When it comes to Twitter's marketing power, the number of followers matters less than how they interact with other users. Take Puerto Rican singer/producer Tommy Torres, who has 270,000 followers, which is fairly unremarkable compared with other Latin artists who have millions.
But Torres' fans are especially devoted: One of them helped inspire his new single, "Querido Tommy," while others turned it into a viral sensation and a commercial success, illustrating how smart marketing can push sales, even with a small promotional budget.
The Twitter tale began when Torres, who's working on a new album, received a tweet from a fan named Paco, requesting the artist's help in proposing to a girlfriend. Bemused, Torres used the interaction as inspiration for a song.
The opening to "Querido Tommy" goes, "Dear Tommy, I don't know if you really read these letters/I'm writing to ask you for something/For me/It's life or death/My name is Paco/And I'm writing from Santiago/There's a girl/That I can't take off my mind."
The lyrics are prosaic and simple, written in short phrases-just like a tweet. In the song, as in real life, Paco asks Torres for what to say to express his love. "I imagined playing it in concert, with everyone singing along to the words of what was once a simple letter," Torres says. "It always felt huge but very honest - two qualities that usually don't happen at the same time in songs."
Torres' label, Warner Music Latina, immediately saw the potential and produced a quick music video that only features the song's lyrics as Twitter posts on scraps of paper. The track premiered as an audio-only live stream on Twitcam and then, within a week of Torres posting its YouTube link, notched more than 250,000 views. It has since earned nearly 600,000 views-a total that would likely be higher if Warner's clips were available on mobile devices.
Warner Music Latina national marketing director Miguel Garrocho says, "Our planning input was, 'How are we going to release this? When should we send the first tweet? How should we present it?' But the organic, honest and intimate part of all this came from Tommy."
Immediately following its release, the track debuted on Billboard's Latin Pop Digital Songs chart at No. 15 and was one of Warner's three top-selling Latin tracks of the week, according to the label. Likewise, it was one of Warner's top 50 most-downloaded tracks in Latin America. It has sold 3,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"I wanted to make sure that people know that words and poetry can be powerful, but they're not real life," Torres says. "For girls to expect their boyfriends to talk as if they're reciting a love song, that's just not going to happen."
And what happened to the real-life Paco? "I don't know his whereabouts at this point," Torres says. "I sure hope he got his girl."