Tell your story through pictures

21 11 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words. Photographs are engaging, thought-provoking, and descriptive. At times, companion photographs are the determining factor for whether or not I will read the newspaper. To get to the point, pictures are an integral part of social media marketing. Social networks geared toward photo-sharing (like Flickr) are increasingly being utilized by non-profits. Pictures have the power to engage an audience and to describe what words cannot.

Flickr allows users to organize their photos into galleries, create captions, and view other photographs. A great example of an organization that has used Flickr is the American Red Cross. After Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross created a Flickr account for volunteers and community members to showcase photographs of their experiences.  The Flickr account assisted the Red Cross in raising awareness and recruiting help, while directing traffic to their website and other social networks.

There are two reasons why I think this approach was so effective for the Red Cross. First, the community effort of gathering content helped to strengthen bonds between all contributors passionate about the cause. Secondly, such pictures are more emotionally-charged than words. An outsider with no knowledge of the Red Cross may be more motivated to act after seeing a devastating picture. Empathy is a strong emotion that can be strategically evoked.

In summary, what can you learn from the example provided by the Red Cross? I learned that Flickr is a great tool to add to the social media strategy because it can increase visibility and encourage traffic between social media channels. Time invested on social media should not be predominantly focused on Flickr (in my opinion) but it is a neat alternative that may as well be added to the mix. Do it right, and your picture may just be worth 1,000 likes (or re-tweets).

Check out the American Red Cross’s Photostream on Flickr for ideas and inspiration.

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