like #NewMusic, #NewSingle, the name of the track or #NewMusicFriday. These all make perfect sense, and they may help those who are interested in those specific topics find what they didn’t know they were looking for: you.
An example of leapfrogging on unrelated hashtags would be you, someone who has a new album out, adding a news-related hashtag that happens to be trending at the moment in an attempt to be a part of what’s attracting the most eyeballs. If you’re an acoustic singer-songwriter, you don’t need to hashtag a tweet about your latest song with something about K-pop, as it has nothing to do with you. However, if you cover a BTS single in your own style, then it would be a fit, and I’d say you should go for it.
You’ll know if you’re leapfrogging on an unrelated hashtag, or overusing them in any way, so trust your instincts and do it right!