Telling Your Story with Photo Contests and Flickr


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Preso given at the 2012 San Antonio Action Camp.

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  • Why is visual content important?
  • Audience: Know your nonprofit’s audience and what will resonate with them. Think about every audience member – donors, supporters, volunteers, the general public. How does your visual content connect with them?Conflict: Post pictures of problems that your organization solves. This will help reinforce your base and potentially inspire new donors.Characters: The people you help are your characters. Post pictures that give your beneficiaries a chance to “speak”. Your staff and volunteers can be your characters too.Drama: Audiences get wrapped up in stories because they are emotionally involved. What is the drama in your organization’s story?Happy ending: Post images showing the joy your organization brings to others. Who doesn’t like a happy ending?
  • The Colorado River Trail is an 11-county region of LCRA’s service territory that starts up in the pecan orchards of San Saba County and follows the river down to Matagorda County and the Gulf of Mexico. It started about 15 years ago as a way to connect LCRA and local/county parks along the river, and has evolved into more of a tourism region where we highlight all the fun things to see and do.
  • We do a weekly photo trivia contest on Wednesdays called “Tripod Trivia”. Fans have to correctly guess the location where the photo was taken. I don’t offer any prizes – just braggin’ rights. This one almost always gets great interaction.
  • One of my favorite things to do is to post a photo of some yummy food I’m about to eat or a scenic place I’ve just visited. Kind of a “don’t you wish you were me” type thing.
  • Idid a little test of Facebook advertising. I used a photo (with permission) from our Flickr group as the image in the ad.It worked very well. I saw an almost 16% increase in the number of fans on my page.
  • I always announce our Facebook Tripod Trivia feature on Twitter to try to cross pollinate our audiences. I’ll also post the actual photo once the correct location is guessed.
  • And this is an example of how we’re using my Flickr group in some of the other work we do in our department. This is a slide from a presentation we didthat provides economic data for specific regions in the LCRA service area.
  • We used our dedicated page on our website as the home base for the contest. We did this to avoid paying for 3rd party apps to host the contest on Facebook. We used Facebook and Twitter to promote the contest, but always pointed people to our website and/or the Flickr group for more information. If you have the proper website analytics in place, you’ll be able to track the referring sources to your contest page. More about that in a minute …Contest began May 1st and the winner was announced May 25thWe asked participants to show us their idea of the perfect day on the Colorado River Trail.Outdoor activitiesFestivals and eventsAttractions and activities.Prizes: Light ‘O the Moon float trip from McKinney Roughs Nature Parkannual pass to LCRA parks, Grand Prize:Prize package from the Lake Travis Chamber including accommodations, dinner, spa, and golfSecond Place Prize:Prize package from Bastrop County including accommodations, dinner, kayaking trip, BBQ, and more.
  • We used to handle our voting. They provide you with a simple HTML embed code that can easily be added to your site.It’s free to use for 200 survey responses/month and up to 10 questions per survey/poll. We pay the $200 annual membership to get 5000 survey responses/month and unlimited survey questions. We primarily use it for the contest, but also have the flexibility to use it for other internal projects if needed.
  • PollDaddy gives you a nice little heads up dashboard of your results.
  • Once the contest was over, we highlighted the winner on our website, took the opportunity to congratulate the other finalists, and all the while still trying to drive them to our Flickr group.
  • Flickr has a cool feature that allows you to create slideshows based on a photo’s tag. We used the contest tag (CRTContest12) and created a slideshow that we embedded on our website as well as on our blog.
  • Lessons learned:In our first contest we had 5 categories. They had to upload their photos to Flickr with the contest hashtag AND the category name. We wanted to get more photos that matched specific holes in our group. We had lots of great scenery, but very few entertainment, festivals, and history/heritage. It ended up being a barrier to entry and was too confusing. Make it simple for people to enter. Our first contest lasted far too long. If social media is going to be a component of your contest promotion, people will lose interest after a while. It lasted for a month and a half – that was too long. The public voting period was too long as well. The contest we just wrapped up this Spring was 1 month from start to finish.A contest on Flickr has to be nurtured. We chose not to host the contest on Facebook because 1) we wanted high quality photos, and 2) we didn’t want to pay for a 3rd party app to make the contest legal. But Flickr people are active ON Flickr. It’s difficult (but not impossible) to get non-Flickr users to create an account, join your group, and upload photos. Flickr is just not that widely accepted yet. But for us, it’s been worth it because this is a channel we are invested in and want to continue to grow. It provides us with an almost unlimited source of content.Because of the inherent difficulties I just described, you have to promote the heck out of it on your social media channels. Encourage contest entrants to share with their friends by adding Facebook share and like buttons and “tweet this” buttons on your website.Talk your goals through with your IT people BEFORE launching your contest. For our 2011 contest, I assumed that the website analytics I needed were already in place. Everyone uses Google Analytics, right? Wrong. Some key data I needed to show whether or not my social media channels drove people to the website just wasn’t there. No one had every asked our IT people for referring sites to a page before, so they weren’t set up to do that (and it can’t be done after the fact). Now Google Analytics is installed on every page of our site and I was able to get all the data I needed.I still love Flickr and will not abandon it as a content repository. That said, the next contest I run will use Instagram and Facebook. These channels have the user numbers and they get lots of engagement. Photo quality on Facebook has improved, and 3rd party apps have become very reasonable in terms of pricing. I think I can run a more engaging contest for less money by hosting it on Facebook.
  • Engaging its network beyond the like on Facebook. Clicking the “like” button is easy. Taking a photo, hashtagging it, and uploading it to Instagram takes a little more effort and engagment. It could alsoencourage  higher levels of participation with the organization.Encourages social content creation from network. This means that your network is contributing to your cause by helping you create content. They’re helping you tell your story. Isn’t that what you want? There is also other value: How much time or expense did this save staff?  A methodology for experimenting, piloting, and ultimately adopting new channels. This might be a great way to create a process for testing other social media channels in the future before investing more heavily.The process might go something like this 1)  Research best practices and users   2)  Set up presence and explore, get comfortable with techniques, see what others are doing  3) Launch a small proof of pilot related to strategic goals and well defined success metrics and value.   4)  Rinse, Repeat, Leverage or not
  • Telling Your Story with Photo Contests and Flickr

    1. 1. A Moment in Time:Telling your story using photo contests and
    2. 2. Visual Storytelling
    3. 3. Content Is King Visual Content Is Ruler of the World• Videos shared 12x more than links and text posts combined• Photos are liked 2x more than text updates• Instagram is the 2nd most popular app (globally) behind Facebook• Pinterest generates more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined Sources: HubSpot; Marketing Land
    4. 4. • Your cause is inherently emotional.• You must tell your organization’s story in a way that is: Compelling Concise Original Engaging Photo: myheimu Sources: Nonprofit Hub; Social Media 4 Nonprofits
    5. 5. Fairy Tale Model• Audience• Conflict• Characters• Drama• Happy ending Source: Nonprofit Hub
    6. 6. Playful and cuddly, this is Ace! #cat #kitten #adoptme #upforadoption #austinpetsalive #pet
    7. 7. Why Flickr?
    8. 8. Promote the destinationthrough photography Photo: Soul_Smiling
    9. 9. Provide content for other socialmedia channels, website, andprint publications Photo: JustinPratscher
    10. 10. Create awareness about thescenic beauty and fun activitiesin the destination Photo: shewhopaints
    11. 11. Spend little or no money doing it Photo: mattdil
    12. 12. Oh yeah? Show me.
    13. 13. Agree to terms …If you agree to these rules, you can join the groupOnly post pictures to this group for which you ownthe original copyright or are in the public domain.All pictures posted to this group may be used bythe Colorado River Trail in its various publications,both print or online (including social media). Wewill credit you as the photographer on any photothat we use.Only photos depicting the Colorado River Trailregion will be accepted. We reserve the right toreject submissions to our Flickr group displayingcontent we deem to be inappropriate or offensivewithout prior warning. The Colorado River Trailreserves the right to update the Group Rules.
    14. 14. … or, ask each time
    15. 15. Facebook – “Tripod Trivia”Weekly Feature
    16. 16. Facebook – “Make ‘em Jealous”
    17. 17. Facebook – Advertising
    18. 18. Twitter
    19. 19. Blog Content –Photo posts & slideshows
    20. 20. Blog Widgets –Flickr badges
    21. 21. Website icons
    22. 22. Print Publications
    23. 23. Internal Docs
    24. 24. Colorado River Trail Photo Contest
    25. 25. Photo: JustinPratscher
    26. 26. Photo: accent on ecclectic
    27. 27. Results:• 95 contest entries• 6.2% avg. increase in Fans/followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr• 329.8% increase in Facebook activity (likes and comments)•1850% increase in Twitter activity (retweets and @mentions)• > 802 % increase in inbound traffic to the photo contest web page• Time on site ranged from :33 seconds pre-contest to 6:45 during peak voting•Biggest website traffic sources were Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr Photo: watsoninelgin
    28. 28. PollDaddy for Voting Photo: joannamarieharris
    29. 29. 2010 Contest Winner Photo: Soul_Smiling
    30. 30. 2011 Contest Winner Photo: David Stall
    31. 31. 2012 Contest Winner Photo: Soul_Smiling
    32. 32. Photo: EggMasterDuke
    33. 33. One Last Example
    34. 34. • Engaging your audience beyond “the like” on Facebook• Encourages your network to create social content• A methodology to experiment, pilot, and adopt new channels Source:
    35. 35. Follow Me @pagetx @ColoradoRiverTr Sarah PageSenior Economic Development Specialist LCRA 512-578-3513