Google+ Finally Gets Photo Sharing Parity On iPhone/iPad/iOS

In an update to iOS (iPhone/iPad) apps yesterday, Google+ finally got the kind of sharing of photos that Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social networks have had for some time. Now, when I go to share a photo, one of my options is Google+:

Photo Dec 22 1 07 16 PM

I realize that this is old news to Android users, but for those of us on iOS who have wanted to share photos on Google+, it seemed strange that we couldn't do so from the built in photos application within iOS. Sure, we could do it through the G+ app on the iPhone or iPad, but not from within the native photos app.

This functionality appeared after I installed version 4.8.0:

Googleplus 4 8 0

I did have to tap the " More ... " button once and then turn on the Google+ sharing, but after doing that I was then able to easily share to G+ the next time.

Great to see G+ finally getting parity with the other social networks. I look forward to being able to more easily share more photos!


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WAIT! Don't Delete Your Instagram Account Just Yet...

InstagramWAIT! Don't just delete your Instagram account!

Across a wide range of social networks today, I'm seeing people deleting their Instagram accounts after Facebook changed the Instagram terms of service in a way which allows Facebook/Instagram to potentially use your photos in advertising. At issue in particular are two clauses under "Rights" in the new terms of service (my emphasis added):

2. Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.

3. You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.

The first of which is the serious issue, while the second is more just annoying.

UPDATE 19 Dec 2012 - Instagram has responded with a post about the new terms of service. I think it's an open question whether that will help or whether people will continue to take a wait-and-see approach as Neville Hobson is doing (as am I).

I completely understand why people are deleting their Instagram accounts, particularly when directions about how to leave Instagram are published on Wired and being widely circulated - and also when other services like Flickr roll out new mobile apps that rock!

But think about what you are losing:

  • ALL THE LINKS WILL STOP WORKING that are to your Instagram photos. All those links floating around out there in Twitter, Facebook and other sites will no longer work. Presumably they'll all now be 404s.

  • YOU WILL LOSE YOUR ACCOUNT NAME - and someone else may be able to get that name. Maybe your name is unique enough that someone else won't come along and want your account name... but I know mine is NOT unique, and so if I were to give it up, some other Dan York could come along and take it.

  • INSTAGRAM MAY CHANGE ITS TERMS as it deals with all the backlash. You may find yourself wanting to get back in... and someone else may have claimed your username.

  • INSTAGRAM IS PART OF FACEBOOK... and love it or hate it, Facebook is a big player in this space. We don't know how they will (or will not) evolve Instagram. It may be worthwhile to have an account there at some later time.

Now it may be that there is a very simple way to keep your Instagram account yet not fall under the new Terms of Service:

Do not USE Instagram starting on January 16th!

I am NOT a lawyer, but I've seen multiple notes that this Terms of Service only applies to photos you post as of January 16, 2013. I don't know if that is true... but if it is, this may be a simple way to keep your account and links intact. Keep the account, but just stop using it and switch to some other service instead.

Of course, if it is NOT true, then I might be joining you all in deleting accounts... ;-)

Seriously, though, please think carefully about whether or not you want to lose all those links and your account at Instagram before you just go and delete the account.

Links are how the web is constructed... and by deleting your account you'll be tearing a hole in your own personal web of content!


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Fashion Designer Chris Benz, Copyright, Photography - And Watching The Social Web React

Jessica nicholsRight now a part of the social web is in full reaction mode to what they see as a strong injustice... and we can watch it unfold right now in Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more.

Photographer Jessica Nichols has laid out her case in a lengthy post that begins:

I have been fighting an infringement of my work since July and it is time to share my story. Fashion designer Chris Benz used my Loads of Ranunculus photograph without my permission and without compensation on his Spring 2012 line.

She goes on to show photographs, including one where a reader matched her photograph pretty much identically to one of Chris Benz's purses.

Having received no response from Chris Benz or his sponsors, she has put out a call to action for people to let Benz and his corporate sponsors know what they think through their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. That post was echoed by others and spread into social networks. I saw one such post of support on Google+ where it was spreading virally through friends of mine.

And it's happening... I can see the comments on Chris Benz's Facebook page filling up... and the "Posts by Others" on the Saks and Lancôme pages seem to have posts there.

As a (casual) photographer myself, I certainly understand why Jessica Nichols is upset - and I do hope some resolution can be found sometime soon.

In the meantime, the social web is responding... and unless there is a response from Chris Benz and his sponsors sometime soon, I don't expect it to go terribly well for them...


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Instagram Finally Becomes Useful With Web Profiles

FINALLY! Photo-sharing darling-of-the-media Instagram finally became useful to me with the rollout of web profiles where you (and everyone else) can see your photos. While I've had an Instagram account for some time, I haven't really used it too much because there was no web interface and so you could only manipulate images via the mobile client. That's fine for some usage... but it's hard to go back and find older images... and extremely hard to share with people who did not have Instagram.

Now, web profiles are here and, even better, they are available at very easy URLs. Here's mine:

http://instagram.com/danyork

The resulting page is laid out very nicely, with images changing periodically:

Danyork instagram 1

You can keep on scrolling down to see more and more of the images that you have posted. (And yes, it kind of looks like Facebook... which makes sense since they now own Instagram.)

This is a huge benefit to me because often I have found that I've wanted to go back and find an image I took in Instagram to use in a blog post - or just to show someone. Scrolling back in the mobile app is fine for recent images, but I haven't found it fun if the image was some time back. This web profile page lets me easily scan back through all the images I've posted to Instagram.

Even better - and this is that part I find most useful - you can easily go to the individual page for a photo, such as this one:

Instagram single photo

Now I can see the image and easily share the URL for the image to people. As far as now using the image in a blog post, I didn't yet find any way to embed an image, and I'm guessing that's not there yet. But that's okay, because I can just do a screenshot of my own image and use it in a blog post. The key is easily getting to see the image in a web browser.

Very cool to see... and as a result of this I expect I may indeed start using Instagram more!

How about you? What do you think of these new web profiles? Will you use Instagram more? (or perhaps even start using it?)


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Want More Likes and Comments On A Facebook Post? Include A Photo

Would you like to have more Likes or Comments on items you post on Facebook? Perhaps for your company's (or client's) Facebook Page? It seems one tip is to make sure you include a photo.

It's perhaps a bit of a "DUH!" thing, but a gent named Max Woolf just provided some data to back up that idea. He downloaded all of Robert Scoble's Facebook posts (via Facebook's API) and then analyzed the data. The graph shows the trend quite clearly (click on the image to see the full version):

Scoble posts with photos 1

In every quarter but one, posts with a photo had a higher average number of likes and in most quarters had more comments than posts without a photo.

Now, granted, this is data for a single person's feed, but Robert Scoble creates a large number of posts and has a great number of friends and subscribers. (Max Woolf provides a link to the source data for those who want to play with the numbers.) It also just seems to make sense to me given my own usage of Facebook. My eye is naturally drawn to links or posts that have photos more than necessarily to plain blocks of text.

In the comments to Robert Scoble's sharing of the data, Max Woolf indicated that he performed a similar analysis on the TechCrunch Facebook Page and came up with a similar result.

It will be interesting to see if someone else does a bit more exploration of this topic to see how it goes with a larger sample size, but I'll expect the trend to be similar. Part of the strength of Facebook's new design is its emphasis on visual display... helping highlight the photos and images on your Timeline. There's really no surprise that photos will attract more likes and comments.

But it's always great to see some data... :-)


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Images/Photos Alone Do Not Make A Content Strategy

Thisisnotacontentstrategy

Credit: C.C. Chapman

Lately, it seems, the social media world is all abuzz about "images" in various forms. Photos, pictures... Instagram... Pinterest... infographics... plus Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all enhancing their capability to handle photos... and now this intense fascination with posting images with words and sayings on top of them!

I get it. I do. Visual storytelling is incredibly powerful. Evocative. Inspirational. Images and photos can transcend words and cut right to the emotional core of an issue. I personally enjoy photography, and you can usually find me shooting photos at events I attend. I'm sharing photos all the time into Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

But...

... lately we seem to be seeing in the corporate PR / marketing / social media space a really severe case of "bright shiny object" syndrome. All over the place... large enterprises, small startups... and everyone in between.

Oooo... let's post a bunch of photos to Instagram because we'll look hip and cool! Hey, clearly we need to be pinning all the photos we can to Pinterest boards, because "everyone" is doing it! Hey, look, another new mobile app that lets us do _____ with our photos - cool! Wow, look how cool we are because we can post a photo with some pithy quote written on top of it in a funky font! And let's not even jump into the cesspool of poorly done infographics...

All of this without answering a fundamental question:

WHY?

WHY are you posting those images? Why are you using that service? How do the images help communicate your message to your audiences? How do they help get your message out? How do they facilitate sharing? How does posting the images to ______ increase your interaction with your audiences?

Now, don't get me wrong... experimentation is awesome and necessary. And I'm the last one to talk about chasing bright shiny objects... that's what I love to do (and in fact write about). Experimentation is really required if you are going to stay on top of the insane pace of new products and services appearing on a daily basis. But there is a difference between experimentation and trumpeting the fact that you are now using these services, as if the use of those services will somehow make you cooler and help you communicate better.

They might help you communicate better, and you won't know unless you experiment... but as you experiment you need to think about the why.

Ultimately these services are all tactics that need to line up with a larger strategy.

Why are you using them? Why are you posting the images you choose to post?

Do the images help educate your audiences about your products? your mission? your services?
Do they help humanize your organization and show a more personal side? or show the people behind the name?
Do they entertain or amuse people and help build your community?
Do they inspire people because of how beautiful or artistic they are?
Do they promote your brand name or social account? Will you gain more followers/fans/etc?

How does posting images to service X fit within your larger strategy? Now, maybe you are posting that LOLcat image purely as link-bait to build your followers... that's okay, just call it what it is. And this doesn't mean that every image needs to be serious and "on message" - images can certainly be posted "for fun"... and maybe that's one of the purposes they serve.

The point is that some conscious thought needs to be given to the use of images and the use of the various services... rather than just doing it "because everyone is doing it"!

As I was thinking about this, a trio of posts yesterday on this precise topic caught my eye:

First, in "Pictures With Words", C.C. Chapman provides this awesome photo that I've included here and hits the point:

If your brand is thinking about diving into this because everyone is doing it, remember that it is a tactic and not a strategy. Where does it fit into your other marketing programs and what can you do with this trend that is unique and relavent to your business? Always ask why before you do anything. Make sure it is a fit and that you are not doing it simply because everyone else is. Following the herd rarely gets you noticed.

We as a society love shiny new toys and are scared of doing the grunt work. We see other people doing things, so we have to do them. If there is a shortcut that looks like it’ll make things easier we take it.

Exactly!

Second, in "The Rise of the Junkweb and Why It’s Awesome or At Least Inevitable", Chris Brogan talks about this new love of images as the "junkweb":

It’s the Junkweb. Why “junk?” Because the original intent of the Internet was that links were gold, that searchability was key, that this ability to find anything and use resources from wherever was magic. And this new web? The web of pictures with text over them? They’re junk. They’re a dead end. The picture is the payload. They don’t lead you elsewhere. They are the stopping point, the cul de sac.

But goes on to say that maybe this is okay in our new world and that the new tools we have access to have in fact made it easier for anyone to participate and share. He concludes offering three suggestions for people to engage in the "junkweb":

1. Make interesting graphics worth sharing.
2. Make it easy to share them.
3. Evoke an emotion.

And for Chris the "why" is because this world of sharing images is where the sharing and interaction happen between "regular" people and thus is worth investigating. Good article and, as with many of Chris' posts, the comment stream is well worth a read, too.

Finally, in his AdAge column titled "The Revolution Won't Be Televised; It Will Be Instagrammed" and subtitled "Businesses That Bank on Photographic Storytelling Will Win", Steve Rubel discusses why businesses should pay attention to what is going on with the rise of visual storytelling through photography. Inadvertently aligning with Chris Brogan's "junkweb", he writes:

Visual storytelling today is blissfully cliche. Photos are deliberately over animated, over filtered and even over exposed. They ignore all the rules. Just as the proliferation of texting arguably made the written word less formal and YouTube did the same for video, the ubiquity of smartphones has changed the expectations of what's considered "good" photography.

On this last sentence my professional photography friends can definitely agree! Steve goes on to basically offer suggestions for people involved with advertising to get involved with this space. Earlier in the article, too, he makes some interesting points with regard to why photos will be more important that videos, particularly with regard to mobile devices.

He doesn't touch on the "why", though, beyond the fact that this is the "new normal" and businesses need to be embracing it.

Which goes back to my original points... WHY are you embracing the use of images? Or perhaps more HOW are you going to embrace them? How does it help you?

Are you asking these questions?


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Wow - Facebook Acquires Instagram!

InstagramWow... here's one that I don't think most (any?) of us saw coming - Facebook has acquired photo-sharing service Instagram!

It's interesting to note Mark Zuckerberg's focus on the continued separate growth of Instagram:

That's why we're committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

Time will tell how that will work out, but it will be intriguing to see what the acquisition enables on both sides. It will also be interesting to see the reaction of the Instagram user community...

Kara Swisher at AllThingsD and Emily Price at Mashable are both reporting that the acquisition price was $1 billion USD in cash and shares.

What do you think? Smart move for Facebook? Good or not so good for Instagram users?

UPDATE #1 - TechCrunch is reporting that Instagram received a $50 million investment with a $500 million valuation just last week. And the best response I've seen has to be this one by a woman named Tonya Hall on Facebook:

Remember this day. 551-day-old Instagram is worth $1 billion. 116-year-old New York Times Co. $967 million.

Crazy times, indeed!

UPDATE #2 - Interesting view from Om Malik - "Here is why Facebook bought Instagram"

UPDATE #3 - Some good answers to the Quora question about the Instagram acquisition


P.S. In full disclosure, I do have an Instagram account (danyork) but I have so far only ever posted one photo to it, preferring instead to still use Flickr, although that may change.


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How To Use Flickr's Advanced Search To Add Creative Commons-Licensed Photos To Your Blog Posts

Gamma Ray Gun
I love to add photos to blog posts. Choosing the right image can add to the feeling of the post... or can help emphasize the point of a post. Sometimes, they can just help visually break up what would otherwise be a big wall of text.

When you want to use a photo for your blog post, though, you can't just go grab any random image off the Internet.

JUST BECAUSE A PHOTO IS POSTED ON THE INTERNET DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO USE THAT PHOTO!

As a photographer myself, I'm very acutely aware of this. I don't generally mind my photos being used by others, but I don't, for instance, want someone to take a photo of mine and start making money off of it.

So I pay close attention to the license associated with the photograph. And if there isn't a license on the photograph, 99% of the time I will move on and find some other photo to use. Occasionally I may find one I really want to use and so I may contact the person who posted the photo.

For blog posts, I typically use Flickr to find images, and through the Flickr Advanced Search I can nicely find photos that are licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses. Here is what I do...

1. Go To Flickr Advanced Search

First step is to go to Flickr's Advanced Search at:

http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/

I use the site so much that I have created a button on my bookmarks bar in my browser so that it is always available.

2. Enter My Search Term

So yes, this is sort of "DUH!", but it is a step in the process...

Flickradvsearch

There are obviously other options you can use to further filter your search.

3. Choose to Search ONLY Creative Commons-licensed Photos

Now here's the trick... scroll down to almost the end of the Advanced Search page and find the Creative Commons area:

Flickrcreativecommons

Check off the box as I've done in the photo to only search for photos with Creative Commons licenses (see Flickr's explanation).

Now, for my own blogs, which do not run any kind of advertising and in my mind are "non-commercial", that's generally all I do. However, when I am searching for photos to use for one of Voxeo's blogs I go the extra step to check off "Find content to use commercially":

Flickrcreativecommonscommercial

I may not need to do that... I mean, I'm not using the photos in a printed Voxeo marketing piece, or as part of a direct sales effort or email blast. But in the spirit of the license, Voxeo is a commercial company, and so I'd prefer to just keep it simple and find photos where the photographer is okay with someone using his or her photos in a commercial setting.

I also don't generally modify the photos, or use them in a collage or other work, so I don't typically check off that second checkbox... but it's there if you do make modifications to photos.

With the relevant checkboxes checked, you can just hit "Search" and start looking at the resulting photos...

4. Continue Searching

After you have gone to the Advanced Search page once and initiated a search, notice the Search box at the top of the results page:

Flickrsearch

You now do NOT have to return to the Advance Search page and instead can just enter new search terms in the search box and you will find more Creative Commons-licensed content.

All in all I've found this a very smooth way to work and am very pleased that Flickr offers us this option.

5. Attribute The Image In Your Post

Week 52/52

Flickr credit: kirstea

Once you've found your image and inserted it in your blog post, the remaining task you need to do is to actually go ahead and attribute the image to the photographer.

THIS IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT!

All of the Creative Commons licenses require attribution, so if you use a CC license, you need to give credit back to the licensor of that image.

Now... HOW you attribute the image is usually left up to you. But not always...

IMPORTANT: Sometimes photographers will have very specific instructions about how they want the attribution. They may want you to use a certain name (like their professional name) or link back to a specific web address. You need to look in the description of a photo on Flickr to see if there are specific instructions.

Without specific instructions (which is probably 99% of the time), I generally just link back to the Flickr page for the photo. For me personally, most of the time I only have a single photo in my blog post, and so I just put a link at the bottom of the post like the one you see at the bottom of this post.

If I am using multiple photos, I might then have a list at the bottom, or I might do what I've done with the small photo in this section and put the credit directly under the image. A few little <div> tags can make that easily work. (You can look at the HTML source of this page to see what I've done.)

I used to do that for all the images I used, but then I found that because I put the image first in my post, the "credit" text was showing up first in the description for the page in Google search results... which didn't make much sense. So I've chosen to move the link to the end of the page.

I also use the Flickr HTML code to insert the photo (rather than using a screen capture of the photo), which means that someone clicking on the photo itself will be taken directly to the Flickr page of the photographer.

This is how I would want people to link to my photos... so that's how I do it.

You can put the attribution text and link wherever makes the most sense for you and your site and text. The key is just that you DO include the attribution somewhere.

With all that... you should be in business with adding Creative Commons-licensed photos to your blog posts!

NOTE: To make this simple for me, I've added a couple of macros to MarsEdit, the blog editor I use, so that I can just easily drop in the code into my post that has the image attribution text or link. It may be something to consider if you have a blog editor you use.

Image credit: tk_five_0 on Flickr


The iPhone the Most Used Camera on Flickr?

As a photographer, I was intrigued - but NOT surprised - to see these charts in TechCrunch last week about the rise of the iPhone in usage on Flickr - and the demise of point-and-shoot cameras.

Consider this graph showing the iPhone moving up to overtake all but the Nikon D90 in popularity (at least this month) among Flickr members:

IPhone 4 About To Be Flickr s Top Camera Point  Shoots Pretty Much The Opposite

And then this one showing the decline in usage of "point-and-shoot" cameras:

IPhone 4 About To Be Flickr s Top Camera Point  Shoots Pretty Much The Opposite 1

I'm not surprised at all, really... with my iPhone always with me, I've stopped using my "point-and-shoot", entirely. In fact, I've given it to my 9-year-old daughter.

I'm also not surprised to see the popularity of the iPhone in Flickr. With iPhone apps it is so trivial to upload images to Flickr. With my D90, I have to upload the images to my Mac, and then upload them to Flickr... more of a process and so I don't do it as regularly.

Amazing to see the changes going on around us within the world of photography...


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The additional travel challenges for content creators (i.e. why my backpack is so heavy)

As I got ready for my travel down to New York City this week for the SpeechTEK conference where I spoke and also helped staff Voxeo's booth, I reflected as I packed on all the extra steps I wind up going through when planning to be a "content creator" at the show.  I'm not there only to talk and show our new services... I'm also there to write blog posts, take and upload photos, record video interviews (and maybe audio interviews), to post tweets and respond to tweets, etc., etc.  For multimedia content creation, there's a bit of extra work and gear.

THE GEAR

My travel pack of choice these days is a Lowepro Fastpack 250. It fits the gear I need, but also has this great feature where you can unzip the side pocket and pull your DSLR out very quickly.  As you can see by the picture, I travel these days with a Nikon D90 for photos and a small JVC Everio MG-330 hard drive video recorder.  In truth, the D90 can also do video... but it's harder to hold for video than the JVC unit is.  Perhaps I'll eventually do more with it... but for the moment I carry both.  Both have power cords (or battery chargers), naturally.

I also carry a Blue Eyeball (which I reviewed) in case I want to do two-shot video recordings (using my MacBook Pro's camera and the Blue) for an interview.

contentcreatorsbackpack.jpg

Add to this, of course, the laptop, and these days the iPad as well... and it's a heavy pack.  I also naturally have my iPhone for photos and quick status updates and such as well.

THE ADDED STEPS

There are also a series of steps that all this gear adds to travel preparations:

1. Import and delete all the photos off the DSLR memory card (which in my case means importing them all into iPhoto on my Mac).

2. Import and delete all the movies off the video camera (import into iMovie for me).

3. Make sure the battery is fully charged on the DSLR.

4. Make sure the battery is fully charged on the video camera.

5. Make sure that I have all relevant cables needed to copy content off of the cameras and onto my laptop.

It's not a huge number of steps, but it does add up, particularly if I have a lot of photos or movies on the cameras.  Yes, with memory cards being so cheap I certainly could leave the photos on the DSLR, but I'm also paranoid about losing photos... so I want to make sure they are off the camera before I go traveling.

If you are a "content creator" for your organization, what do you bring when you travel?  What steps do you wind up adding to your travel preparations?


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