Brand V

I love Twitter. Facebook and LinkedIn are useful, but I put up with them more than I really like using them. Twitter is different. Twitter is functional, beautiful, and fun. The software geek in me finds it elegant in its simplicity.

I know that everything changes, but I love the fact that Twitter is fundamentally the same as it ever was, and that's because you don't fix what ain't broke (cough cough, Facebook). The one thing they did fix was server capacity. No more Fail Whale! I don't miss that.

I know it's fundamentally the same because I was a fairly early adopter, having been dragged there by an online friend. Those were the days when people still tweeted what they had for lunch (as opposed to taking pictures of it and posting them, not exactly an improvement). I used Twitter to stay in touch with certain people, but I didn't really take advantage of it. Few did then. It was just fun and sometimes a bit silly. A time sink. I went back and forth between making my account public and private. Finally I just deleted my accounts and walked away.

That was quite a few years ago. I quit because didn't feel any need for Twitter. I had too many other online distractions. But then along came the band. And the band needed to be on Twitter. Because in the time since I had left, Twitter itself had not changed much, but how people used it had.

Twitter had become about creating brands.

Brand loyalty

So I opened an account for myself and one for the band. I don't know why I did both. Mostly it was because I wanted to follow different kinds of accounts, and I wanted to keep those lists separate. The Hotcakes list is all about music, specifically things like other bands with whom we might play shows, media, promotion, record labels, anything that could possibly help us in our career. My own list is partly about music—as a songwriter and fan—but also about the other things I'm interested in, such as fashion, politics, feminism, and food.

The need for the band Twitter account was obvious. Every indie band is a little business. A brand. We need to do whatever we can to make connections, to become known, to create our niche in the entertainment universe. It's an uphill battle at the best of times (and these are far from the best of times), but Twitter is a big help in establishing the Lisa's Hotcakes brand. I tweet about upcoming gigs and about music that we've recorded. I retweet tweets from bands that we like and other interesting stuff. In interact with people in various areas of the business. And I try to do some interesting tweeting myself. It's been valuable for the contacts alone.

The need for my own personal brand is less obvious. I'm beginning to have some need for that as a songwriter, but even without that, for whatever reason, I enjoy establishing my own little self in the great big Twitterverse. It's funny how it's not like blogging. I'm "me" in Twitter, but I don't share everything. Hopefully, I'm a more interesting side of me, in pithy little 140-character chunks. Tweets are a unique form of discourse. And I like to have followers. And more followers. Why? I don't know. It's about communcation, I guess. I like to share my thought-chunks with more people, and sometimes get feedback.

Lead and follow

About followers—there are all kinds of reasons that people follow a Twitter account. Among my followers there are certainly people who want to sell me something. When I lose a follower, I always hope it's one of those folks, because I'm not buying, and they don't want me in their feed any longer. Otherwise, I'm not sure why anyone other than my friends would follow me. Maybe I'm interesting! At least often enough.

I know why I follow others. Some people give me news, some give views, some just catch and hold my attention. That's mostly what it's about for me. I follow people who can hold my interest for whatever reason. I follow people because they're good at Twitter.

There a major dividing line in Twitter: those who follow more than they are followed, and those who are followed more than they follow. I'm in the former category along with most of the rest of us. The latter category are celebrities of various kinds and at various levels of celebrity. The Hotcakes account ratio is pretty good, although we're not yet among the celebrities.

One cool thing about Twitter is that some celebrities will reply to you. They don't follow you, but they know when you reply to something they've posted. There are some in my feed who are particularly good about that, and I appreciate it. It makes me like them that much more and maybe want to buy their records or their books or their clothes or to eat their food or to vote for them. Others either get too many tweets or don't like my replies or who knows what, but I pretty much never hear from them. It's not that I expect to. But when someone actually takes the time to send replies to someone they don't know, and sometimes quite lovely replies, then as far as I'm concerned they win Twitter.

I don't think I would ever make my stream private again. Facebook is my private "Twitter stream." On Twitter, I am very public. And I love being public. I love the fact that I'm connected, at least potentially, to the entire Twitterverse, and everyone else in it to me. I'm fascinated by the possibilities!

Tweet and retweet

Sometimes people, including celebrities, will "favorite" your tweet. That means they liked it. But sometimes they will retweet your tweet, which means it goes to all their followers. I know I've gained followers because someone that someone else likes and follows saw my tweet in their feed, and either they find me interesting or they just like the fact that we follow the same person. Retweeting is the real power of Twitter, because it creates a web of connections. I generally don't pay attention to the people someone will list in their "follow Friday" tweets. But I have often followed someone because I saw an actual tweet from them and it was good, or else I just thought, hey, there's someone I'd like to follow.

There is quite a lot of etiquette on Twitter, not all of it obvious. One thing is that you really should upload a photo or avatar. Without that, you are represented by the default "egg." And the egg means you're either a newbie who doesn't know better or someone who doesn't care enough about their Twitter stream.

Another is about how much to tweet. Some of that depends on who (or what) you are, but in general if you tweet too much it will be perceived as spam. At least to me. If I see a person or club who posts or retweets several or even dozens of tweets in rapid succession, my eye learns to skip over them. Tweeting frequently during the day seems to me to be a good strategy—thus the popularity of automated management software like Hootsuite—but tweeting all in a lump, not so much. And then, there is tweeting too little, which seem to me a way for people to forget who you are, unless of course you're very famous.

There is a lot of strategy to tweeting. For the band, the tweets about gigs and with links to songs are important, but so are tweets that have nothing directly to do with the band. For both accounts, I want to get people's attention, and when people are looking at so much informaiton in a day, that takes some doing. So sometimes I might want to be a bit outrageous, more so with my own account than with the band's. And I always want to be clever and interesting.

Not too peevish

I have my own pet tweet peeves. One is when tweets are really updates on Facebook. If the update is too long for a tweet, it gets cut off and followed by a link to Facebook. Really, people, Facebook and Twitter are two different things. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with both, but I really don't like it when your tweet isn't actually a tweet. I do not want to get dragged to Facebook! A related pet peeve is when people use Twitter to ask you to "like" their Facebook page. I get it. We need both. But really, when I'm on Twitter, I'd like to think about Facebook as little as possible. And I would rather follow your twitter stream than "like" your Facebook page. I bet I'm not alone in that.

Despite pet peeves, I really am a Twitter fangirl. I hope it sticks around for a while and doesn't change too much. I want to hit that sweet spot of being followed more than I follow!

As for why people whom I don't know would want to read my or the band's tweets, there is only one way to find out: follow @v_diz and/or @lisashotcakes.

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