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Here's a Twitter strategy that didn't work
2011-11-03: I've been publicising Musicport this year, partly using Twitter and a week or two before the festival someone got excited about it, started to get involved, and became a very prolific Musicport advocate online.
My style is a bit more understated, particularly with this festival where people who are serious about good music come to experience their favourite artists and discover new ones.
One strategy this person adopted was to ask people to RT, re-tweet, a message like "@yourName PLS RT Amazing talent from all around the world at @MusicportFest this weekend. Details at .. ". This was sent to musicians like Boy George, the local football team, and a Yorkshire tourism site.
How not to Tweet
None of them re-tweeted it. Why not?
A re-tweet, if you don't know, means: imagine I sell quality beds and I'm on Twitter and have 100 people following what I write because they are thinking of buying a good bed. I also follow people, so when I log in to Twitter, I see the things written by the people I follow.
Now, if I see something written by someone I follow that I think might be interesting to the people who follow me because they are interested in buying a luxury bed, I'll re-tweet it, which means that tweet becomes visible to all my followers, usually with 'RT' somewhere so people know I've re-tweeted it, and the originator's Twitter handle.
That's great, now my followers might follow the originator of that tweet, and I've been useful to my following with just a click of a button.
So what's happening here? I'm curating my own timeline for my followers. I'm creating a useful stream of information in the hope that I will generate goodwill among my followers.
I may also wish to foster goodwill with the person I am re-tweeting. Perhaps I think we can do more business together. Perhaps it would be nice if they re-tweeted me once in a while to their followers.
It means I endorse what I've re-tweeted. It comes with my blessing.
If I'm really professional at this, I know what sort of tweets cause people to unfollow me, and which ones get re-tweeted or commented upon.
So, what was wrong with the strategy of asking those people to RT the message about Musicport?
First off, I think it has a salesy style, so it looks just like an ad. Would you re-tweet an ad to your followers? Social media is no place for pushy sales messages. It's where real people gather.
Secondly, this person has done nothing for the people they are asking for a re-tweet from. Social media is a little like banking used to be. First you make deposits, then you can take out a loan. So .. first, you do favours for others, or at least interact with them and build a relationship. Then maybe you can ask for a re-tweet, but better if the re-tweet is freely given to you because that person feels they want to return a favour or be nice to you.
Thirdly .. if you don't understand the person you are asking for a re-tweet, you will go down in their estimation. So, whoever runs Bridlington Town AFC probably looked at that request and thought "we're a football club, not a music one". Although, yes, some of their followers may be into football and music, that doesn't really matter. They are following BridTownAFC for football news about BridTownAFC, not about music or the writer's favourite cheese. They may be interested in the weather, or roadworks, but only in so far as they affect BridTownAFC games.
If I, as Musicport, write to BridTownAFC to ask for a retweet, the BridTownFC person is going to think "well, the Musicport chap doesn't understand what I'm doing here, he must be a prat". So .. that would be damaging. If, however, Musicport might affect parking around BridTownAFC's game on Saturday, and I connected with BridTownAFC to say so .. I'll go up massively in their estimation and may get a link from it.
The crucial feeling is that of curator. On Twitter, everyone can have a 'following' and there's a feeling of ownership or care that goes with that. It may be there naturally, or it may be beaten into you by the criticism and praise you get along the way.
As Musicport, I followed BridTownAFC. They didn't follow back. That's hint enough for me. But .. they are in my timeline, so if anything pops up that gives me a way to help them, to add value to their Twitter stream in some way, I'll do that.
A few decades ago a meme passed around that doing business in the middle east was strange because you don't sell. You build a relationship. You share coffee. They invite you somewhere. You invite them for dinner. You build a friendship and never once talk business. Then one day they pat you on the back and say "talk to my brother, he's looking for what you do". All that dancing? They were scoping you out, checking you won't let them down, making sure your character suits and your politics fits.
Social media is like that. So be nice. And don't push. Show you understand. Give. It makes the world a nicer place. And if you're going to Tweet .. be interesting (then people might RT you).
Musicport is MusicportFest on Twitter, follow us there if you're interested, I'll be tweeting 'live' from Musicport this weekend including 'live' video so .. should be interesting.

By John Allsopp
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