An Artist's Guide to Twitter — 11 Dos and Don'ts

Okay, so you’re on Twitter. Now what?

Today, everyone in the creative community will profess the importance of establishing a web presence. If you’re an artist like me, you’re likely wondering how to use Twitter to promote your art. While the Twitter world may be confusing to the newcomer, there are better ways than others of attracting fans and participating in the online communities . Here’s my tried and tested list of dos and don’ts for artists on Twitter.

DO link your Tweets to your published articles, flicker account, MySpace or BandCamp page. This will circulate your work through the blogosphere and attract prospective readers, viewers, and listeners. This being said…

DON’T use Twitter solely to promote your stuff. While people may be interested in your blog, if you’re constantly tweeting the link to it, people will become annoyed and “unfollow” you. What’s worse, Twitter could flag your account as spam! Remember that part of creating an online presence includes building a digital public persona. If you’re only tweeting links, people aren’t getting to know you.

DO engage with like-minded. There are thousands of artists, musicians, journalists, etc on Twitter. Find them! Search them out by clicking the “browse by interest” button under the “who to follow” section. Search keywords in your field and get connected to the members of your creative class.

DON’T tweet the obvious. Many people today use Twitter to discuss just about anything, from what they had for breakfast to their evening workout plans. While this may be fit for some, remember that you’re an artist, and as an artist, this is an opportunity to engage with social media in creative and innovative ways. Which brings me to my next piece of advice..

DO get creative. If you’re a song writer, try tweeting lines to your a song you’ve been working on, or tweet about hatch tag conceptual ideas you’re working out in your mind. It’s a great way to generate immediate responses and feedback from your Twitter community as well as trace your mental breadcrumbs leading up to your big artistic breakthroughs.

DON’T polish. Although I spellcheck my tweets and give them a once-over for clarity, the more you filter and edit your tweets, the less raw and real they’ll sound. As a poet, I like writing insightful or witty lines for my followers, but I never edit them they way I’d edit a feature article or full-fledged poem. Part of the appeal of Twitter is its raw, uncensored content. It’s like you’re providing your followers with a play-by-play of your mind, or an impromptu script of your fleeting thoughts.

DO allow people to trace you. If your devoting all this time and energy to attract fans, make it easy for them to learn all about you. Link you Twitter profile directly to your blog or MySpace account to give those interested everything they need.

DON’T Tweet for tweets sake. Though many Twitter advice columns I’ve read will suggest maintaining a minimum of three tweets per day, I’d suggest artists on Twitter to refrain from tweeting if you don’t have anything interesting, fun, or insightful to say. Sometimes, I leave my Twitter account untouched for two days straight, but then the next day, I’ll suddenly be inspired and author twenty tweets in a row. My advice is quality over quantity.

DO retweet. Part of participating in the online community is supporting those you’re following. If you like somebody’s thought, link, or comment, retweet it, and the author will be sure to return the favor

DON’t ignore direct messages. This one is obvious, but some people aren’t aware that Twitter messaging is becoming just as important as e-mailing. If you ignore somebody’s attempt to get in contact with you, they’ll assume you either don’t know how to use Twitter or that you’re rude – neither of which you want your audience to think!

And finally, DO allow your profile and tweets to represent you. If you’re a rule breaker, than break the rules; if you’re sassy, then let that come through. Of all the advice I can give you, remember that Twitter should be fun, and your profile and tweets should be a metaphor for yourself.

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