SBS Mailbag: Marketing on Flickr and Flickr’s TOS?

Filed in Social Media by Matt McGee on March 23, 2008 2 Comments

It’s always fun to get good questions from readers via my contact Matt McGee page, and even more fun when the question comes from someone whose blog I read regularly and enjoy.

Rich Brooks, who writes the small business-oriented flyte blog, emailed earlier this week with this question about marketing on Flickr in light of the Flickr TOS:

I had a question on Flickr and your post Flickr No-Follows (Some) Outbound Links.

You had reported that flickr account for abusing the TOS, right? So I looked at Flickr’s TOS and it appears you can’t use Flickr for ANY commercial purpose. But don’t photographers use Flickr all the time for just that purpose? And I see web designers and artists putting up there work for the same purpose.

Where’s the line? Why is one right and the other wrong?

I’m asking in part b/c as a web designer, I started to put up my own work, but now I’m wondering if that’s not OK.

(When Richard is referring to reporting an account for violating the TOS, I think he was referring to this post on MattMcGee.com where I showed a blatant case of Flickr spam.) That said, here’s what I wrote back:

Sorry for the slow reply. I’m still in NYC at Search Engine Strategies, and coincidentally, this exact question was asked during the session I spoke in today. I would say this: If you’re a contributing member of the community who generally adds value to Flickr and doesn’t overdo the sales push, it’s fine. It’s the really blatant stuff that’s a problem. In my presentation, I showed a screenshot of this thread from the local Flickr group covering my hometown:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/tricities/discuss/72157604004133952/

This is clearly an advertisement, but it’s from someone the group knows and trusts and so no one minds.

On a related note, one of the Yahoo/Flickr bigwigs gave a presentation at SES San Jose in 2006, and I asked a question like this — what will they tolerate? She basically answered that they don’t want businesses using Flickr to store/upload entire product catalogs. So, I’m assuming the line gets drawn somewhere around there.

What are your thoughts? Where would you draw the line on promotion via Flickr?

Previous Mailbags/Reader Q&A:
What Does Google Think About Linkbait?
SBS Mailbag: Adding Your Business to Citysearch

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  1. Flickr and the nebulous TOS. » Hraba Hospitality Consulting | April 23, 2009
  1. David says:

    I use images on Flickr to post to my blog all the time. I also put blatent references to the business in the description including links to our website. We have not had any complaints and some of our images are getting more views than the manufacturors that we sell who are also on Flickr! Our purpose is to inform and entertain people not simply push our product. Perhaps this is why we are not blocked.

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