Flickr is fast becoming one of my favorite social networks (my Flickr account is here). While I’d long considered it primarily a photo storage site, Flickr has excellent social features and integration with other social media sites, and participation there is a great way to supplement your other social media efforts. For some great examples of Twitter in action, check out these resources:
- Dan Slee’s blog on public affairs for local government regularly includes great advice on using Flickr for civic engagement and Gov 2.0, including these great posts: ‘How Flickr Can Work on a Local Government Website’ and ‘11 Groovy Ways Flickr Can Be Used for Local Government’;
- The Washington State Department of Transportation has one of the best official Flickr accounts I’ve seen. Check it out here;
- Most Creative Commons-licensed photos can be used on your non-commercial portal and social media sites free with attribution – search for them here (and consider Dan’s advice about taking the extra step of asking permission).
And, here are a couple of blog posts about using Flickr in your outreach strategy, and becoming an influential presence on the social networking side of the site:
Did you know that you can blog any public photo right from Flickr? Until very recently, I didn’t. Now I’m happily populating two personal blogs (Adriel Hamptonand Travel Tokyo) and my Twitter account with fresh and archived shots from my photostream.
It’s dead simple to link your blogs and Twitter account to Flickr. One you do, it’s a few clicks to posting new content. Flickr’s blog integration allows you to write your blog or edit a tweet right from the site and the native formatting is sound.
- Atom Enabled Blogs
- Meta Weblog API Enabled Blogs
- Movable Type
Aside from fun personal use, this is a great tool for government communicators, as documenting events can quickly turn into a whole range of content for your social media efforts, from photo sets to a week’s worth of tweets to a great blog post with key context or the event press release. You can also use others’ photos to populate social media streams, just be sure to check for appropriate licensing.
I’d long used Flickr for research, and admired the work of many fine professional photographers. But it’s only upon recent experimentation that I realized how foundational it can be for social Web content creation efforts.
Dan Slee, a UK local government communicator and avid blogger and photographer, recently wrote a great post about 11 ways local government can use Flickr, calling it “a Cinderella social media platform without a Stephen Fry to champion it.”
Without a celebrity champion, Flickr’s great qualities are just going to have to stand for themselves. Check it out, and if you do, be sure to add me as a contact. I’d love to see what you’re up to.
Allie Wojtaszek of Edmonton, Alberta, is one of the top members on the social media influence market Empire Avenue, and a prolific photographer. I interview Allie about Empire Avenue and Flickr, where she is ranked as the most influential member on EA.
Adriel Hampton: Allie, with recent updates to Empire Avenue, you’re the No. 3 in price on the site, and the top Flickr member. EA didn’t even have Flickr at first. How did you find out about it (EA), and what first drove you to be an active member?
Allie: I found out about Empire Avenue when I met (co-founder) Dups at a Tech Start Up in Edmonton. I knew I wanted to be a part of it right away.
Adriel: You’re a self-avowed early adopter, but what it is that got you to stick with EA? I know I’ve tried and dumped a fair number of social networks.
Allie: I find EA rewarding (in the sense of game play, it’s fun) but what really made me stick with it was the community it created and the people I have had a chance to connect with there. The strength of EA as a social networking tool is attractive.
Adriel: You’re a social person! Before we start talking Flickr, what is it about the Empire Avenue community you found so attractive?
Allie: I like that EA connects with all the other social networking sites that I find important and useful. I love that EA has given me the opportunity to connect with people all over the world. Their ideas now influence and expand me.
Adriel: A small yet-international community, yeah, that’s super cool. So, Flickr. I hardly knew Flickr was a social network, but obviously you’ve been thriving a long time there. How did that start?
Allie: I needed a place to put my pictures online when I switched to digital. I was using Yahoo, tried Picasa. But when I found Flickr, I was sold. I’ve been using it now since 2005 as a pro member (which I totally recommend).
Adriel: I went Pro because of Empire Avenue! It is great for storage. Do you also back up your pictures, or is everything on Yahoo’s cloud?
Allie: I also use Mozy.com for backing up my pictures. Yes, I love them that much. Plus, I tend to only put pictures I like or that have significance to me on Flickr. I have thousands of other pictures to back up.
Adriel: Not surprised! When you do a shoot, do you post most or all of your pictures to Flickr, or are you really selective? I see both styles on the site.
Allie: I do try to be selective. I want people to like my pictures and want to visit, so I aim for the best quality I can provide.
Adriel: I’m guessing it won’t be long before you have a thousand Flickr contacts. Have you met a lot of folks there?
Allie: I know a few contacts in real life as well as on Flickr. We have Flickr photo walks and meetups here in Edmonton.
Adriel: That’s cool. Lot of that in SF, but I haven’t been to one yet. Are you a trained photographer, or self-taught?
Allie: No training, so I guess that makes me self taught. I see pictures everywhere. At some point someone gave me a camera, and I’ve never looked back. I think I was 8 years old.
Adriel: What are you shooting with these days? Do you do any post-processing?
Allie: I use a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi. I usually will auto correct for colors if need be and have been known to crop.
Adriel: Obviously you’ve put serious time into Flickr, but what’s your best advice for Empire Avenue folks looking to build a network there?
Allie: I would first say select good and interesting photo’s to post. Don’t dump or flood your page or people won’t want to look. Give every picture a title, description and tags. Add them to a set if applicable. Then find groups for them. Then you can post links to your pictures on other sites to entice people to come and see your Flickr profile. I would also suggest interacting with your audience – answering comments and checking out their pictures and leaving comments. Groups are great for exposure but also advice and tips. Flickr people are amazing at sharing advice!
Adriel: Again with the mind reading. I was just typing a question about groups. Tell me, how many photos do you think is right to upload in a session/day?
Allie: To be honest I think the less the better. I think quality is way more important than quantity. So I try to do no more than 25. And that would really be a lot – like vacation pictures (which I take a lot of). But I don’t know if there is a right/wrong amount to upload in a day. If you want people to look, less is better.
Adriel: How has EA changed your Flickr experience?
Allie: When Empire Avenue added Flickr, my enjoyment of it escalated. I love that I’ve had more exposure, but EA also helps to find new contacts.
Adriel: Makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your time! Any last words for your fans on EA and Flickr?
Allie: I’d like to say thanks to everyone who supports me on Empire Avenue and Flickr. If it wasn’t for them, none of it would be fun at all.
Adriel: Awesome. And thanks for all your great community building on EA.
Allie: Thanks Adriel, this was fun! I could talk about Flickr all day.