Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Simplifying Social Media: Flickr

Owned by Yahoo!, Flickr is one of the leading photo management and sharing applications on the web. (As of June 2011, it had 51 million members.) Flickr allows you to upload, edit, organize, and share images online. Beyond the Flickr system, you can easily share photos on your web site, blog, Facebook and Twitter, and even through email.

You might think Flickr is just for hobbyists or photographers, but the truth is it can be utilized for businesses as well. But not all businesses will benefit from Flickr. If your business doesn't possess a visual element, or if you can't think of a way to create one, then Flickr won't work for you. For example, a CPA firm would have no use for Flickr. But an interior design agency definitely would.

Keep in mind that Flickr's terms of service states that the site cannot be used for commercial purposes. However, there are ways you can use Flickr to market your business:

  • Register with a username that reflects your website address.  Your username appears with every photo, comment, and other action you take on Flickr. This will promote your business and motivate people to visit your website.
  • Use your Flickr profile to promote your business. Upon signing up, Flickr will ask you to create a profile page. Customize the page with pertinent information about your business, your logo, and links to your website and Facebook and Twitter accounts. This will allow interested parties to connect with you outside of Flickr.
  • Upload photos of your products and services. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Share photos of your latest product or creation, whether it's a wedding cake or an in-ground pool.  Show happy customers with the product they purchased, as a visual testimonial. You can even upload photos of your office space, employee of the month, or whatever else your target market would find interesting. Just be sure the photos you upload are quality photos.
  • Utilize descriptions and photo tags. When you upload a photo to Flickr, you have to include a description. Select your words carefully. Use keywords that adequately describe the image you are sharing. Be sure to include your company name and website address as well. 
  • Join a group or two. Flickr has thousands of communities, centered around every topic imaginable. Select one or two and join in on its discussions and make comments on photos that interest you. You can interact with others that have similar interests, while also getting your company name out there.
  • Create a buzz. Keep your customers engaged by getting creative. Encourage customers to upload photos of them using your latest product. Hold a contest to see who can dress up like your company's mascot, or use a product as a decoration.

One final word about Flickr. You may be wondering why you should share photos on Flickr, and push them to Facebook, rather than just share them on Facebook? If you share a photo on Facebook, it won't show up in a web search. But if the photo is on Flickr, search engines can access it. Which is another reason why it pays to have solid photo descriptions and tags.

Action Steps: Think about your business and the advantages of using Flickr. Could your business benefit from a Flickr presence? If so, place a checkmark next to the Flickr logo on your Social Media Strategy Guide.

Helpful Links:

Flickr Tour (official)

Flickr for Small Business: 14 Tips for the Social Media Tool Few Are Using

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