Music Week talks to Twitter UK's head of entertainment Sunil Singhvi (pictured) to discover his top tips for how new artists and bands can use the service to build a loyal fanbase.
As a marketing tool for musicians Twitter is second to none. With musicians making up seven of the top 10 most followed accounts, the music industry has been at the forefront of innovation during the social networking site's rise to internet prominence in recent years.
Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake top the list and out of the 200m active users worldwide, around 7.5% of those follow One Direction. Just over 8% follow Harry Styles alone.
Big names like Bruce Springsteen, Prince and Celine Dion have sent their first ever tweets recently and six-second video app Vine has taken it even further after growing to 40 million registered users since launching earlier this year.
But it’s no secret that fans are fickle characters. So how do you keep those followers on-board when the cycle of album, promotion and tour is over? And what are those top accounts doing right?
“What the top seven accounts all have in common is that they are in the artist’s voice and they offer the fans that direct route to their idols they can’t get anywhere else. We see lots of accounts which have a strong management or label involvement but you always have to think about how you can get the audience closest to the thing they love which is always going to be the talent."
Quench the thirst for discovery
“People come to Twitter to find out about things they really passionately care about. Some artists feel nervous about talking about releases or videos or ticket sales but there is an element of duty of care. If I’m following my favourite band I’d quite like to know when tickets go on sale, I’d like to know what it’s like recording the new album, what it’s like being on tour – that’s how you keep up with the insatiable appetite of real fans and also how you convert a passing fan to being a super fan.”
Do something different
“We see all kinds of new things from artists and record labels all the time. Lily Allen recently did a follow spree where she posted a series of emoticons and asked followers to guess what she’s trying to spell out – that’s just a really nice way of engaging the fans and an innovative way of her following new people. The follow is the new autograph and that 140-character constraint has been brilliant for artists and record labels to push creativity."
Surprise and amaze
“Once you’ve built fan base how do you do things that really catch their imagination? Nine Inch Nails did a very small gig recently at Scala and they chose to fill it with 100 people from Twitter. All fans had to do was follow the account and tweet a hash tag to be entered into a ballot. Those chosen got to go to that gig and to see the band in an incredibly small venue – it’s that sort of thing that really gets the fan-base active and excited and always looking out for your tweets.”