Six Ways to Focus Your Twitter Strategy and Grow Your Photography Business

Many photographers who leaped into Twitter because of all the hype are now wondering whether it is worth their time. Twitter has been heralded as a new communications platform that enables virtually instant mass marketing — for free. So why have so many photographers been frustrated by their experiences?

The biggest reason is that most photographers don’t have clear goals and realistic expectations for Twitter, which leads to a lack of strategic focus. These photographers are often doing one or more of the following:

  • tweeting to an empty room (issuing lots of tweets to very few followers);
  • tweeting wantonly (not focusing their tweet stream); or
  • self-absorbed tweeting (only sending tweets about themselves).

Such Twitter activity creates noise (and takes up valuable time), but doesn’t achieve much in terms of followers, connections or ultimately new business.

Here are six tips for keeping your Twitter use on target:

1. Follow relevant tweeps.

Build your Twitter community around a photography-oriented ecosystem — following photographers, photography magazines, agencies, stylists, galleries, etc. Don’t dilute your account by following everything that interests you (for instance, your gym, recipe posts, gardening, etc). The personal interests can be a separate account.

2. Tweet with your followers in mind.

If you are serious about using Twitter to grow your photography business, you should not be treating it as a diary or a life cam. You should keep your tweets on target, messaging about topical areas in photography, the imaging world, equipment, photo tips — as well as your own work.

3. Retweet targeted content.

Retweeting relevant photography information will enhance your own Twitter stream while building your connections with veteran tweeps. As a Twitter newbie, your own updates won’t be read by many due to a lack of followers, but by retweeting, you will earn valuable exposure on other streams when you are thanked. Retweeting is a valuable service in the Twitter-verse and is the foundation for creating relationships and, ultimately, your network.

4. Enhance your retweets with personal comments.

Retweeting can mean simply reposting someone else’s tweet, but I recommend you go a step further. Add short comments along with your retweets to give the posts a personal touch, inspire conversation and send some good vibes to the originator of the tweet. Your “enhanced” retweet can be retweeted by others, too — helping you build more connections.

5. Thank your tweeps for retweeting your content.

One of the cornerstones of Twitter is a “pay it forward” mentality. As your network grows, and others retweet your posts or reference your Twitter handle, you should always give them the courtesy of thanking them. It reflects well on you, and your followers will see the respect that you have for your community and be more inclined to engage.

6. Be careful when criticizing others.

Sometimes in online forums, flame wars can start and criticism can run wild. By contrast, Twitter is a warm place, where validation and support push the whole enterprise forward. While photographers generally want feedback on their work, you should weigh your words carefully, because your criticisms are public. The wrong kind of rant can send your followers scurrying away en masse. Get a sense of the flow and tone of a given conversation stream before diving in. And when in doubt, use the DM (direct message) option to communicate more privately.

So, how can tweeting on target help your photography business? When used well, Twitter can extend awareness of your work in directions you’ve never dreamed of. Publications, museums, stylists, models and many other potential connections are among Twitter’s millions of users. Once you’ve learned to build and nurture the right kind of network, the possibilities are endless.

7 Responses to “Six Ways to Focus Your Twitter Strategy and Grow Your Photography Business”

  1. Martin, do you have in mind a minimum number of followers that would allow one to escape the "empty room" situation you cited? Thank you.

  2. Thanks for the input. I have been in the process of setting up a Twitter account for the past day (their server went down yesterday!). A good reference I have found is "Twitter Power" by Joel Comm and published by Wiley.

  3. yes, please be professional. Per #1, if you need to curse, etc., use a separate account.

    There are LOTS of Twitter appications for managmeing your Tweets; try a few and see what fits with your way of working. Do some searching to see who to follow (, , etc.)

    Use lists. Hook into other photographer's lists.

    Check out

    Duane / DRS Photography
    Twitter: @drsPIX

  4. Hi Jason,

    Considering the minimum number of followers is an excellent question! First looking at your Twitter followers numbers can give a skewed impression of your marketing potential, since the numbers may be inflated by spammers and 'irrelevent' followers. It is important to properly vet and review your followers, which is a hard process and slows the numbers growth, but ultimately makes your subscriber base more valuable. Generally the more material from other relevant sources that you retweet, you are on the road to building a solid base for tweeting your own updates and information about yourself. For Twitter strategies the process doesn't end when a target follower amount has been reached. It has been said that for your Twitter marketing, there's kind of a 9-to-1 rule - you need to be marketing other people nine times more than marketing yourself. This is what builds trust and relationships

  5. Great advice Martin.

    I get too many tweets saying: "Leaving for the coffee house." or "This cake is awsum" or other irrelevant tweets.

    Thanks again.

  6. I agree with the advice regarding followers. Think about it as quality over quantity. My twitter base is made up of photographers, social media people, creative types from my area (Phoenix) and people in the music business - since I am mostly a concert photographer. Point being they are relevant to my business or interests.

    If you add value to the conversation people will follow you. My formula for tweeting is 33% conversational, 33% check out my blog or images from my latest photo shoot (adding value), 33% answering or asking questions and 1% random thoughts.

    Great post - with #6 I try not to criticize anyone on Twitter. (It's a waste of time to pick fights etc.) I may challenge people's thoughts but I try to do so in a respectful mature way. ("If you argue with an idiot, no one from afar can tell the difference.")

  7. Thanks Greg! That's a great formula you present that can fill the stream with good content.

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