Sometimes, we need to get out of our own way. Sometimes, an improvement to your college or university web presence can come from reviewing the facts and sticking with what works. I think time spent on Flickr is an example of putting resources toward something that has a definite payoff.
Why? People love photographs. Wikipedia states it well:
The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the idea that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly.
We know from usability testing with prospective students that web photography makes an impact and influences college choice. We also know from focus groups with alumni that campus photos elicit an emotional response. Follow the facts: A Flickr site for a college or university is worth the investment.
Perhaps these tips will help you get started with your own strategy:
- Flickr is fuel for other social media channels.
Most of us are always interested in a sustainable content stream for Facebook and Twitter channels. Linking back to your Flickr gallery from other social media channels leverages the power of social media integration.
- Flickr stats can help with decision making.
Data about the kinds of photos that your target audiences respond to is a side benefit. Flickr stats ranking all-time views of individual photos lead to fact-based decisions about the types of photography to use in other mediums like print and web. More concretely, if I were designing a thank you card for the William & Mary annual fund in the fall, I’d consider using this widely-viewed “there’s nothing like old campus in the fall.”
- Parents, in an effort to control their helicopter tendencies, might be lurking on Flickr.
Although I don’t have as much evidence, I’ve read many email messages and comments from parents who follow campus photography as a way to experience William & Mary from afar. Increasingly, parents provide financial support to the educational institutions their children attend and an institution’s social media presence can consistently engage them.
- Flickr is a wonderful way to chronicle campus events and traditions.
For several years, we have used Flickr to draw the attention of alums, parents, and friends of William & Mary to campus traditions and events. We have had consistently good results including a recent upload of 21 photos taken during new student move-in. In just two weeks, there were nearly 15,000 views of photos in the opening day set. For the past couple of years, a Flickr homecoming set had similarly strong results.
- Flickr offers a convenient way to encourage user-generated content.
The more the merrier, right? The William & Mary Flickr gallery includes photos from parents, students, alums, faculty, and staff. Occasionally, we even use Flickr for photo contests.
Comb through your campus photography. Get it out there.