So last night while sleeping I figured out how Flickr needs to structure their rewards program. It’s so easy I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it earlier. What is important to the growth of Flickr are two things: more members and more quality photography. Quality is subjective of course, but favs seem to be one of the greater determinants of quality on Flickr.
So here’s how the program works. You get 100 points for every pro account you refer to Flickr. You get 1 point for every fav that is marked not by you on an account that you referred to Flickr in their first year. This would encourage people to not only refer their friends to Flickr but to especially refer their friends who happen to be great photographers.
I don’t think you add tagging into the mix initially but perhaps six months into it you have a special one month mini contest on who can post the most quality tags in a month. Things like that.
Flickr would keep a ranking somewhere of the top 500 Rewards members.
The Rewards program would include getting your Pro account for free at a certain level and then different levels of prizes — cheap easy stuff, t-shirts, hats, mugs. Possibly at the highest level an iPod or digital camera or new Canon lens or something. Flickr could easily get these donated for the publicity. Perhaps build into the contest some really great reward after a full year. Something like a weekend trip to the Yahoo! campus including dinner with Stewart and Caterina or something and having one of your photos on the Flickr home page for a week, etc.
This could be done very very cheaply, would generate great Flickr buzz and free publicity. The particulars would need to be worked out and some thinking would need to go into how to pitch it and make sure that it didn’t somehow upset the balance of the community, fav system, etc., but something like this seems like a no brainer to me. Flickr is a lot like TiVo with their diehard fans. Like TiVo Rewards, leverage this enthusiasm and make a fun new game/contest for them.