An interview with Ken Kaminesky – 103,000 followers on Twitter and counting
I hadn’t expected commercial travel photographer Ken Kaminesky to tell me that he spends too much time on Twitter. Ken has 103,000 followers on Twitter, which is impressive by most standards (certainly by mine). Ken shared with me that his Twitter stream is slowing down significantly because he is on the road so much for business and also for his new photography tour business with upcoming tours in Italy, Iceland, and Jordan.
“I wish I could delegate it but that isn’t the point of social media,” he says. “The point on Twitter is to be a resource and to get to know a person,” adds Ken. In fact, answering, engaging and proactively reaching out to people on Twitter is what Ken attributes his Twitter success to. It is rare, he says, when he doesn’t reply when someone tweets something relevant to him. (Case in point: Ken generously gave me an hour of his time to interview him, despite his extremely busy schedule).
Despite the rather large amount of time that Ken spends tweeting, he is confident that it has helped his career and has propelled him to achieve better strategies for marketing. “My Twitter following gives me credibility.” Ken says that his success on Twitter allows him to reach out to send a media kit to a tourism company, for example. “They see my numbers and say this guy is for real.” This means that what once might have taken months or weeks to make meaningful business contacts now takes days or hours.
How to use Twitter for business
Jack Hollingsworth recently told me “Sadly, photographers spend too much time in the social environment without monetizing their interests. It’s a big problem.” Ken says that he is still learning to be more strategic on Twitter adding “Twitter is the crack of social media – it’s addictive.”
There are many ways to use Twitter strategically to promote a business. Ken shared three of his tips with me.
- Marketing is a small part of Twitter. Ken advocates a 10 to 1 ratio: Tweet 10 things that are of interest to you for every 1 that is about you. People he says, don’t want to know about your business too much. He sees that people who have good followings are those who talk about the industry and what they are passionate about. “For me those things are curating, architecture, science, travel, and art.”
- Be personable. Seeing the person behind the photographer is something that Ken is passionate about. He wants to really talk with people, as people not businesses. This echoes Ken’s earlier comment about delegating – people can’t get to really know the person behind the tweets if those tweets are being done by someone else. “Talk to people,” Ken advocates.
- Network and socialize with key brands. Talking to people extends to magazines, writers, companies that are prospects for your commercial work, and others. “Show interest in what others are talking about and if you find them interesting use that as a strategy to be able to talk to them in their language. Tweet at them. Send a direct message.” Ken advises that if you are researching someone for business perhaps reach them on Twitter first. “It’s a more social thing. Read their Twitter feed. Engage them afterwards. Be a social person and use social media to its full extent,” he adds.
Some of you may remember a marketing conversation I had with fine art photographer Annu Palakunnathu Matthew about building relationships with galleries. Using Ken’s approach , consider reaching out to a gallery owner on Twitter before mailing an unsolicited portfolio. The point would be to develop a relationship first and connect on some shared interest.
See also how to find and work with a gallery
Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+
Facebook is also important, Ken says, for social engagement with people. You can be more personal on Facebook but you can’t reach out to potential corporate clients. “Facebook isn’t about that,” Ken says.
One social media network that Ken would like more time for is LinkedIn. “Networking and marketing, that’s the beauty of LinkedIn”, he says. For Ken, LinkedIn allows him to connect with peers and collaborate on projects together, perhaps globally.
Google+ is also important to Ken in terms of photography these days. He says “the Google+ team is doing a great job and makes it a great social sharing channel. It will be a very important social media platform for years to come.”
Unlike these other social media networks Ken says “the beauty of Twitter and its 140 characters is that it respects your time.” “It is really tough,” says Ken. “Social media has added to the workload for those who already have a full plate to begin with. It’s also opened a lot of doors. It is a double-edged sword.”
Mostly Ken tells me that social media has been fantastic to him although he still wishes it didn’t take us so much of his time. He’d prefer to be doing something creative, which isn’t happening enough these days.
Do you really want tens of thousands of followers on Twitter? Do you have the time that it is going to take to build your following and then engage with them every day? Go into it with your eyes wide open, set clear priorities and monetize your interests to create your artistic presence.
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Ken Kaminesky is a commercial travel photographer and visual storyteller. His work has been featured in numerous commercial publications, including the New York Times and on the cover of National Geographic. He communicates his passion for travel, and for the landscapes & people he meets along the way, through his popular blog, and through yearly workshops in places as far-flung as Jordan, Italy and Iceland. His favourite place in the world is always his next destination. He believes that everywhere has a story that will inspire people, and he’d love to capture it in an image. He doesn’t usually talk about himself in the third-person.
Cindy A Stephens is a marketing professional and fine art photographer. She has more than 20 years of hands-on experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, and now teaches creative professionals how to create artistic presence in a changing art world. Her series on Boston Photography Focus, Marketing Conversations for Photographers, presents constructive concepts and tips on how to improve success and visibility as a photographer working in the world of art, commerce, or both. Regular guest contributions for Mosaic offer suggestions on building influence using mobile photography.