By Paul Osborne
Paul runs Merchant of Magic’s Twitter account. A former teenage magician, he took a brief 30 years off to pursue drumming and standup comedy. Now back in love with magic, he’s slowly working his way through Royal Road to Card Magic and Bobo‘s Modern Coin Magic.
Firstly, let me say, I’m not some bright young thing with a man bun, smart shoes/no socks, and a degree in marketing and social media. I’m just someone who has used Twitter a lot over the past few years and kept an eye on what works and what doesn’t; looking at which accounts get a lot of followers, and why — and which posts get a lot of retweets.
So I thought I’d put together a few tips to help those magicians — or magic fans — who want to grow a following on social media.
1. You MUST treat Twitter as a SHARING platform.
This is the most important tip. But what do I mean by ‘sharing’? Well, just sitting there sending out a couple of tweets a day about your new magic show is a waste of time. Most people follow a lot of accounts (sometimes thousands). The chances of them seeing your lone tweet in their timeline are nil. I’m not saying don’t send out these tweets, I’m saying you must do lots of other things as well.
And this is where the sharing bit comes in. Make a list of other magic accounts that you like — ones that tweet interesting stuff about magic, [John Cox @HoudiniWild tweets daily about Houdini, for instance] and regularly retweet them. What often happens is, after a while, people will also start checking out your account because they know you retweet interesting posts. Go through your list every day to check for new posts from these Twitter users. It gives you a more structured way of using Twitter.
Secondly, if someone mentions you in a post [eg, ‘I saw your magic show last night, it was brilliant!’] don’t just hit the ‘like’ button; retweet it as well. It’s a way of saying thank you to the person who left the comment and it’s also a bit more promotion for you. Sharing the love!
And comment on other people’s posts. Add to the conversation if it interests you. It will get your name about.
2. You don’t have to be on Twitter ALL the time, but you do have to use it regularly.
When I first started using Twitter I was often amazed at how certain ‘normal’ people (ie, not celebrities, businesses, etc) would get Twitter followings of 8,000, 9,000, 10,000 people. After a while, I realised that many of these people are, not only, on the platform for hours at a time, but they are also regularly commenting on other people’s posts and retweeting other people’s comments and posts — sharing, you see. And then the circle of people they interact with gradually grows over time — and so does their following.
Now, most busy magicians — or working magic fans — probably haven’t got time to spend hours on Twitter, but a little structured, regular use will help. Effective Twitter for magicians only needs about 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes in the evening? Or put aside some time at weekends. And if you regularly travel by train, then that would be a good time for Twitter sessions on your mobile phone.
And if you’re spending that time retweeting other accounts’ content, then you’ll only be using one hand (either your smartphone scrolling thumb or your mouse if you’re on your laptop) so why not practise a few coin sleights with your other hand? Kill two birds with one stone.
The important thing is that the time needs to be spread out over the day. I spend two hours in the morning on Merchant of Magic’s account, an hour late afternoon, and 30 minutes in the evening. (plus a few stints over the weekend to keep it ticking over.) If I compressed all those hours into just, say, mornings, then I’d miss any engagement/comments posted during the afternoon and evening.
3. As well as retweeting others, post interesting content yourself.
As a magician, you’ve got a skill that ‘normal people don’t have. So make sure you’re regularly posting interesting stuff about magic. It could just be a photo of you performing at that wedding last weekend. Or a photo of the latest trick you’re working on. A show or event coming up. Anything interesting. (eg, The Magic Mod @taylormod posts a Magic Mod Monday trick every week, which is very popular)
Why aren’t you posting some of your thoughts on magic? Sharing clips from YouTube of your favourite magicians? Or asking questions of the magic community, ‘What’s the worst gig you’ve ever done?’ etc. People love getting involved with these sorts of questions because it’s good fun for everyone to chip in.
And, briefly, on the subject of ‘divisive topics’, if you’re just using Twitter to promote yourself as a magician — or you’re a magic fan and want to build a following of other magic fans — then I’d personally steer clear of tweeting about politics, religion, etc, which may put some people off revisiting your site if they don’t share your views. But it’s a personal choice, of course. One way around it would be to have two Twitter accounts – one for your magic tweets and one for politics. But, again, it’s up to you. Tweeting about politics could actually help you build a following of people in your political camp if that’s what you want.
4. Don’t forget to tag in relevant accounts.
Here’s one of the Twitter mistakes I see a lot. Someone will, say, write an interesting blog about a forthcoming magic show, and they’ll just tweet out their blog post, and that’s it. Why haven’t they tagged in the magicians involved? Why haven’t they tagged in the theatre? Theatres often retweet favourable blogs/previews etc because it’s good publicity for them. If you’re writing about Mac King’s show, or you just mention Mac King in a tweet, tag in Mac King! He may retweet it, you never know.
5. Follow people back.
If someone follows you, follow them back. It’s just a nice thing to do. I’m always amused when I see people who follow no one, and into my head pops the phrase: ‘How incurious of you!’ (Sometimes follow-backs are missed, so if you’re reading this and we haven’t followed you back then give us a nudge!)
6. Make sure you have a good pinned tweet.
Twitter lets you ‘pin’ one tweet — which means that it always sits at the top of your profile. So when someone visits your Twitter site they will see that tweet first. So, if you have a show, event, or just a general tweet about you as a magician that you want people to see, then pin it to your profile. Just google ‘how to pin a tweet’ if you’re unsure how to do it.
Your whole Twitter for magicians strategy should be about creating an interesting Twitter site that encourages people to check out your account, see your pinned tweet and then check out your timeline.
7. Twitter banner pictures need to look good.
Make sure the photographs at the top of your site look great. A good picture of you performing, for instance, or a posed picture in your stage clothes. (Not in your hoodie drinking a cup of tea — unless that’s your act!) Or how about a photo of a selection of magic tricks? You can get some good photos on free images websites.
And think about the words in your bio. Put yourselves in the shoes of a magic fan checking out your account for the first time. Does it sound professional? It could even be something simple such as ‘Professional magician’ with a link to your website, or ‘Magic fan’. And make sure you double-check the spelling, grammar etc.
8. Getting followers if you’re new to Twitter.
If you’re new to Twitter and have zero followers then, first of all, you need to follow a bunch of people so that a proportion of people follow you back. But beware of visiting a famous magician’s followers and going down the long list hitting ‘follow’. Twitter may think you’re a bot and briefly kick you off. So be a bit selective. It’s probably better to search for the word ‘magician’ or ‘magic fan’ and find other magic enthusiasts to follow that way.
Remember, it may take a few months to start building a group of people who regularly interact with you, so be patient — and just enjoy it.
If you have any more tips/ideas, please leave a comment.