Photo-sharing sites enter the brand awareness picture

Images are a powerful way to generate attention for products or services. That's one reason for the increasing use of photo-sharing Web sites, such as Flickr and Fotki, in PR campaigns.

Images are a powerful way to generate attention for products or services. That's one reason for the increasing use of photo-sharing Web sites, such as Flickr and Fotki, in PR campaigns.

Companies and PR agencies can increase brand awareness by encouraging customers to upload pictures taken at client events to photo-sharing Web sites, says Julie Hall, VP of Schneider Associates' consumer practice.

“It's almost like having consumers do your marketing,” she says.

However, during a campaign that enlists the efforts of consumers, agencies have a much smaller margin of control because professionals, who are aware of important elements such as including a brand icon in a photo, are not solely posting pictures, Hall adds.

“You try to give them the tools... so that it will be positive,” she says. “But you hope for the best.”

Steve Rubel, SVP and director of insights at Edelman Digital, says photo-sharing sites are also a resource for finding photos to use in a press kit or online campaign. That is, he adds, provided they are published under a Creative Commons license, which allows creators to communicate which rights they reserve and which they waive for the benefit of other creators, and permission is obtained from the photographer.

“It is an interesting use of a photo-sharing site... because you also can get... additional buzz,” he adds.

Some image-sharing Web sites have evolved to offer tagging options, which means they rank higher in Web searches than they would have in the past, says Matthew Le Veque, SVP and director of digital strategies at The Rogers Group. He adds that over the past six to 12 months, photo-sharing sites have become a common element of his firm's across-the-board campaign strategy.

“This is one of the many channels that we can, for a very reasonable or low cost, deliver a communications asset,” he says.

Key points:
  • Adding images to a photo-sharing Web site can create additional buzz
  • Encouraging consumers to post event photos can increase their level of engagement with a brand
  • Pages with tagged photos rank higher in Web searches than in recent years

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