Is The “I-Follow-You-You-Follow-Me” Twitter Strategy A Scam?

Following people who might be interested in your music is a way to get their attention, and gain more followers for your band. But does it pay off? Or is it just another spammy tactic to build your following?

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Different Levels Of Promotion

This "I follow you, you follow me" type of strategy is a low-level strategy. It doesn’t cost you very much other than 10 minutes a day, but it won’t make-or-break your band all by itself. In order for it to really benefit your band, additional work is needed (I’ll go into this later).

To gain some perspective, let's compare this low-level strategy to medium and high level coverage.

At a medium level promotion would be:

  • getting your album reviewed on blogs or review sites (ie. pitchfork)
  • getting interviews with music sites
  • getting into niche music magazines
  • etc.

This is usually not cheap, but not too expensive either. I know PR guys who do this type of promotion for around $750/month. This is well worth the money for a serious band, but might be beyond the reach of some of you who are just starting out.

And finally at a high level promotion, you have:

  • TV coverage
  • TV interviews
  • top magazine coverage (such as Rolling Stone)
  • being featured on a big name song (like how Jay-Z is featured on every bloody album from 2010-2014)
  • being featured on a popular television show, etc.

This low-level Twitter strategy won't ever take the place of any TV interview, but that doesn't mean it can't benefit you. How you pull approach the promotion is the difference between it being an effective marketing technique, or just plain spam. Here's why...

Targeting Matters

How you target this strategy can be the difference between you spamming a bunch of random people, and making meaningful connections.

If you just follow any random old person with the hopes that they follow you back, all you’re accomplishing is artificially inflating your ego (and your Twitter follower count).

Here’s some criteria that I use when running this type of campaign:

The #1 thing I do is: choose a band that has a similar fan base to me. For example, as an electronic act with poppy male vocal lines, my music has been compared to James Blake’s music. 

I would then start to follow James’ followers under these criteria. Each person I follow must have:

  • more than 50 followers
  • more than 50 tweets
  • tweeted in the last 10 days
  • a custom profile picture (no default “egg” photos allowed!)

Using strict criteria like this makes sure that everyone I follow uses Twitter actively. At this point, the people I’ve targeted are:

  • active users of Twitter
  • interested in music that is similar to mine

At that point you have a targeted marketing campaign, rather than spam. You can see how the lines could blur though, right?

If spam is a concern for you, I would recommend making your targeting stricter. For example, you might only follow people who have more than 100 followers (instead of 50). Feel free to increase your thresholds for a more targeted campaign.

It's Only Valuable If You Reach Out To Your New Audience

With everything considered, following people to gain attention isn’t worth a lick of anything if you don’t talk with them. If you’re not:

  • actively engaging with your audience
  • tweeting @ them
  • retweeting them
  • favoriting their tweets
  • and making tweets of your own

...then you really haven’t accomplished anything at all. This type of promotion really compliments someone who is willing to be active on Twitter, and can boost the amount people who hear your message.

But there’s always a challenge that comes with increasing reception... have to provide the signal.

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About The Writer

My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot. 

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