How to use Flickr to increase your business

Do you remember Yahoo Photos? They closed down September of 2007 after advising to their numerous users to move their photos to Flickr.  Yahoo changed their service name to Flickr. Now, Flickr has the same feature that yahoo offered before and more. It is basically a photo hosting and sharing service. Is it designed for private use by you and your friends only? Wrong.  Business communities know little of how they can exploit this free site for their businesses.  If you own a small or medium sized business, this is a smart way to battle with the giant enterprises lurking in the market.

Your business will need a Yahoo ID to sign up and once you get access you can start posting pictures. Flickr has groups depending on the category or interest your business is in, join them to get more viewers for your own page. After which, you can start downloading new materials to be noticed, Flickr calls it a “set”.

Here are some tips that will work well for you and your business:

1.    Start with your Flickr user name. Put your website address or your web domain as your screen name. This way anyone who accesses your account can copy the link to a URL and get to your site. Since, your username appears on every photo you upload then your site’s link will be available to see for everyone in the community.

2.    Every time a picture is uploaded onto Flickr, the user has the ability to tag it; these tags become a powerful tool for search engine optimization. You can either use your web domain every time you tag a photo or use logical keywords to increase traffic to your Flickr business page. Manipulate your tag description in such a way that it increases opportunity for your business name and domain to appear in search engines.  Remember, when tagging, keyword research is important, take the time to research your keywords before starting this tagging process.

3.    Use the “Buddy Icon” in your profile and change it to your own company’s business logo. This way it will be recognizable whenever someone accesses your page. If you do not have a logo design yet, remember that a logo does not need to be complicated artistry. Branding is important, use a simple letter or icon that you can associate with your business, put some simple designs and use it often so that it becomes a good way for product recognition.

4.    Attach your logo as a watermark on every picture uploads you do. If you don’t have the skill to put a watermark on each photo upload then you can just include the logo on each set of pictures you put on your Flickr page. On top of each photo series would be a good idea.

5.    Use the profile page of your Flickr account to describe your company’s products and services and when doing so forget about marketing or advertising pitches as these may get you into trouble with Flickr.  Just be informative.

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What is Social Media Optimization?

The set of methods used for publicity through social media, online communities, and community websites, is termed as Social Media Optimization (SMO). The method which makes  use of various social media services, like RSS feeds, social news, buttons, blogging, and utilizing third party functionalities, as images and videos. The SMO is confused with the SEO/SEM practices, but actually differs in many ways, particularly due to its main focus to drive traffic from all social media platforms, other than search engines. The benefits of SMO also result in improved search ranking.

Unlike traditional marketing, the word of mouth is not used through friends and family, rather through the use of social media networking in social bookmarking, text chatting, voice chatting, photo and video sharing website, like orkut, Facebook, etc. Similarly the social engagement through blogs sharing using RSS Feeds and blog search engines, like Google blog search, are part of SMO efforts.

In short the concept behind SMO, in simple words, is that; implement the changes to maximize a website which could more easily be linked to,  become more visible in social media searches, on search engines like,  Technorati, and which could include relevant posts, blogs, podcasts, and vlogs.

SMO is beneficial in the following ways:

1-    It helps increase your Linkability,

2-    It makes easy Tagging and Bookmarking to social platforms,

3-    It results in inbound links for valuable traffic form social sites,

4-    It syndicates your content across the social sites,

5-    It rewards the valuable and helpful users, in terms of valued links and traffic,

        And many others.

The SMO efforts can demand sophistication, constant up-dating, repetition, patience, consistency and great communication skills with the community.  Many other rules and techniques are applied by the gurus to make more useful SMO practices.  When new concepts and ideas are being incorporated in SMO, it’s wise to keep the door open for other new ideas to be included and constantly refined.

One should infer that SMO is more than set of methods; but an Art of Communication with social communities.  Don’t be afraid to try it.  Keep in mind, be yourself and have fun!