The birdie has been aiding photographers for over a century. As you probably know, early photographers would hold a toy bird above the camera to gain a subject’s (especially a young one’s) attention. It worked so well that even decades later when the prop became obsolete, people would continue to use the coined phrase to make photographees look at their lens. Honestly, even I still use it.
Nowadays, the birdie is here once again to support photographers, but in a whole new way. Reincarnating as Twitter, it can actually help you get more jobs, increase exposure for your photography website, grow your network and boost your branding efforts. Yes, you can now kill that many birds with one social network. But, bear in mind that the Twitter-sphere has its own set of rules. Break them, and your posts will never be able to fly. Luckily, we have gathered all the tips you need to make the most out of Twitter as a photographer. Buckle up, and prepare for takeoff:
There are quite a few benefits that are unique to Twitter as a social platform. First and foremost, unlike Facebook and Instagram, a good tweet (especially with a great photo) has huge potential to catch on and spread like wildfire. Twitter’s RT’s (retweets) occur so much more in comparison to Facebook’s ‘share’ option. Why? Because Facebook uses algorithms that strongly restrict the exposure of non-paid posts – only a fraction of your followers are exposed to your “organic” updates. Whereas on Twitter, any of your followers who are online at that very moment will see your update.
With the right timing, a captivating concept and a sound choice of hashtags, your photo can be seen by thousands, if not millions of Twitter followers. All tweets are equal, you just need to know what to post and when (but we’ll get to that in a sec).
Twitter’s audience is another reason to embrace the fast-paced platform. Active Twitter users are often not that present on other social networks – meaning there’s a brand new audience outside of Facebook and Instagram that you can promote yourself to. News outlets, media agencies, journalists, bloggers, various professionals of all kinds – Twitter dwellers live in a world of their own, and you definitely want to be part of it.
A few other reasons why the platform is great for photographers:
As a creative person, you probably know that challenges are necessary to keep that creativity muscle in shape. When you start using Twitter, there are a few curveballs you’ll be facing (with courage, of course):
Photographers you admire, potential clients, photography magazines and blogs, image editing software companies, photography gear and image editing software companies – we say yes to all. Following accounts that genuinely interest you is crucial to developing a good content strategy of your own. It’s not all about the hotshots: paying attention to other colleagues and visual artists, especially in your area, is important for building beneficial online relationships. Don’t forget your first and foremost target audience: potential clients. If you specialize in food photography – follow local culinary establishments. Concert photography your thing? You should follow venues, PR agencies and the accounts of established brands. You get the idea – whoever might be interested in your photography, needs to be on that “following” list you plan to engage with.
Following accounts that genuinely interest you is crucial to developing a good content strategy of your own.
That’s not to say you should follow every single account you see. You need to work towards a reasonable followers/following ratio, one that will make your account attractive to people who are considering giving you a follow.
Did we get halfway through the article without mentioning that Twitter is a microblogging platform? Yes, we did. Microblogging means sharing short, frequent posts with your followers. Aside from being short, there’s one general rule to follow: be true to yourself, but don’t make it all about yourself. Just like in real life, speaking only about your photography will turn people away. You need to provide a value that will make people click that ‘follow’ button. Share interesting materials about photography, other people’s work that you admire, creative ideas, inspirational tips, and carefully blend in tweets of your own work.
Aside from being short, there’s one general rule to follow: be true to yourself, but don’t make it all about yourself.
1. Sharing is caring
Invest some energy in the beginning to find helpful photography related content sources. The more time you put in selecting the best pieces of content to share, the more value it will bring to your followers. Providing links to topics that you’re passionate about, will not only turn you into someone worth following; it will slowly but surely position you as an authority in the Twitter world.
2. Photograph. Mention. Repeat
Another great technique to get noticed is mentioning others, be it a personal account or a brand. Let’s say you took part in a photoshoot for a client and used a Canon camera. If your post mentions the client, the model, and Canon – all their followers who are online at that moment will be exposed to your tweet! If someone with a large following retweets you, your utmost wish will come true – new followers are bound to follow. Of course, this needs to be done within strict reason:
It might take a while for the big brands to spot you, but be sure that if your photography is good, they’ll notice you sooner than later. Since many photographers try to swim with the big fish, it might be a good idea to go for a company of a smaller scale, like a specific editing software, a photo printing lab, or even a tripod manufacturer. Mentioning their twitter account in a praising post along with a captivating image is never a bad idea. Getting seen by brands holds many opportunities for you to empower each other. While you can honestly share your love for their product, they can share that love with their followers, feature, promote and even sponsor you by letting you try new gear.
Landscape photographer and Wix User Albert Dros beautifully captured the concept of mentioning photography-related brands:
3. More content ideas
Feel like you’re out of tweets? Here’s a mix of ideas for a rainy day:
4. Timing is everything
Whatever you choose to post, make sure to do so during beak hours. This is not a typo.
Having a quick look at your Twitter account’s Analytics to see when your followers are most present is never a bad idea. Based on your findings, you can define time slots during the day that will be dedicated to quick tweets.
5. #Hashtag, my friend
If you’re using hashtags on Instagram (and we hope you are), you probably know that hashtags are like keywords, which people use to find relevant information. The Twitter bird feeds on hashtags too, but quite differently. First, you don’t want to spend the character limit on unlegible text that the eye tends to skip automatically. Meaning, you simply cannot afford using many hashtags. Cap your use to 3-4 hashtags tops, and make sure they serve their purpose directly (#BabiesOfInstagram will have to stay on Instagram). Popular photo-related hashtags include: #photography, #photo, #foto, #photog, #landscape, #travel, #people, #wildlife, #art and more.
Secondly, hashtags give you the opportunity to fly, and fly high. Twitter is all about the here and now, and it’s users are constantly searching for content that turns into trending hashtags. If you manage to “highjack” a trending hashtag with a “nailed it” post, thousands of people might be exposed to it.
Cap your use to 3-4 hashtags tops, and make sure they serve their purpose directly.
How to discover trending hashtags? On your very own feed. Twitter displays a tailored selection of the most relevant hashtags, based on your location and who you follow. There are other ways to discover trending hashtags too. The secret is to create a quick (but high-quality) post, based on a hot subject. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
See how wildlife photographer (and Wix user) Ross Couper made the most of the #WorldLionDay hashtag when it was trending:
6. Look back from time to time
Just like your photography skills, marketing on social media is all about improvement. In order to make the most out of it, you need to learn from your previous efforts. Check Twitter Analytics from time to time, and try to answer these questions: Who are your followers? Where do they live? What are their interests? When do your tweets get the most impressions, likes, retweets? Keeping track of these parameters will help you revamp your tweeting techniques.
We don’t want anyone to fly over the cuckoo’s nest – so here’s a quick and handy summary of everything you need to know in order to fly like a bird and reign the Twitter kingdom:
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