Social media comes in many shapes and forms. You have the life-inclusive multipurpose Facebook, the quickfire thought sharing platform Twitter, the time wasting viral powerhouse YouTube, the professional networking tool LinkedIn, the inspiration generating Pinterest…well, you get the idea. The niche is ever widening, with more sites being created to fit new audiences every day.
Some are big hits, some are just carbon copy wannabes. Most are innovative but don’t quite manage to take off the way the creators hoped it would. Mainly because it is in a market that is so well covered by massive websites.
The one that has managed to cover all things image sharing is Flickr. A place for people to show off their own work, it is probably the most popular photo site on the web. It has plenty of professional portfolios, amateur albums and even creative commons items that can be used freely for personal or commercial purposes. With proper credit, of course.
If you are using Flickr and want to increase your visibility, there are several ways you can do so. But first, I want to address a common misconception people have about this site.
While it is in the Terms and Services that you cannot use Flickr to advertise, it doesn’t mean you cannot indirectly promote your business. Flat out advertising will get you kicked off the site in a heartbeat. As will spamming groups with links and things trying to get you to go to their site or page.
But if you want to promote your business, these five tips will help you do so within Flickr’s rules, while raising your overall visibility.
#1. Reverse Marketing
(This includes embedding links in webpages, sharing from social media sites, Pinterest)
Just because you can’t easily link to outside pages from within Flickr, doesn’t mean you can’t do it the other way around. Embed the link in photos you use on blogs, share it on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and connect other photography accounts with your Flickr account in the descriptions. This allows you to draw people on third-party sites to your Flickr page. Which then gives them access to your other photos, as well.
In addition, you can create a Pinterest account to share your photos, as well. They have recently made a feature that allows sharing from Flickr, but automatically offers proper credit and a link back to the original photographer. Which will get you around those nagging copyright and fair use worries.
More reading: How To Add Flickr Images On Your Blog
#2. Get a Professional Account
It doesn’t cost much to buy an annual professional account from Flickr. For about $25 you can have an official icon showing that you are a pro user, which actually adds more credibility in the community. You also get enhanced features, such as unlimited photos, video, HD video capabilities and photo replacement if you enhance an image.
But the most beneficial feature for visibility is that with a pro account, you can post a photo in up to 60 user group pools. Whereas a free account only allows you to put each photo in ten. This gives you six times the chance of being seen.
You also get statistics that show you traffic and link referrals. So you can monitor where traffic is generated from and use it to improve your marketing.
More reading: Flickr PRO review
#3. Join Plenty Of Groups and Be Active
Group pools are about much more than just posting your own work, whether you do so on a pro account, or not. It is about fostering relationships and contributing to the site at large. The more you do this, the more well known you will become. But it will be in a positive manner that gives you a reputation on Flickr, and brings people to your images.
Start by commenting regularly, offering constructive criticism and telling people what you like about their images. Be encouraging and invite people to the groups you join. Participate in contests, where able. You can even start your own group, if you are ambitious.
More reading: Turbo Charge Your Traffic With Flickr Groups
#4. Properly Tag and Organize Your Photos
A surprisingly common mistake people make is in tagging and grouping their photos. These little details make it harder for images to come up in a search, and so limit exposure, even when placed in plenty of groups. You have to make sure you are putting precise, obvious tags in each photo when you first upload them.
When adding tags, it help to write both genre, mood and description keywords. For example, a photo could be a sepia shot of someone standing in a field with a low sun. You could tag it, ‘sepia, nature, woman, field, sunset, romantic, nature, calming’. This gives a decent number of relevant search parameters for a user to find your shot.
As for organization, it helps to put your work into collections. This is done on your profile page. You can take sets and put them together, or just group them based on common themes, formats or any other element you might like. You see this a lot with people who make series that are meant to go together.
More reading: Tips for Effective Flickr Tagging (some great advice there!)
#5. Allow Creative Commons Use
The web is full of blogs and sharing sites now. Many are always on the lookout for images they can use, royalty free. Stock photos only go so far, and they may be looking for something a bit better to use. Which is why so many choose Flickr, thanks to the creative commons section. They are easy to embed with links and author names, and can be found on multiple sites. For example, Wikimedia Commons always has a lot of Flickr images mirrored there.
If you want to see your images gaining a wider viewing, start offering some of them for fair use. It doesn’t have to be every photo, but just a select few that have licensing offered. I usually recommend photographers provide one in ten pictures under creative commons licenses.
More Reading: Choosing and crediting Flickr Creative Commons photos
People love Flickr, both for personal and professional use. For the average photographer, it has limitless potential for self promotion and sharing creative inspiration with others. For businesses, it is a possible social tool that can draw others to products or services through indirect marketing.
Whichever way you choose to use it, the handiness of Flickr is impossible to deny, So start boosting your visibility using the five steps above, and get to reaping the benefits.