Archive for the ‘Google Plus’ Category
Wow! I just heard from my good Pal Ivan Makarov that the Plus One Collection sold almost 100 copies in the first day of taking orders. That’s pretty impressive for a $200 limited edition book. I think the book probably got a nice boost when Google Social Chief Vic Gundotra himself posted about it and bought a book yesterday.
What is the Plus One Collection? Well 520 photographers got together on Google+ to create a collaborative book for charity (so far we’ve raised over $5,000 for Kiva). These are some of the very best photographers on the site and each submitted their best photo of 2011. A panel of 11 editors (I was one of these) using blind ratings then edited this down to 193 single page photographs (all 520 will be in the ebook but only 193 would work in the print book).
There are two editions of the book being offered for sale. A numbered limited edition 11×13 fine art book, printed on fine art paper, including tipped-in print, made to museum standards, available for only 9 more days — and another less expensive book that will follow fulfilled through Blurb after the limited edition sale. Each limited edition book also comes with a print from the book and a certificate of authenticity.
All of the work on this book was done by photographer volunteers on Google+. Ivan probably did the most work of all, but so many others in the community helped as well. Especially notable was the amazing design work on the book that photographer Andy Lee did. Ingo Meckmann designed the great website for the book.
100% of all net proceeds go to Kiva.
I’ve loved seeing this project come together as photographers from all over the world have contributed (literally only 65% of the photographers are from the US/Canada, the rest are from all over the world including Europe, Asia and as far away as Oceania!). The book shares a love for photography and fine art along with a way that we have been able to give back to the world that we all find beauty in and photograph every day. Thanks to everyone who bought a limited edition book yesterday, the price is steep but I think you’ll be proud to own a highly collectible edition of some of the best photography from 2011 while helping to support a very worthwhile cause.
Today for the first time I noticed that Facebook has rolled out a new lightbox view for photos. There were rumors of a new Facebook Lightbox view coming already out in the wild, but this was the first time that I saw it myself.
At first blush it looks like quite a bit of it was
copied from inspired by Google Photos. Remember Vincent Mo, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
The biggest change is that that comments on Facebook photos have been moved over to the right. Also it’s interesting to me that they seem to have dropped adverts on photos that have enough comments to require scrolling. This probably makes sense as it’s a way to reward high value (i.e. highly commented) photos on Facebook and below the fold adverts (where the adverts go under the comments) probably wouldn’t fetch as much as above the fold adverts anyways.
Also now, when you hover over the photo it gives you the opportunity to “like” or “tag” the photo. This is in addition to the options already to like and tag the photo that are to the right of the photo and always showing. Facebook really must want to drive “likes” and “tags” to their photos, which does actually make a lot of sense as increasing social activity on photos will drive engagement.
Simply clicking off the photo to the empty space around the photo or pressing the escape key will bring you back to the regular page you came from.
Personally I like the new lightbox view by Facebook. It’s better than the old Facebook lightbox. It’s still not as good as Google+’s which still has a larger photo — but along with the new much larger photo thumbnails in the timeline view, it’s a step in the right direction. It also tells me that Facebook has probably noticed the success that Google+ has had with photographers and is looking to try and find ways to make Facebook more attractive to the photography crowd. Facebook’s photos have come a long way since pre-Google+. Back then photo thumbnails were ensy weeny — the size of a postage stamp.
If I were Facebook I’d still make the lightbox view much larger though (like Google+). When it comes to a photo in lightbox view, bigger is definitely better.
Facebook also still needs to give us a way to crop photos in the Timeline view. Right now the imposed square crop doesn’t always best show your photo and the “resize” feature (press the star above your photo in timeline view) weirdly crops just the top half of the photo. Facebook already does have a cropping tool that you can use for your main cover photo in timeline view, so I’d think (and I hear) that better cropping ought to be coming for timeline photos at some point.
What do you think? Do you like the new Facebook lightbox for photos? And which do you think looks better, Facebook’s or Google+’s? Any other thoughts on today’s new Facebook lightbox design?
Update: Mike Schroepfer from Facebook comments in the comments below: “Thomas and everyone else – thanks for the feedback.
We experimented with blacking out the entire background. However, we found that may people were confused about how to navigate back from the viewer. The semi-opaque black background tries to strike a balance between having great contrast in the photo and giving people an easy way to click out/get back to FB as they need. Either way I think it is a huge improvement from having a white background.
If you have any other comments or suggestions I’d love to hear them.”
Yesterday Louis Gray shared an interesting post based on a discussion kicked off by Thomas Morrfew and Thomas Tenkely. The post showed how to find out how many +1s you’ve handed out on Google+. I reshared the post here. So did my good Pal Robert Scoble here.
I thought it would be interesting to go around to the various posts and put together a list of the top 20 people who +1 on Google+. This list is wildly inaccurate in that it only includes the people who responded to these posts, but I thought it would be an interesting list of folks nonetheless.
I love +1ing on G+. It’s like handing out little pieces of candy for everything that I like. Some people have asked for a list of their +1s. Personally I hope that if Google gives us this list that they give us the option of making it public or private. I don’t like my favorites on flickr being stalked by people and would prefer to keep my +1s private.
Anyways, that’s neither here nor there, but here are the top 20 +1ers that I was able to sort of sort together based on these posts. Thanks to everyone who +1′s on Google+ and shares the love!
1. Kev Isabeth, 112,161
2. Dirk Talamasca, 98,240
3. Mark Esguerra, 61,072
4. Kerry Murphy, 56215
5. Billy Wilson, 51,602
6. Lotus Carroll, 46,196
7. Chelsea Leland, 44,823
8. Sandra Parlow, 40,541
9. Daniel Chen, 36,000
10. Louis Gray, 33,000
11. Rachel Blum, 33,000
12. Jaana Nyström, 32,239
13. Kol Tregaskes, 30,592
14. Jenn Kirkland, 25439
15. Lars Clausen, 25,251
16. Turtle Qiu, 24,270
17. Cameron Siguenza, 24,198
18. Celine Chamberlin, 23,184
19. Brian Kemper, 20,650
20. Mihailo Radičević, 20.000
You can find out how many +1′s you’ve handed out by going and checking here. Lots of other interesting Google analytical information here too. I’ve done 45,802! Whew!
Earlier today I shared 1,500 kick ass photographers that I follow on G+ and that post got a lot of response. Ken Zuk posted a comment asking how I find the photographers to follow on Google Plus and what my criteria is for following other photographers. I started writing out a long comment as a response, but it felt more like a blog post so I thought I’d write one up here and then share it as a link response to Ken’s question.
The Google+ Photography Community is absolutely the most active, engaged, positive group of photographers I’ve ever seen anywhere on the web. It is rich and vibrant and active and full of amazing art. Over the past 7 months or so I’ve added tons of great photographers who I get to enjoy work by every single day.
So… where do I find these people?
1.) Probably the number one place I find photographers from on Google+ is reshares. Usually when someone reshares a photo it’s a pretty high quality photo. When I see these (if i like the work) I’ll click through to the photographer who was shared and explore more of their work. If I like it and they meet my criteria (see below) I’ll start following them.
2.) Comments — and not just comments on my photos. I’m frequently reading the comments on Google+ — on my photos, but even more on other people’s photos. If I see two active photographers who seem interesting and engaging and who are chatting with each other, I just might check them out. I like following active, engaged photographers and so if I like their stuff I’ll usually add them. Go Wolfpack.
3.) Outside resources. Jarek Klimek’s Photo Extract is AWESOME! Each day he puts up some of the best photographs on Google+ in huge full sized glory. Definitely check out his site and you will be blown away by some of the quality of photos showing up on Google+. GROUP/AS is another fantastic resource to find tons and tons of photographers currently posting to Google+.
4.) Contact diving. I love diving into other people’s contacts. Both who they are circling as well as who are circling them. It’s nice because if you click on that window it already shows you all the people you are already following. So if you are not following someone you can cmd-click on a link to their posting page and check them out to see if you like what they are doing.
5.) #hashtags. There are a lot of special hashtags that people use on Google+. There are different themed photography projects that are curated — #TuesDecay, #MacroMonday, #WeAreParents, #GrassTuesday, the list goes on and on. Frequently I’ll click on these hashtags that Google+ hyperlinks and explore the work of other photographers there. If I like them, then I’ll add them.
6.) Real life contacts. I’ve hosted hundreds of photowalks over the past decade. I’ve also participated in a number of group photography trips. Alot of times through photowalks and trips you end up getting to know people super well.
Some of my best friends today have come through real life photography meetups. I met my good Pal Robert Scoble almost 10 years ago at a meetup that he hosted at Barney’s Burgers in Noe Valley in San Francisco. Other times though the photowalks are short and big and hard to get to know everyone — but I always do try to go back after these walks and trips and check out people’s work (again through hashtags). #Yosemite2011, #DV2011, #FordNAIAS, #SJPhoto2011, etc.
I find alot of the people that I end up following through these walks/trips/walk tags/etc.
7.) Hangouts. I’m pretty active with hangouts — both mine and other people. Hangouts are a great way to meet people and how I’ve gotten to know alot of people better. So many of my great photographer contacts have come from hanging out.
8.) Popular Posts on Google+. It’s harder to find new talent here, but I’ll frequently check out the most popular posts on Google+ in the past hour over at SocialStatistics. Inevitably alot of the most popular posts are great photographs. I’m already following a lot of the people posted there, but every now and again I find someone new who I am not following yet.
9.) Other people’s shared circles. I’m constantly checking out other people’s shared circles. Here is how I manage that process and do it most efficiently. Usually if I trust someone’s opinion I’ll add the entire circle that they shared — but… I *WON’T* mix it in with my other contacts — instead I just keep it labeled as “their” circle.
After I’ve added their circle, I’ll browse through that stream and cherry pick people out of to integrate into *my* other circles that I like. I might do this for an hour. I might just let the circle set there for a week and get to it over time. After I feel like I’ve adequately examined the circle, I’ll just delete it. The best photographers I found in it I’ve integrated into my own and the rest of those who I’m not as crazy about from there get dropped.
10.) Other social networks. I like to spread the good word about G+ so I’ll frequently post about it on other sites — on Flickr, on Twitter, on Facebook. The other day I posted on Flickr asking which of my flickr contacts were on Google+. Alot of people responded with links to their G+ page. When they did I went and checked them out on G+. If I liked their stuff I added them there too.
So… as you can see I find people to follow on Google+ from a lot of different places.
Now… as far the criteria for what I’m looking for when I follow someone on Google+
1) Non-watermarker/signature photographers. I hate watermarks and signatures. They drive me bonkers. Nothing personal, it’s just a pet peeve of mine. My eye is drawn to the watermark almost every time. I can’t enjoy the photo. I get agitated. They usually look big and ugly and like something a low rent cheap hack wedding photographer would use. The bigger the signature/watermark the worse. Some people hide them so well that I don’t see them. I’m ok with that — but… if I see them…. GAWD! AWK!
Unless I know you really well and am willing to overlook it because I’m in love with you, then I’m probably not going to follow someone that is using watermarks.
2) Photographers who mostly post their own photographs. I want photographers in my circle who mostly post photos. It’s ok if they post other things sparingly — a post here or there about a photographic subject, a shared photo of someone else’s, a circle, a rant about whatever they had for breakfast (sparingly is the key here) — but… if a photographer is mostly posting what I consider noise (bad gifs, too much resharing of texty sort of articles, too much stupid stuff, etc.) then it’s hard for me to want to follow them — at least in my photographers circle. I may follow them in a different circle (like the stupid gif circle) that I never check, but I don’t really want super noisy people in my photographers circle.
Again, there are exceptions to all of these rules if I love you enough.
3) Photographers who are active. If the last time you posted a photograph on Google+ was last November, I probably am not following you. I want to see work by current, active photographers who post every week.
4) Good photography. It sort of goes without saying, but I want to see work that is aesthetically pleasing to me — interesting, creative, inspiring work.
5) Someone who is positive and not a hater/stalker/harasser/etc. Nothing turns me off more than seeing someone who tears apart others. I’m not just talking about my own work here. If I see someone say something awful to someone else, especially someone else that I respect, I’ll probably drop them. If it’s bad enough I might even block them. The online photosharing world unfortunately has a very small minority who are petty, jealous haters — fortunately for us on Google+ there is a very robust block tool which can keep them away from us most of the time.
Over the last three days I’ve posted three circles of 500 each of all of the photographers that I’m currently following on Google+. For the most part these are active, engaged photographes on Google+ and represent some of the people that you may want to get to know if you want to participate more in the Photo Community that has emerged on Google+.
The Google+ Photography Community is the most active, engaged, positive group of photographers I’ve ever seen anywhere on the web. I’m constantly blown away and humbled by the quality of the work that people post there day in and day out. More than just the work, the photographers that I’ve met on there, that I’ve hung out with on there, that I’ve hung out in real life with on there (HIRL), are such amazing people that I’ve been so fortunate to have gotten to know.
Alot of people ask me how they might get more involved with Google+. I’d say that you can start with checking out these folks and I think you’ll find most of them are pretty easy to get along with and interact with. You can check out these circles here:
Thanks to each and every photographer that I’ve gotten to know at Google+!
As a Person, Publisher, News Organization and Twitter User, I Think Google’s New Personalized Search Results are AWESOME!
Personalized Google Search Results
Unpersonalized Google Search Results
The top story on Techmeme right now is Steven Levy’s “Is Too Much Plus a Minus for Google?”. Alot of people are talking about how including personalized Google+ search results is somehow bad or wrong. Earlier this week Twitter put out a statement saying that they thought this new search integration was “bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.”
Sure, it may be be bad for *Twitter*, but to say it’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users is wrong. I have been hoping for the integration of social search into image search for years now. Back in 2006 I wrote a blog post when Yahoo first started showcasing Flickr images into their image search results. I was a fan. I’m not sure why everybody didn’t get all wound up when Yahoo started adding Flickr photos to their search but they now seem to be wound up that Google is essentially doing the same thing.
As a person, publisher, personal news organization (aka blogger) and Twitter user I *absolutely* want Google+ integrated into my search results.
Well look at the two images above. Both are searches for New York. The top one represents the results when I’m logged into Google. The bottom one represents when I’m logged out. Why is the top one so much better for me? Well, as a photographer, if I’m going to New York there’s a big chance that I’m going to want to be photographing in New York.
The unpersonalized results are pretty photos of New York but they provide me no additional information about the locations. The first result goes to a wikipedia page, lots go to travel oriented pages — they are nice postcardly type photos of New York but really do me no good.
Now the personalized results are *far* more useful. Google+ knows that I like shooting urban exploration photography. They also know that my friend Amy Heiden has a kick ass photo of urbex photography from New York. Now *that* image jumps to page one. This is great because I *know* Amy. We’re friends. So now I can check in with Amy and say, “wow! love that shot, would you mind telling me more about it and how you got in, etc.). This is far, far, far, more helpful and useful to me than the bland postcardly photos without Google+.
Two of the images on the page are like some of the postcardly overhead New York sky images on the generic unpersonalized page — only there is a huge KEY difference for me. They were taken by my friends Tom Harrison and Ingo Meckmann. There’s also a kick ass shot of the Apple Store taken by my friend Trey Ratcliff. These are not just people that I sort of know. These are people that I know well and have known for years. These are friends that I can check in with and say, “whoa! where did you get that awesome photo from, which skyscraper were you in.”
Personalized results on Google+ are wayyyyyy more helpful to me than unpersonal results. And this is exactly what Google should be doing. Helping me find the information that is most helpful and most useful to me. As a photographer, this means that I *want* them to give preference to photos by people that I know. People who I can talk to. People who will share information about these photos with me. I don’t want to see some bland photo by some Associated Press photographer who I don’t know, can’t talk to, and is too busy to share information with me personally.
It pains me that Twitter and Facebook want to take this away from me. That they want to take this really useful thing and somehow rob me of it. All because they are afraid that Google+ is going to be a bigger, better social network.
So as a user this is super helpful to me. What about as a blogger or publisher? YES! It’s also super helpful to me. Now my photos will be shown to all sorts of people who have chosen to follow me and my work. I get bigger distribution. It’s the dream of long tail content. I suppose if you’re not on Google+ as a blogger/publisher this gives you a pretty powerful incentive to get your ass on there ASAP, but what’s so bad about that? Google+ is a vastly better social network than Twitter (photos look awful as little links of text) or Facebook anyways.
It seems like Twitter and Facebook don’t want Google competing in the social network space. They want to keep it all for themselves. At the same time they seem to want to force Google to pay through the nose even to have access to their realtime data and firehose. If Facebook and Twitter don’t like this integration, let them give away this data for free to Google, or better yet, they can go build their own search engines. But they shouldn’t try to pull this integration away from me. Why should users get caught as casualties in their war against Google? As a person, as a publisher and yes… even as a Twitter user. (BTW Twitter, just because something might be bad for *YOU* doesn’t mean it’s bad for your users, like *ME*).
I for one welcome these new search results and am super excited about personalized search and how it is going to help me find the things I need to find more easily in the future.
Lotus Carroll and I had an AWESOME time this past Wednesday night interviewing Colby Brown on Photo Talk Plus Episode 5. Colby talked about all of the great places over the world he’s travelled to shoot (and where he’s headed this coming year), his project The Giving Lens, life as a new father, his upcoming book with Peachpit on Google+ for photographers and more. Colby also shares some of his great images and talks about the stories behind them.
Thanks to everyone who participated on the show and in the chat room live at Vidcast Network — for those of you who missed it live don’t miss this great episode.
I will try to be brief (it’s not easy for me), I’ve got a lot of work to do over at Google+ today (which is where I’m spending more and more of my time) — we have a photo hangout show there tonight that I should be working on right now.
First, congratulations on your new appointment as CEO. As a long-term critic of Yahoo I wish you the best and believe every new CEO deserves a fresh chance. I hope you succeed beyond your wildest dreams. The Street does not like the news of your appointment, but Yahoo’s stock would have probably gone down with *ANY* CEO appointment. The Street wants Yahoo to be sold off and your appointment makes that likelihood a little more murky (why hire a CEO to come get a boatload of severance cash if you’re just going to sell the company in 2 weeks anyways — unless the CEO is being hired to actually sell the company).
I’m going to give you some advice about Yahoo. It probably won’t make a bit of difference (it didn’t for Carol).
1. Flickr represents your *BEST* possible chance for social at Yahoo, but it’s probably too late. Social is key. Social is winning. Facebook is social. Google is social. Twitter is social. Every great web company *must* incorporate social going forward. It’s imperative. You can start from scratch or you can try to leverage your best shot at social which is Flickr. I know Flickr is not the most profitable thing Yahoo does — and I know that profits are very important to CEO types like yourself, but trust me, forget about the immediate profitability, social IS important for your longer-term sustainability.
Google has spent hundreds of millions of dollars so far for social on Google+ — with *NO* advertising or paid accounts. Why? Well for many reasons that have nothing to do with short-term profitability, but just assume that they can siphon off even 1% of the supposed $100 billion value of Facebook, that’s a billion dollars for spending a few hundred mil. Not a bad return. Of course they have plans to siphon off *FAR* more than just 1% and far better ways to monetize things in the longer run beyond even just the network itself.
2. It will be challenging to turn flickr into a full fledged social network. Too many people think of it as a photo sharing site. This is one of your challenges — but fix social for photographers and you’ll pull in other accounts… maybe. But the competition for social is fierce. The competition wants what little photo social Flickr has left by the way. They are siphoning it off right now as we speak. There’s a reason that Flickr’s uniques are down 20% since June (according to Compete.com). Look at this last flickr post by Ingo Meckmann. Ingo’s a great photographer by the way. This is what is happening to Flickr right now. Photographers are leaving. Google+ is siphoning off your flickr accounts and you’re losing your best social asset at Yahoo. Ingo’s move away from Flickr is just one of many, many, many such moves.
3. Flickr lacks vision and a leader. Maybe this is because most people at Yahoo don’t care about Flickr (again, it’s not the most profitable thing in the world). Maybe this is because Yahoo cannot recruit a strong leader. I don’t know. Again, this is your challenge. I’ve been on Flickr since 2004. Remember when Bradley Horowitz bought Flickr for Yahoo back in the day? Back when Stewart Butterfield ran the show there. Stewart was a bold visible leader. It helped that he was cofounder of the site and it was his baby, but he was a big personality who was out there banging the drum, interacting with the community, selling flickr to the world. Even if you didn’t always agree with his management decisions, he was at least visible.
Who is selling flickr to the world now? Nobody, that’s who. Do we even know who the General Manager of Flickr is anymore? Who is out there drumming up Flickr photo walks like Google+ is doing? Nobody. Who is out there talking about weekly Flickr innovation? Nobody.
Look at the big bold leadership of Google+. Look at Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz — the very top guys. These guys are constantly promoting their baby. They live and breath it. It’s in their blood. I had a little censorship hiccup over on Google+ the other day and within about 10 minutes of posting about it at 1am in the morning Vic Gundotra himself responded to the issue and it got fixed. Go to their Google+ accounts and look at what they are posting. Now look what your Flickr Chief is posting (sorry Markus, nothing personal). Who is rallying the troops at Flickr? Who is leading the charge?
4. You have an excellent opportunity to turn Flickr into a stock photography powerhouse and you should. Why? Well for two reasons. First off there are only two companies in the world today who can compete with Getty Images. Google and Yahoo (with Flickr). It’s a multi-billion dollar industry ripe for disruption. But secondly, if you really reformed the stock photography market you’d attract all of the best photographers in the world today to Flickr. If you came out with something fairer than a 20% Getty payout and you really put the muscle behind promoting Flickr as a stock powerhouse, you’d retain many of your top photographers who are leaving and you’d attract many more. It’s a hook, and a big hook, what social person doesn’t like being *paid* to be social? Best of all, you get a cut. How many bored housewives with cameras are sitting out there who wouldn’t want to earn a few extra hundred bucks a month? Make this dream come true not just for some of the accounts on Flickr, but open it up to literally everyone.
5. Innovate, innovate, innovate. Apparently you are a tech guy. Flickr needs circles (like Google+). You need to spend about 3 weeks studying Flickr Groups and why they are one of the stickiest social things on the web over the past 10 years. Alot about Flickr Groups need to be changed (you need more robust blocking tools, you need better ways to track threads across groups, you need to integrate group threads into your mobile experience, etc.), but at core, they are highly social little mini social systems buried deep inside of Yahoo. Figure them out. Free them. Promote them. Use them to their full potential instead of letting them languish in obscurity buried in the basement of flickr.
6. Get a flickr account yourself. I gave Carol this advice too and she never took it. Really. You are CEO of Yahoo. You *should* at least have a flickr account. It would be best if you really used it of course, but even if all it is is a puppet account that your assistant posts vacation photos to for you, do it. If you don’t support your own product, why should we? More importantly, what kind of message does it send to your employees working on Flickr if you can’t even be bothered to set up an account.
7. Overhaul community management at flickr. It’s gotten better now that Heather’s out (I finally got off the Explore blacklist that Heather always denied ever even existed), but barely. Follow Google’s lead and beef up the community management team (I think Google has like 20 community managers or something like that). Get folks in there who will interact with the community, who will promote the community, who will celebrate the community.
Look at Vic Gundotra’s last post over at Google+. What is it? It’s a post celebrating an interesting article by Trey Ratcliff, one of the photo community leaders who has emerged on Google+. How do you think it makes Trey feel when Vic Gundotra himself comes out and brings up one of his posts? How do you think it made Mike Elgan feel last night? Look at how popular a flickr account Trey has. Who at flickr is reaching out to him and making him feel as special as Vic is making him feel? Who is community management?
Vic is leading by example here. And his community managers are doing the same thing. That’s so smart. This is one of the many reasons why Google is winning at social. I hope Brian Rose and Chris Chabot and Natalie Villalobos and Michael Hermeston and Ricardo Lagos and tag team of Dave Cohen and Vincent Mo, and Tony Payne and Chew Chee and Sparky and soooooo many more Googlers got big fat year-end bonuses at Google, because they deserve it (and wayyy more Googlers that I know I left out, sorry).
Where is the community manangement at Flickr? Where is the outreach? Where is the social?
Finally, try this. Hop on the Verge’s (don’t you love cutting edge new tech sites?) article about your new appointment today, or wherever and ask the question, “what is the best internet property that Yahoo has today?” Watch how many people say Flickr. Flickr represents your best chance to funnel positive technology out of Yahoo in a highly visible way. People care more about Flickr than any other Yahoo property. It’s highly, highly visible, despite profitability issues. Let your other sleepy little businesses provide the profitability why you hold Flickr up as your beacon and proof that Yahoo can innovate. Do something bold. Get rid of the paid account. Facebook and Google+ don’t charge for accounts. I know there’s probably a big gasp there as paid accounts are probably the number one thing contributing to Flickr’s profitability at present, but do it anyways. People will love it. It will get great press. It will be a big bold move and a signal that Yahoo has much bigger plans for profitability going forward than paid Pro accounts.
That is all Scott. Best of luck. If you ever want to talk about Flickr, I have many, many more ideas on how you can turn that failing ship around. Show us you’ve got what it takes.
A few months after Google+ launched, I wrote a post called Flickr is Dead. “Anything is Dead” posts usually get alot of attention. Most products have their evangelists and their detractors and both tend to be polarized by such charged language. When I wrote that article, I wasn’t pronouncing the literal death that day of Flickr, but rather pointing to a shift that I was seeing take place in the online photo community.
The photo community was moving en masse from Flickr to Google Photos.
This trend has continued to accelerate over the past 6 months and I still stand by my initial pronouncement of flickr being dead.
Measuring online traffic is never easy (please don’t harp on how inaccurate or unscientific measuring online traffic is). The best we can do is guess — but sometimes some of the tools out there do tend to confirm what we’re feeling from the ground.
Google+ opened to the public for invite beta in June of 2011. The month before, according to compete.com, flickr racked up 22,794,460 unique visitors. Earlier this week compete released their November 2011 numbers and flickr has steadily declined down to 18,088,563 now. This represents a little over 20% decline in unique visitors and the lowest traffic number for flickr in over a year.
Anecdotally this feels about right to me as well. For most of the past few years, according to my own personal flickr stats, most days my flickr views fall between 11,000-16,000 views per day, with probably about 13,000 per day on average. The past few months I’ve been noticing that the number has decreased and is closer to the 10,000 mark. I’ve had two days in fact over the past month where my stream actually got less than 10,000 views. 9,968 on November 27 and and 9.978 on December 2. This is despite being added back into the popular Flickr explore area of the site (I was blacklisted by flickr staff from this part of the site for most of the past 2 years) and continuing to publish every day as usual there.
Last night in a Google+ hangout I was talking with another popular Flickr user +Billy Wilson. Billy said the drop off at Flickr felt even bigger to him. He said that photos of his that used to get thousands of views are now getting views in the hundreds instead. I’ve talked to other flickr friends who have noticed similar drop offs in their own traffic on the site.
Meanwhile, the photography traffic on Google+ could not be more explosive. It’s hard to track the individual views on Google+ for photos (you have to go to Picasa to see this) but as an example here is a photo that I posted to Google+ earlier this week. According to the Picasa views it’s racked up 12,919 views so far (the vast majority coming from Google+). The same photo on flickr (and one of my more popular flickr photos) only has racked up 1,033 views. Pretty much every photo that I’ve ever posted to Google+ vs. posting it to flickr has generated dramatically higher views on Google+.
Interestingly enough, the person in that photograph that I just cited, Shannon Jackson, is another former high profile flickr photographer who has moved her account to Google+. This was her post back in September — read through the comments to get more of an anecdotal sense of what is going on. There are posts about people leaving flickr and moving to Google+ all over Google+ just like that one. That’s just an example.
There are a lot of reasons why this shift is continuing to take place. Here are some of the main ones.
Google has invested heavily in the photography community. They have a talented community management team dedicated to Google+ and many engineers also do personal outreach. The entire company (and even part of employee compensation as has been widely reported) is dedicated to social. Googlers show up at community oriented events. They are part of the community itself — highly visible and engaged.
Google is innovating, rapidly. Just this week I got invited to the new On Air Hangouts feature. This is a beta feature rolled out to just a handful of accounts right now, but it’s the future. For the first time last night I hosted a hangout that we broadcasted publicly on Google+. We’ll be able to use this new feature to both broadcast and record our new photography video show Photo Talk Plus (check out this week’s episode with photographer and NASA Astronaut Ron Garan) that people will be able to watch live on Google+ and the Vidcast Network as well as watch recorded later on YouTube too.
Google Social Chief +Vic Gundotra just this week stepped the bar way up by adding his #seasonofshipping hashtag to a post announcing that to thank the community on Google+ that Google would be shipping a new feature each day for a week. Come on Blake Irving, instead of tweeting about Katie Couric and Dubstep how about offering us a #seasonofshipping for Flickr?
Speaking of hangouts. These are like social superglue. Flickr had something cool going on with groups, but hangouts blow groups away. There is something about interacting with someone with audio and video live, being able to share screens and photos, etc. that is just hard to describe. In our hangout last night we were watching +Ricardo Lagos edit a photo of his live. I couldn’t help myself and kept interjecting about how he might edit it. When you interact with people this way you become better friends then in a text based only way like on Flickr. Oh and who stopped by our hangout to say hi? The product manager for Google Hangouts himself +Chee Chew.
Flickr continues to fail at innovation. The most recent two innovations that flickr shipped were really poorly thought out.
Their Android app is really boring. It misses some key functionality. I can see my contact’s photos for example, but I can’t filter them by my friends, so it makes it less useful. When they show me my recent activity, they don’t show me how many faves my photo has received. And why in the world did flickr not include a reader for group threads in the mobile app?
Really Steve Douty, this is what Yahoo means when they say they are going to “Nail mobile?” Really? This is how you are going to take on Instagram, with this crappy new Android app?
The other innovation that they shipped is almost laughable — “Photo Sessions.” This feature allows you to share a flickr photo with a friend and text chat about it. Text chat? Really? As in old AOL text chat chatrooms? No audio, no video, just text chat, oh and you can doodle on photos like put a fake moustache with a MacPaint type pen tool on your friends photo that they are sharing — like photo etch a sketch. Nobody is using this “feature” of course.
Instead of improving the page that one of your former designers called the most important page on flickr (which has desperately needed an overhaul for years) you ship this crap?
The one area where flickr does have a chance to advance on social is with Flickr Groups. But these have been ignored by flickr. They have not improved groups in years. Because Flickr lacks effective blocking tools griefers, harrassers, trolls, etc. are allowed to pollute the flickr group infrastructure. I’ve watched so many accounts leave flickr recently over personal harassment. They’ve made no advancement towards giving groups mobile tools. There is no intelligent thread management for Group conversations (you should be able to mute or hide threads you are not interested in).
Yahoo is a miserable dead place to work and Google is an exciting interesting place to work. I think part of the reason also why Google+ is pulling folks away from Flickr is that they are able to get better people to work for Google. Google is winning. People want to be on a winning team. Not only that, social clearly is one of the most prestigious places to work at Google. Meanwhile flickr is laying off staffers. Yahoo is sort of sitting in no mans land right now. Will they be bought, won’t they be bought. Will they be chopped up, won’t they be chopped up. The press if full of negative stories about Yahoo every month while positive stories about Google abound.
Now, what some will point to is that Flickr still technically has a superior product to Google Photos in a lot of areas. This is absolutely the case. I’m sure +Dave Cohen and +Vincent Mo — who deserve big bonuses this year — are tired as hell of me asking for SuprSetr on Google+ over and over and over again. Set/album management at Flickr *is* superior to Google Photos right now. There are other things Flickr does better too. I made $552 last month through the Flickr/Getty photos deal. That’s sort of a compelling reason to use a site, the fact that they pay you $500 a month to use it. Google has no stock photography offering (yet). I think archived Flickr photos get more search traffic than Google photos (but remember Google is king of search and this will change in the future as they grow).
It’s easy to point to these feature advantages as proof to the continued viability of flickr, but don’t get distracted by features. Flickr is where it is 98% because of *social* photo sharing. That is their foundation, their core — and Google is now doing social photo sharing better, much, much better. The rest of the feature stuff will come with time, but Google understands the key to winning photos on the web is to create not just a technically great photo sharing platform (which they are doing), but in making photo sharing as social as it possibly can be. Photos on Google+ don’t just get more views, they get more engagement.
There are still places on the web by the way for people to do social sharing in more niche ways. 500px has carved out a niche with super high quality photo viewing. SmugMug (who sponsors my photo video show) has carved out a niche with higher end photographers with a paid high quality customer service platform for photographers who want to sell prints (85% payouts on print markups at SmugMug btw blow away 20% payouts at flickr for stock photography).
As far as the core sort of free photo sharing on the web goes though, Google will dominate here. At least if things keep going as they’ve been going. It is in fact probably too late for Flickr to turn this around now. They probably had a chance about 6 months before Google+ launched. Being the leader in social photo sharing is a powerful advantage, but they’ve squandered their lead at this point and what you are going to see over the course of the next year is a continue decline in Flickr and that big sucking sound that you hear? That’s those photographers one by one moving on over to join the party on Google+.