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Benefits of photo-sharing services for business

Flickr specifically bans users from 'engaging in commercial activity'. Pinterest allows companies and other organisations to become members, but asks that they not use the site 'solely for self-promotion'.

Nevertheless, it's possible to use all of these photo-sharing sites for marketing purposes, while following their rules. Photo-sharing services offer a range of marketing benefits.

Show customers your products and services

Showing people a photo or video of your product or service will often be more powerful and appealing than writing about it. Images of tourist destinations, accommodation, fashion, food and homewares are common on photo-sharing sites, especially on Pinterest.

Images are particularly good for 'explaining' unusual or new products or services, or appealing to a group that may have no knowledge of your business (e.g. potential tourists in other countries have no idea what Australian destinations look like).

Promote your business name

You can create a profile, photo set, or pinboard that features your business's name. Your business name can also appear in your comments on your own or others' photos, and in tags on your photos. It's an easy way to raise the profile of your business and spread your name more widely.

Increase traffic to your website, Facebook page or Twitter account

Photo-sharing services offer a range of ways to draw customers to your website and social media pages.

For example, Pinterest allows you to post the source address on every image that you pin, and users can then click on it to visit your website, Facebook page or Twitter account.

Flickr doesn't permit links to commercial websites, but mentioning your business name and posting interesting images should be enough to encourage some customers to Google you and visit your website.

Build relationships with customers

Flickr and Pinterest allow users to comment on others' photos. In addition, Flickr has a well-developed system of contacts and groups, and Pinterest allows users to 'like' and repin each others' photos, and to follow and be followed by other users. Your business can use these functions to develop relationships with potential and existing customers.

Encourage word-of-mouth recommendations

Like all forms of social media, photo-sharing services allow users to identify things that they like and then quickly recommend them to others. Pinterest is especially good for this. If you pin a business-related image that appeals to Pinterest users, it can be repinned thousands of times. Flickr also allows your contacts to create testimonials for you, which you can then display.

Improve your search engine ranking

Uploading images to photo-sharing services can improve your search engine ranking so that you appear higher in internet searches.

Search engines can't view images, but they can 'read' the text that describes images, so every time you upload an image and include a description that contains your business name, you're helping to improve your search-engine ranking. And the more often other people view and send your images, the stronger this effect will be.

Save, organise and edit your images

A photo-sharing service is an efficient way to save and organise your images without using up space on your own computers. Provided you choose the right account, you will also have access to good editing software and will be able to retrieve your images whenever you need them. This can be very useful in developing a photo library for marketing purposes.

Find new images

Once you become familiar with photo-sharing services, you'll see the thousands of good photos they contain. Many are available for use with the permission of the copyright holder. Some advertising agencies and other businesses are starting to turn to photo-sharing services to source authentic and powerful images for their marketing campaigns.

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