Flickr is an image hosting website and online community owned by Yahoo! Inc . It offers photo sharing from beginners to professionals and is really easy to use. Users upload photos through a simple upload system and can share them with the world. Once signed up, users can add photographs, join groups, check viewing statistics, and much more. According to Alexa , the internet’s web trafficking website, Flickr is ranked #31 worldwide. Photograph Magazine critic Luc Sante says, “Flickr is to photography what the Pacific Ocean is to water, what Times Square is to humanity” (Cohen, 2009). As of last year, Flick claims to be the host of over 3.5 billion images, with about 3 million uploaded every single day (Sorensen, 2009). These numbers have interested many companies to use Flickr to their advantage. Many companies have started to advertise their brand and products through pictures, allowing everyone on the website to view them.


The advantage to advertise in Flickr is that it is free. Non-pro account users can upload 2 videos and 100MB worth of photos each calender month. Also, unless the user account is private, anyone who visits Flickr can view the user’s photos. If a company is using Flickr as an advertising tool, they can do a bunch of stuff with their profile page to garner more hits, like making their username the company and creating many keywords that will link back to photographs taken by the company.


According to Flickr’s terms of use , it is not acceptable to use Flickr for any commercial purposes. In other words, posting a photo “specifically for the purposes of advertising your company, your products/services, etc., would be against the TOS and would turn off the Flickr community” (Cha et al., 2008). In order to use Flickr the right way, companies try to be active members of the Flickr community, posting pictures of related items to the company’s product. They create and join groups and allow people to join them and post pictures relating to their products. If they own a car shop, they join auto groups. If their expertise is sportswear, they would join Nike or Adidas groups (Cha et al., 2008). Other users also comment on the photographs and can sometimes have very interesting and creative conversations, sometimes coming up with new ideas for the companies to use.
Other ways companies can get more people to view their pictures and groups are to directly link their pictures to the company’s website. URL tags can be put in the picture to make it easier to locate something a consumer would want. For example, a flower shop has a single photograph uploaded in Flickr. This picture shows a vase of about 6 different flowers. Using Flickr’s tag system, the flower company can label each individual flower and link them to their website. The tagged rose will go to their page with the roses for sale. The tagged daisy will go to the daisy portion of the site, etc.


Flickr’s photo uploading is essentially free to anybody who wants to post pictures. However, users who do not upgrade to the Pro account will be limited to only 100MB worth of photos per month, or around 50 photos (Graham, 2008). Companies who want to get the most out of Flickr will upgrade to a pro account, which is a very modest $24.95 a year which includes unlimited picture and video uploads (Graham, 2008).

Reach and Frequency

These companies could ultimately reach a lot of people. It has become the number one website for web hosting and currently has over 29 million members worldwide (Canning, 2008) with an extra 45 million visitors per month (Graham, 2008). Since it is up to the user to search for the company’s keywords, it is harder to measure their reach and frequency of consumers. Pro users, however, can see how many people view their photo using Flickr’s statistics page. They can see the number of hits per month, day, and even year for a particular image or set of photos. It also determines the location and shows the user who viewed it, which can help with frequency measures.


Flickr has essentially revolutionized the way people view and keep their photos. Once Youtube hit mainstream, everyone wanted a site to host their images. Users from other photo hosting sites, like Shutterfly and Photobucket, transferred their photos after seeing what Flickr can do. “On Flickr, there is a community,” says Jonathan Racasa, an ex-Shutterfly user. “You get feedback about your photos, and meet really interesting people” (Graham, 2008). Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield said that consumers were changing and they did not want to just upload their photos onto a website to look at them. Instead, they wanted their photos to have a long-term value by making them searchable (Canning, 2008).

Audience Quality

The website has a broad array of people who use the website. It goes as far as people who don’t even own a camera to professionals who sell their photographs to Getty Images , one of the biggest stock photo agencies (Canning, 2008). Some people actually made a living by selling their photos off of Flickr to other stock agencies (Canning, 2008).


Many companies, like GM , BBC , 7-11 , and MAKE Magazine have created groups on Flickr to post pictures and have other members post in them as well. Other companies, like Virgin Mobile , even used a user’s photo as a billboard in Australia. Alison Chang’s photograph was seen on a billboard with most of the logos and people edited out (Cohen, 2007). The same thing happened with Virgin in a Canadian ad campaign. Although Flickr images are freely viewed by the public, unless their images are set to copyright, the images are essentially free to use with credit to be given to the photographer (Sorensen, 2009). Some of the more well-known companies who are successfully using Flickr are Nikon and their Digital Learning Center and Bank of America’s America Cheers campaign. Both have been very successful in the Flickr community, with the Nikon group having 50,772 members to date.

Companies successfully using Flickr


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Cha, M., Mislove, A. Adams, B., Gummadi, K. P. (2008, August 18). Characterizing Social Cascades in Flickr. WOSN. Retrieved from

Cohen, N. (2009, January 19). Historical photos in web archives gain vivid new lives. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Cohen, N. (2007, October 1). Use my photo? Not without my permission. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Graham, J. (2008, May 7). Flickr rules in photo sharing, as video tiptoes in. USA Today. Retrieved from

Sorensen, C. (2009, August 27). Flickr photo appears in cell firm’s brochures. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from