Social Media & Photography: Observations Part 3 – Twitter

©Mark Hulbert

Twitter has developed into my first stop when I’m looking for the most current chatter.  It’s kind of like the town square, corner bar and water cooler are rolled into one.  When anyone criticizes Twitter by saying “why do I care what you had for lunch?,” I don’t take them seriously because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

I have Twitter accounts for the blogs I run, including LPV, and then my personal account.

Conversational RSS Feed

One of the most annoying and misguided criticisms of Twitter is that it’s all about meaningless chitchat. In reality, Twitter is used by a high percentage of people the share content.  Almost every major media organization and most prolific bloggers use Twitter to distribute their content.  This has lead some people to call it the ‘conversational RSS.’  I get plenty of photography news by simply following Twitter feeds.  With Twitter lists, I have these segmented, and by using a tool like Hootsuite, it becomes easy to organize these lists.

Mixed in with the links is the conversations that revolves around them.  It’s not necessarily the best platform for in depth conversations but it’s great for a quick comment.  The 140 character limit forces you to get to the point. Beyond the sharing of links and the conversations around them, you also get general conversation about your niche.  Twitter is good for throwing out questions to get a quick idea of what people think, or generally just ruminating on a subject.

Todd Walker and Harlan Erskine have used Twitter to conduct chats about photography.  These can be hard to follow, unless you use third party tools, which is another great thing about Twitter. Most people don’t directly interact on Twitter. They mostly use third party clients like Hootsuite, TweetDeck and many others.

I primarily use the LPV Twitter to aggregate and distribute interesting photography links and stories I find, along with distributing our own content as well.  We gain new followers every day and I tend to keep an eye on whose following and have on a few occasions found new photographers I find interesting.  I really can’t imagine any photography blogger worth their salt not utilizing Twitter to distribute their content. Why would you not provide your audience with another way of accessing your content?  Of course, there are some bloggers who are hung up on the bookmark paradigm, but they’re few and far between these days, and typically have a self-inflated view of their value.

Photographers on Twitter

I’m starting to see more and more photographers using Twitter. Certainly much of the use right now is purely self-promotion.  But my favorites are the photographers that provide insight into their day to day process and relationship with photography.  Is this information vital to understanding their work? No, probably not.  But knowing more about the photographer changes the way I perceive the work.  I have more to say about this but don’t want to get derailed, so I’ll have to save that for a future post.

Something you don’t see as much, but I think is interesting, is when photographers use Twitter from the field.  Sometimes you’ll see cellphone pix from location, or comments about the location, and or conditions.  In fact, there are people I know who are uploading cellphone pix almost all day. Again, this won’t appeal to everyone, but for me, it’s another  way to get to know more about the photographer and their work.

Some photographers won’t be comfortable with Twitter simply because they’re not verbally oriented. I understand this, and there’s always the risk that you could alienate your audience as well by being inarticulate, or boring.  But I tend to think the character limit actually works to the benefit of photographers who don’t like to say much.

Does a photographer need to be on Twitter? No, of course not. But it is a relatively quick and easy way to engage and stay connected to what’s going in your niche.  And I’m fairly certain Twitter has become plumbing and will probably be with us for a long time, so down the road, I’m guessing most photographers who are pursuing a career or an audience will eventually have some sort of a presence.

One final note, Twitter is more about sharing content and ideas than making witty comments, so don’t be fooled by those that dismiss it as useless chatter. The evidence is in. Twitter has proven to be a remarkable tool for connecting and sharing.

If you’re interested in getting started, here are two list that might help.

What kind of Twitterer is LPV?

According to Klout: @lpvgallery is a Specialist

You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.

  • Bryan Formhals
  • Todd Walker

    Thanks for the hat tip on the tweetchats. Sorry they’ve fallen by the wayside in the last months!

    (BTW your links to Twitter lists of photomedia and photographers appear to be broken.)

  • Derrald

    An interesting use of Twitter for sure. I guess I never thought of posting Cell Phone photos from the field. Not a bad idea, but execution for some photographers may be an issue (if you’re on a mountain top with no coverage, let’s say). Thank You for your ideas with social media. I’ve been covering it as well, it’s great to see some different perspectives.