As I become more and more serious about my craft as a photographer, I must consider part of my duties to be some sort of business man –something I never thought I would become. I have grown to appreciate what Twitter can do for my business (supported by Zach’s new ebook Social Media Handbook for Photographers). As of March 2011 Twitter is reported (according to Wikipedia) to have 200 million users worldwide. Talk about a good network of people (for the most part).
I’ve decided to put together a short list of my top 3 reasons why Twitter should be part of your business plan. I’m sure there are more, and I’m sure I could have broken these down into sub-reasons, but in either case, here are my top 3:
1 – Twitter Gets Small Businesses Noticed
This is the top reason why I started using Twitter with my photography business in mind. I used to tweet random thoughts out, which practically only reached my Twitter followers. This did nothing for my business. Now, every time I write a blog post (not unlike this one), every time I post pictures of a recent photo session or every time I post my daily picture for my ongoing 365 project (which is more of an infinite project now), I tweet about it. Now, just tweeting about it won’t do you much good if you want to reach more than your Twitter followers. That’s why Twitter gods invented hashtags (#). A hashtag placed in front of a word basically renders that word as a searchable term within Twitter. If I include the hashtagged words “#photography” and “#Ottawa” with my tweet, it’ll come up for people doing a search of “Ottawa photography”, or any combination of one of these search terms with others. In my case using hashtags has resulted in many photographers and graphic designers to follow me, thus further expanding my Twitter reach.
Another way to get noticed on Twitter is to mention specific users in the hopes that they read your post, and maybe even *gasp* retweet it. I’ll give you an example: a few days ago I wrote a post about 500px.com, reviewing their site. I posted it to my Twitter feed along with their @500px Twitter handle. I didn’t get it retweeted by 500px, but it widened the article’s reach to a searching Twitter audience.
2 – Twitter Drives Website Traffic
Once you get noticed on Twitter, that’s when people come to your site. That’s the whole reason you want to get noticed, right? Well, ok, you want to get your name out there and blah blah blah, but if you actually get them to click on the link and go to your site, you’ve just generated some traffic my friend. That traffic could be comprised of someone that will like what he sees and share it with others, or could be someone that will eventually call you up for a contract. You obviously need to include a link to your site in order to get people to actually go there. People rarely take the time to go look at your profile, find a link and type it into the address bar.
Simply by doing the Twitter thing, hits on my site have literally tripled in the first week of doing so.
3 – Twitter Can Teach You
I notice others in two ways on Twitter: either by passively waiting for people to follow me, that I then follow if I consider them to be interesting, or by actively searching for tweets, as others do to find me. The internet is at our disposal and is such an important tool in any business. With a tool like this one you can develop a whole network of people that have the same interests and that are going through the same issues. I keep clicking away at articles posted by my Twitter followers and more often than not it’s more information that I can just absorb. Whether this information is related to photography techniques or to the business side of things, Twitter becomes a distribution hub for relevant information that simply forces me to keep growing.
The bottom line is this: you need a strong online presence to have a strong online presence. You can’t put up a website and expect people to magically find it. You have to get out there and promote it. Twitter is one of the strongest tools at your disposal since it opens you up to complete strangers who are willing to discover you. Just be sure to have material that people actually want to see.
Twitter isn’t the only social network to be used either. I also use Facebook, both my personal profile and my fan page, to post all sorts of things directing people back to my site. Facebook is great and all, but it doesn’t go out and grab new potential audiences as much as Twitter does. (There’s also LinkedIn, Google+, Flickr, 500px, etc. I do some of those as well, but they still don’t hold a candle to Twitter).
I’m writing this from the point of view of a photographer, but this information applies to anyone wanting to promote their business online, regardless of the product. If you’re one of these persons, photographer or not, your next step after reading this article should be to start up a Twitter account, add me (@mrusefull), and start tweeting away!