Will Tweet For Food

Friday May 21, 2010 by Tiffany Meyers,

Posted in: Email and Web Marketing

Increasingly, commercial artists are incorporating Twitter into their marketing efforts. If you're thinking about joining the virtual ranks, real benefits await. But does that include new clients? Or is the return on investment less direct? We checked in with four Twitter users to find out what 140 characters can do for the bottom line.

Rosh Sillars


Clients: Albert Kahn Associates, Detroit News, Fox Sports Detroit, Henkel Corporation

My Twitter feed is usually focused on sharing marketing ideas with other photographers, but it's a combination of different things. If I have a little bit of wisdom from my head, I'll tweet that. I re-tweet other peoples' stuff a lot, and I also use Twitter to direct traffic to my site (www.roshsillars.com).

*Twitter is not about promoting your work, and your work alone. It's about sharing. And it's about building relationships. All the common sense you'd apply to in-person networking applies here, too. If you go to a party, hand out a bunch of cards and then leave, what have you done? Nothing. But if you take time to talk with people-without trying to sell yourself-then you're going to come away with something. People will keep your card.

Most of the referrals I've gotten come from people I met first on Twitter and then met in person. From there, I've gotten opportunities to write for magazines. The opportunity to co-author my book, The Linked Photographers' Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media, with Lindsay Renee Adler (Cengage Learning, 2010), was based on a Twitter relationship.

But the reality is that Twitter is mostly a place to learn relevant industry information and become a better businessperson. Yes, you can get work out of Twitter, but that shouldn't be your focus. Facebook is a better platform for that because it's more visual.

The real benefit to Twitter is access. I've communicated with magazine editors and marketing directors who otherwise have layers of people in front of them. Normally, I wouldn't have had the chance to say hello. Now, they're not only right there in front of me, they're happy to chat with me.

Taylor Davidson
New Orleans


Clients: Voodoo Ventures, Everywhere, FSC Interactive, electrocinema

I started tweeting in August 2007. Twitter was different then; this was before its applicability for business development or personal promotion was truly understood. It was fun, loose-a way for me to tap into a community I didn't see every day. Now, it's a part of my daily life and business.

* You get out of Twitter what you put into it. Photographers are told to "shoot what you want to be shooting," meaning that your portfolio should show what you want to shoot as much as what you've historically shot. Similarly, you should "tweet what you want to get out of tweeting." If you only tweet about what you eat, then you'll probably only connect with people who do the same.

I have definitely gotten new business from tweeting, although not from a direct "I tweeted this, and I got this bit of business." Business comes from the relationships we create and maintain by participating in this kind of public communication. At the end of the day, people are the engines behind businesses, and Twitter is about people connecting to people.

People should also remember that there is no overnight success in social media. It takes a long time for your investments in social media to pay off. We all understand it takes time and experience to be a great photographer: The same goes for social media.

Mati Rose McDonough
San Francisco


Clients: Patagonia, University Games, iPop for Madison Park Greetings, Oopsy Daisy

Twitter is a very easy way to stay in contact with potential customers. For me, it's a mix of business and personal and it is always genuine. I only tweet things when I feel inspired to share information, not out of a business obligation. That's a thread in all my social networking: My motives are authentic, and I think that's what makes it work.

* Twitter is also a great way to spread the word quickly about something, like an art show. And it can get your questions answered quickly. For example, I always forget how to do screen captures. I can put that out and in three seconds, I've got the answer. I love the instant feedback, connection and advice... given or taken.

I haven't gotten an illustration job out of Twitter per se, but I have sold paintings. Recently, I did some T-shirts for Patagonia. When the T-shirts came out, I tweeted it. People re-tweeted the message, and when I later saw some of my friends, they were wearing the shirt. That's a very cool thing about Twitter: It can point people in the direction of your artwork.

Jessica Swift


Clients: T-Mobile, Danielle LaPorte, Carolina Pad, Storey Publishing

My Twitter feed is a mix of everything. I re-tweet stuff that I find interesting. I tell people what's going on in my business world, like upcoming shows or new products. It really depends on how I'm feeling, but I try not to bombard people with too much self-promotion-y stuff.

* I've definitely gotten new business from Twitter. I've had someone recommend me on Twitter, and then [the referral] has contacted me. Or I'll get in touch with someone who wrote that they needed an illustrator. Stuff like that happens all the time.

But it's not all about getting new clients for me. A lot of the time, I'm also keeping in touch with other entrepreneurs, so it's hard to say what the return on my time investment is. I'd say it has definitely added a new dimension to my business.

In my opinion, Twitter is the best way to connect to new audiences and people you admire and can learn from. Being as visible as possible in this saturated market is important, and Twitter makes you visible to a lot of people who may not find you otherwise.

Twitter Advice:

  • Use Twitter as one part of a larger marketing program.
  • Avoid being aggressively self-promotional. Instead, champion the people you respect by re-tweeting, mentioning or recommending them.
  • Follow people, not just companies or celebrities. "That will give you the opportunity to build much stronger connections," says Davidson.
  • To drive more traffic to your website, tweet links to your new posts.
  • "Twitter is keyword sensitive," Sillars notes. If you want architects to find you when they use Twitter's search function, use their vocabulary, as well as hashtags.
  • Stay upbeat. "When people whine and complain on Twitter and never have a positive thing to say, I stop following them pretty fast," says Swift, who adds this counsel: "Be inspiring, and be yourself."