ome time ago, I wrote a post at my personal site about how writers can use Twitter for platform-building and agent-securing purposes. In that post, I acknowledged the bad rap Twitter’s earned among a certain population of the creativity and productivity set:
And is there anything more known for distraction-creation and procrastination-enabling than Twitter? It’s sort of the very definition of a time-suck, bombarding the writer with all that ubiquitous “content” (a word I’m coming to hate more and more, every day) from a kazillion different sources, complete with links to even more distraction providers.
Like any tool, really, Twitter is what you make of it. Use it well, and it can help you achieve your creative business goals. Misuse it and see time slip away from you in large measures, leaving you wondering what the heck happened to your day…
So that older post was designed to give writers some specific tips on how to incorporate Twitter into their marketing and project planning efforts. But it’s not just writers who can benefit from a smart, purposeful approach to Twitter. Any creative business owner can use Twitter to stay on task, secure necessary information, build and satisfy a market or audience, and form beneficial business relationships.
Use #1: Stay on Task By Using Twitter for Accountability
If you want to stay on task — if, for example, you’re having trouble with procrastination or distractions — Twitter can help you stay on task by holding you accountable.
Seems counter-intuitive, perhaps, but it’s true. Simply announce to your Twitter audience that you’re about to write the next chapter, or tackle the next canvas for your upcoming show, or work on memorizing your lines for the showcase production you’re appearing in, or … you get the point.
This works especially well if you’ve first taken the time to form connections with (i.e., follow, and get followed by) others in your field. Other writers know exactly what it means to commit to writing a new chapter in your novel in progress. Other artists know exactly how daunting that blank canvas can be, especially with the deadline of a show pressing down on you. And nobody grasps the overwhelming nature of having to memorize Shakespeare- or Chekhov-penned lines like another actor. (For more on this, see Use #4 below.)
Use #2: Ask Other Twitter Users for Information
Let’s use writing again as the example (it’s easier because I am one): Say you’re working on that new chapter, and you’ve gotten to the key scene where the heroine finds herself at the wrong end of a weapon wielded by the villain.
Except, your little showdown takes place in 1825, and you’re not precisely sure what weapon the villain would have likely grabbed for this encounter.
You could go research it. You could also ask your Twitter friends.
Now, is it likely that they’ll have the answer? Maybe. I don’t know. It totally depends on the kind of list you’ve built up so far and the breadth of expertise that list represents.
But even if you don’t get the exact answer you’re looking for, you’ll simultaneously achieve two things:
- You’ll get some ideas. And ideas are essential tools for any creative worker.
- You’ll engender some good will. Other creatives love nothing more than to be asked for their expertise. Trust me on this one. (But you don’t have to trust me. It’s something you should know about yourself by this point, right?)
Use #3: Build and Relate to Your Art’s Audience or Business’s Market
If done correctly, an exchange with your end-users — the readers of your writing, the audience members watching your play, the people who actually go to your art shows — can build your audience or market substantially.
Think about it like this: you may only be communicating with one particular reader. But that reader has a network of people following her tweets, too. And some of those folks undoubtedly like your reader. They share things in common with that reader. If she’s talking to one of her favorite writers, and that writer (you) is responding to her — they’re having a conversation, in other words — some of those folks are going to pay attention.
And attention is the real currency in the new creativity marketplace. You want people to pay attention to you and your work. Your consumers want to find the most interesting creative work to which they can give that attention.
Creative workers can also use Twitter just like ordinary businesses do — as a key part of their customer service program. It might seem odd to think about “customer service” in the context of writers or actors, but that aspect of your business is there, whether you use it, pay attention to it, manage it, or not.
Take a little time to interact with your “customers” and you’ll find a wealth of information because — as is true of human nature generally — we all love to be asked our opinions directly by the people who are most impacted by those opinions.
Use #4: Form and Build Business Relationships
Take a minute to think about all the kinds of people you depend on in your work life. Not just your end-users. Not just the people who buy your books, or your paintings, or tickets to your performances. Every person.
Writers don’t just need readers. They need agents. They need publishers. They need editors. They need booksellers. They need people who make and sell writing software (or their favorite blank books and pens).
Actors don’t just need audiences. They need agents, casting directors, writers who create incredibly rich and emotionally complex roles, photographers for head shots …
Artists don’t just need art collectors. They need gallery owners. They need people who sell canvases and paints. They need … well, OK, I’m not sure what else they need because I’m not a visual artist but I’m pretty sure there are others.
All those people in your supply-and-demand chain — your vendors, your colleagues, your referral sources — those people can be on Twitter, too. Dollars to doughnuts, their positions or industries are represented on Twitter.
Find those people, make friends with them, and build relationships with them.
How, Exactly, Do You Do All That on Twitter?
If you’re not familiar with Twitter, or even if you are but aren’t quite sure how to get beyond the “I’m eating PB&J for lunch” stuff, you’re undoubtedly thinking to yourself right about now, “Well, that’s great, Annie, but exactly HOW are we supposed to do all that?”
Seeing as I’m over 1000 words on this post already, it’s a good idea for me to stop here and reassure you that answers can be had to that very good question, but you’ll have to tune in to future posts to get those answers.
See, I have to go check Twitter now …