Does Twitter Advertising Work for a Photographer?

Does Twitter Advertising Work?At the end of 2011, Twitter only had 1,600 advertisers on it’s platform. Needless to say Twitter dragged its feet in playing the advertising game and has recently started “hitting on” small businesses. The whole thing reminds me of Will Farrell hitting on women in Night at the Roxbury and I think Twitter will receive a similar failure when it comes to photographers. Twitter uses a pay-per-click self-advertising model, the style that Google either invented or at least made successful. It costs nothing to list or even show your ads, you pay only when an interested viewer clicks.

This post covers Twitter’s three advertising options.

Twitter has 3 options for photography advertising

1. Promoted Accounts

On the left side of a Twitter page, it suggests who to follow. Some of these are sponsored results, labeled as Promoted, like Wildfire in the example below.

Photographers and accounts to follow are recommended under Who to Follow

Promoted Account campaigns have a goal to get lots of followers quickly. I don’t like this model for photographers because followers have little value until they buy something and it’s hard for a business as intimate as photography to get hired directly from Twitter.

If you want to experiment, have a solid grasp on the value of a follower. How many new followers do you need to gain one new client? For example, would you spend $500 to gain 500 new Twitter followers ($1 per follower)? The “get followers” strategy works better when a single sale is worth a lot of money (as in wedding photography) or when you post to Twitter constantly causing followers to click a lot and drive major traffic to your website.

2. Promoted Tweets

Promoted Tweets are exactly that, a Tweet that was paid for to show in searches or at the top of a user’s timeline.

Example of promoted tweet - may work for a wedding photographer

Promoted Tweets are priced on a Cost-per-Engagement (CPE) basis, meaning you pay when someone does something with the Tweet like Retweets, clicks, or adds as a favorite. Impressions on Retweets making viral campaigns cost-effective.

Both Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets can be targeted so specific geographic areas, a must for a photographer looking for business in a specific region. You can target Twitter keyword searches similar to Google, but cannot target demographics to the level of Facebook.

Example of a promoted tweet search for photographer in Sacramento
Promoted Tweet in a search for “photography in sacramento”

3. Promoted Trends

Twitter reflects the moment’s hot topics via the Trends box on the side of your homepage. Because of this placement, a Promoted Trend gets massive exposure. Sounds great, but nearly impossible to apply to a single photography business. Click a promoted trend and it takes you to a Twitter search for a common hashtag. For example, #AmexSyncOffers in the sample below links to a search page showing all the tweets having used that hashtag.

Twitter's promoted trends example won't work for photographers

A photographer would first need a large volume of tweets using a predefined hashtag (like #yourname or #citynamephotos) then users need to click through those Tweets and hire you afterward. A long shot at best. Promoted Trends are best suited to ward publishers who control the flow of mass-scale media with tens of thousands of followers.

Planning an Effective Ad Campaign

Before you even consider advertising your photography business on Twitter answer the following questions:

  • Are your potential clients active on Twitter?
  • Does what they see on Twitter influence them?
  • What is the value of your Twitter following? How many followers or Tweets do you need to earn one new client?
  • Do you have available budget for a one-time test? What results do you need to see for the test to be successful?
  • How will you track the campaign?
  • Can you be more effective via other advertising channels, like Google or Facebook?

The final question above is the most important and missed. Anytime you’re going to invest in your business you MUST know if the investment paid off. Online sales can be difficult to track, so you’ll need an offer exclusive to Twitter to measure exposure.

Create an Exclusive Landing Page with Incentive

Most advertisers use generic marketing text and link to their homepage. Users don’t have any reason to want to contact you, and even if they do, you won’t know they were a result of your ad. Change that by creating an exclusive landing page for your ad that includes a special offer.

Sample Tweet:
Engaged? Congratulations! Let me give you a behind the scenes tour of a couple exclusive wedding venues in Cityname:

Example Tweet with offer and incentive

Link this Tweet to a page only accessible from Twitter. The page should be specific to this offer, include offer details, information about you, and a contact form. Since the only place anyone would have seen this page is your Twitter ad, any contacts through the form were a result of your advertising campaign. Not only will more people contact you due to the amazing offer, you’ll know exactly how many new clients resulted from your investment.

Unfortunately, Twitter may not choose to promote your well constructed Tweet. Twitter regularly analyzes your Tweets to find up to 5 of your most engaging, recent Tweets. View these Tweets below and remove the ones that you never want Twitter to promote.

Get Started with Twitter Ads (or Don’t)

You may have noticed the goals, objectives, and advertising text all came before we even begin creating the ad. Expect about 5 hours of planning for every ad that takes only 5 minutes to setup.

Setup includes defining a location for the target audience.

Target clients by city

As well as budget. Set your daily budget to get a forecast of how many people will click each day. Expect to pay $0.50 – $2.50 per new follower via Promoted Account or $0.50 – $1.50 per click on a Promoted Tweet.
Wedding photographers can expect to spend $1 per click

Daily budget for promoted tweets

These prices compare equally with what you’ll spend on Google and Facebook, although I’d expect less results from Twitter. Even so, it’s often worth a test to make sure as your business may have a unique angle that makes this form of advertising a gold mine.

What do you think of Twitter’s plan to become profitable? Are your clients on Twitter, or do you think Google and Facebook advertising is a better option for photographers? Comment below. Oh, and follow Zach Prez on Twitter to get links to great marketing articles from around the web.


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  1. says

    Great article Zach.  I don’t have experience advertising through Twitter,  but with BuySellAds it’s extremely easy and has been effective for me advertising and for my advertisers.

  2. teresajonorris says

    I had no idea how to Twitter’s promoted tweets worked, and I appreciate the explanation. I sill believe Facebook and Google are my best bets as a photographer. I have found that more of my clients use these than Twitter, at least at the present time. Food for thought, though! Thank you!

  3. MonicaEusebio says

    I didn’t know that it was an option to advertise through twitter. I am always learning something through your blogs. I have found that facebook has been my best bet in getting my name out but not through their paid ads. Honestly, I find them to be a huge waste of money.

  4. KateMeeks says

    Thanks for the info – I never thought about advertising through twitter and now I know how it works! Thanks for all the research you do and share!

  5. monicadayphoto says

    Twitter ads seem to follow in the vein of get more followers much like Facebook ladders. A follower (or a like) doesn’t necessarily mean a sale for photographers unless they also sell TO photographers. You know..,the photographers that make most of their living off of workshops, books, guides, etc. It seems to me that platforms like this are better for larger companies with a broad reach.

  6. KristaJacobs says

    Interesting article. I find that Facebook and Google serves as a better marketing source for photographers. To me a twitter follower is as useful as a new like on Facebook. If not in the same area a new like or follower can simply mean nothing. Facebook serves as an awesome word of mouth source when I deal with local clients and their family and friends. I am excited to start using Adwords. I’ve been told byatt photographer friends I need to use that as a source of helping advertise. 😉

  7. SamanthaW says

    I’ve been debating about online advertising and didn’t even realize twitter was an option.  Maybe I’ll try google first since it is more established and see what happens.

  8. JulieWagner says

    I had no clue twitter had advertising! I’ve always used facebook (although I have been shying away from it a bit) and my blog as my main source of advertising (oh… and word of mouth- thats where I get 95% of my clientele).

    • says

       @JulieWagner Good comment… why pay for advertising when you can get it free! I like to at least test advertising options to make sure I’m not missing a big source of customers. Other than a small test with Google and Facebook ads, I have not paid anything for advertising ever. Remember to blog on other sites – great way to create exposure.

  9. Fabio Thian says

    IMHO problem is for Twitter, as well as Facebook has and is still experiencing, that people don’t go on these social platforms with a seeker/buyer attitude; instead they tweet, and post, to “socialize” with other people and share/chat/post all day without showing interest for any marketing offer, they don’t have that mindset when they spend their time on Twitter or FB. However, social media are all trying to replicate Google’s success by simply copying its “modus operandi” (i.e. Adwords) but they forget the most important thing: the different purposes why people is using Google and Twitter (and all other SM). By the same token, we will probably find ourselves here in a few months time to debate about, say, the Pinterest ads failure or another “next new thing” failure of social media environment.

    • says

       @Fabio Thian WONDERFUL comment, and I agree. Twitter is largely for relationship building which makes me think of a new approach. A photographer could use sponsored tweets to target partners (like a wedding photographer could make an ad to attract a wedding coordinator) which would be worth the small investment to create an amazing new relationship.

      • Fabio Thian says

         @zachprez Thanks Zach! I forgot to say that your post is an excellent piece of informations, I wanted to say that in my comment but I clicked “Post comment” before I realized I didn’t add that part, sorry.
        The reason for my skepticism is also due to the fact that I have already gone through few experiences with advertising on Facebook and they all ended with a total failure; also, I don’t have so many (<600) “friends” on FB but a little DIY survey I made with them about their opinion on Facebook ads just confirmed my doubts.
        People spend time on FB (and Twitter, Pinterest and others) for many reasons but searching/buying; for that task, they all invariably will use Google, which is, until now, the unrivaled tool for that purpose.At bottom, if FB, Twitter and other similar platforms are known as “social media” instead of “search engines”, there must be some good reasons…!!

  10. Ann Marie Hubbard says

    Thank you for the information.  I was not aware that Twitter did advertising in that way, but it makes sense. For now I am just going to stick with Facebook and Google.  

  11. sweetlightnola says

    I don’t have a lot of clients using twitter, but if that ever changes, I will definitely come back here.  Super-helpful article.  Have instead been meaning to try out Google AdWords.  Thanks for the great help!

  12. MichelleSwiderskiKeefe says

    I didn’t have any idea about Twitter advertising either. Great information on this post. Love your stuff when it comes to my email. I look forward to reading them every time I get an email from you! 

  13. says

    Thanks everyone for your insightful comments. If you were hoping to get a “prize” for commenting (per my email newsletter), please send me an email. For those who already requested a prize, your rewards have been distributed.

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