The Twitter Lowdown: Photo Marketing Magazine

From Photo Marketing Magazine (July/August, 2009, page 34)

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Parting Shot: The Twitter Lowdown

Mitch Goldstone, president and CEO of ScanMyPhotos.com, explains how to tweet your way to business promotion

Twitter is transformative. As digital was to film, Twitter is to traditional yellow page display phone books. It is revolutionary, free, and the preferred new instrument for listening to and engaging your prospective customers with helpful and authentic dialogue.

At ScanMyPhotos.com, we are using Twitter to blend our conventional public relations with the more modern (free) social media campaign to involve readers with multimedia content from all our blogging and other promotional tools. (Visit www.twitter.com/ScanMyPhotos and www.twitter.com/WayTooHigh.)

As a powerful social communications application, Twitter is what users make of it. Think of it as attending a local chamber of commerce business mixer or a speed-dating encounter, but faster. You have only 140 characters to make a point and grab attention, so don’t waste it describing what you are eating or watching on television, and don’t write about your business – nobody cares.

Twitter is more of a commitment than a campaign and should not be hastily abandoned. According to Nielson Online Research, today’s Twitters are often tomorrow’s quitters. Reuters reported “more than 60 percent of Twitter users stopped using the free social networking site a month after joining.”

We have two primary accounts to personalize, without broadcasting, our messages; a technique we found is the prudent way to delicately grow interest in our Twitter postings.

Begin by searching themes, locations and topics of interest to your very local community. Rather than search for U.S. Chamber of Commerce followers, think locally – and discover regional organizations and local folks to follow.

To enhance your local retail photo center, reach out to the community and exchange a dialogue about what is important to them. Identify other people who have similar interests and who are looking to find a photo lab to print their pictures, take portraits, or restore faded photo memories.

Use Twitter to microblog – sending brief email-like “post-it” notes to everyone following you and those searching for keywords associated with you; i.e. “Irvine Photo Lab.” Involve each follower by regularly asking them questions and forwarding their pertinent messages to others. Share links and recipes of ideas, absent any off-color jokes, political or social commentary, and religion, unless you personally know the recipient. Provide answers with links you shorten to fit, using http://TinyURL.com to support your replies. Get personal. Know your audience and everyone following you – everyone.

Navigate away from following celebrities and others who you do not directly know, or want to know. It is about quality, not quantity, of followers that will drive new business to your company.

We use this new marketing platform to filter our messages into brief updates, rather than just plugging ScanMyPhotos.com. We share advice on how to take photos, what camera settings are best, and how to make Kodak Picture Movie DVDs with our store kiosk and link to our YouTube-hosted “how to” presentations.

Be educational, rather than promotional; and you will grow a healthy list of followers, which leads to customers.

Think of Twitter as a modern-day electronic highlighter, where you accentuate up to 140 characters.

Here is our recipe for how Twitter can enhance and add more than opaque value to your photo business. Promote virtual swag. Ask followers to forward your offer for free stuff to those following them. What free services and products (giant photo collages, photo albums, etc.) can your company randomly raffle off to recent followers of your site?

To qualify, your followers need to simply “RT” (Retweet, which is similar to forwarding an email) your message. Use free online tools like “Tweetaway” to randomly select a winner; follow their
recommendations for how to host these free contests to grow your local database in your
town or community.

Connect with your neighbors by using Twellow.com, TwitProfiles.com, TwitR.com, and LocalTweeps.com. Perform a Google search for other helpful Twitter applications, and make sure to share the gems you find with others. This is like a giant pyramid scheme; but because it is the internet, the limit is immeasurable.

Most important is to have fun! Twitter is all about attracting people to trust and follow you, and then go to your website and “buy,” rather than just clicking “bye.”

[Source, Photo Marketing Magazine, July/August. Mitch Goldstone commentary]