How to use Flickr to grow your brand – Part 2

In last week’s article, I gave a background to using Flickr, Yahoo!’s photography-sharing site, as a place to increase exposure for your brand and business online. Once you’ve set up your Flickr profile and begun uploading photos to your account, you’re ready to begin extracting real value from the site.

The best way to do this is to add value to the Flickr community, rather than just seeing Flickr as a traffic driver to your blog or website.  Although this shift in thinking does take more time and effort, the resulting benefits are well worth it. Here are some ways to start:

Think quality and quantity – but mostly quality
It’s obvious that you’ll get the most value out of Flickr by first uploading quality photographs. Still, why do some photos on Flickr become popular while others, although they’re of a high quality, don’t? Part of the reason lies in the visibility of the user who uploaded the photo in the first place – in other words, someone who is well-established on the site is likely to get more views for a new photo they upload than someone who’s just starting out. While you build up this credibility, you can learn from other successes on the site to see what types of photos become most popular in your particular subject area. To do this, browse through images that have the most views in a subject area close to yours, and try and emulate those kinds of photos. You can also browse Flickr Explore to see what Flickr considers to be interesting images that are worth sharing.

Increasing the views to your photos is also a numbers game. In other words, the more photos you upload, the more chance you have of them being seen by more people, since you’re creating a broader presence over time within the community. But while quantity is a good idea, don’t do this at the expense of quality. Rather upload, say, two good photos a week than 25 per week that you consider to be average.

Give your photos context
Providing context to your photos through titles, descriptions and tags is helpful in two ways. Firstly, it increases your visibility on external search engine results, and in internal Flickr search results for related phrases. Secondly, it helps to encourage people to interact more with your photos, whether that means increasing clicks to photosets through a compelling title, or increasing the views to a specific photo through assigning that photo with a popular tag. Keep titles to your photos and photosets short and catchy, but make them as descriptive as possible to encourage click through. When adding a description to a photo, keep the description as close as possible to the specific photo rather than speaking in general about the photoset. Also note that you can link out to external sites from your description – but do this with care if you link out to your own website. Finally, add as many keywords and tags as are appropriate to a particular photo. The more tags you use, the more you’ll appear in search results or category pages for the keywords relating to the tags.

Join and interact in existing groups
One of the most effective ways of interacting with the rest of the Flickr community is via groups, where you can share photos and participate in discussions on a particular topic with other Flickr members. The most basic advantage of groups is that when you leave a comment on a group, your username links to your profile which encourages click through and views of your set. On a broader level though, you can use groups to enhance your credibility in a certain subject area. As opposed to starting a new group (see below), joining an existing group means you tap into an existing network of users on that topic. Start looking for groups by searching on keywords relating to your industry, and then browse the groups in the results pages. Look carefully at associated group statistics, such as the number of users and the date of the last uploaded image: a big, active group is a more useful platform for increasing your brand’s exposure.

Start your own group
As well as joining an existing group, you can also start your own group from scratch. This is particularly useful if you find that no existing groups match your specific business slant or topic. The disadvantage though, as mentioned above, is that you won’t have a captive audience for your photos and discussions and you will have to work to recruit group members which takes some effort. Before you create a new group, do a thorough search to see that no similar groups already exist. When creating a group, you’ll be able to choose from three privacy options: public, where anyone can see the group; invite only, where anyone can see the group but members have to be invited by email to join; and private, where your group will only be seen by specific people you designate. When selecting your privacy level, think about the purpose of the group. In general, if you’re marketing yourself through Flickr, choose one of the first two options so your group will show up in search results and anyone will be able to view it. If you want to create the group as a way for your employees to share resources, for example, a private group is a better option.

Analyse your stats
As with all marketing efforts, you should measure the results of your efforts and analyse what’s working and what’s not. A key way to do this on Flickr is to enable stats for your account, but you can only do this if you have a Pro account. Within Flickr stats, pay attention to these metrics:

  • Overall views: These will show you who has viewed your Flickr account over time. Overall views are a good way of gauging how well you’re promoting your account.
  • Individual views: These allow you to see the popularity of your photos relative to each other within your photosets, and which have the most search engine visibility. You can also see your most popular photos over a specific period of time, which is helpful if, for example, you’re featuring photos relating to seasonal themes or product offerings.
  • Referrals: This lets you see where your Flickr traffic is coming from outside of the site, for example via a Flickr badge on your site. Within referrals, you can also monitor your search engine visibility, in other words, which keywords your images are visible for.

Don’t Spam
Using the hard sell on Flickr can be considered spam according to the site; if you use your account overtly sell your products or services, you risk having your account terminated, which will mean you’ll undo all your hard work that you’ve done to build up your credibility. To avoid being considered spammy, read the community guidelines and pay attention to points such as:

  • Make sure you own everything you upload
  • Don’t use your account to host web graphics like banners and logos
  • When you upload photos, don’t stuff keywords into your tags, title or description
  • Don’t include your URL in every photo you upload
  • Within groups, don’t post promotions or comments about your product in your discussions when you participate – talk only about the subject at hand and remain objective



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