Social Networking Wisdom, Learned First-Hand

By Jason Didner

In his last post, Jason discussed rethinking ways to market a new CD for kids and families.  Here he offers some principles that have changed the quality of his social networking interactions. For those among our readership who are still grappling with email 101, Jason’s suggestions might seem a bit daunting. If you’re still at the stage of thinking about trying out Twitter, we recommend first reading this earlier post to our blog.

Some hints for using Twitter.

Don’t be in such a hurry to run up your follower count!  I’ve read at least three articles that advise you to follow everyone who follows an artist like you and keep repeating. A percentage of those people will follow you back and…before you know it, you’re the next Ashton Kutcher, ruler of the Twitterverse!

I’ve learned repeatedly that this practice will get you on the fast track to a Twitter suspension for “aggressive following behavior.”

There’s a kernel of useful knowledge that you’d want to follow people who are likely to eventually appreciate what you do, but this needs to be in moderation. Following more than 100 people in a sitting will raise the eyebrows of Twitter’s guardians. The sheer number of followers you have means little to your prospects for success as a kindie artist. The quality of interaction is more important. It’s better to follow only those you might actually engage in brief conversations. Then you’ll get into conversations with mutual acquaintances of these people and find other people suitable for following.

It helps to read people’s Twitter profiles to determine if they express interests that are in line with your music before you follow them. Do they mention parenting or kids? Do they have profile pictures?  Is their profile laced with profanity? Is that compatible with your brand as a kindie artist? A blank profile or one with the standard “egg” placeholder image could be one of two things: A half-hearted user who is not likely to actively participate in Twitter or, worse, an automated spammer. Hang out with lots of these and see how popular you’ll be…

After identifying potential Twitter friends, throw out a few conversational hooks, but don’t expect replies. Try tweeting one of these simple messages:

* “Good morning; how are you today?”
* Or “What songs will you play in the car for the kids today?”
* Or “What’s the funniest thing your kid has said?”

Your potentially interested followers will only have a window of seconds or maybe minutes before this tweet falls completely off their radar, so don’t be too emotionally invested in getting responses for these tweets. But to prepare you for the next bit of advice, think about how great it would feel to get a reply…

Look for easy conversational hooks you can reply to. You can give someone a nice little lift if you grab on to a hook that a fellow Twitter user throws out there. Reply to their “Good morning; how are you?” Some hooks are custom-made opportunities to talk about your music right out of the gate: “What are you doing this weekend?” Now you can say, “Playing rock-n-roll to make little kids dance and learn,” and be much more intriguing than to post the same thing unsolicited.

For the relatively unschooled in Twitter, #FF is – woo-hoo! – Follow Friday!

It’s the day to reward people who made your week!  On Fridays, look back at your interactions for the week by clicking (or tapping) Connect. Who impressed you this week with kind words, accounts of a loving parental act, a cool idea for a cover song, or by helping you promote your music? You can recommend these standout individuals as people to follow by using this convention:

#FF @coolpapa84 for requesting my new song on @GooberKidsRadio.

Create one tweet to highlight each person you’re recommending for follows. I’ve also seen  #FF used with larger groups of recommended users in a single tweet, but giving each person his/her own tweet with an explanation has three benefits:

1. It feels really good for the recipient.
2. It makes it more likely that someone will want to follow that user.
3. It makes you a more valuable Twitter user for others, because they’ll see you being thoughtful toward the one you’re recommending. They’d probably like that treatment, too.

Use Your Web Site to Tell a Story

I immediately jumped at the challenge to make the home page of my web site a place to tell my story, not a place to plant a sales pitch in the ground and leave it there indefinitely. Integrate a blog into the home page of your website (or build your site on a blogging platform) and write posts that reveal who you are and what you’re about. Bring in elements of your personality – humor, resilience, creativity, whatever helps personally connect you to others in a genuine way, and make sure you update your blog regularly. People who relate to you will want to keep checking back for what you say, especially if you give them a good hook to it in Twitter.

How’s it Working?

These are a few of the ideas I’ve tried. They haven’t made me famous enough to crash iTunes’ servers when I drop my new single, but I’m developing a core of fellow parents who share a key interest with me and who eagerly play my music for their kids when I let them know it’s there. We’re having quality conversations, although brief and casual. I’m becoming more receptive to good advice and more discerning about conventional do-it-yourself marketing advice. I’m writing e-mail newsletters that are more about revealing who I am than about selling merch and announcing show dates. I’m also having better conversations with booking managers, which points to the likelihood of a busy fall schedule ahead.

Try getting out of sales mode and revealing more of yourself as your personal story unfolds. Try engaging people in a conversational way on Twitter, especially when someone’s throwing a hook for you to catch. Let me know how that is working for you.

Jason Didner is fast becoming CMN’s star blogger on the kindie music biz.  Thanks, Jason!