Usually when you ask people what social media they use in setting up their advocacy campaigns it is just the “usuals”: Facebook, Twitter, and probably YouTube. One that I think too many people overlook is the photography sharing site Flickr.
Flickr is an incredibly powerful site that allows you to not only search for pictures other people are constantly putting up from around the world, but also can provide a glimpse into what your own organization is doing. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and using them in your advocacy campaigns can really help bolster your results.
For instance, look at the White House Flickr stream that was started during President Obama’s campaign and now has filtered into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave (http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse). This stream provides people a human glimpse into the president with photos taken by world-class photographers who follow him around all day. You don’t have to worry about which pictures a newspaper can fit–you get to see and follow what you want.
With that I wanted to offer up four ideas on how advocacy and political organizations can use Flickr in their online strategies:
1) Take a camera with you everywhere and document what you, or your principle, are doing. One of the biggest lessons I learned from fellow photographers when I started getting into the hobby more was take your camera with you everywhere–you don’t know what might happen. These days that is a lot easier with most blackberries and phones having built-in cameras, but you also need to be thinking about it. At an event, take a picture. Doing an interview? Take a picture of them setting it up. Having an all staff meeting? Take a picture. You would be amazed at how much people love seeing behind the scenes pictures of what is happening with your organization.
2) Ask other people to upload photos pertinent to your issue. On Flickr learn how to set up a group. It’s pretty simple and allows people to upload their own photos. You can set privacy settings, etc. to whatever you feel the most comfortable with. Then when you have events around the country ask people to submit them to the group and then you can highlight them on your own site. Or, if you are advocating for a certain issue (say health care), ask people to upload pictures from their town halls. When you ask people to participate in some fashion they’re going to feel more attached to your issue than if you just asked them to give you money.
3) Use Flickr as a monitoring tool. Set up certain key words or tags on your organization’s name or issues you care about and monitor the photos being put up. It may give you a heads-up on something you should know about before anything else does.
4) Be creative. Conduct scavenger hunts asking people to find and take photos of certain things and post them to a Flickr group. Hold a photography competition (i.e.: if you’re a congressman hold a competition to see who can take the best picture from your district). There are a lot of amateur photographers out there who might not otherwise have any reason to pay attention to you and this could be a way to grab them.