Twitter can be described as a micro-blogging tool that uses 140 character messages to contact others in the Twitter network and share ideas, experiences, resources, business opportunities, charity work, celebrity news, and more. For artists it is a good tool to network with other artists, follow art organizations, make gallery contacts, publicize your events, shows (#Encaustic: Artists on Twitter) , and work.
Although Twitter is easy to set up and has a simple web interface, it is not intuitive to get started with. Here are some of the tools that have helped me:
1. Set up an account on Twitter. This is a fast and easy step. You will need an email account and a user name. In the past I have chosen to use my own last name: sisleyblinn. This is easier to recognize than a more cryptic or mysterious name that will be seen by others on Twitter. It also reflects how I use my name for my blog and website. Your user name should reflect your purpose on Twitter. Is it for fun, business branding, or family and friends?
2. Once you have an account, personalize your Twitter home page. You can add a picture to the background of your start page, change colors for links and content areas, and add an avatar image of yourself (or a picture of a piece of art work). This will personalize the look of your home page and can be used to visually tie it back to your blog or web site. I choose a recently completed painting for my background and avatar image. Make these changes under the Settings link, in the upper right corner of your home page. ( Home Profile Find People Settings Help Sign out)
Be prepared with information for your real name, geographic location, web site or blog URL/web address, and bio. The bio is a short description that can be as creative, specific or playful as you want it to be. Again, think about your purpose. My bio statement: “MFA Artist. Interest Areas: Encaustic Painting, Printmaking, Web. Exploring the intersection of Art and Technology.” This information will show up at the top of the column on the right side of the page, and whenever anyone looks at your profile.
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3. While logged in to your Twitter account, download TweetDeck, Seesmic, Twhirl, or another third-party editor. Although your Twitter messages (tweets) will be listed (a message timeline) on your account page, there currently is not a way to directly sift, categorize or group the messages. This is where another tool comes in. I use TweetDeck. It is easy to install, you can use separate columns for groups, searches, replies, and direct messages, and it is free.
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4. Sign up for Twitter Tips, and other helpful guides.
How to Effectively Use Twitter Hashtags
Twitter Beginner’s Guide
A Visual Guide to Twitter (JPG)
5. Take a little time to learn how to use Twitter. There is a wealth of information on how to use this communication tool. Some of it is pretty straight forward, some of it has a marketing skew for social media professionals trying to cash in on this new market. Don’t be scared off. It is worth the time. And soon, you will have many friends to ask and follow.
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6. Look for peers, friends, contacts, organizations, news agencies and other interesting people to “follow.”
When you follow someone, you add them to the network of information agencies and personalities that you want to know about and correspond with. Those that follow you, want to get your messages. Follow people’s content (tweets) by clicking on the “follow” link under their name and avatar picture in the upper left of their Twitter home page.
Search for topics such as art, artist, gallery, painting, encaustic, art news, or call for artists on Twitter. Once on a page of interest, check out who they are following. Click on who they think is interesting and decide if you want to follow too. From my page you could follow: Top Art News, Twitter Tips, The Webby Awards, and ArtNetDotCom, Tate, or SFMOMA to name a few. Don’t forget regular news channels that also use Twitter such as CNN, BBC, or PBS Blogs.
You can also search and/or join a directory such as We Follow, Twitr, or Twellow. Take a look at HastTags for trends, tags and people. “Get and set definitions for #tags – A dictionary for (hash) tags,” at Tagalus. Search hashtags using Twubs. Example for #encaustic: http://www.twubs.com/encaustic. Use a service such as Omnee, a dynamic Twitter directory. ) Organize people you follow using Twitter Lists.
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#Encaustic: Artists on Twitter Exhibit
7. Use third-party Twitter tools to extend your content reach.
There are many tools that will help you get your message out with multi-media impact. A tool I use daily is Twitpic. You can show work in progress, completed work, or pictures from your last exhibit quickly with Twitpic or yFrog. Only takes a few seconds to add a link to a picture.
There are also tools to show YouTube videos, YouTube Tweete, or upload and view your own video updates with Twiddeo. Get the most from your 140 characters (including spaces) by compressing web addresses/URLs that you reference with TinyURL. Send out invitations to a tweetup with Twtvite. Create a poll with Twtpoll. Or, send a quick Twtcard. Look for new iPhone apps such as Tweetmic (“high-quality audio recordings or “Tweetcasts” directly from your iPhone), for new functionality. TBuzz enables you to tweet about the web page your are on with the click of a bookmarklet.
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Mashable: Twits to Go: Top 12 Twitter Apps for Your Phone
8. Remember, this is a social media tool with the formality associated with the business or social purpose you choose. Your messages should reflect your personal voice but also be in line with your other online assets. Tweet often, but make an exchange of useful information a priority.
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9. Follow, remove or block – choices to grow your network. It takes time to gather good reliable Twitter followers, and find those who will become important as friends and resources. It is worth it. At some point you will find that ah-ha moment when using Twitter goes from “this is not worth the time” to “I love this – who else can I get involved.”
You will need to make decisions on who you are following and who follows you. Like keeping weeds out of the garden, there will be those that follow you that you may not want to. On your Twitter account page click on the link for “followers” in the upper right of your home page and click the “block” button. Other tools, such as TweetDeck will have this option as well. Don’t get tied up in the numbers of followers.
Unless you are a promotions fanatic, you want quality over quantity. If you find that you are not really interested in someone you choose to follow, “remove” them from the list. On your Twitter account page click on the link for “following” in the upper right of your home page and click the “remove” button. Other tools, such as TweetDeck will have this option as well. Again, don’t get tied up with the numbers. You want the most relevant and interesting information available. This protects you and your time, and developes quality relationships.
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10. Oh yeah, just for fun:
Stephen Colbert interviews Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter (video interview)
TwitShirt: Your tweet quote on a t-shirt
Peekr. Temporarily view the background on a Twitter home page.
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6 Twitter Games To Make Tweeting Fun
Conclusion: In my studio, not only do I move from drawing to painting, sketch to print, or idea to finished piece, I also move between my work tables and the computer. You might say that my analog (physical art making) life and digital (2D/3D image creation, art business development through my web site and blog, and networking with friends, peers and resources with social media) have a symbiotic relationship. I am inspired and motivated by both.
Update, Aug ’09: Although I have successfully used Twitter for the past year, I am currently taking a social networking break to re-evaluate my overall branding PR plan. (It’s okay to do that, really!!) Look for me again on Twitter in the future.
Please leave your tips or resources in the comments section linked below!