As someone who is on social media way too much, I notice a lot of things that make me cringe and a lot of things that make me want to hug an artist's neck for nailing it. I'm not an expert by a long shot, but I am someone who pays attention and who conducts feedback with fans about what they see that makes them want to follow an artist or unfollow an artist. Here are a few tips that might make all the difference for your fan base.
DON'T OVER PROMOTE
Yes, promotions is a HUGE part of what social media is about, however it's not ALL that social media is about. A timeline that is full of nothing but your show dates, what number you hit on Reverbnation, and music release dates is boring, informative but boring. There's no need to post it daily or multiple times a day. Make sure it's on your website and refer your followers to your website for the most current and up to date info. Posting a couple of times a week is more than sufficient or you can post your latest show and "pin" it so that's the first thing that will be seen on your timeline when visited then when the show is over, "un-pin" it and "pin" your next show/cd release announcement/etc. This was it's in your timelines and showcased but not showing up in everyone else's feed multiple times a day. Over promotion tends to turn people off and even the biggest fans will get bored with constant pats on your own back and over promotion of yourself.
DO BE HUMAN
Don't let your Twitter become automated and sound like it's being run by the Rosie the Robot. Tell jokes, laugh, show emotion. Don't fill it with automated responses like "I had XX unfollowers according to TheyLeft.com". No one cares who unfollowed you and if you constantly show who unfollows you, it tends to make it look like you are more focused on your numbers than your actual connections. Post things that appeal to the human spirit. Go through your timeline and respond to posts you see a fan excited about something, having a hard time or they just need a smile.
DON'T GET TOO PERSONAL
We don't need to know about your gynecologist appointment, your possible STD that you might have caught from your latest groupie, your marital woes or anything else you wouldn't want posted on the news to the world. Twitter is your own newscast, keep it light and friendly, keep your dark side to yourself. Would you want your mom or your child to read it? If not, don't post it. Fans don't need to know everything about you no matter how bad they may want to.
DO BE PERSONALLY ACTIVE / DON'T RELY ON SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGERS
Social media managers are great, but don't rely on them to share YOUR thoughts, YOUR ideas, YOUR comments. It doesn't take 2 seconds out of your day to say something to your fans. No one likes to see a response from you with "Team XX" at the end or tweets that obviously don't sound like something you would post. Fans know the difference.
DON'T BE NEGATIVE
The world is negative enough, don't add to it. I get the whole political climate right now and how we all have our own thoughts, but don't be part of the problem. If you have a personal account, fine, go at it. bash and complain all you want to about this, that or the other, but your business account is for business and negative posts are never good for business. To add to that, don't engage the trolls. That's what they live for, or should I say don't live for because they obviously have no life other than to try to get a rise out of people ALL DAY LONG. Don't feed the fire. Block 'em and move on. Don't let negativity pull you over to the dark side.
DON'T EXPECT OVERNIGHT INCREASE IN FOLLOWERS
The only way your followers are gonna go to a gazillion overnight is if you go the crap route and buy them or create fake accounts and follow yourself. Don't do that crap. If you keep your posts interesting and post consistently, they'll come on their own. Be patient Grasshopper, be patient. Good things come to those who don't cheat the system and play the game honestly. Besides, don't you want followers who actually care about your music and not random BS accounts who are following you just for numbers sake?
DON'T FORGET TO USE TOOLS TO ENHANCE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIENCE
Keep in mind that not everyone uses Twitter so post on other sites too. Use a "multi-post" app that allows you to post to multiple sites at once. Use schedulers if you need to, and I know there's a reason for them, but use them sparingly. You don't schedule your thoughts, why schedule your posts? When someone responds to you and you've posted using a scheduler and you don't actually get on Twitter for a week, think of how many chances to interact with fans you've missed.
DO HAVE A PLAN
Don't just haphazardly jump on social media without a plan to build a fan base. Think about the posts YOU like to see, what keeps YOU logging on, what keeps YOUR interest? How much do you want to post? A little? A lot? What is your end goal of starting a social media account?
DON'T DRUNK TWEET
Oh sweet baby Horace, don't do this. We'll just leave that there. It can just get too ugly and before you know it, you're all over TMZ looking like an ass. Just don't.
DO ACKNOWLEDGE AND PROMOTE OTHERS WHO ACKNOWLEDGE AND PROMOTE YOU
There is nothing worse then an artist who never responds to tweets. It's called SOCIAL media, be SOCIAL. You have to engage to build interest and you have to build interest to build your fan base. Rummage through your timeline a few random times a day, randomly say hi to a fan, show an interest in what they have to say whether their post is about you or not. Some tweeters post some great content if you pay attention. Just engage and show that you care, it's not time consuming and it only takes a few minutes.
Also, if you see a blogger, magazine, website or podcast that talks about you often, make a point to cross promote them and give them a little acknowledgement in return. It NEVER hurts to cross promote. If they're sharing you with their followers, share them with yours and combine your followers.
DON'T LIMIT YOUR FOLLOWBACKS / TWEETS AND RETWEETS TO OTHER ARTISTS OR CELEBRITIES
I see a lot of artists who only respond to celebrities and only follow other artists. Why? Don't leave your fans on the outside looking in and wishing they could be part of your party. Just because you follow fans back doesn't mean you have to become bosom buddies and share dog pictures. It just means that you took the time to check out their timeline and you find them interesting enough to follow. You can always mute them if they get a little overwhelming and you don't have to turn on notifications for all of them.
Retweet tweet from fans that you find interesting that you think your fans will find interesting too. Jump in a conversation that you see going on and give some feedback. Where's that word again, oh yeah, ENGAGE.
DO SAY THANK YOU
Two small words make a HUGE impact and can last the life of your career. Randomly thank fans for taking the time out of their day to listen to, talk about and share your music. Thank them for driving hours to see you even though they have to work the next day. Thank them for buying your latest t-shirt that you see them wearing in a picture they posted. You might not consider this, but some people put off paying bills and spend their last dime to come see you or purchase your music. That deserves at least a thank you. At the very least, respond to a complimentary post with a thank you.
DO SOMETHING TO STAND OUT
Post webisodes, create funny memes that make fun of you or your band, run contests, post funny pictures of you with your kid, do something, ANYTHING to stand out above the other tweets on someones timeline.
If anyone else has tips that might help an artist combat the "Damn Your Twitter Sucks" blues. post them out there on Twitter! Fans are an artists best means of promotion so help your artist promote themselves in a good light and share your ideas!
Follow me on Twitter at @lovinlyrics.