This is a guest post from Erin Carson. Carson is a former writer and editor for TechRepublic and is now a Staff Reporter for TechRepublic's sister site CNET.
Broadway music Hamilton has ginned up fierce love amongst its fans in the past year. The Tony Award-winning musical grosses about $1.5 million every week in ticket sales, and the difficulty of even finding tickets is a well-worn punchline on late night talk shows.
Everyone seems to be paying attention to the phenomenon that is Hamilton and its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has plenty of star power in his own right. Just make a quick trip to Miranda's Twitter account, where he's amassed nearly 600,000 followers.
On the surface, the social media account of a Broadway star might not seem to have much to do with the world of corporate-run social media, but that's exactly why it's worth studying.
Social media is a tough game for everyone, especially brands. Most feel they've got to "holler just to be heard"—as a famous line in Hamilton proclaims—but hollering isn't enough. Brands have to make it worth their followers while, or risk losing eyeballs. That requires fresh ideas.
A good practice is to look at successful social media accounts for inspiration, even if that account isn't a brand, or isn't even in the same professional field. Often, those are exactly the best places to turn for insights and ideas.
In this case, we've got our eyes on Miranda. Do not throw away your shot to learn from Miranda's tweeting style. Here are five quick lessons.
1. Have a voice
Hamilton is successful on a nearly absurd level. Miranda is racking up other high profile projects, like writing songs for the upcoming animated Disney movie Moana, or landing a role in the forthcoming Mary Poppins sequel. One would imagine Miranda is in a good mood—and it comes through in his tweets. His are the tweets of someone whose life is moving quickly, and in an exciting direction. He brings an attractive energy to his Twitter feed. Most mornings and evenings he greets his followers in a way that's uniquely his. Take this example:
Be the type of account that your Twitter followers want to read and look forward to reading. Don't just be a talking logo. Even if you can't be as ebullient and irrepressible as Miranda, be a positive addition to your followers' timelines, and have something to say.
2. Engage with your audience
One of the spectacular oddities of Hamilton is the fact that a piece of art mostly inaccessible to the masses is so widely embraced, and has developed such a strong fandom. Fandom is key. Those fans are the ones carrying the conversation. Miranda seems to know that, and regularly responds and retweets.
Not long ago, while greeting fans at the stage door, he organized a group selfie, getting folks to turn around and snap a photo while he mugged. The conversation with fans involving the naming of what exactly happened (mass selfie = selfwe) and rounding up pics from the actual event made for an entertaining, organic moment that highlighted Miranda's tendency to talk with fans, and not just at them. Check out all the likes on those posts (see below). A little acknowledgment goes a long way.
3. Curate, but don't overly self-promote
Hamilton is getting so much press, it would be easy to run a Twitter feed that only tweets links to articles, photos, and general Hamilton adoration. That would be obnoxious. Miranda does tweet out a lot of Hamilton-related items, but they're mixed in with a lot of other content, and they're genuine interest to fans—like a meaty interview with a well-known publication. Or, he puts his own spin on it:
4. Show something unique
For Hamilton fans, there can't be enough videos, photos, or inside info on the show—both what happens on and off stage—since the vast majority of them haven't actually seen the show yet. Miranda keeps followers sated by tweeting pictures and videos they'll be unlikely to see anywhere else.
For example, he recently tweeted a partial screenshot of an email exchange between he and famed Broadway composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. And if someone visits backstage, like Jimmy Kimmel, or rapper Nas, there will be a photo, much as there will be when the cast of Hamilton goes bowling with the cast of another Broadway play. Take your followers somewhere cool. Give them something extra.
5. Embrace multimedia
It should go without saying. And yet, brands are still hesitant to use pictures, photos, or other types of multimedia. Miranda posts all of the above, whether it's links to the latest #Ham4Ham show (Miranda orchestrates 5-minute shows for the crowd waiting on lottery tickets outside the Richard Rogers theater. It might be a duet with Broadway legend Patti LuPone, or a goofy performance in which the male members of the cast lip sync one of the female leads' songs), or those previously mentioned backstage photos, or even gifs. Miranda is fluent in gifs. His account is loaded with visuals. Not only do photos and the like boost engagement across social media networks, they add visual interest to the account.
- Twitter's future glory: One of the most valuable data sources in human history (TechRepublic)
- Twitter tweaks the timeline in a bid to keep more users engaged (ZDNet)
- How to check your tweet's activity on Twitter (TechRepublic)
- Top 5 worst social media brand blunders of 2015 (TechRepublic)
- Why Twitter could be attractive to an enterprise tech vendor (ZDNet)
Erin Carson has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.