@ – A Simple and Powerful Social Promotion Tool

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Originally published on CD Baby’s DIY Musician blog.

There is one character that should appear in most of your Facebook posts and tweets. No, not YOU, silly! I’m talking about the “at symbol” (@). For many of us, it resides on the same keyboard key as the number 2. And now that we know WHERE it is, let’s look at WHY you should regularly use it in your social media communications.

The simple answer is that the @ symbol has the ability to create a linkage between your social media profile and that of another person’s. And when your profiles are connected, you now share some kind of connection (however temporary) as actual human beings, too. In the Facebook realm they call this “@ mention tagging.” In the Twitter world they are “@replies.” They work similarly. Here is what Facebook’s blog had to say about it:

“Now, when you are writing a status update and want to add a friend’s name to something you are posting, just include the ‘@’ symbol beforehand. As you type the name of what you would like to reference, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to choose from your list of friends and other connections, including groups, events, applications and Pages. Soon, you’ll be able to tag friends from applications as well. The ‘@’ symbol will not be displayed in the published status update or post after you’ve added your tags.”

There are countless ways in which this function can help your music promotion efforts, but here are two humble examples from my own life:

1) The trumpet player in my band Chris Robley & the Fear of Heights recently did some recording sessions for Bob Pollard’s (of Guided By Voices fame) new project Boston Spaceships. My band mate is a huge GBV fan and was psyched to be involved in the project. This gave OUR band two chances to promote ourselves to a new audience. First, we used the “@BostonSpaceships” tag in our tweets and Facebook posts right after he’d been in the studio. We got to communicate our excitement to our fans and, because our post with the “@BostonSpaceships” tag now shows up in the Boston Spaceship’s Facebook feed, simultaneously put our name in front of Bob Pollard’s audience. Second, well… we did the same thing again upon the album’s official release!

2) About a month ago, I walked into a restaurant called Burgerville, which is a Northwest chain of fast food restaurants that uses grass-fed, hormone free beef and local ingredients. They also happen to make amazing milkshakes (the real reason for my visit.) Anyway, as I’m walking in, I hear a song playing over their radio that I instantly know I love, but can’t quite put my finger on who it is. Then it hits me: It’s me! Well, first, I’m glad in that surreal moment I actually LIKED my own music without knowing it was mine. But then I wondered how it came to be placed in rotation alongside Pearl Jam and the Beatles on Burgerville’s satellite station.

I found the moment entertaining enough to post about, and I included the @Burgerville mention. The next day, a woman from Burgerville’s marketing department wrote me, saying she’d seen my post, and wondered if my band would like to play in one of their locations right before Halloween. I’d heard that a few local “buzz bands” had done these Burgerville shows, and the idea of playing an all-ages show in costume at a burger joint right before Halloween seemed too good, too silly, too surreal an idea to pass up. Plus, we’d get some interesting video footage no matter how the gig went. Granted, it wasn’t an offer to play Coachella or Saturday Night Live, but I think the principle still applies. My band’s name was visible to Burgerville’s many Facebook followers, and I got a performance offer, all by pressing that one little key, “@.”

P.S. The “@ mention” tag in Facebook only works when posting. It doesn’t work when leaving a comment.

Check out CD Baby’s blog, The DIY Musician.

14 thoughts on “@ – A Simple and Powerful Social Promotion Tool

  1. Firstly, thank you very much. This was an awesome article! Simple, but eye opening. I always wondered why people were using the @ symbol, and thought it was just the way of noting that you were referring to another user name on Twitter. It was a bit annoying seeing it all the time. I guess it’s my turn to annoy.

    Secondly, sorry to say, but Burgerville uses Country Natural Beef, which is not really grassfed. As with many beef products, they “finish” their cattle for the last 90 days on grain (and some other products). This effectively eliminates most of the benefit the cows received from being “grassfed” (e.g. Conjugated Linoleic Acid [CLA]). The text below is taken from CNR’s website (http://www.countrynaturalbeef.com/faq.php).

    Q:Is Country Natural Beef grass fed?
    A:Cattle produced for Country Natural Beef are raised on pastures and rangeland for most of their first 14 to 18 months. To ensure a consistent, year-round supply, however, all of our cattle go through a finishing period of about 90 days at Beef Northwest. Beef Northwest is a feedyard owned by a multi-generational ranching family and member of Country Natural Beef, where our cattle receive a nutritionally balanced ration of grain, alfalfa and potatoes. The potatoes are by-products produced by Ore-Ida, something that would otherwise go to waste if it were not for their use in livestock feeds.

    Thanks again!

  2. Hey @Ernest Whaley,

    Initially I had the same issue, but after giving my browser some time, it finally picked up on it. Make sure that the “@” is right next to the name of the individual or page you’re attempting to tag and that the name of that individual is spelled correctly. (ex. – @Ernest Whaley).

    If it’s going to work, the drop down list of your friends should appear.

    Good Luck!

  3. Can I get an example of this I tried it in Facebook, and had the @ symbol show up in the post, and have no idea as to whether it worked or not.
    Blessings and Balance,

  4. Dude, I have been playing around with the “@” stuff for about the last hour or so. It’s hot…. Real Hot!

    I just let one of my clients know I’m nearing completion on the piece I’m writing for him, and it showed up on his wall with my fan page picture alongside it. What a novel concept!

    Thanks @Chris Robley!

  5. Chris: This was a great help thanks for sharing. Anytime you want to throw some internet goodies my way please do.
    PS: Can’t wait to try that milkshake @ Burgerville!LOL
    See I’m learning!

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