Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

Social Networking Etiquette 101

It is no surprise that anytime an opportunity presents itself, there will be marketers flocking to it. The problem with marketers is that they often jump into a new medium without fully understanding the motivations of those using the medium. I am writing this because I have been noticing more and more lately that people are creating Twitter accounts with no intention of interacting with people at all. These people just care about pushing their products or services onto people. Well guess what, those old-school push marketing tactics only serve to drive people away from you.

It is in really bad taste to DM someone with a sales pitch as your first line of correspondence after they have added you. It’s even worse if you DM someone your spammy message and haven’t reciprocated the add so they can’t even respond back to you. If you have built your profile effectively then there is no need to do this because we would already know what you’re about. When someone adds you on Twitter, the chances are that they have seen your line of work already and don’t need to be talked at in order think positively about you. Just like when you see someone in person that you want to talk to, you should be personable. Say hi and ask them how they are doing, or compliment them on something. Be sincere. You wouldn’t just walk up to someone and shove your business card in their face saying “I’m the shit. Now check out my website, goodbye.” It is also perfectly fine to not say anything and see if they want to say something first. Play your cards right and they’ll want to get to know you. Play them wrong and they’ll be indifferent to you.

Most marketers who aren’t experienced at social networking treat these activities as if they were the same as their mass media outlets. There is a huge difference. In mass media, it is generally expected that you are not talking to any specific person as it is an impersonal form of communication. In social networking sites however, it is all about direct communication with individuals. People join these sites to communicate with each other not buy stuff. It is about relationships and dialogue. You have to work at it in order to get to the relationship stage. Maybe then at that point, they might want to buy something or maybe not, but at least you’ll have acquired a brand champion.

Perhaps this blog post should be re-titled as, “Relationships 101”.


December 24, 2009 - Posted by | Marketing, rants, Web | , , ,


  1. I enjoyed reading this. It drives me crazy when readers say “I added you etc. Please visit my blog”. That’s a guaranteed way to not get a response. Give something real and you may get something in return. Or you may not. I realize that there is a large group of people who will spend all day responding to each other based on “I added you so add me” mantra. Maybe the other way is slower but it’s more satisfying in the end. Or maybe it’s not even slower. Who knows?

    Comment by David | January 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi David. Thanks. I think when someone does that like you say, they might be going for quantity rather than quality. I’m sure that you could contact 20,000 people and if 2% respond you would have a decent number but at what cost do you want to turn people off?

    Comment by Richard Wong | January 14, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thank you for this helpful reminder, Richard. An old mentor of mine used to say, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This might be leaning toward trite or cliche, but it helps me remember because I am always excited about what I am doing and sometimes I start blabbering about it before I ask any questions or find out who the person is and what they are after in life.

    Comment by David Leland Hyde | January 27, 2010 | Reply

  4. Hi David. I think it’s great to be excited about your own work and share with others as it’s only natural but I think this applies more to how people approach each other as a first line of correspondence. The people who were spamming me with their Tweets, I think might have even been using a form letter and just use that as a generic greeting to everyone. That really turned me off. At least if someone were genuinely enthusiastic about me adding them it wouldn’t have come across as a form letter.

    Comment by Richard Wong | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  5. Hi Richard. I was agreeing with your other point in the middle of paragraph two about being friendly and letting the other person talk and how this applies to social media as well as in-person meetings. I just read your excellent article on Black Star Rising. I asked you a while ago about whether everybody needs to reciprocate, if someone has a big name like Sting, he can’t possibly go around to all the blogs or social media profiles that click on his profile. However, what about a photographer who is primarily interested not in stock or assignment photography, but whose primary business is in selling fine art prints? If a John Sexton, Philip Hyde, or Jack Dykinga writes a blog, is he gearing his blog to upcoming photographers, to teaching, thereby building traffic and a following that will in turn get him more noticed by his true buyers, or is his material geared solely toward serious collectors? Which is more effective and time-efficient? Do we have any stories from people who have done it either way, to know definitively?

    Comment by David Leland Hyde | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  6. Thanks David. It’s hard to say since there are no hard and fast rules to new media. In my own opinion, I think that having a large audience in social media sites can help you to diversify your business in ways that weren’t possible before – workshops, public speaking opportunities, writing, selling a unique product.

    I have heard a few people say over the past few days that LinkedIn is a great place to connect with photo editors. The drawback to that site is that there is little to no customization opportunities for branding. But if that is the only audience you care about then it would probably make sense to participate there by posting status updates, answering Q&A’s.

    If selling fine art prints online is your priority then I think having an SEO strategy to go along with your social media efforts is probably the way to go but that’s something for you to decide on your own whether it is worth the time or not.

    Comment by Richard Wong | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  7. I had a chance to briefly check out Photoshelter’s 55 page guide to social media and it seems like a great read and might help to answer some questions.

    Comment by Richard Wong | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  8. Thank you, Richard. My last question there was a bit off topic from your post about Twitter, but I wasn’t sure where else to ask you and give you a chance to respond that might help others too. I hope I’m not the only one interested in fine art print sales. Regardless, thank you for your patience and quality information. I just sent for the free 55-page Photoshelter guide to social media. Great tip.

    Comment by David Leland Hyde | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  9. You’re welcome, David. Let me know how it goes.

    Comment by Richard | January 28, 2010 | Reply

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