BY STAN BASHMASHNIKOV – SMB.COM
It is increasingly evident that social media is no fad — but in fact a mainstream staple. Many parts are constantly moving within this dynamically complex whole. When it comes to user engagement and interaction, an argument can be made that online photo sharing is the single greatest force behind this. Buddy Media, one of the more prominent social media consulting companies, points out that user engagement on Facebook spikes 20% when photos are thrown into the mix of context. This isn’t surprising, but rather intuitive. Pictures are worth a thousand words – not the other way around. And as a result, consumers are more likely to respond in any way, shape or form to a picture, as opposed to just plain text.
The groundwork is clear. Companies are quickly responding to this rapidly-growing sector. In this section, I am going to highlight a few companies – both new and known – who are setting into motion unique and different methods on what we, the consumer, can do with our online photos.
Color is an application for iOS and Android devices that – at the heart – is a proximity based photo sharing solution. Essentially, Color digitally connects multiple smartphones, which are within a pre-specified range of each other, and allows those users to “digi-sync” their photos, videos, and text to one defined destination. Picture going out on a Friday night for a friend’s birthday. You can bet there are at least 5 people taking pictures and/or video. And of course – these individuals sporadically document different parts of the night. No clear timeline exists. Things become lost in translation. Only bits and pieces span across an extended period of time, leaving many gaps. Color’s patent-pending advanced promixity algorithms locate all other smartphones using this application. The work is done for you – right then and there. Every photo and video is instantly shared with other nearby phones. Seamless and intricate - with no uploading, emailing, or attaching required. Their website and demo can be found at www.color.com.
The concept is truly revolutionary. Between all of the clutter in the mobile world today – the potential of this idea can reach FourSquare proportions. What I mean is there are parallels: the location-based concept combined with mobile photography blend a “checking-in” function but for your pictures. Imagine you are at a Yankee game or a Bob Dylan concert. Now, picture your FourSquare feed – and then your Instagram library. By loading this app, you are checking-in with only photos. You may scroll through recent photos from behind the Yankee dugout or backstage at Dylan’s rehearsal. My imagination may be getting ahead of itself. Nonetheless, the possibilites are endlessly intriguing.
Kaptur, unlike Color, lives online and focuses on the consumer’s need to structurally organize their photos to one location. Their platform lets a user easily arrange all media from an event so everyone’s photos, videos, and status updates can all be found in one place. Once you have media organized this way, you can treat it as a single album and download it all at once, share it with friends, and organize it however you like. A great use case for this are weddings – as exampled on their website (www.weddings.kaptur.com).
Proximity-based software is irrelevant in this case, since wedding albums are inherently selective and specifically organized (bride’s family, groom’s family, friends, etc.). I asked owner and CEO Tej Bhatia what changes he envisions in this field and how Kaptur plans on adapting in a rapidly evolving arena. “While social networks are ‘social’ and photosharing does ‘share,’ both are still based on the concept of user profiles and photo albums, neither of which scale well for groups. Kaptur provides a solution that scales without changing any existing user behavior when it comes to social networking and photo sharing.” Simple yet brilliant, Kaptur is poised to move the photo sharing industry further along towards a more synchronized, all-inclusive digital destination.
Which brings us to the beast in the room (or more appropriately – on the web): Twitter. Now, we already know the power of 140 characters. We’ve seen the social, marital, and political repercussions time and time again. And of course, we’ve found out that an image is definitely worth a thousand words, not just 140 characters. So why is this relevant when it comes to photo sharing? People posting pictures to twitter has been around since Day One, right? This is all true. Twitter’s recent integration of a native, in-house photo and video sharing service into it’s platform is the real game changer. Third party companies, such as TwitPic and YFrog, become rendered obsolete.
The bigger differentiator is that all of these photos and videos, uploaded by the Twitter community, will now be searchable. Very similar to the hashtag user experience, a specific keyword or search term will return results, in addition to a filmstrip of photos and videos. Categorically speaking – this gives Twitter a huge x-factor when it comes to competing with Facebook. Unlike Facebook, you are able to search through the masses without certain privacy restrictions. The “public domain” that Twitter has created will only compliment the search-ability of their photo sharing service. Who knows – Google Images might have to watch it’s back.
Evidently, an exponential number of innovations are being made in the field of digital photo sharing. And for the right reasons, mind you. Between proximity, organization, and mass outreach – one can argue that an exciting road is being paved right in front of our eyes (and hands, ears, etc.). Our society wants things to be quicker and easier. These wants, one by one, are rapidly coming to fruition.
Stan Bashmashnikov (@stanmichaelbash) runs stanmichaelbash.com, focusing on topics including online marketing, social media, and innovation. Please visit the Contact Me link at the bottom of the page for more info.