February 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm

How Celebrities ‘Game’ Twitter with Data Analytics

The Music and the Social Web panel at Digital Music Forum East 2012 (photo: Eliot Van Buskirk)

The worst thing about Twitter, according to Mike More of Headliner.fm, is that people — including famous recording artists — have to think of something to say. All on their own.

“The white box is Twitter’s biggest problem,” he said at the Digital Music Forum East conference on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Headliner.fm, which also matches headliners with opening bands so they can promote each other, has a solution: datamining what a given artist’s fans are into, then providing a “communications template” targeting that issue. In other words, it tells artists what to say if they really want to “connect” with their fans, even if that connection is somewhat artificial.

“From a communications standpoint, artists tend not to know what to say,” said More, speaking on the Music and the Social Web panel. “Like the example [of tweeting] ‘buy my record,’ that a hip-hop artist with 500,000 fans did — I mean, that’s horrible. They have to kind of be trained to some degree in how to be more conversational.”

When pressed by moderator Ted Cohen, More got more specific.

“We’ve done it by actually telling people what to say, using analytics. We look at their fans, we look at other similar fans, and we understand what kind of message they response [sic] to — have the highest engagement levels to. And we suggest actually things for them to say.”

Headliner.fm’s system even goes further, offering recording artists different things to say based on what they are trying to sell, after which point the artist can tailor the message to their own style. Artists who use Headliner.fm include Pitbull, T-Pain, All Time Low, and Travie McCoy.

“We have four very easy boxes — do you want to market a band, a tour, your video, or an event? And we have some suggested messages that people can customize, and it’s helped out tremendously. It’s spiked engagement over 400 percent, just by helping people understand what to say.”

Speaking with a source from an influential company who wished not to be named, we heard about another company doing something similar: SocialFlow, which lets artists queue up a bunch of tweets, including links to their songs, to be released when the system determines the optimum time for them to be tweeted.

Granted, this approach rings truer than Headliner’s prefab tweets targeting fans’ interests, but still, it’s the “direct,” “transparent,” “real-time” connection between artist and fan, which Twitter seemed to promise, initially anyway.

On the other hand, if it makes artists’ tweets more relevant and readable, how bad can it be?

  • http://twitter.com/slainson Suzanne Lainson

    Based on the title, I expected something different from the article. But it hit upon a very relevant issue. I’ve run into so many musicians who think the only purpose for social media is to promote their next show or recording. They either lack social skills or those go out the window when they get online. Of course, part of the problem may be that they actually don’t give a damn about their fans and only see them as a source of money, and that attitude comes through when they post.

  • http://www.concertin.com/ Jan Horna

    If you want to know what kind of social messaging some musicians can produce, then take a look at https://twitter.com/#!/ConcertIn/favorites where I hand-picked up some real jewels. Most of them come from 50 cent ;)