10 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand on Flickr

Picnic spot at Montville Mountain Village
The real value of Flickr in terms of small business marketing is the ability to create a personal brand and build a following around common interests.  This post offers 10 tips for developing your personal brand on Flickr. They are offered in line with the small bsuiness marketing ideas discussed in the previous post.

1. Build your profile with care

Your photos are your marketing medium but your profile is your marketing message.  Take time and care in creating your profile and keep refining it to keep it up-to-date with your online marketing strategy.

Focus is important here as is clarity.  Take advantage of Flickr’s format offer in the profile area and add bold and italics and URL’s where appropriate … and images.  Flickr adds “no follow” code to all links, so your focus should be on the reader, not search engine optimization (SEO).  Whatever you do, keep in mind that your profile is the main way a Flickr visitor has to find out who you are and what you have to offer.

Your Flickr profile itself will also be indexed by Google.   Here’s an example of a Flickr search result on my own name – the link leads directly to my profile:

Flickr: ronpass
Everyone’s Uploads Groups Flickr Members For a Location Applications · ronpass’ Photostream · to ronpass’ photostream page. About ronpass / Ron Passfield

Part of your broad social media marketing strategy should be to have a presence on as many high traffic locations on the Internet as possible.  Flickr provides an opportunity for further exposure if you have photos to share.

2. Get a Flicker Pro account

A Pro account costs about $25 per year at time of writing.  This enables you to overcome the limitations of the free account – which are 100 MB monthly photo upload limit (10MB per photo), 2 video uploads each month (90 seconds max, 150MB per video) and post any photo to up to 10 groups.  The Pro account gives you some authority on the site as you get a “PRO” icon added to your name and account.  Here are the PRO account benefits:

  • Unlimited photo uploads (20MB per photo)
  • Unlimited video uploads (90 seconds max, 500MB per video)
  • The ability to show HD Video
  • Unlimited storage and  Unlimited bandwidth
  • Archiving of high-resolution original images
  • The ability to replace a photo
  • Post any of your photos or videos in up to 60 group pools
  • Ad-free browsing and sharing
  • View count and referrer statistics.

With a Pro account, you can get access to your Flickr account stats.  It pays to check these stats regularly.  Here’s what Flickr has to say about their stats (provided in tabular form and visually):

Stats on Flickr are designed to give you insight into the ways that people are finding your photos. There are stats available for people surfing on Flickr itself – where the referrer is flickr.com – and stats about people coming from other websites. We can show you the sorts of things people search for on search engines where your photos turn up, and tell you how many views your photos have. 

3. Participate in Groups

Groups are the major medium for communication on Flickr.  They represent people of like interests sharing their passions.  Choose groups wisely and be willing to participate through sharing and commenting (remember comments brand you).  Flickr facilitates easy participation in groups.  Once you upload a photo you can specify what groups you want it to go to with an easy click.  The more groups, the more exposure, but keep them relevant to your profile and purpose.  When joining a group, make sure you take a note of their rules, e.g. limits on the number of photos you can add to a group in a day (e.g. 2 or 3).

4. Titles, Tags and descriptions are important for traffic

Flickr gives priority to photo titles when activating search results.  However, people on Flickr will often find your images through your tags – so be industrious here.  Check tags in use to see whether you can link to them.  Descriptions are also important because they inform the viewer and give them a better context and understanding to view your images.  You don’t want them to go away bewildered – they may not return.  Providing an interesting description could hold their attention and stimulate their curiosity.

5. Create sets of photos

Sets are groups of photos around a theme much like an album.  This makes it easier for the viewer to look at related photos.  If you have a Pro account, you can also create collections which are groups of sets.  Both sets and collections have their own URL and a mosaic created from the photos that make up the set or collection.   Collections are particularly useful where you have a large number of photos.

6. Be topical and creative

Creativity and humor attract people to you (as evidenced by some of the top YouTube videos).  A way to attract lots of traffic is to create an interesting and creative set of photos around a topical event.  You will attract attention if you adopt an innovative perspective (in line with Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow”).

7. Encourage others to reuse your images

Flickr offers a range of options in relation to licensing your photos.  The least restrictive license is known as “Creative Commons – Attribution” which effectively means:

You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give you credit.

So you make your photography available to others as long as they acknowledge the source.  People can then use your photos on their websites and blog posts, in eBooks or in remixing to make other products.  You thus place no restriction on commercial use of your photos as long as the attribution is given.  This can have a viral effect as more and more people come to see your photography through a diverse range of outlets.  You might be lucky and have one of the top bloggers like Brian Clark of Copyblogger pick up your Flickr photo and use it in one of his blog posts (he has 130,000+ subscribers).

8.  Maintain your contribution

As with any social media site, it is important to maintain your momentum and contribute regularly through uploads, joining groups, commenting on others’ photos and using Flickr images in your content creation.

9. Add video to your Flickr site

As mentioned earlier, with a free account you can upload 2 videos each month (90 seconds max, 150MB per video).  However, with a PRO account, you can upload an unlimited number of videos (still 90 seconds max) with a limit of 500MB per video.  Flickr is a great way to leverage animated music videos created from photos via Animoto.  In a previous post, I explained that with the free account at Animoto you can make an unlimited number of 30 second videos or with the All Access Pass, an unlimited number of videos of any length.

10. Improve the quality of your photos

Space does not permit a full discussion of this issue but here are some thoughts:

  • Observe “the Rule of Thirds”:  http://www.digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds
  • Fill the frame: http://www.digital-photography-school.com/fill-your-frame
  • Crop your photos : This is one way to achieve “fill your frame”.  It is also important for quality presentation.  Flickr uses thumbnail images for individual photos, sets and collections.  It pays to be conscious of this and crop your shots so that you get the best result from your photography.  It’s amazing how cropping can totally change an image and even convert a poor shot into a great one.
  • Frame your subject: Find something in the scene to provide a natural frame for your shot.  The image for this post is an example.  It is one of the photos that I took on holidays from a lookout in a mountain village, Montville, Queensland … the photo is aptly named, “Picnic on the Edge”.

The 10 tips in this post offer ways to build your personal brand and Internet profile on Flickr and, like any form of small business marketing, demand consistent and persistent action.

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): http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/flickr.com

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.