How Photo Sharing Sites Can Help Your Business

Photo Sharing Websites

Photo sharing websites have taken the Web by storm by offering a new medium for individuals and businesses alike to share multimedia and develop their brand. When used properly, photo sharing can bring a human face and creativity to your organization. These sites also provide essential links back to your website or blog, building traffic and enhancing your search engine optimization. Best of all, photo sharing sites are completely free and don’t require a huge time commitment.

This article will provide you with an overview of the most popular photo sharing websites:PinterestInstagram and Flickr.

Pinterest — With new social media sites popping up left and right, Pinterest has already distinguished itself as a photo sharing powerhouse. It’s already one of the 10 most visited social networking sites, according to a study by Experian Hitwise, with more Web traffic than Tumblr and Google+! Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows users to organize, share and store all of their favorite photos, called “pins,” from the Web. For example, someone may create a board for “Recipes,” “Ideas for the Home” or “Favorite Products.” Users can “follow” others to keep up-to-date with their boards, discover new things and connect with others who have similar interests. They can also “re-pin” someone else’s pin that they want to add to their own boards (similar to Twitter’s “re-tweet” button). With millions of new pins added every week, this social networking site is connecting users from all over the world. Here are several tips for using Pinterest to promote your business:

  • Don’t Overly Promote Yourself — One thing to keep in mind is that you should not excessively promote yourself on Pinterest. While it’s fine to post a photo of a product or project that you’re proud of, businesses should avoid pure self-promotion. An important part of Pinterest is that it can humanize your business, which is essential to connecting with your audience on a more personal level. Consider creating boards for other content on the Web that you like and want to share with your followers, rather than only your own material. For example, the social media organization Mashable uses Pinterest to categorize “What We’re Loving on the Web.” Instead of including only their own material and self-promotion, they have boards for “Web Humor,” “Infographics” and “Tech and Gadgets.”

  • What Should I Pin? — Depending on your industry or organization, there are a variety of photos that would be appropriate for a business to add to Pinterest. See below for examples:

    • Restaurants — Since food is very popular on Pinterest, restaurants would benefit from posting photos of the meals they offer and recipes.

    • Retailers — Retail stores can post photos of new products, fashion and other services.

    • Non-profit Organizations — Depending on their field, non-profits could post “behind-the-scenes” photos from the work they do, inspiring pictures or quotes, photos from events and more.

  • Include Links — When posting a pin, always include a link back to the original page. This way, when users click on the photo, they can be taken to your website, wherever the photo was derived from or wherever you’d like to take them.

  • How Do I Begin? — To start using Pinterest, create a profile here.

Instagram — Instagram is a real-time photo sharing application, available in the App store. Unfortunately, Instagram is only available on the Apple iPhone or iPod touch for now. While it is not available on desktops just yet, the company does intend to extend Instagram to a website. When you upload a photo to Instagram, you can choose a filter to transform the look and feel of the shot. These filters can instantly convert your mobile photo into a creative, artsy or professional-looking snapshot. For example, you can use filters such as “Toaster,” “Inkwell” and “1977” to customize the look of your photo. When used effectively, Instagram could become a powerful way of attracting, engaging and nourishing a follower base. Here are several tips for how businesses can incorporate Instagram into their social media strategy:

  • Link Instagram to Your Other Social Media Profiles — The benefits of Instagram are that it is incredibly fast and simple and integrates with other social media platforms. Businesses can easily link Instagram to FacebookTwitterFlickrand FourSquare profiles to incorporate multimedia on a regular basis.

  • Be Creative — As with any photo sharing site, keep in mind that it’s about being interesting and fun, not about pushing products down your audience’s throat. Instagram is unique from other photo sharing sites because of its use of custom photo filters. For example, take a look at how Starbucks has uploaded creative shots of their products using the photo filters here.

  • What Should I Upload to Instagram? — As with any photo sharing site, it depends on your business and what industry you belong to. For example, if you’re a non-profit organization, you can see how non-profits are using Instagram here. Generally, any business can use Instagram to upload and customize photos from special events, new products and “behind-the-scenes” photos of your business’ work, services or daily activities.

  • How Do I Begin? — To begin, download the Instagram App here and create your profile.

Flickr — Flickr allows users to submit photos and videos and organize them using tags and “sets,” where other members can browse and interact with each other. Businesses can use Flickr to store and share graphics, photos and videos that are relevant to their business or industry in some way. It’s also not frowned upon to add a personal touch to your business’ Flickr profile by adding a separate set for favorite photos or videos that haven’t been created by your organization. Using Flickr is another great way to incorporate multimedia into your Web, social media and overall marketing strategy. Here are several tips for incorporating Flickr into your business’ social media marketing strategy:

  • Interact with the Flickr Community — To boost their popularity on the site and increase their level of engagement, businesses can interact with other Flickr users. Comment on other photos you like, add special photos to your “favorites” list and encourage comments. At the minimum, be sure to reply to any and all comments left on your company’s photos.

  • Join Flickr Groups — Flickr Groups are a great way to interact with your target audiences. Businesses can submit photos and videos to these groups, depending on their posting rules and whether the group is public or private. To begin, search for relevant groups and submit requests to join.

  • How Do I Begin? — To sign up for Flickr, you’ll need a Yahoo ID. To sign up for Yahoo, click here. Once you have your ID, create a Flickr profile by clicking here and begin posting photos and videos that relate to your business or industry.

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Getting Started with Social Media

Social media is a crucial marketing tool to help you make connections, rapidly build your business’ online platform and get your message out. Just about every business should be using social media in some capacity. Social media sites allow you to interact with clients, customers, competitors, critics, employees, prospects and referral sources. Through the user-generated content of social networking sites, businesses are able to learn what people are saying about them and to respond to criticism and praise. These sites also make it possible to spread your message to a larger audience than ever before in a quick, cost-effective manner. The keys are choosing the right social media platform(s) for your organization, while developing and committing to a content plan you will use to feed your network with information they will value.

Here are some tips to help your business get its message across:

Choose Which Sites to Use — With so many social media sites out there, it is important to choose the ones that best suit your business. It is much more effective to actively use a few of these sites than to just be present on all of them. Popular social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Flickr and MySpace. Research these sites and others to decide which ones are right for your business. As a general rule, if you’re in B2B (Business-to-Business), use LinkedIn. If you’re trying to reach the general public with your services, then consider using Facebook and Twitter.

Create a Memorable Logo/Username — Pick a username that is available on all or most of the major social media sites. Develop a logo to complement your business name, not overshadow it. Use the logo in your profiles and websites.

Know and Target Your Audience — First, determine who your target audience is. Using social media sites, post relevant content that your clients and prospective customers will find useful and interesting. Use your social media sites as a valuable tool for your audience rather than merely for your business’ self-promotion.

Advertise to Your Target Audience — Advertisements on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube micro-target based on demographics, age, interests and location. Facebook ad campaigns, in particular, are highly targetable and effective. Facebook captures postings to create analytical data of what members have as listed interests. This data can be used to target market certain keywords.

Build Business Contacts — LinkedIn, for example, is a business-oriented service that allows members to network and gather professional contacts. Users can find potential clients, search for jobs, land deals and get professional introductions. Creating a LinkedIn profile for your business is a great way to put your company on the map in your industry. You may also upload your existing contacts from Outlook or a CSV file to LinkedIn and Facebook.

Interact — Follow up quickly to every comment or direct message on your social media sites. Make friends and treat your connections respectfully. Be authentic and actively participate in the conversation. Remember, you are setting the tone for your business through every conversation and post online. Always encourage people to contact you.

Don’t Forget About Content — Content is far more important than technology or design. Write exceptional articles, recommendations and blog posts and load them with keywords so they are easily found. The text and quality of the content on your sites is what compels people to stay and return. It should be organized, well-written and complete with easy ways to link to information. Excellent content is easily and quickly spread on social media sites and search engines. Think about the type of ongoing content you can generate that relates to your organization and builds upon its credibility and expertise.

Track Your Social Media Success — Be aware of how effective your social media profiles and websites are. Compete.com allows users to compare the estimated traffic to their site against that of their competitors. Twitter.Grader.com will run your business’ Twitter profile through and compare it to each competitor. This allows you to not only measure your own business’ online success, but to keep track of your competition.

Don’t Slack Off — Social media is a long road and a way of doing business, not a campaign. Your social media marketing success requires commitment and long-term support. Actively update your pages with news, conversation and multimedia, such as videos and photos, to stay at the top of search engine results.

This is the first in a series of articles to be followed by closer examinations of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Visit The Public Relations and Marketing Group’s website here for examples of social media performed on behalf of its clients.