The rise of ‘Brand Media’ creates an opportunity to use the Internet to speed the spread of high quality business intelligence internally, deliver specific and managed photo, video and other content directly to customers, consumers, journalists, lawmakers and other interested parties. It also provides a tool for crisis management, enhance its communications opportunities in the digital community of consumers and bloggers, and, as a by-product, create, manage and provide frictionless internal access to a rich media digital asset repository.
Flickr is but one of those channels. In and of itself, Flickr has little relevance if used carelessly or as a by-product or add-on. You shouldn’t merely dump images or video off and leave them as untitled. You need to program the channel, much like a news outlet programs the different segments. It cannot be your filing cabinet or content graveyard.
How can Flickr work against you?
1. If your brand page is dedicated to showcasing doughy executives conspiring to take each other to a jalapeno popper lunch, cigar smoking at the tailgate, beer pong-Fridays or anyone dressed up like a leprechaun on St. Patty’s Day.
2. If your brand page only consists of screen captures or images of your product placements in the media.
3. If you don’t designate an owner for the channel, who approves, commissions or otherwise takes responsibility for what is publically available. Resist the urge to share that photo of Beyonce at the next table. If it is relevant, give it to the person or team in charge of your social media.
4. Upload images once and let the channel get dusty. That only demonstrates you don’t really care about what is there.
5. If you don’t integrate the platform as part of your overall social media effort and calendar. Flickr is one of a myriad of platforms your brand needs to be utilizing.
These would just be a few ways Flickr (or any other sharing platform) would be not only useless, but also potentially damaging to your reputation, to potential and existing customers and even recruiting efforts. Someone over the age of 25 may not want to go to work at a frat house if they are serious about furthering their career.
How can Flickr be of most use for a brand?
1. It can support a wide variety of business/marketing objectives by showcasing the production process, the people who handle each part of the business and the world-class precision in which your brand conducts itself.
2. Building brand awareness and positioning within the sustainability community. If you are community minded, show your efforts. Help your audience understand your efforts to be considerate to the planet, the neighborhood and those who could most use your brand to do the same.
3. Driving sales consideration. Show new products, the creative process, the packaging or process. Let your audience have access, let them LIKE you.
4. Use the channel to recruit new employees. Show off the office, don’t show off the company clown on his scooter, the hot intern or the forced fun of a mandatory sack race.
5. Changing/improving consumer sentiment. Visually demonstrate what your brand is all about. If all you have to share are photos of people at happy hour, don’t. Your customer doesn’t care.
6. Showcase corporate culture in your sector of business. Do showcase how your organization is different in relevant ways. If you participate in Habitat for Humanity for example, let people know.
Now you might be asking, Why Flickr instead of a Facebook photo album or section of your website or blog? I wouldn’t necessarily say it is an either or proposition. Flickr is great for hi-resolution, keyword tagging, public facing, image embedding on you blog and photo community friendly, whereas Facebook is great for creating albums of content that can be tagged only with actual people and places. Flickr also provides more legal control over the usage of your images via Creative Commons. Simplified: keyword tagging vs names and public vs the option to privatize or selectively share. They are similar, but not alike and for me, the search-ability or Flickr (being discoverable) is of great importance.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the latest hot property on the Internet: Pinterest. Pinterest is another great platform for sharing not only your content, but also content you feel may be of interest to others. So, having said that, the best use for Flickr is to upload your content, appropriately tag it and then perhaps as part of a distribution strategy, ‘pin’ it as a way to share it with your intended community.
Perhaps the most important take away might be to have motivation behind your effort. Use each platform appropriate to the type of content you are creating. Don’t start a Flickr channel because the Jones’s have one. Start using a platform or because you have a story to tell and want to support it, grown the audience, demonstrate quality, skill, fun and passion in your industry. Also bear in mind, you will want to effectively manage the data as well as protect content where appropriate. Make sure you have some sort of distribution strategy in place. After all, it might be great content, but it also has to be discoverable in this ever shifting arena of over sharing and ‘me too’ media.
Tracy Shea is a veteran broadcast producer and digital innovator, who was part of the launch team for CNN.com, worked with revolutionaries at Wired Magazine and developed two screen interactive TV content before tablets evolved. He’s worked with brands including Starbucks, General Mills, Unilever, Pepsico and Ebay. Currently, he is Executive Producer in charge of program development for Toni On New York and provides digital/social media council for several agencies. Connect with him via @Broadbandito.