There’s four billion reasons why Flickr is brilliant.
Four billion? That’s the number of images uploaded to it over the past five years.
Best bit? You don’t have to be David Bailey to get something out of it. You could be Bill Bailey.
What is Flickr? It’s a photo sharing website. You join as an individual. You upload pictures. You can add them to groups. You can comment on pictures too.
There are tens of thousands of groups on a bewildering range of subjects. Football? Check. Walking? Buses? Cricket scoreboards? Clouds? They all have dedicated groups. There’s even one for Gregg’s shop fronts, believe it or not.
There are also geographical Flickr groups based on areas like the Black Country, Walsall or London.
Why bother with Flickr? Because a picture says 1,000 words. Besides, it’s a brilliant way to capture, celebrate and collaborate.
It’s a cinderella social media platform without a Stephen Fry to champion it. But there is a growing and exciting number of uses for it.
So what are the barriers for people to use it?
Like any platform, there are obstacles. None are insummountable.
There’s the usual cultural issues for an organisation using web 2.0. People can talk to you. You can talk back. You may have blocking issues too.
There may also be concern over images. Surely there’s room for dodgy pictures? Actually, not really. The Flickr community is a hugely civilised place. Your first uploads get checked over before they are seen. People comment constructively.
Isn’t it just for good photographers? No. Amateurs thrive here. Snap away.
How about copyright? Copyright is with the photographer. Even if you’ve commissioned it. Don’t upload someone else’s shots without their permission.
Eleven uses of Flickr in local government
1. Be a dissemenator – Stock photography – Newcastle use it as a way of allowing stock photography to be disseminated. With photographers’ permission. Like Calderdale Council’s countryside team.
2. Be a campaigner – Create a Flickr group for a campaign – Willenhall, Aldridge and Darlaston in Bloom, for example.
3. Be a way to open-up museums – Create a Flickr group for a museum exhibition. Look at Walsall Museums.
4. Be an enabler – Set-up a Flickr meet. It’s a brilliant way to connect and collaborate. Here’s my blog on this event from a council perspective and from a Flickr photographer’s perspective from the excellent Steph Jennings and also Lee Jordan.
Here’s some shots from the Walsall Council House Flickr meet (see left) which saw the Flickr group invited into the Council House.
5. Be a Flickr Twitterer – Link to pictures via Twitter. Pictures are always more popular than straight forward links. They brighten up your stream.
6. Be a marketeer – Use Flickr pics for marketing. Leaflets can be brightened up with Flickr shots – with permission.
7. Be a Flickr webbie – Use Flickr on the council website. Like BCCDIY or Lichfield District Council, Brighton & Hove Council or the Walsall Council header.
8. Be a civic pride builder – Create a Flickr group for an area, like Sandwell Council did.
9. Be a picture tart – Post council Flickr pictures to different groups. Shot of the town hall? Put it in the Town Hall Flickr group.
10. Be a stock photography user – the Creative Commons is a licence that allows the use of shots with certain conditions. There is a category that allows for not for profit use, for example.
11. Be a digital divide bridger – favourite walks or a way to celebrate heritage is an excellent way to encourage people to log on.
There’s eleven. That’s for starters…
Steph Jennings from the Walsall Flickr group and the Lighthouse Media Centre in Wolverhampton made some excellent points at Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands on how Walsall Council used images on their website.
This YouTube clip helps explain it:
This blog is based on a session at localgovcamp Yorkshire and Humberside in York (#lgcyh) which also had input from @janetedavis, @allyhook and @barnsley55.
Much kudos to the Walsall Flickr group and to the inspirational @essitam and @reelgonekid.
Creative commons: Smiling blonde girl Pink Sherbert Photography.
Flickr screenshot from the Walsall Flickr group pool.
Other pics by Dan Slee.