This guest post was written by David Murton. David has been helping companies build and maintain their online relationships with customers since 2006. He is also a professional writer and webmaster, with a particular interest in the open source Drupal platform. On a more personal note, David is an avid piano and accordion player, drawn especially to music of the classical and romantic periods.
By David Murton
Flickr is a popular but often overlooked social media website that offers image and video hosting as well as a dynamic online community.
It’s often used by bloggers to promote products or businesses, because all of their related images are in one convenient place on the web. This makes it much easier for blog readers or customers to see many images that have been uploaded by the blogger by clicking on one link.
Many types of businesses can benefit from using Flickr as a promotional tool because customers who search for the company’s name on a search engine such as Google will be directed to both the company’s website or blog and their Flickr page. Many customers want to look at images of a company’s products and may choose to look at a Flickr page before buying anything.
Here are nine ways to promote your business using Flickr.
1. Make Thumbnails Interesting
Thumbnails are the first images any client sees on a Flickr account before they click on any of the images. It’s important that these photos accurately represent the company they’re promoting.
If you place the best photo in a group at the beginning of the photo list, it will automatically become the thumbnail image for that group on Flickr. Photo settings allow the user to choose which part of a photo they will use as a thumbnail image.
2. Upload Photos of Products and Services
Any photos listed on a Flickr account should represent your business and its products.
Many companies use php5, a scripting language that’s designed to handle dynamic web pages, to manage the pictures they post on Flickr. This is especially helpful for companies that post many photos. It’s important to remember that Flickr doesn’t allow marketing and promotion of products or services, so businesses must market indirectly and not post obvious ads.
Pictures of successful products and happy customers are a great tool. Just make sure to get permission from anyone who appears in the photos. Most people don’t mind having their picture posted and may even invite their friends and family to look at your company’s photos.
Use captions on every photo because they can describe products or introduce important people in your company. It isn’t necessary to include the name and title of everyone in a large group picture. But pictures of at least four people should be marked with the name and title of each person, as well as other information that you want to share with potential customers.
3. Complete the Business Profile
Use the profile space to share information about your business and promote it, but don’t overdo it.
Using your company logo as the Flickr “buddy icon” is a great way to promote your business without directly advertising. Include your URL and other contact information as well as a short description as part of your Flickr profile.
Use your company name or URL as your screen name. If you use the URL, each photo will be shown with the screen name in the corner. Flickr users are likely to visit a company’s website when they have repeatedly seen the URL while viewing the photos they have uploaded.
Users who are searching for a particular company or website on Flickr will have a much easier time finding it if the screen name is the same as the company name. For example, it’s easy to find famous photos from The Library of Congress because that’s their easily recognizable screen name.
5. Post Images Quickly
Many people search for photos of current events and current seasons and holidays. That’s why you should post pictures quickly.
People want to be the first to share information and photos with their friends on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Configuring the company’s blog to work with Flickr by linking related Flickr images in each blog post helps to draw attention to the photos and the blog. It also lets blog readers see more images from the same company on Flickr.
6. Tag Photos Properly
Tagging photos is tedious, but photo tags are the best way to drive new users to see your photos. Pay attention to which keywords people are using the most when they search, and use those keywords if they apply.
Using keywords that don’t fit your company’s images is frustrating for Flickr users and may result in Flickr deactivating your account.
Geotagging is another great tool if you use Flickr to promote. It allows you to tag your photos with keywords that include cities, states, a country, etc. Even if your business isn’t identified with a certain location, it helps people know where the photos they are looking at were taken.
7. Allow Photo Use
It’s very common for people to ask permission to use Flickr photos. Promptly approving these requests will encourage others to share your photos and let more people see them.
Make sure that anyone who uses the photos gives proper credit to your company, usually through linkbacks. Flickr statistics are available in the settings column of each profile so that the profile creator can see which images people are viewing the most.
8. Join Groups
Commenting on the photos of others shows that your business is making an effort to be part of the community. The people whose photos you have commented on will likely want to view your photos and make comments of their own.
Most Flickr users won’t look at photos that are disorganized, especially if they are unfamiliar with the business that has posted the images. Each photo album is called a set and the sets can be organized into collections that are related.
Cross linking between the company’s website and Flickr page will likely result in increased traffic at both places. Make sure that all image collections reflect the target audience of your company and don’t forget to link the Flickr page with all newsletters and social media sites where you have a presence.
Flickr says that about 3,000 pictures are uploaded by users every minute. There are more than 5 billion images posted on the site, so companies should make sure that the images they upload are well organized and appropriate for the audience they are trying to reach.
What tips can you share about posting photos to Flickr? Have other people used your photos? If so, how? Has Flickr helped pull traffic to your website? What other ways do you use Flickr in your PR or publicity campaign?