This article is for any photographer who is still holding out on the world of Twitter. While most everyone is on Facebook, a lot of people are still hesitant about Twitter for various reasons. In this article, I will go over some reasons why I love Twitter and why you should give it a chance. Let's go!
Social Media is here to stay. It just is. The conduit through which social media will be used may change along the way, but social media nonetheless will be with us from now on, so we as photographers need/have to embrace it.
I got a comment on one of my older posts here the other day because I was offering to provide a coupon code to anyone who sent me a tweet. The comment read:
Hey (James) Brandon, ive tried twitter and find it the biggest waste of space going so having to follow you to get a discount is more trouble than its worth!
I am not including this quote to call anyone out at all. The truth is, I use to feel the exact same way about Twitter! To get your juices flowing around the idea of Twitter and Social Media in today's age of technology, I encourage you to watch this video from YouTube on Socialnomics:
Video – http://youtu.be/sIFYPQjYhv8
Twitter Is Good. Not Evil!
Twitter is all about community, but Twitter is not Facebook. I think a lot of people who have Facebook (but haven't given Twitter a try) believe they are very similar so there is really no need for a separate Twitter account. Well, they are not very similar at all! When someone signs up for a Facebook account, they are guided through a process where they can begin finding people they know from the schools they went to, and by going through the friends lists of people they know. If I add my buddy as a friend on Facebook, then I have one friend and that person has one more friend than they had before. It's reciprocal. If I go through and want to be friends with 1,000 people, I will have 1,000 friends. That means I will see the feeds on 1,000 people, and all of those people will mutually see whatever I put on Facebook.
When people come to Twitter I think they are expecting the same thing. Facebook is easy. There is no challenge to it really. You don't have to work at getting noticed. You simply become friends with the people you know and that's it, you then have access to post on their wall, send them messages, chat with them when they are online, etc.
When people sign up for a Twitter account, choose a username, and start adding people to their ‘Follow List,' they immediately notice the big difference and the initial problem with Twitter: They are alone.
If I decide to follow you on twitter, there is no guarantee that you will follow me. That means I will see everything you tweet out, but you won't see anything I tweet out. I'm basically alone and invisible in the incredibly massive and somewhat intimidating world of Twitter and it's not fun.
You see, Twitter requires work. It requires a lot of work. You have to invest time in others and find a community of like minded people to start building your following from. People have to make a decision to follow you, and there isn't much you can do to help them make that decision besides getting your name out there and being interesting to them.
The first 100 followers on Twitter are very difficult to get, especially if you aren't a very well know photographer outside of your (tangible) community. Once you get to that 100 followers mark, the ball starts rolling slowly. Every time you send out a tweet, you have an immediate audience of 100 people. But it still requires work, and a lot of investing in other people.
Once you get plugged in to a community on twitter of likeminded people, it becomes incredibly fun and rewarding. If you can become part of a powerful community, your tweets start getting exposed to thousands of people through things like retweets and mentions.
Why You Should Love Twitter
Twitter is a marketing machine for your business and for your brand. Through hard work, research and dedication, you can build up an audience of hundreds (eventually thousands) of people to market to at any time you choose. If you get connected with the right people, the numbers begin to multiply dramatically.
Let's say I have 100 followers. I send out a tweet with a link to my blog post and it's instantly in front of those 100 people. Sure, not all of them will see it because they are not all on twitter all the time, but 100 is that maximum potential at that time. Lets say my blog post is really timely and catchy, so 2 of my followers decide they want to share the information and they retweet it to their followers. One of those people only has 75 followers, but the other person has 500 followers. Well, because of those two retweets, your blog post is now potentially exposed to 675 people, and you only have 100 followers! Now that you have reached nearly 7x your following, let's say one more person from that group decides to retweet your link, and that person has a following of 2,000 people. See the potential here? If that happens, and your original tweet is now in front of 2,675 people, you can rest assured that a few of those people (in addition to retweeting your content) will decide to follow you because of the quality of your image or blog post that you tweeted out. If your tweet was exposed to 2,675 people, then you'd probably get at least 2 or 3 new followers out of it. On a good day you might get 10 or more.
I've had good days where my post gets retweeted so many times that there are well over hundreds of thousands of people with my link showing up in their twitter timeline. When the ball gets rolling like that, I may receive 50 to 100 followers just in that one day alone. You don't always have days like that, but when you do it makes it all worth it!
Tips to Help Photographers Build a Following
Now let's get one thing straight: I am not a huge Twitter big wig. I don't have hundreds of thousands of followers and there probably aren't people out there waiting on pins and needles for what I have to say. At the time of writing this article I have 1,482 followers, and since the average twitter user only has 126 followers, I think I'm comfortable enough at this point to give out some tips to anyone who wants to consider embracing twitter. There is no easy way to build a following, unless you're a celebrity or very well known person in your industry. There is no magical tip I can give you that will send you hundreds of followers. But I do know this: It's all about content and networking. If you want people to follow your tweets, you had better be tweeting out stuff that is worthy of peoples attention. Nobody cares that you are ,”In line at Starbuck.” That is worthless information that will actually cause people to ‘unfollow' you in some cases.
Decide What You Want To Use Twitter For
This is pretty simple. The choices are: Business. Personal. Or both.
I chose both, but it's important to know why. My business is “James Brandon Photography.” I'm a person and a business. If my business was “Studio ABC Photography,” and my twitter handle was “@StudioABCPhotography,” then it probably wouldn't be the best idea to send out personal tweets.
I use twitter to network with other photographers. It's who I market to because of the articles I write for DPS, the daily posts I put up on my blog, and the goals and aspirations I have for the future. When I really started to build a decent following on Twitter, it was because I started to connect with people in the photography community. I do a lot of HDR photography, and there is an incredible community of HDR photographers on twitter that I tweet back and forth with on a daily basis. They are all incredible photographers, and it's good to be surrounded by such a solid group of people that push me to improve my skills.
Don't Be Selfish
If you're only in it for you, people will notice. Twitter isn't about you, it's about community and networking. If you only tweet links out to your own work, don't expect to get those links retweeted by others very often. You need to use your following to spread the work of others. If I see a great image on someones blog that I follow, I will always tweet it out. Not only does this send traffic their way, it let's them know that I am an advocate for their work, and most of the time they will be willing to tweet out my links as well.
Trey Ratcliff has a great formula for his tweets. Of course it's not an exact science, be he observes that it's best to do 33% personal, 33% tweets to your own stuff, 33% tweets of others work, and 1% wild card. If you keep this mindset, you are sure to be considered interesting on twitter, and followers will eventually come.
Target Your Tweets
For those who are completely new to Twitter, there are several ways to ensure your tweets get seen by the right people. Let's say I just edited a really cool image using Topaz Labs Adjust, a product I use a lot. Sending out a tweet like this won't do a whole lot of good: “Just finished editing this image from Hawaii using Adjust from Topaz Labs, check it out! http://……”
Sure that tweet will go out to my followers which is great, but there's a better way of doing it. Instead (since I know Topaz has a twitter account) I will send out a tweet that reads something like this: “Just finished editing this image from Hawaii using Adjust from @TopazLabs, check it out! http://…..”
Do you see what I did there? Instead of just saying Topaz Labs, I used their twitter account instead. This means that my tweet will now show up in the feed of Topaz Labs, and they will almost certainly see it. Since any company loves to hear customers bragging on their software, chances are that they will retweet my tweet out to their followers (that is, if the image is good!).
Another thing you can do is add hash tags to your tweets. This will potentially get your tweet in front of even more people. Hash tags are simply key words that can be used to search for tweets. Some of the more popular hash tags in the world of photography are #togs and #photog. This is basically just a way to categorize your tweet. Some people using a service like TweetDeck have columns in their feeds specifically for these hash tags. Other people simply do randomly timed searches to see what is going on in the world of these hash tags. To further market my tweet, I would simply say this: “Just finished editing this image from Hawaii using Adjust from @TopazLabs, check it out! http://….. #togs #photog”
The tags don't have to be a part of the sentence or story, they are simply tags to throw your tweet in a pool of like minded tweets. On any given day, one of these tweets could be seen my 10 people or 10,000, you just never know.
Twitter is awesome! Sure, it takes some dedication and hard work, but that's good for us! In todays age of instant gratification, it's easy to see why some people don't like Twitter, but they are missing out on a powerful tool for networking with others and marketing their brand and business.
To set up a Twitter account, simply visit their website and fill out the ‘New to Twitter' section on the right side. If you want to have a decent chance of people following you back, be sure to create a bio and upload a profile picture. I will never follow somebody who doesn't have a profile image or bio as this usually means the account is spam or the account is insignificant. There has to be value for people to follow you!
Once you have your account set up, start finding people to follow. There are a few people that I highly suggest of course! And here they are: