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.