Flickr was one of the first social networks to allow for the storing and sharing of digital images and videos. In 2004, it was founded by Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield as a startup project based in Vancouver. Although it began as a chat room with photo sharing capabilities, it was quickly acquired by Yahoo in 2005 for around $25 million and began its evolution. At the time it became a Yahoo project, the site had about 1 million loyal users, but has experienced exponential user growth and site adaptation since then. In 2006, the site increased its upload limit to 150MB and in 2009, it allowed for HD videos. But Flickr’s greatest growth came about in 2013 when a major website redesign allowed for up to 1 terabyte of free storage (equivalent to 62.5 iPhones with 16GB worth of storage) and added several other features such as a scrolling home page, infinite scrolling, and a new photo layout. In 2015, Yahoo overhauled the site by adding a revamped Camera Roll, a new way to upload photos, and heavily updated the app.

Today, there are 92 million users, worldwide. But only 16 million of these users are active monthly users, and statistics indicate that this number is decreasing.


What is so cool about Flickr? It has a plethora of practical features – many of which are currently going unnoticed. 1 TB of free storage, image recognition, geo-tagging, and online photo editing – just to name a few. Check out this brief review by PC Magazine to get a bit more insight into Flickr’s features ::,2817,2324482,00.asp

Considering all of these features, who uses Flickr? Not as many as Yahoo would hope. In fact, the website appeals to a rather niche demographic – people who are really interested in photography and people who are looking for a great way to store lots of photos for free [often times these categories overlap].


Even though there aren’t all that many people actively using the site, can it still be used to market brands?

It depends on the brand. Flickr has the potential to be used as a marketing tool, especially when it is in the hands of a prominent organization. A good example of this is the White House, because it is able to document a few of the day to day elements, portraying them in a creative, story-telling manner. It also helps to have a team dedicated to taking photos. Take a look at the type of content posted by the White House ::

Here is another example of when marketing is done correctly by Elon Musk and his team at SpaceX. This was the most popular picture of 2014 ::

It may be difficult, however, for small businesses to promote themselves on the website, considering the types of photos that receive the most attention on Flickr involve an incredible amount of creativity and technical skill. It also helps if your brand is already well known. And even with an incredible advantage like that, it may still be difficult to truly build a following on the site. Let’s examine Monterey Bay Aquarium’s profile, an already rather prominent organization known for its beautiful aquarium and incorporation of sea otters into its exhibits. On Facebook, it has nearly 600,000 followers, whereas on Flickr it doesn’t even reach 150. Check out an example of a surprisingly unsuccessful account ::


In conclusion, Flickr is a site you may want to check out, but its ability to promote your brand is negotiable.


Discussion Questions:

  • Have you ever used Flickr? [If yes, what for and how often? If no, why not?]
  • Do you think that having to set up a Yahoo account dissuades potential users?
  • What feature did you find the most appealing in the article by PC Magazine?
  • If you were in charge of Flickr, what feature would you add/subtract to draw more users to the site?
  • If you were in charge of a small business social media campaign, would you choose Flickr as a platform? Why or why not?