Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hip-Hop Artists Use Twitter to Stay Fresh in Fans' Eyes

New Day 26 album is crazy yall get ready!!!! Check it out http://tinyurl.com/chkosc
6:10 PM Apr 6th from web
Ptwitty question of the day!!! Who was or is your HER0 when you were growing up as a kid????
3:28 PM Apr 6th from TwitterBerry
Just got finished performing da BENJAMINS on 106 and park with the LOX! I miss those guys ! Jada album comes out tomorrow! Go get!
3:16 PM Apr 6th from TwitterBerry
The time has come for you to take charge of your life!!! You are in control of your destiny! BE GREAT!!! No excuses! Let's go!!!
11:07 AM Apr 6th from TwitterBerry
**http://www.Twitter.com/iamdiddy (Messages from Diddy a/k/a PTwitty Twitter Account)**

If you haven’t heard, Twitter is the new online addiction, and PTwitty has clearly made use of the service in a big way. Above are some posts from Diddy’s Twitter page who now refers to himself online as PTwitty. There could not have been a better series of posts to serve as examples for the ways in which hip hop artists can use Twitter to engage their current fan base and attract new fans. The first post above is Diddy announcing his group, Day 26 new album (#1 Promote Your Product). The next post is Diddy posing a question to his 408,965 followers, as of 10:26 PM Apr 6th (#2 Engage Your Fans). The third post is Diddy announcing a performance he has just completed (#3 Let Fans Inside Your Life). The final post is Diddy providing some words of encouragement to his fans (#4 Words of Wisdom).

Twitter is a social networking service that allows its users to send and read other user’ updates a/k/a “tweets.” Tweets are text based post of up to 140 characters in length that are posted on your page and sent to all of the users that have signed up to follow your updates. Users can designate their profiles as either public or private. Public profiles are viewable by all Twitter users and the general public. Twitter updates can be sent and viewed from a cell phone in a number of different ways with the most common method as SMS text messages. There are two normal reactions from people after they have heard about Twitter or right after they have signed up. One common phrase is, “that is all to it (Twitter).” The second common comment about Twitter is “I don’t get what this Twitter thing is all about.” Those reactions don’t last long and in a short matter of time those new users catch on to the hype and are hooked to arguably the most exciting social networking site around.

In just a little over 3 years of existence, Twitter has climbed to the #3 social networking site position with plans of competing against the big two, Facebook and Myspace.

A major question for today’s hip-hop artists is how do you stay current with your fan base? Well, I believe Twitter provides part of the answer for hip-hop artists searching for an answer to that question. And here is why!

First, Twitter’s simplicity and manageability allows the actual artist to control the online interaction with their “followers” / ”fans” / ”customers,” whatever you’d like to call them. Talib Kweli recently spoke at the West Virginia University College of Law for a symposium titled “Street Knowledge: Examining the Influence of Hip-Hop on Law and Culture.” In the car ride to WVU, in the waiting room before he spoke and right after his keynote speech, Talib was tweeting to his over 34,000 followers. He let them know a few times that he was in West Virginia speaking to a bunch of lawyers.

This was all possible because Twitter can easily be synced up and operated from a cell phone. That feature is a major benefit of Twitter over Myspace and Facebook, where celebrity users receive so much traffic on their pages that they don’t have the time to maintain the pages. Due to that fact, most of the maintenance of celebrity Myspace and Facebook pages are done by their staff. On the other hand, the vast majority of celebrities Twitter pages are managed by themselves.

Twitter also allows artist fans to step inside the artist everyday life. TJ Chapman, CEO of TJsDJs & Twitter machine, uses Twitter to keep his fan base in the loop of his every move. It is very common for TJ to send out 15-20 tweets a day with most of the tweets letting users know about what he is currently doing, or where he is at. This kind of personal interaction with Hip Hop artist and music business executives is pretty much impossible to find anywhere else except Twitter.

Twitter recently made mainstream news when NBA Milwaukee Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva sent a tweet from his cell phone at halftime of a critical game against the Boston Celtics. At halftime of that game Charlie Villanueva or CV31 (Villanueva’s Twitter screenname) posted the following message, "In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt. We're playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up." The motivating part of the story is CV31 didn’t disappoint his fans and finished with a team high of 19 points and more importantly a win.

The bad part of the story is that CV31 was scolded by the Buck’s head coach Scott Skiles for tweeting during the game. Skiles said, “We made a point to Charlie and the team that it's nothing we ever want to happen again," Skiles said after practice Tuesday. "You know, [we] don't want to blow it out of proportion. But anything that gives the impression that we're not serious and focused at all times is not the correct way we want to go about our business."

While Scott Skiles wants his players focused and serious, possibly the biggest name in the combined NBA and Hip-Hop World, Shaquille O’Neal, is having a great time with Twitter before his games, after his games, and any other time he can find a free second. Shaq is definitely a Twitterholic and has sent over 1,000 tweets to date. Shaq has used Twitter to post comments about the NBA, upcoming games, what he is currently doing, or any random thought that comes to his mind. In addition to the normal Twitter usage, Shaq has occasionally used the site to give away tickets to fans.

When it is all said and done, I believe Twitter will be the fastest way to get the latest information on your favorite artist. Twitter will not only serve as an information source, but as an essential marketing tool for celebrities, artists, and companies as they try to deliver what their followers” / ”fans” / ”customers” want. Maintaining a fresh perception in fan’s eyes is important for any genres’ artists, but it is extremely important for hip hop artists because of their short career span. Providing updates is not the only way hip hop artist can keep their fans posted, however it can be a vital part of their fan interaction. It could be the difference between being able to release a second or third single from an album or falling short because of lack of fan support.

- Alvin C. Hathaway Jr.
Follow @AlvinJr. on Twitter


  1. Good Post. The key for Twitter is how they turn there great product into a profitable product. Right now Twitter is just costing the owners money and they haven't figured out a way to money from the site. There aren't any advertisements on Twitter like Facebook and other social network websites.

    Once Twitter figures out, the company will be well on its way to securing a permanent spot in people's lives.

  2. I just signed up for Twitter and I have no followers. I'm interested in the Twitter movement, but I wonder what it does that my Facebook account doesn't. I find it just as easy to update my Facebook as it is to update my Twitter. Maybe if people follow me on Twitter (nickjsciullo) I'll be inclined to Tweet often, but currently I'm still sold on Facebook.

  3. Very timely piece. The same day, it seems, Jim Jones twittered numerous times while being arrested during a traffic stop:

    Nick, I'm also not sure what Twitter brings to the table that Facebook doesn't. However, I do like that it forces people to narrow their thoughts into succinct, concise blurbs while denying members the opportunity to post carefully contrived photographs, a la Facebook.

  4. alvin:

    great post.

    i get why celebrities want to use twitter to stay "in step" with fans and consumers, but why would non-celebrities want to tweet? are we so self absorbed that we want our few friends and neighbors to know what we are doing each and every day? i don't get it, from a social networking perspective. do folks NOT value their privacy any longer?

  5. Great post and very timely with the increase of twitter users. Twitter is a great way for celebrities to interact with their fans/ followers. However, it is also a great and under used way to interact with classmates. My classmates and myself brainstormed about our final class presentations via twitter. Twitter is a great way to mass communicate on the go. My love for twitter is increaseing but sadly, my love for facebook is fading.

  6. Continue to write and post. Your perspective brings a refreshing point of view and allows us to peak inside a great mind.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.