Twitter For The Performer

So this ‘Twitter’ thing… what is it? Why would anyone use it? WHY WOULD I USE IT???

So this twitter thing… what is it? Why would anyone use it? WHY WOULD I USE IT???

These are all very valid questions. It seems like twitter is everywhere these days. I was watching the 10 news the other day Sandra Sully actually completed a report with “…and you can follow us on Twitter at…..”. It seems like twitter has infiltrated our society and is here to stay. The question is why do you want any more status updates, or why do you want to tell people when you are walking the dog, or care when someone else is?

Well, the answer, in short, is that you don’t. Twitter, as with any technology, had to go through a growth phase where it existed and people were using it, but whether it was useful was still being decided.

I believe that twitter is finally starting to reach a kind of adolescent maturity. There is still a way to go, but it is actually becoming useful. The number of people “tweeting” (If you post a message on twitter, you are tweeting) just day to day drudgery is starting to diminish and the number of organisations that are now engaging their customers using twitter is increasing.

I should explain what twitter is for the uninitiated. It is what is known as a micro-blogging service. Meaning anyone can post anything they like as long as it is under 140 characters. It is also completely public, you can choose to follow anyone with a twitter account and anyone can follow you. It’s not like facebook where you have friends. Someone on twitter may follow 10 people and be followed by 10,000, just look at some of the celebrities.

I thought I would outline the basis of how I use twitter in my day to day life. I also interviewed two big names in theatre twitterati, Flip Simmons and David Campbell about how they use it and their experiences with it as a form of communication.

The first step is to head to <> and sign up for a free twitter account. Its easy, its fast and its painless. From here you really have two choices, you can use twitter purely as a media consumption medium, or you can choose to tweet and get your thoughts, complaints or ads for shows etc out to the public.

I choose to use it on a day to day basis mainly just to consume information. Organisations like The Age, Channel 10 News, ABC and Aussie Theatre have a twitter account which you can follow. All of these websites may have articles I would like to read on them, they also may have quite a lot I am not interested it. By subscribing to their twitter feed I can open up twitter on my iPhone, iPad or Macbook (Yes, I enjoy an apple product or two) and scroll down a list of articles posted on all these websites with out having to actually go to the website, if their is an article I am interested in I can choose to read it then and there or mark it with a star to come back to later. This negates the need to actually open these websites and scroll through the articles to see if I am interested in anything. I get a list of headlines and a link to the articles of all the websites that I like to keep track of, in one convenient list.

It is also a means for instant publication. Twitter is now completely searchable on google, so if you have a show, concert or garage sale coming up you can enter the details in a tweet. If someone was too google the name of the show or what ever you are promoting it would come up and link back to you. A very cheap and easy way of getting things listed on google.

In order to give you more of a picture of how other people use twitter here are some interesting thoughts from Flip and David:

When and how (by whom) were you first introduced to Twitter?

Flip: Good question. Early last year, I think… It was probably the media hype. But, really  it’s @aplusk ‘s fault. (@aplusk is Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter name)

David: It’s been over a year. I think Lisa and I started doing it together. It took a while to get  the feel of it but now I love it

Do you think of Twitter as mainly something you broadcast or receive information? Or both?

Flip: I, definitely, use it for both. It’s a hub for fast information and breaking news.

David: both. I get all my news now from Twitter. For my own stuff I use to promote  and entertain people who choose to follow me. I also use it to express my thoughts  good or bad. You get mixed responses from that but that is the point of this I think.

Do u think there’s a need for a twitter /social media plan as part of a larger PR campaign. Have or would u consider 1?

Flip: I think it is smart to move with the times and you’d be silly not to. So, yes I  would consider it, if I were launching a major event, show or product. Last year, I was contacted by some followers who wanted to create a “street team for me… I  politely declined.. I understand the concept but would want to have the control myself. When I launch my CD I’ll certainly think about it.

David: I think it helps. We certainly did for @AdCabFest10 and it worked a treat. I  think it is a great way to have immediate contact

Have you ever received a job offer or opportunity by using Twitter you don’t believe u would have otherwise?

Flip: yes! I have actually. I’ve landed gigs through twitter but more-so through  facebook and myspace.

I would like to thank David Campbell (@davidcampbell73) and Flip Simmons (@flipsimmons) for agreeing to answer questions for this article.

Now go give Twitter a try. You may love it, you may not, but I think if you spend a little time with it you may be able to find it incredibly useful.

Stay tuned for a follow up article soon with some ideas and good practices for promoting events and even yourself through twitter.

If you would like to follow me on twitter please do so at @mtedwards.

Matt Edwards

Matt is a past owner of AussieTheatre, working as digital director from 2011 to 2019. He is also a performer, most recently appeared in the Australian tour of Mamma Mia! and previously in the Australian/NZ tour of CATS and Enda Markey's acclaimed production of Blood Brothers. As well as performing Matt keeps himself busy in the digital side of the arts working with web design agency Emptyhead Digital

Matt Edwards

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