Using Flickr Images for Content Creation

Sunrise at Mooloolaba Beach


Flickr photos are often high quality and make superb images for online content creation such as blog posts, e-books, articles or videos.  The following discussion provides some ideas on how to use Flickr for content creation for small business marketing.

1. Check license arrangements

Before you use a Flickr image make sure you check the license agreement.  You need to be aware whether or not the image can be remixed (to create a derivative product) and whether or not you can use the image (remixed or not) for commercial use.  The ShareAlike component of a license means that, “If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.”  The range of licenses looks like this:

  1. Attribution License
  2. Attribution-NoDerivs License
  3. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
  4. Attribution-NonCommercial License
  5. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
  6. Attribution-ShareAlike License


2. Advise when you have used an image

In all the above licenses, you have to make an attribution to the originator in the form they request – usually a hyperlink to their Flickr site showing their username and photo title.  Of late, I have been making the habit of commenting on the photo I use and leaving a link to my blog post or other URL where I have used the image.  Often, the originator will respond with some form of appreciation.

3. Be creative in your use of Flickr images (within the terms of the license)

There are endless ways you can use Flickr images.  A common way is to integrate them in a PowerPoint presentation and make an attribution list at the end.  You could use them within an eBook (abiding by the “fair use” rule).  Wizzley, a writer’s community, has a built-in module for displaying Flickr photos which provides a range of options.  The most frequent use of Flickr photos is in blog posts and a number of the top bloggers illustrate their posts with Flickr photos.

4. Showcase a photographer via Squidoo

If you come across an outstanding photographer or one who is creating images relevant to your focus/niche, you could build a Squidoo lens to showcase their photography.  When I was working towards my 50th Squidoo lens (GiantSquid) I developed a series of lenses focused on the towns/beaches on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland (the home State for my small business).  In the process I came across the stunning photography of BarbaraJH on Flickr.  Barbara lives at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast and at last count had more than 7,700 photos on Flickr with 81 sets.  Her photography is exquisite, so I asked her whether she would agree to my building a Squidoo lens to showcase her work.  She readily agreed.  The lens provides a great insight into the quality of her photography:

Barbara’s public comment on seeing the early version of the completed lens was:

Thank you Ron, you’ve made a simply wonderful showcase of my photos, hopefully others will now get to enjoy seeing just a glimpse of the beautiful area in which I live.

Her personal appreciation via email was particularly moving.  This is one example of how you can build social equity through your innovative content creation using Flickr.   You can imagine that if your small business was located at Maroochydore, illustrating a top Flickr photographer from that area could bring a lot of traffic to your personal profile(s).

Flickr makes it easy for you to create online content with quality illustrations.

Flickr – Photo Sharing to Build Your Small Business Profile

bulimba sunrise

Flickr is the premier, dedicated photo-sharing site on the Internet. It provides an ideal medium for personal branding and a great source of images for content creation.  So you can approach Flickr, a social networking site, as both a contributor and a consumer.  

Why would you bother with Flickr?

  • Flickr is ranked the 35th most visited site on the Internet (26th in theUSA)
  • Flickr has a PR 9 ranking (Google Page Rank – 9/10)

These statistics highlight the potential of Flickr as a medium for marketing but there are some caveats (warnings) which I will explore shortly.

Demographics of the Flickr audience

Here are some interesting trends in user behavior on Flickr that are relevant to marketers:

  • Flickr visitors view an average of 9 unique pages per visit and spend about five minutes on the site
  • Visitors tend to be disproportionately childless women under the age of 35 who are highly educated and view Flickr from work and home (see source below)
  • Compared to the general Internet population the age groups 18-24 & 25-34 are over-represented on Flickr while the over 55 group are considerably under-represented
  • Flickr as a source of traffic is ranked higher in thePhilippines,UKandSpainthan in the US (Alexa ranking by country)
  • US accounts for 29.3% of users andIndia (5.7%), UK (5%) andGermany (4.3%) are the next highest users

Source: (used with some statistical license):

It is important to take these demographics into account when developing your marketing strategy.  Does your target demographic frequent Flickr?  Alternatively, are there areas of interest to your own customer demographic that you can portray on Flickr?  When considering your marketing strategy, you need to remember Google’s universal search focus and the fact that Flickr images rate highly on Google’s image results.

Warning – Flickr’s Guidelines

Flickr has a strong anti-commercial stance and, in this respect, differs greatly from the Facebook’s Fan Pages option.  This position on commercial use of the site is stated very clearly and unequivocally in the following Flickr guideline:

“Don’t use Flickr for commercial purposes.

Flickr is for personal use only. If we find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your account.”

This guideline is consistent with the rules covering most social networking sites – they are not designed for direct marketing of a small business or products/services.  They are designed to enable you to create connections with people who share a common interest, such as photography, a hobby, sports or a location.

But there are things you can do as a marketer that fall within the Flickr Guidelines and that are a natural consequence of a site which involves sharing photos/videos and personal interests.

If you use direct selling on Flickr, you will stand out “like a sore thumb” and also eventually have your account terminated.  People will avoid you as you will have broken the established etiquette of the site.

The secret to credibility on Flickr is to develop quality, topical, non-marketing images.  The emphasis here is on quality – because your quality photos lead to Flickr users adding your photos as favorites (for others to see), adding you as a contact (so that your updates are shown to them) and sharing via other social networking sites. 

The Flickr site facilitates return visits and enables viral marketing through other people creating online content with your photos. So as always with social networking sites, the idea is to share something valuable and personal.  In this way, you can present

yourself as a real person with interests that are shared by others.  There is a real synergy when using Flickr where your interests align with your small business focus.

The promotion side is achieved indirectly through your profile and your participation in groups who share a common interest.  So your images and your contributions to groups determine whether or not people will explore their curiosity about you and visit your profile. 

A key strategy on Flickr is to share photos of the locality of your small business – this enables visitors to relate your business to that location (a form of local business marketing).  As 80% of customers for a small business tend to come from within 5 miles of the business location, this could prove to be a productive strategy.

As your profile is your dominant indirect marketing message, it is critical for marketing on the Flickr site.  So in the final analysis, Flickr is a great tool for establishing your personal brand – enabling people to get to know you and your interests.