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  • Lyle Burns

Case Study: An Examination on Driving Twitter Engagement

Who is Shea Serrano? Shea Serrano is a staff writer for The Ringer, a New York Time bestselling author for the Rap Year Book, a father, a former teacher, an all-around good guy, and a Twitter user extraordinaire.

Why am I writing about Shea Serrano?

It’s that last reason, his Twitter usage. That’s why I’m writing about Shea. He has one of the most engaged fan bases and followers on the internet, and I want to examine that as it may help artist determine how they communicate to fans via Twitter.

Identify and Define Your Community of Followers

First, let’s look at the FOH army.

FOH stands for “Fuck Outta Here.” The FOH Army, is the collective of Serrano’s followers. Shea has mobilized the FOH for a number of causes, from donating to planned parenthood to buying copies of Shea’s bestseller, The Rap Yearbook, driving up 35,000 pre-orders of the upcoming book Basketball and Other Things. He even motivated the collective to support indie bookstores and to randomly give money to an airport employee to repay an act of kindness.

How does one man with his phone and 140 characters rally up so many people to freely give their money away to anything he tells them to?!? Well, the army is driven by a few things.

First, the prevailing motto is to “Shoot your shot”. Which simply means to take a chance no matter if you fail or not. You shoot enough times, eventually they’ll start to go in, if you remain confident. It’s the shooter’s mentality in basketball. Shooter’s shoot and Shea encourages everyone to shoot they’re shot, whether it’s applying for a job, asking a girl on a date, or releasing a project. It’s about having the confidence to go for what you want.

Second, is to support people who are making dope stuff, so they can make more dope stuff. A variation of that is just to support any and everyone who supports you.

When you mix in a bit a pettiness with those two elements and adopt an us against the world mentality, then you have the FOH army.

Communicate The Values

Shea is a perfect example of how to effectively communicate your personal values in order to attract those with the same values.

Shea does this by routinely stating his mottos and what he believes in, supporting people that make dope stuff, getting paid for your work, going for what you want in life, being motivated by proving people wrong, joking with his kids, or discussing his eating habits, which consist of lots of posts about Wingstop, Big Red, tacos, and food delivery services.

Whatever it is, he routinely communicates what is important or interesting to him in entertaining ways and people with those same interests find him.

After you’ve communicated your values, creating a name for your fan base or supporters can give a sense of community among the group, allowing them to identify each other. However, you have to let the name develop organically. You could let the fans decide by paying attention to them as they could organically give it a name. This is one of the many reasons why we stress the importance of staying engaged with your fans and followers and why you should always pay attention to the qualitative data of what they’re saying.

The power of association is a real thing and a name is an easy way to begin building it.

There’s people with more followers than Shea, so why did I choose him to examine for this case study? Because, I feel like he does things that are actionable for anyone. I wouldn’t say Shea Serrano is a household name, yet he and his loyal followers are able to make an impact. And this, is what you as an artist want. So besides, displaying some common values there are some other things that drive Shea’s engagement on Twitter.

One, he talks about what he likes or what he has an interest in. A simple concept. Those posts can be about his kids (Boy A, Boy B, and the Baby), his wife (a fan favorite), his fast food choices, movies, his dog Younger Jeezy, sports, music, etc. A lot of people agonize over crafting the perfect tweet. Talking about what you like means you’re talking about what you’re passionate about, it creates discussion you want to have with your fans, and it makes things real. People will connect with that and it makes you want to engage.

Second, he engages his fan base. That goes back to the second motto, “support those that support you.” The engagement come in many ways. Most often it’s just replying to fans, joking with them, answering their questions, retweeting their posts, or liking their tweets. Sometimes it’s a giveaway of FOH patches, limited edition bookmarks, or movie cards. Often times the giveaways are for people who have supported his work. Every so often he tweets his email address and reviews fans writing or provides them with advice.

Third, he knows when to ask his fans for support. That can be asking them to buy or pre-order his book, it can be for them to read his articles on The Ringer, or it can be helping in a random act of kindness. The asks aren’t constant. They are mixed in with the other entertainment he provides on the platform, so fans don’t worry about a constant sales pitch, but they know when they see the request come, the second motto comes to mind, “Support people making/doing dope stuff, so they can make/do more dope stuff.” The rest of the time the time they can be entertained, but when the time comes to mobilize the FOH Army is ready to go.

So killing it on Twitter and creating a super engaged fan base on social media that can have an impact isn’t as difficult as you imagined. Communicate your values so people attracted to those values will connect. Create a sense of community, so those who are connecting with can for you values can find and connect with each other. Post things you like, are passionate about, and are interested in as it means it’s real and makes you want to engage. Engage with your fans, talk to them, let them know you’re interesting in their lives, do contests, and have fun with them. Don’t be afraid to ask them for stuff, but don’t always be selling. Social media is great for getting the word out and letting people know what you’ve been working on and how they can support you, so feel free to use it for that, but just like overwhelming ads can annoy you, don’t turn your followers timeline into a constant advertisement.

And just to end this post, here’s a photo of Younger Jeezy.

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