Sunday, May 25, 2014

Twitter for Photographers

Twitter has already been covered several times in broader articles about the so-called social media. This time, it's time for a full expose on Twitter itself and its contribution or lack of it toward photography and websites in general.

When one thinks of Twitter, one usually thinks of Twitter messages that have caused controversy in the media. These have generally been released and withdrawn fairly quickly and frequently released deliberately in order to provoke a media reaction and thus provide free advertising. Sometimes the media's knee-jerk reaction has been miscalculated with unfortunate consequences.

Twitter is used to advertise this website. Tweets are sent out automatically, 20 times daily via 5 different Twitter accounts. The number of website hits generated from those Twitter accounts averages about 3 a month. The Twitter accounts between them have 14,000 followers that are added using auto-refollowers. In general, Twitter is ineffective used in this way.

A few days ago as an experiment, a new Twitter account was set up to advertise the videos my colleague Dixie Nash publishes. This too was set up with automated tweets. The difference there is that no automated Twitter follower software was used. Instead, hash tags were used and the setup was designed so that about three tweets daily were sent over the course of an entire week. In general, response seems to have been disappointing. This is not entirely surprising given the vast amount of automation on Twitter. Look to the screenshot below taken on a tablet. Not a single one of the Tweets was made by a human. They were all automated.
There are real people using Twitter. It's very hard to find them though. It's very hard to reach out to anybody using Twitter. The vast advertising or rather spamming mechanisms operating on Twitter that are now largely free for use mean that genuine communication is now minimal.

Twitter is used on this website. It is used for a very specific reason and that is that it allows for quick updating with factual or humorous messages. It also allows the general public a way to get in touch with the site operator without the operator having to deal with spam emails or junk phone calls. More than that, the fact communications have to withstand public scrutiny lends the medium to more polite and succinct communication attempts.

For photography, or rather the promotion of photography, Twitter is not recommended. In general, Twitter is not a communication method that's of much use other than for quick contacts via a website. It could easily be replaced by a web form if Jack Dorsey decided to retire and take Twitter into retirement also. For a quick and dirty way of making contact, it seems fine though there is a caveat - not everybody uses Twitter.

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