You gotta work with facts. Opinions are good for cocktail parties and useless, endless conversation; facts are good for business. In the last year or so there has been an emergence of Social Media “specialists” popping up here and there arguing breathlessly about the magic wonders of using social media to make your business grow.
There is no success story right now proving that either Twitter or Facebook will indeed help you grow your business. Inversely, there are no failure stories either of anyone going bankrupt because of them. Yet, these self proclaims gurus that have way too much time on their hands think they have discovered the path to the new El Dorado of the photo industry. If you Tweet right, they proclaim, you will be extremely successful. Ok then, let’s take a look.
There is a cool site called Wefollow.com that shows how many followers a Tweeter has based on the keywords. So we looked at #photography :
If we cancel the photo sites like The Creative Review or ID Magazine who are clearly not in the business of getting assignments or selling stock images, the first individual that tops the list is this guy: David Malby with 103,591 followers. He seems to have tweeted recently about the speed of a sneeze and seems to have a local radio show…mmm, ok, let’s go to number 2.
With 93, 380 followers, TheBigKlosowski is a Denver based photographer that does weddings. Seems his tweets are all over the place ( “All salad is better with steak on it.”) and not really photo related. Besides trying to sell his old gear, there is no evidence of him making any income from his tweets. Doubtful that any soon to be married couples will care about his love of steak.
Number 3 Tony Mandarich ( 87, 163 followers) seems to sell a SEO service business more than his photography skills. His Tweets are also a mixed bag of Penny stocks obsession and links back to his SEO blog…
We are not having a lot of success here, are we? We could go on and on down the list, jumping from iPhone lovers to gadgets junkies but no real photography junkies. The only ones close are those that offer tips and tricks and how to’s.
Sure, if you like to caress your ego by counting how many no lifers have decided to follow your every brain burps, go Tweet. If you need to run a business, I would really avoid it. It is not photo friendly at all as the best you can offer is a link to images. Do people that look for photographers and photography go on tweeter? No. It would be the last place they would go. There are more people using Craigslist to find photo service than on Tweeter. Except Craig’s List is not that cool anymore, so the Gurus won’t talk about it.
They say you need a plan so you can track your success. But will not tell you what plan would that be, because they don’t know themselves.
The problem with social media/web 2.0 these days is that everyone thinks he/she is a specialist because no one is. They try to sell you their services without having a clue. As long as you are ready to listen, they are ready to talk. They have time on their hands, you don’t.
So here’s an idea (for free). Don’t do tweeter for business, do it for fun. If it brings you business, good; if it doesn’t, well, at least you’re having fun. Whatever you do however, don’t listen to social media gurus or specialists: if they were that good, they would be making money with their tweets.
This business has too many Surveyors and not enough Bohemians” Roger Therond , legendary photo man, once said to a good friend of mine, Eliane Laffont. This blog is about restoring the balance and letting the Bohemians talk.
Paul Melcher has been named one of the “50 most influential individuals in American photography” by American Photo. He is currently senior vice president of the PictureGroup. He writes the Thoughts of a Bohemian blog