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« Nonprofits and Social Networks: Can Your Nonprofit Organization Benefit from No Presence? | Main | Best Practices for Nonprofits in Second Life »


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I'm going to ask a question but don't fall over....What do people do on flickr?

Now, I know what I like to do but I'm curious as to what others do, especially when it's productive.

Beth, there is so much information, choices, widgets, etc. that it can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time (no news here) leaving little room for productivity. I know there are tutorials, forums, help pages, and more to guide the new and experienced user but I have yet to find and explanation that works well for me. Typically, web 2.0 help assumes the reader already
knows and understands the current technology. Fortunately, I do. However, I could use some direction in the WHY.
For example, I know what Twitter is, I know what you can do with it but why do people use it? I suppose I'm looking for reasons (specific) why it makes one's life easier, more enjoyable, less hectic. A typical response to this question might be: "Well, I can stay in contact with my friends/contacts much easier/faster/better. Ok, but why?
I'm not trying to be rhetorical, I'm really curious why it is useful.
Useful. That is the word I'm looking for. I want to know why something is useful, what it can replace, and how to go about each step.

Another example is RSS. When I read about it I get the understanding that it is a centralized, up to date place to receive news, updates, etc. But why is that important? And do people watch it every minute to take advantage of the up to dateness of it? How is that productive?
I understand that if you are looking for a coupon, news story update, or the latest Wii siting that this would be beneficial because a person would get the message almost instantly. It took me awhile to "get" that but maybe I'm slow to absorb.
I love technology. I have downloads, fonts, widgets, add-ons,extensions, scripts, you name it. But what I don't have is a clue why people find them useful (besides the "I can't do without my gtd" type comments) and what specifically they are used for.

Rant finished.
As always, I appreciate your blog and the work you do.

Peoria, IL

Jennifer Caleshu, Bay Area Discovery Museum

Yes, we do use flickr - we have our own photostream of pics taken on site and at events, and we have a group to collect our visitors photos as well...

John Powers

The Library of Congress Photos are worth a mention.

Todd Schiele

Yes, we're using flickr. We also post photos to groups that seem appropriate, working to gain visibility. Our goals are just to promote awareness and appreciation for the work we do and encourage people to visit our website and events.

We also look for pictures from the public from events' we've appeared at and ask them to post their photos to our group.


seb chan

hi beth

we use Flickr for several purposes but mainly to act as community around images related to our museum as well as a repository of said images. see for our photo of the day . . . . which comes out of Flickr and generates interest from both directions (those in the blog, and those who find the same images via Flickr).


Beth Kanter


You make some great points and I'm so glad you ranted here .. I think translaton is big problem .. that you have to know so much already to really understand some web2.0 tools.

My approach has been to do what I can and try not to get sucked into feeling overwhelmed. You can't master it all.

I think it is important to look beyond efficiency as a benefit - look at effectiveness and also the intangibles.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

Beth Kanter

Quick question to you all. I interviewed the community manager at Flickr, Heather Champ. I asked whether or not the TOS suggests that accounts must be opened by individuals versus being branded by organizations. Over at Facebook, if you open an account and don't use your real name - and brand it as your organization that FB might shut down your account and this has happened.

Flickr suggests that you open your account as an individual and then set up a group in your organization's name.

Have any of you done this?

Jennifer Caleshu, Bay Area Discovery Museum

Hmm...we opened our account as an organization - because of potential staff changes over time, it didn't make sense to try to have it be for one individual, plus we are looking to extend our brand presence on the web, so we want to have pics that our org has taken be clearly by our org. And then we also have a group so that we can collect pics by visitors to our museum or at our events to share with each other, for the reasons @seb writes above..

btw, I see tons of other orgs that have flickr accts as an org acct, not an individual seems pretty common flickr practice. We 'friend' museums, but generally haven't been 'friending' individuals, and get friend requests from other orgs but not individuals...


Beth, the Library of Congress has a very exciting Flickr pilot that includes working closely with Flickr not just to put Library stuff online, but to establish a new model for library, museum, and nonprofit participation (including a new rights statement designed for institutions that collect images rather than creating them). Here's the blog post:

Julie Swanson

Beth: I work in public health and just got this request from our state health department "Would you provide a brief description of Flicker and why we use it?" They need to get approval for staff to have access to Flickr. I came to your blog first to see what you have written about Flickr. I am hoping you will share what you come up with..

In Wisconsin, in the field of tobacco control, we created a private account to share photos to be used in presentations and for newspaper articles. Julie


I have such a crush on Flickr. Here is what we are doing. Mostly using it for event photos and to chronicle some internal history.


My campaign uses Flickr as a public photo album to spotlight our activists. It helps us to demonstrate that activity is taking place all over the country.

We also used Flickr to publicize an SEIU program for presidential candidates, called, Walk a Day in My Shoes.

Michael Gibbons

Quick question about Flickr -- I wanted to use a few Flickr photos on my blog and squidoo lenses --contacted the owners but no reply after week so no help for using in timely blog post :(
Is it Ok, common practice to do like you did here Beth --juts add link to give credit? I see a lot of awesome photos in blogs and know we all cant be that good at photography! Flickr TOS seem to say need permission??

Also Beth do you add the link by hand or is way for it to come attached from Flickr?
Also meant to comment on this and mention my blog post reply here

Beth Kanter

Great question! I use the option to search for photos with a creative commons license

If a photo is creative commons licensed, you can use as long as it follow the conditions of the license. There are different variations - from simply providing attribution to providing attribution - but not for commercial use.

for more information see:


I personally use and love Flickr so I took the initiative of setting up an account and group for my association.

In September we had our first rally on Capitol Hill for one of our campaigns. We asked the attendees to upload photos to the group. (We provided instructions on how to do it as well.) Only one person did this. Instead, the majority of people sent the pictures to me and I had to upload to the group for them. I sent them emails back letting them know that their pictures had been posted and properly attributed.

Moving forward, this initiative will really have to be marketed to the digital natives at our member agencies to increase participation.

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