How to use Twitter as a networking tool

In terms of social media networking Twitter is very much the new kid on the block but for arts professionals is already instantly effective and far reaching. The number of performers, theatre companies and venues with accounts has soared over the last 12 months and in fairness is extremely easy to sign up to. All that's required is a valid email address and you become instantly connected to news and conversation from whoever you choose to follow with the added beauty of being able to comment and reply back. Tweeting has become accepted as a simple way to post links for showreels and event advertising so the benefit to performers is colossal. Also a much wider picture unfolds in being able to see links to special offers, events, festivals and opportunities anywhere in the world.

I personally find Twitter at least as secure as the longer established Facebook and very simple to delete or block any unwanted interest. For more confidential discussion the Direct Message facility is easy to operate and only works between co-following accounts. To date performance based Twitter users seem by and large a very friendly community with similar ideas, concerns and luckily for me, sense of humour. As a result a number of specialist forums have recently sprung up like the totally Twitter based independent Studio Theatre Awards from @playgirlreviews and the excellent weekly #theatrehour also open to all and running from 7-8pm UK time every Wednesday. There is also #CARTON which provides an independent open-house on all issues relating to funding, presentation and promotional interests throughout all aspects of the performance industry. The Twitter network is indeed evolving on an almost daily basis and the key is that 'if you're not on the pitch you can't play the game'. As long as you have an internet connection it's totally free.

The whole community aspect is also growing and with mainstream television and media companies now posting hash-tag links in real time, it is becoming a very powerful link to what is happening 'right now'. Essentially the account holder can be on logged in as often as they want but the beauty is that the Interactions feature means that you don't ever actually miss out on anything. For the first time last year I even actually added my Twitter account name to a reprint of some business cards. The result so far has been very encouraging and sometimes inspirational to other likeminded organisations that I deal with. In the current climate networking in general has assumed a far greater level of importance by enabling a whole extra dimension of communication.

The more I use Twitter in the context of performance related arts I find the hash-tag search feature becomes more like a kind of personalised google report and provides some fascinating and useful threads to follow and even connect to. By being on board any user potentially becomes part of this (it is very rewarding to see your own account come up as a recommended 'follow' by other users!). It doesn't take long to develop a skill of conveying a clear message in less than 140 characters and using wording that will target other potentially interested parties with your tweets. It is also important to word your account profile accordingly and if possible use something reflected in that profile to make a memorable account title.

I hope this will be of some assistance to all Casting Call Pro members who will undoubtedly benefit from being linked to the extremely active Twitter interaction facility they operate. Twitter provides a voice and in respect of social media networking for the arts professional it is becoming a very powerful one, happy following.