Social media comes in many shapes and forms. The niche is ever widening, and people create more sites every day to fit new audiences.
Some sites are big hits, and some are carbon-copy wannabes. Most are innovative, but don't quite take off the way their creators hoped they would. This is mainly because massive websites cover the market so well.
The platform that managed to cover image sharing is Flickr. It is a place for people to show off their work, and it is probably the most popular photo site on the Web. It has plenty of professional portfolios, amateur albums, and even Creative Commons items you can use freely for personal or commercial purposes—with proper credit, of course.
If you use Flickr and want to increase your visibility, there are several ways you can do so. But first, I want to address a common misconception people have about the site.
While the Terms and Services say you cannot use Flickr to advertise, that doesn't mean you cannot indirectly promote your business. Flat-out advertising will get you kicked off the site in a heartbeat, as will spamming groups with links to get them to go to your site or page. But if you want to promote your business, these five tips will help you do so (within Flickr's rules) while raising your overall visibility.
1. Use reverse marketing.
Just because you can't easily link to outside pages from within Flickr doesn't mean you can't do it the other way around.
Embed the link to your Flickr page in photos you use on blogs, share it on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and connect other photography accounts with your Flickr account in the descriptions. This allows you to draw people on third-party sites to your Flickr page, which gives them access to your other photos.
You can create a Pinterest account to share your photos as well. Pinterest recently made a feature that allows sharing from Flickr, but automatically offers proper credit and a link back to the original photographer. This will get you around those nagging copyright and fair-use worries.
More reading: How to add Flickr images on your blog
2. Get a professional account.
It doesn't cost much to buy a professional account from Flickr. For about $25 you can have an official icon that shows you are a professional user, which gives you more credibility in the community. You also get enhanced features, such as unlimited photos, video, HD video capabilities, and photo replacement if you enhance an image.
But the most beneficial feature for visibility is the ability post a photo in up to 60 user groups. A free account only allows you to post a photo in 10 groups. This gives you six times the chance of being seen.
You also get statistics that show traffic and link referrals so you can monitor where traffic comes from, and use it to improve your marketing.
More reading: Flickr PRO review
3. Join groups and be active.
Group pools are about much more than just posting your work, whether you do so on a pro account or not. It's about fostering relationships and contributing to the site at large. The more you do this, the more well-known you will become. Contributing in a positive manner will give you a reputation on Flickr, and bring people to your images.
Start by commenting regularly. Offer constructive criticism and tell people what you like about their images. Be encouraging, and invite people to join the groups you are in. Participate in contests when you can. If you are ambitious, you can even start a group.
More reading: Turbo charge your traffic with Flickr groups
4. Properly tag and organize your photos.
People make a surprisingly common mistake when they tag and group their photos. These little details make it harder for images to come up in a search and limit exposure, even when you place them in plenty of groups. You have to make sure you put precise, obvious tags in each photo when you first upload it.
It helps to write genre, mood and description keywords when you add tags to photos. For example, a photo could be a sepia shot of someone standing in a field with a low sun. You could tag it "sepia, nature, woman, field, sunset, romantic, nature, calming." This gives a decent number of relevant search parameters for a user to find your shot.
When it comes to organization, put your work into collections. Do this on your profile page. You can put sets together, or group them based on common themes, formats, or any other element you like. You see this a lot with people who make series that go together.
More reading: Tips for effective Flickr tagging
5. Allow Creative Commons use.
The Web is full of blogs and sharing sites. Many people are always on the lookout for images they can use royalty-free. Stock photos only go so far, and bloggers may want to use something a bit better. This is why so many choose Flickr, thanks to the Creative Commons section.
These photos are easy to embed with links and author names, and you can find them on multiple sites. For example, Wikimedia Commons has a lot of Flickr images.
If you want your images to gain a wider viewing, offer some of them for fair use. You don't have to offer every photo, but try a select few. I usually recommend photographers provide one in 10 pictures under Creative Commons licenses.
More reading: Choosing and crediting Flickr Creative Commons photos
People love Flickr, both for personal and professional use. For the average photographer, it has limitless potential for self-promotion and sharing creative inspiration with others. For businesses, it is a social tool that can draw others to products or services through indirect marketing.
However you use it, the handiness of Flickr is impossible to deny. Start boosting your visibility with the five steps above, and reap the benefits.
Ann Smarty runs My Blog Guest. A version of this article originally appeared on JeffBullas.com.