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Flickr Marketing for Profit
Unlock Flickr’s hidden marketing and promotion potential.
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Flickr Marketing For Profit
© Copyright 2010 New Media Entertainment Ltd. Copyrighted material. All rights reserved. No reproduction, reselling,reprinting, or republishing, in whole or in part, is permitted. ISBN-10: 1609350022 ISBN-13: 978-1609350024 There is no warranty as to the accuracy of the material contained herein and it may not be relied upon for any purpose. Flickr is a trademark of Yahoo/Flickr. Neither New Media Entertainment Ltd nor the editors of Photopreneur are associated or affiliated with Yahoo/Flickr. THE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES DESCRIBED IN THIS EBOOK ARE FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. ANY EXAMPLES AND ADVICE GIVEN IN THIS EBOOK SHOULD NOT TO BE CONSTRUED TO GUARANTY ECONOMIC SUCCESS. DUE TO MANY VARIABLE RISKS,
YOU MUST MAKE YOUR OWN INDEPENDENT JUDGMENT AS TO THE VIABILITY OF ANY BUSINESS TRANSACTION. EVEN IF YOU FOLLOW THE ADVICE GIVEN IN THIS EBOOK, YOU MAY NOT MAKE ANY MONEY AND INDEED, MAY SUFFER LOSSES.
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Cover photo: istock © aspectimages Book design by DesignForBooks.com
Introduction 1 FLICKR AS A PRODUCT SHOWCASE 1 5 7 9 11 13 14 17 18 22 23 25 27 31
1.1 Choosing and Organizing Your Images 1.2 Writing Your Business Profile 1.3 Adding Personality to a Commercial Photo Stream 2 RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR
2.1 Flickr for Conference Organizers 2.2 Flickr for Conference Attendees 2.3 Flickr for Show Exhibitors 3
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BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS
3.1 Competing with the Big Boys—LG’s Viewty Contest 3.2
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Contests for Small Firms—Michael Miller Fabric’s Bootie Contest
3.3 Other Commercial Contests on Flickr Conclusion
a partnership with Getty and the sort of loyal following that even the biggest brands can only dream of. But they’re not very visible and they’re certainly not prominent. Flickr seems to have it all. N e x t Pa g e – + 1 They’re there.INTR O D U C T I O N With around 5 million active members. . lots of vacation snaps and image after image of birthday parties but you’ll have to look hard to find commercial photostreams created by companies to promote their products and services. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e Surf the site and you’ll find plenty of pictures of cats. But while Facebook has been valued at billions. the backing of Yahoo!. Flickr seems to have slipped under the commercial radar. MySpace added to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and even Twitter targeted by PR firms and marketing businesses. 157 million images.
Any other commercial use of Flickr. So why. Flickr’s Community Guidelines state: Don’t use Flickr for commercial purposes.) Photostreams can be free. N e x t Pa g e – + 2 Unlike social networking sites.TRODUCTION Part of the reason for the lack of overt commercialism on Flickr is that the site makes it clear that it isn’t intended for commercial use. when the site is so popular. link up INTRODUCTION . aren’t more companies using it? contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e Creating a photostream is easy. they take little time and effort to produce. non-commercial use only” but that hasn’t stopped the spammers and commercial page builders. The most likely reason is that while creating a photostream is easy. creating an effective commercial photostream isn’t. They browse photos they like. or yourself through your photostream. FlickrMail. services. Flickr users don’t search for people they know and they don’t connect through communities that they were once members of. etc). or Flickr accounts must be approved by Flickr. If we find you selling products. and the worst that can happen is that a marketer gets kicked off the site. creating an effective commercial photostream isn’t. (Facebook’s terms also state that “the Service and the Site are available for your personal. Flickr technologies (including APIs. But those sorts of warnings have rarely frightened marketers off other sites. Flickr is for personal use only. we will terminate your account.
We’ll start by examining the most obvious use of Flickr by a company: as a showcase for its products. While that might be the most straightforward use. but they’re a fast way to attract a lot of attention and they can do a great job of raising the profile of any company—even companies that have nothing to do with photography.TRODUCTION in groups on topics that interest them and tell friends and family where to find their photos. In this paper. N e x t Pa g e – + 3 All these methods have one thing in common. We’ll then look at how both individuals and companies can benefit from using Flickr as a way of sharing photos of events and conferences. We’ll review how some companies are turning a Flickr store front into an effective marketing tool. None of them is pushy. stand out from the crowd and generate future revenues. we’ll look at some of the ways commercial members of Flickr are doing just that. forceful or sales-y. Flickr might be free at its cheapest INTRODUCTION . A lot of Flickr members are doing this anyway. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e Those might take some effort to organize. Smart commercial users can do it to maintain networks. it’s not always the most effective. we’ll also discuss one particular method that’s long been used on Flickr for promotions: contests. Companies looking to use the site to showcase their products have to do more than just maintain a presence if they’re going to bring people to their images and to the promotional messages those images contain. They need to be a part of the community. And finally.
that’s something that every commercial user has to keep in mind when promoting on Flickr.TRODUCTION but successful Flickr use demands payment in the form of a contribution to the site’s community of photographers. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 4 INTRODUCTION . As we’ll see in this ebook.
Each of these companies uses a free Flickr account to show standard product pictures shot against a white background. and KSJ Knitwear which sells knitted sweaters. Sahara Smoke Company which sells hookahs. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 5 A number of small companies are doing this. The company uploads images of its products and includes a link in its profile to a website where people can place orders. including Accessory Bug which sells bags and belts.FLIC K R A S A P RO D U C T S HO W C A SE 1 The most obvious way for a company to promote its products on Flickr is by using its photostream as a store front. .
com. runs several Flickr groups and places the FLICKR AS A PRODUCT SHOWCASE contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 6 . and profiles that are interesting to read. each related to smoking and hookahs. Both members have photostreams that are varied and personal. While it’s not clear how many sales each of these companies is generating as a result of its presence on Flickr. for example. Clearly. Sahara Smoke Company however boasts a respectable 168 contacts and is a member of seven Flickr groups. a French furniture designer. When that’s all a company does. The BBC. Uploading product shots to Flickr then is a start but it’s not enough to build a solid business presence on the site.None of the streams makes use of sets to organize the images (even though Accessory Bug has almost 1. but there’s no reason why a firm couldn’t assign an employee the task of overseeing the business’s Flickr presence.000 photos) and neither KSJ Knitwear nor Accessory Bug lists any contacts at all. There’s no reason why a firm couldn’t assign an employee to run the Flickr stream and give it a personal touch. it helps too that both are produced by individuals rather than companies. it’s unlikely that a site with no listed contacts and no active participation in Flickr activities is going to generate the sort of loyal following that translates into conversions. A much better use of Flickr to show off products can be found on streams run by Smitten Kitten Originals which sells hand-crocheted products through the craft site Etsy. and Nicolas Bouriette. it’s also easy to make the sort of mistakes that will almost guarantee a company sees no return on its efforts.
and personality. the profile. Nicolas Bouriette does that on his photostream by using bold colors and including shots of the shoot itself. the most important part of a commercial presence on a site dedicated to photography is going to be the images. Rather than focus on the image-taking.name of the employee responsible in the profile so that other users can feel that they’re communicating with a person and not a corporation. it’s possible to divide a successful stream into three parts: the images and their organization. For companies who want to use Flickr to show off their products then. clothing or just about anything else. They see Flickr as an online catalog rather than as an active marketing tool. we’ve already seen how easy it is for companies to go wrong. A much better option is to ditch the catalog shots and try to produce photos that are interesting as images. they put their products front and center. Darlene at Smitten Kitten Originals makes no such claim but FLICKR AS A PRODUCT SHOWCASE . And yet. That might work for companies selling products related to photography but for firms selling design services. N e x t Pa g e contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e – + 7 Nicolas though describes himself as a photographer as well as a designer so as a Flickr-based marketer he has an advantage.1 Choosing anD organizing your images Clearly. 1. it’s a waste of an opportunity.
His images offer plenty of variety and include informative descriptions too. That has the effect of reducing the commercial feel of her photostream and making it more personal. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 8 FLICKR AS A PRODUCT SHOWCASE .Part of Nicolas Bouriette’s photostream. she mixes her craft products with personal shots of the books she’s reading or the view from her balcony. instead. It’s a private photostream that shows off her products rather than a commercial stream that says something about the person who created it. That’s the sort of balance that’s more likely to build a network of Flickr-based friends who will then buy Darlene’s goods. It’s a strategy that’s less likely to work for a big business but it could be very helpful for a hobby industry.
In fact. uses or styles to name just three. competitive advantage and strategy. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 9 FLICKR AS A PRODUCT SHOWCASE .Neither Darlene nor Nicolas Bouriette though uses sets to organize their photos. a strategy that is used by decorative artist Sherry Haydel. “works in progress” and shots of particular jobs. 1. Her pro account contains ten sets.2 Writing your Business ProFile Anyone impressed by the products made by KSJ Knitwear and displayed on its Flickr stream. and who wanted to know a little more about the company would need a fair amount of patience. Any business can replicate that approach by creating sets for different product categories. The effect is to make her work easier for potential clients to browse. Users on Flickr do have time to browse but they’ll only do it if the pictures are worth looking at and if they’re easy to look through. including a “portfolio”. a quick glance makes clear that the profile was simply pasted from the company’s website as though the way readers make use of those two services are exactly the same. a strategy that’s far more likely to result in commissions. The profile page is over 600 words long with all sorts of details about inventory control.
Someone visiting a Flickr profile has had their interest sparked by the pictures. That means a Flickr profile—even for a commercial photostream— has to feel as though it comes from an individual. They’ll expect to find a personal message from the photographer talking about himself and his love of the subject. N e x t Pa g e contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e – + 10 Darlene of Smitten Kitten Originals. They aren’t. They want to know about the company and what it can do. They want to know who took them and why. Someone visiting a corporate website has done so deliberately.Smitten Kitten Original’s profile is simple but effective. has a very simple profile that describes her hobbies and what she likes to take FLICKR AS A PRODUCT SHOWCASE . for example.
They anticipate that they’ll see content that portrays the products in the best light possible and they’ll read it appropriately.3 aDDing Personality to a CommerCial Photo stream Much of successful marketing comes down to expectation. They understand that a company’s site is a promotional tool. the profile makes the link to Darlene’s website stand out. The only thing she could have done to make it better was write on her profile that her products are for sale. If lots of companies start using the site. It takes just a second to read but gives users a brief idea of who created the stream. users of Flickr assume that photostreams are created by people like them: individuals who want to share their photos. encouraging people to click through to learn more. making it easy for users to feel they have a connection with her. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e On Flickr though. – + 11 FLICKR AS A PRODUCT SHOWCASE . Someone who visits a Flickr profile does it out of curiosity. Someone who visits a website does so deliberately.pictures of. Readers expect to be sold when looking at an ad so they forgive the sales message. And by not being long. users aren’t expecting to see a sales message. 1. that might change—as it has already changed on Facebook—but at the moment. That’s true too of commercial websites.
rather than simply uploading the company’s catalog shots.Smart companies meet that expectation. But it does require a little thought and planning to make sure that the stream fits Flickr’s unique feel. including shots from behind the company’s scenes. They use sets and even collections to divide products into different categories and make the photostream easier to browse. They assign an employee to represent the firm on the site so that they can use the first person singular instead of a non-personal plural. Creating an effective corporate photo stream isn’t difficult. interesting and indicate that the items are for sale. And they write photo descriptions that are informative. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 12 FLICKR AS A PRODUCT SHOWCASE . They use a variety of images. They keep the profile simple and personal to provide information and build a connection while generating enough interest to drive users through their website link.
those images represent an opportunity that event organizers and attendees are already putting to good use.” “exhibition” and “expo” and you’ll be browsing well over a million shots taken at various events around the world.R ECO R D ING 2 C OR P O R AT E EVENT S O N FL IC K R Search for “conference” as a photo tag on Flickr and you’ll be offered over 376. Flickr allows them to share the experience with people who didn’t attend. N e x t Pa g e contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e – + 13 For commercial Flickr members. Add in photos marked “fair. get even more out of their stand than they were .000 images.
weforum.When even the World Economic Forum is posting images of its events on Flickr. security forces tend to be drafted in to use water cannon to keep people RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR .ch/Photo by Andy Mettler). In fact. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e 2. able to do on the day and make the most of an event’s networking opportunity. (Copyright World Economic Forum (www.org) swiss-image.1 FliCkr For ConFerenCe organizers N e x t Pa g e – + 14 The conferences held by the World Economic Forum (WEF) are not the sort of events that anyone can attend. you know the site has influence.
a stream like this isn’t intended to boost attendance. the WEF maintains a Flickr photostream at www.flickr. despite its elitism. Attendees include heads of state from around the world including Russia. as well as shots from various forums. CEOs of multinational corporations and personalities like Bono and Queen Noor of Jordan. the UK and African states. N e x t Pa g e contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e But why didn’t the WEF place these images on its own website? There are a couple of likely reasons. Clearly. however. It’s not difficult for the owner of a small business that wants to use Flickr to sell products to network on the site. a conference organizer’s photostream is more likely to work best as an adjunct to a website. The profile is a short introduction to the WEF with a link to the forum’s website. would be appealing to a different audience. and a small business and the Flickrverse then are very different.com/photos/worldeconomicforum. A conference organizer. The stream shows images from each annual meeting as far back as 1999 organized into individual sets. build a community of contacts and develop a customer base. The relationships between a conference organizer and the Flickrverse.away. Because Flickr members are unlikely to be interested in either the images as examples of photography or the topic of the photos (shots showing groups of people you don’t know always have limited appeal). – + 15 RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR . And yet. It’s a piece of public relations intended to show the public—the sort of people who use Flickr—what the WEF does.
Flickr is popular and communal so the WEF is able to borrow some of that identification and apply it to its own image. Anyone can see them. Conferences are only experienced by those who attended. The WEF’s photostream makes good use of sets to break collections of photos into groups for efficient browsing. it’s possible that some people will click through from the WEF’s website and everyone who sees that it has a Flickr stream would be left with the impression that the WEF is in touch with the way people view images. By placing images from the conference in a public arena like Flickr.The first is that Flickr’s organization makes displaying a large collection of images very easy. becoming a part of Flickr can be a useful way to be to everyone. that same process can work for any conference organizer. users can also comment on the photos and because the WEF’s images are licensed as Creative Commons. seen to be opening up to the public. use them and share them. the conference organizer shows that it’s still open to everyone else. For a conference with an image as opens the event elitist as the WEF’s. images on Flickr up contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 16 RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR . To a limited extent. While it’s unlikely that many regular Flickr members will visit a stream like the WEF’s. Placing photos of your event on Flickr makes it look democratic. anyone can even take Placing conference them. The other reason though is perhaps more important.
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. food and macrophotography. Whether those people come from Flickr itself or from the organizer’s own website is less important than the fact that the images are available and open to the public. for example.com/photos/mrtopf/) and you might get the impression that he attends a lot of conferences and meet-ups. 2.0 Expo in Berlin.2 FliCkr For ConFerenCe attenDees Browse the photostream of Christian Scholz (known as Mrtopf on Flickr—www. EuroPython 2007 and far too many barcamps to be healthy. His stream then isn’t dedicated to conferences but rather the conferences he attends appear to be treated in the same manner as his personal images. – + 17 RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR .flickr.flickr. The description of that collection includes a link to a related website and the images themselves act both as a visual reminder for the people who attended and an introduction for those who didn’t. the Web 2. It’s a use for Flickr that many people who attend conferences take advantage of. His photostream contains sets from the Plone Conference 2007.com/photos/northeastindiana/ that includes a collection from its 2008 annual conference. has a Flickr stream at www. But what can they get out of it and why should they do it? contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e Christian’s conference sets are mixed in with personal sets that include images of his travels.
N e x t Pa g e – + 18 While people who come across the images of a stand on Flickr will be unable to pick up flyers or ask questions. it’s likely that many of them would be either from other attendees who want to see pictures of themselves or people who are interested in the topic of the conference. Used together with all of the business cards he would have collected at the event. Christian is in a prominent position. they act first as a visual record of the places he’s been and the people he’s met. taking its ability to publicize and promote beyond the people who happened to be there at the time. It can be a powerful way to get more out of the original attendance. they can find their way to the exhibitor’s website—which is likely to provide at least as RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR . Although Christian’s images have a relatively low number of views. Sharing images from conferences places attendees at the center of a network.3 FliCkr For shoW exhiBitors If adding a collection of photos of a conference they visited has the potential to place attendees at the center of a useful network. But it can also do a lot more than that. as someone who wasn’t just there but is able to continue providing access to the experience long after the event has ended. a photo set from a conference then can be an effective reminder. what can it do for enterprises that set up stalls at commercial fairs? contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e Like conference organizers. Either way.In that way. 2. they too will be extending the reach of the event.
for example. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 19 RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR . this also tends to be done in different ways. A better example of how an image of an exhibition stall can be effective comes from Mandy Prowse of Feltbug (http://www. On the one hand. com/people/feltbug). Mandy uses her profile page to describe her artistic works and her sets are broken down neatly into the various media in which she works. has a stream that shows pictures of her travels.com/ people/vivido) .flickr. Images like these aren’t meant to have a commercial value. her child and anything else that catches her eye. It’s a neat way of bringing her stand to a public that didn’t make it to the fair itself. individual Flickr members may add an image from a stall they manned to their personal photostream. who uses the name Vivido on Flickr (www. One of those pictures though shows a throng of people at her company’s stall at a telecom exhibition in Karachi. They say something about the person who took the picture not the company that person works for. On Flickr. They don’t work in the same way as the product images combined with personal shots that we saw on Smitten Kitten’s photostream. One of her images though shows a mock-up of a stall that she displayed at a craft fair in London. Naureen Shahid.much information as they would have been able to gather had they attended the event.flickr.
Mandy Prowse’s mock-up of her Feltbug stall showed craft buyers what they were missing.flickr. Photography: Feltbug (http://www.com/photos/ feltbug/2647924532) contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 20 RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR .
she has organized them well so that potential buyers of her textile work. With a little care. and it might not be the most artistic image in the world but it does contain many of the features that make up an effective stall photo: the photostream itself is about the products not the individual. paintings or sculptures can easily obtain an idea of her work. The image of the stall should help to bring people who didn’t see it at the time into a site to learn more. Flickr can be an effective way to extend the reach of those events. Although Mandy hasn’t tagged her images. Products can be personalized but commercials stalls are always about the business that uses them. fairs and other events to promote their products all the time. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 21 RECORDING CORPORATE EVENTS ON FLICKR . the name and contact information of the company is clearly displayed. Mandy’s stall image has the name of her clearly placed at the top of the picture and her profile has a link to her blog. which will make them hard to find. the images are well organized for easy browsing. Companies use conferences.The photo might not be of a conference or a technology fair.
leave comments under their photos and hope that the photographer will be curious enough to check out their own photos in return. To generate views. N e x t Pa g e contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e – + 22 . members have to network. They examine the images displayed by other photographers.B UIL D ING 3 ACT I V E CUST O M E R S W IT H P HO T O CO NT E ST S Flickr isn’t perfect.
The contest ran from April 2008 until early June 2008 and was conducted through a dedicated Flickr group called “LG Viewty Photo Contest” (www.flickr. 3. And some companies are also using them as a way of promoting their products and encouraging potential buyers to take an active interest in what their goods can do. But contests like these aren’t limited to images themselves. N e x t Pa g e – + 23 BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS . In response. Groups— the most effective way on Flickr of collecting a set of people with a common interest—use them too as a way of generating more image submissions.One way to encourage other members to Companies are look at their photos is to award “prizes” to images that catch their eye.com/groups/ viewtyfulworld/).1 ComPeting With the Big Boys—lg’s VieWty Contest contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e As part of its attempts to promote its Viewty mobile phone. The prize itself turning to Flickr may be nothing more than an image of a as a convenient trophy placed next to the comment but the awarder hopes that it will be more effective way of building than a comment alone in attracting return active customers. views. some of the most active Flickr photographers have begun declaring that they are not interested in receiving “bogus awards” and can’t respond to every comment or contact addition that they pick up. LG launched a photo contest on Flickr.
Contests that don’t make their limited usage rights clear will pick up some instant criticism. others had been put off and plenty of damage had been done.000. Marcelo Mol. N e x t Pa g e contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e – + 24 Photographers are suspicious of online competitions and understandably protective of their rights. First. saw his submission used in a Viewty ad placed in National Geographic magazine and for which he was awarded $10.000 submissions from almost 7. The contest contained a number of characteristics that can provide valuable lessons for large companies considering using Flickr to promote their products. Although images could be submitted through the phone’s promotional website. In addition. they were all passed on to the Flickr group. BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS . That became important when entrants noticed that the contest’s terms granted LG ownership of submissions. allowing active participation and exposing participants to the phone’s features. Voting however was conducted on the corporate site. the Grand Prize winner. requiring those without membership to sign up.Altogether the contest generated more than 21. entrants were able to communicate with each other and with LG too. A complaint placed on the forum led to an apology from Viewty and a change in the conditions but not before a number of photographers had pulled out. There were a total of 24 winners. Through the group’s forum. selected partly by online voting and partly according to the judgment of a professional photographer. who each picked up a free Viewty mobile phone.000 Flickr members. the contest was conducted through a Flickr group.
2 contentS Contests For small Firms—miChael miller FaBriC’s Bootie Contest full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 25 Michael Miller Fabrics is a small fabric company in New York that organized a contest using Flickr’s groups.The contest did however combine weekly prizes—a free Viewty and the glory of a public award—with the prospect of a valuable grand prize worth thousands of dollars and an appearance in National Geographic. suggesting that fraudsters were using software to inflate votes and pick up a free phone. With so many contests on Flickr promising nothing more than an announcement. Posts in the group forum expressed concern that some images were picking up unrealistically high numbers of votes.com/groups/705076@N20/). On the other hand.com (http://craftzine. 3. But what about small companies with no link to photography? They too are seeing the benefits of organizing contests on Flickr. All of those problems overshadowed the contest at least slightly but Viewty’s contest did have the advantage of drawing a direct link between one of the most important features of the Viewty—its ability to take pictures—and the interest of the people who use Flickr. but considered as entries any images submitted to the contest’s Flickr group (http://www. BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS . an online crafts magazine read by its customers. that generosity helped this competition to stand out.com/babyboo tiecontest/). The company announced the competition on CraftZine. the contest also showed some of the risks of offering valuable prizes based on online voting.flickr.
enabling the firm to use the contest to identify leads. gift certificates and free fabrics for the winning entries. there were still fewer than 160 entries altogether. the bootie contest was not specifically a photography competition. All entrants had to agree to receive newsletters and other marketing material.The company asked people to submit photos of handmade baby booties and offered a sewing machine. While Viewty was hoping to put its product in front of people who might be interested in buying it. In a message on the group’s forum. and BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS . Participants then were less likely to be concerned about the future use of their images and it was unlikely that many of those images would be of a high enough quality to be abused. But it is worth asking what the company did to drive interest in its competition both on Flickr and through CraftZine and other websites—and whether it could have done more. Unlike Viewty’s competition. N e x t Pa g e contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e – + 26 The company did however leverage its contest to drive sales. was simply using Flickr as a way of organizing the competition. it seems. the company announced that the deadline had been extended by three weeks. It’s always going to be easier for a product related to photography to organize a photo contest on Flickr than a company with no relation to photography to ask for shots of a particular subject. That though showed one of the limitations of this sort of competition on Flickr. Michael Miller Fabric. By the time that second deadline had passed. All entrants had to agree to receive newsletters and were offered discount coupons.
Boutique Café has also created a special contest banner. Boutique Café (www. a strategy like that would only work if the participation is as much fun as winning—otherwise bloggers would have no motivation to build up their competition—but if it does work. but that’s often where the similarity between them ends. judging and discussions easier. The company encourages customers and bloggers to place it on their websites to promote the contest. But the company adds plenty of posts in the group forum to build strong communication with clients. Each of those contests invites entrants to submit their photos to a group pool. But it still had the potential to be a highly effective marketing tool. and most interestingly.flickr. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e Clearly. 3.3 other CommerCial Contests on FliCkr Interspersed among all the member-organized photo contests on Flickr are a fair number of corporate contests.it offered discount tokens to people who wanted to buy material to enter. simply asks for photos of the entrants’ families and offers digital frames as prizes for the winning entries. The New Yorker’s contest was not a photography competition but an example of a company using Flickr’s BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS . it’s the sort of strategy that can bring viral power to a contest promotion. N e x t Pa g e – + 27 Like Michael Miller Fabrics.com/groups/514187@N21/). The bootie contest was not a photo contest in the same manner as Viewty’s competition. for example. Instead it was a commercial photobased contest that made use of Flickr’s infrastructure to make the submissions.
The New Yorker’s publishers.) The competition picked up 169 submissions. In return for the cost of a small prize.com/online/2008/02/11/slideshow_080211_ tilleycontest?viewall=true#showHeader). In a sign that artists and illustrators have different sensibilities to those of photographers. Flickr’s ability to allow the public to submit entries without the company having to build a dedicated website and database made the competition a great deal easier to hold.flickr. allowing them to use a large selection of photos in their own marketing material. no one complained. – + 28 BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS . (Someone did however place a warning that users could print the artworks without paying a royalty. There were no prizes other than publication on The New Yorker’s website to coincide with the magazine’s 83rd anniversary and all submissions became the property of Conde Nast. a company can claim copyright over submissions.com/groups/ tilleycontest). interesting feature. The contest might not have resulted in an expansion of The New Yorker’s subscribers but it did allow the magazine to have some fun with its icon. twenty of which appeared as winners on a slideshow on The New Yorker’s website (www.infrastructure to turn a passive customer base into an active customer base—and to develop an easy. The competition asked entrants to submit their own interpretation of the publication’s Eustace Tilley icon (www.newyorker. engage readers and offer some interesting content to its readers for no expense. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e One of the most common reasons that photo contests are held is that organizers see them as an easy way to fill up their own image bank.
Photographers are less likely to be concerned about allowing a cause they support to use their photos without charge. non-exclusive license to use. As we’ve seen. The Brown Annual Fund Photo Contest (www. targeted image base. the rules stated that “photographers agree to donate without any fee or other form of compensation to Brown an irrevocable.flickr. The exception is when the organizer is a non-profit. 2008.com/groups/ brownannualfund) invited photographers to submit images of Brown University campus. reproduce and distribute the submitted photograph in Brown University publications. this was the point of the contest. especially when they retain copyright and are guaranteed a credit should the images be used. Although the competition ran only from April 7. perpetual. N e x t Pa g e – + 29 BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS . this is not a practice that professional and semiprofessional photographers approve of. edit. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e Contests then can be a good way for non-profits to build a free. Although photographers were told that they would retain copyright of images submitted. it gathered 388 submissions from 68 entrants—and gave the university a good selection of images to use in its fundraising. claiming copyright over submitted images on Flickr is a quick way to pick up some negative publicity and limit the appeal of the contest. The prize was a $200 gift certificate for photography supplies with two runners up prizes of digital frames.Understandably.” It’s likely that as far as Brown was concerned. Photos will be credited to the photographer named in the entry form. 2008 to May 16.
Contests on Flickr can be useful promotional tools. On the other hand. For any type of company though. They can be useful for large companies—especially those with photographyrelated products—and they can be useful too for small companies who just want to build interest in their goods. Companies considering requesting submissions will need to make clear that entering the competition does not affect the photographer’s rights over their images unless it’s for a good cause. would likely need to market both on Flickr to appeal to photographers and beyond Flickr to appeal to those interested in the cause to gain a good variety of submissions. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 30 BUILDING ACTIVE CUSTOMERS WITH PHOTO CONTESTS . Photographers do pay close attention to the terms though and are protective of their copyright. allowing them to engage customers and publicize their products.Organizers however. Flickr’s infrastructure makes an image-based contest very simple to organize. offering market rates for the use of winning entries can turn a contest into an attractive-looking job ad.
The profile provides a free page to offer a subtle sales message.CONC L U SI O N Flickr was not built to be a commercial tool. we’ve looked at just three of the ways a number of companies of various sizes are making use of Flickr to promote themselves. N e x t Pa g e – + 31 In this ebook. It was built as a way for people who take pictures to share them. a stream with varied images and a personal feel looks much . The image galleries provide a free platform to exhibit goods. Part of its infrastructure however gives the site a great deal of potential for companies wishing to use the site to promote themselves. We’ve seen that when it comes displaying product photos. contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e The groups allow the active participation of potential customers and a way for the company to interact with buyers.
more attractive and more interesting than one that contains nothing more than catalog shots. and most importantly. contacts and group submissions companies on Flickr are generating. Flickr makes all of these strategies simple to implement. We’ve reviewed how shots of conferences and events can be used to promote the events themselves. Where things get a little harder is in the marketing. Judging by the number of views. For enterprises that are willing to put the effort into marketing their Flickr presence though. the site’s size and infrastructure make it a potentially valuable promotional tool. For a commercial user that success will be measured in sales and brand recognition. comments and “faves” an image generates. And we’ve examined how Flickr provides a useful structure for companies wishing to organize competitions. it has to be done without an overt sales message. turn attendees into networking hubs and extend the reach of a corporate stall. whether the products are related to photography or not. To gain that recognition. targeting the Explore page and building contacts. This includes submitting their images to groups. Success on Flickr is usually measured in the number of image views. those are strategies that are currently underused. companies will still have to do all of the usual activities that Flickr members undertake when promoting their streams. CONCLUSION contentS full Screen P r e v i o u S Pa g e n e X t Pa g e N e x t Pa g e – + 32 . Those actions can be complemented by off-Flickr marketing to make use of the company’s existing customer base but it takes time and a little effort. commenting on other images.
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