Twitter is about conversation. Even when that conversation is about subjects as mundane as the cheese sarnie you just ate, or how cute your cat looks when it’s sleeping.
(Or, in extreme cases, about posting a tinyurl link to a Facebook status update about your blog post that talks about how you just Twittered about your sleeping cat’s cheese sarnie).
But yes, conversation. Twitter started as a Web 2.0 novelty, but it’s now part of millions of people’s daily lives, communicating with friends, family, work colleagues and strangers. So it’s no surprise to see brands (and bands) wanting in on the act.
Like who? Britney Spears, that’s who. Yep, Britney’s on Twitter posting under the name therealbritney. Well, one of her employees is, anyway. And she’s just the latest musician to join the micro-blogging service, joining the likes of Muse, Henry Rollins, Sara Bareilles, some bloke out of Weezer and – YES! – MC Hammer.
But it’s Britney’s Twitter feed that shows clearly the rights and wrongs of artists using micro-blogging to communicate with fans. In its first few days, Britney’s feed was pure promotion, telling fans to go and buy the Womanizer video on iTunes, watch her YouTube channel, join her social network and so on.
All very Web 2.0, sure, but not the two-way communication that’s Twitter’s raison d’etre. Yet Britney’s a fast learner – in recent days, there’ve been far more personal tweets (mostly about what she’s been up to with her kids), along with replies to comments made by other users. It’s becoming a proper conversation. AND she’s not mentioned any sandwiches (cheese or otherwise) yet.
Bands and singers shouldn’t just be using Twitter to ‘monetise’ fans. Sara Bareilles’ feed tells you exactly what she’s up to: saying hi to kangaroos, getting shat on by birds, and getting excited about being on-stage with Counting Crows (there’s a bird / poo joke to be made there, if you have the energy).
It’s the minutae that matter, when a musician goes on Twitter. Sure, they can say when there’s a new video online, or tell us that their single’s on iTunes, but it only works as a small part of a much wider conversation with fans.
If they’re not prepared to tell you about their dairy-based bread snacks, they’re not worth following.