For some reason, I know that I started using Twitpic three years ago today.
You could care less and I don't blame you.
So in addition to pointing to my first Twitpic, most viewed Twitpic and one or two others illustrating this post, I'll make some observations about photo sharing platforms in general.
You may not care about this either. But the odds just shifted significantly.
All Bets Are Off
Just a few short months ago it seems we could classify platforms based on what you did there: social networking, photo sharing, publishing. But even then it didn't acknowledge LinkedIn's focus on business, Facebook's ginormous user base, Flickr's deep community and Say Media's killer Ad Network.
And as these sites have evolved, so have consumer habits. Case in point: the second most used search engine is YouTube and not Yahoo. Yahoo's busy competing with AOL as they try to become content players instead of what they built their brands on respectively.
Assumptions Make Us Stoopid
I'm not being nostalgic with the above observations. My point is to dig deeper and go beyond commonly-held beliefs. Platforms evolve quickly...more quickly than the dot com days.
We assume that teens do nothing more than text. That's a safe assumption since the number of text messages sent and received each day exceeded the population of the earth -- in 2007. But it's not safe to assume they don't watch TV. They simply text while doing it. It's called a multi-screen experience.
So while Flickr and the other two top photo sharing platforms combined are dwarfed by Facebook when it comes to number of images hosted, this is more than a quantity discussion. Consider what else Flickr provides its users. That's why they're still around today -- in blatant defiance of The Highlander Complex. And if that reason ties to your target audience it's a viable option for your consideration.
Less is Even More
Twitpic and Instagram are other disruptions in the photo sharing discussion. Suddenly my iPhone can take and edit pictures that look better than the ones I take with my camera. And it's obviously easier to share those pictures. As we see a trend of consumers that are more into documenting the experience than the experience itself, we need to consider what that means.
This is all part of a larger discussion around content and what value it delivers the consumer and their role in creating it. Content is king oversimplifies the discussion. You have to consider the consumer, which then drives how and where you serve up "his majesty." And it doesn't even begin to take into consideration concepts like sharing and curation.
Slowly Unveiling a Story
The short form, heavily-social Twitpic, Instagram and others offer opportunities to tell very short stories. Tagging helps fashion those stories into volumes. Two interesting examples of sites trying to tap into this are Hash Album and a promotional site set up by Brisk for SXSW, BriskPic. It was a crowd-sourcing/packaging test by Pepsi. Did they learn from it? Let's assume yes. But don't underestimate the power of simplicity when it comes to images. Could they replace a news release? Depends on the news. Much like Twitter, it's forcing communications to be stronger, yet shorter. Our skills increase as consumer attention spans shrink.
What examples have you seen of brands tapping into photo sharing in a way that added to their message?