How NOT To Use Twitter @markoconnor35

When Twitter was launched, I wasn’t a big fan but I’ve sincerely warmed up to the platform in recent years. Consequently, it is frustrating to see the alarming increase of arts groups and artists approaching the medium with as much subtlety and finesse as email spam peddling penis enlargement pills; case in point, @markoconnor35.

The official Twitter presence for violinist Mark O’Connor, @markoconnor35 has unfortunately become the benchmark for social media insincerity.

Now, before going any further let me make it perfectly clear that I have nothing but the utmost respect for O’Connor as a performer, composer, and artist so it would be shocking to learn that the offending Tweets came from his own hand; rather, they exude the telltale signature of lowest common denominator PR diplomacy.

Into The #ValleyOfTheShadowOfDeath

I started following @markoconnor35 a few weeks ago and since then, have been inundated with the latest form of follower mention spam. In these instances, whoever is managing @markoconnor35 sends out pairs of Tweets approximately one hour apart that include @reply mentions linked to a video. It’s like an unsavory Pacific Rim sweatshop production line churning out impersonal promotional Tweets to the same group of @mentions recipients.

They hit the air like clockwork and since I genuinely enjoy reading Tweets from those I follow, it pains me to have my Twitter feed clogged up by this mention spam.

I didn’t want to stop following Mark O’Conner so I sent three separate Direct Messages asking to exclude me from future mentions but each one failed to garner acknowledgement. It would have been just fine if @markoconnor35’s account manager responded with an obligatory “sorry about that,” but that didn’t happen so enough was enough.

I ditched following @markoconnor35 and started writing this post.

@mentions The Right Way

There’s certainly nothing wrong with posting @mention Tweets which point to something featuring you or your organization but you need to make them personal. It is great getting @mentions from friends, colleagues, and even people/orgs I don’t know (but do follow) pointing to something they are doing because whoever authored the Tweet took the time to think about me and why I might be interested.

It is thoughtful and personal; in short, sincerity goes a long way and you or your organization can benefit from the viral nature of Twitter by maintaining earnest social media relationships. There’s nothing wrong with self promotion, just don’t be smarmy about it.

I Hope Mark O’Connor Reads This

I really do. His artistry and accomplishments transcend being represented in social media this way. For the record, I have no idea who manages @markoconnor35 or what O’Connor’s relationship is with the individual or organization; but I hope he takes action to set changes in motion.

Typically, this sort of frustration would be vented through private channels, so I apologize in advance to O’Connor for not reaching out personally before publishing this (outside of the direct messages, which he likely doesn’t read). But there’s something of real value here for the field as a whole and I’ll be happy to post a mea culpa follow up article should things change for the better at @markoconnor35.

Until then, don’t squander your Twitter mojo and remain sincere.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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8 thoughts on “How NOT To Use Twitter @markoconnor35”

  1. I LOVE Mark O’Conner’s music and enjoy his performances like nobody else! And I do commend Mark for being so accessible to his fans. But your points are extremely valid and heartfelt. I can tell you are a fan, too; having read your column for the past 3 years, I am finding your view completely sincere and fair. This music industry is constantly evolving and it’s crucial that we keep fans, artists, and orchestras connected in the best way possible. Thank you for bringing up this issue.

  2. Well said, Drew. The problem is people treating Twitter like other things. In this case, O’Connor is treating it like an email list. Sending out impersonal blasts every once in a while is fine, but you have to be considerate. You wouldn’t bomb your email list every day, or even more than once a week without a very special reason.

    Twitter is its own thing. For people like O’Connor, it’s an opportunity for him to develop personal relationships with fans and students. For people that love his music (and it is pretty great), getting just a tiny bit of attention is a huge deal. As Cluetrain says, “Markets are conversations.”

    To me, this is really the most frustrating thing about “professionals” on Twitter. Treating it like your email list guarantees that it will be ignored (and annoy) at least as much as your email blasts.

    • To a certain degree, I do think there are folks who don’t realize the difference between how Twitter handles an @mention based on following status. If an @mention is used and you don’t follow the author, you don’t get an email message, but if you do follow, Twitter generates the email notice.

      As of now, Twitter does allow users to disable email notifications for @mentions but I’ll be curious to see how long it is before they begin to include opt-outs that drill down to individual users. I’ve always felt that the current system toes the line of CAN-SPAM Act requirements and granted, the level of individual user opt-out control I’m suggesting would mean a great deal more work for Twitter but it seems to be the lesser of two evils when it comes to prevent a lot of problems with corporate and/or business users who tread too far over the line.

  3. Having gotten myself embroiled with Mr. O’Connor over this issue, with no love lost between us, I’ve had a chance to observe some of his other twitter interactions, too. While his conversation with me was truly awful, I think he does some things right. He engages spontaneously and joyfully with his fans when they tweet him. He doesn’t ever seem too busy to graciously and wholeheartedly thank somebody for a compliment.

    If I had engaged him on that level that he likes and is used to (the adoring fan level), I probably would have had a great interaction with him. But from what I gleaned from his comments to me, he mentally puts EVERY Twitter follower in that adoring fan category, or feels he can relate to every follower as if s/he were an adoring fan. And I think that contributed to the brouhaha this weekend.

  4. Much agreement there, on all levels.

    A post such as this is not offensive to the artist’s persona itself — what their PR is doing to them is far worse as it is — but there is definitely something to be learned here from an example being made of such poor “adaptation to change.”

    We have to evolve our outreach properly. Art can’t be forced, so why should it be forced Upon people?

    -Eugene | EP0CH

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