An in-depth look at photo-sharing service EyeEm for brands
This article looks at some of the strides made by Berlin based photo-sharing network EyeEm, and why brands, and anyone interested in the photo-sharing space, should keep an eye on it.
Following Facebook’s $1 billion Instagram Spring acquisition, the spotlight briefly turned on a series of so-called Instagram alternatives to see if they would mop up disaffected users not happy at being part of the Mark Zuckerberg empire.
The numbers tell their own story. With 100+ million accounts and more daily mobile users in the US than Twitter, few consumers seem to care who the ultimate owner is. So the also-rans seemed to fade away, case in point Instagram clone PicPlz, which shut down in July.
I’d make two points though. First of all, there is room for other mobile photo-sharing services. So long as you stop benchmarking them against Instagram. There won’t be another 100+ million user network like it - at least in the short term.
Room for a ‘Vimeo’ to Instagram’s ‘YouTube’?
A useful parallel is to look at the one that exists between YouTube and Vimeo in the online video space. No doubt about it, YouTube towers over the competition.
If you want your video to get a million hits and impress the client or board with the big number, YouTube is where you should be (As an aside, its worth mentioning that statistically you have a 6x greater chance of being hit by a bus than your video hitting YouTube stardom)
Vimeo has found its own niche though - one which Techcrunch calls “like an arthouse YouTube.”
A lot of people, especially in media and creative industries, like it because of the superior user experience, the on average high quality content, the more engaged community and (related to that), a responsive social network that nurtures its user base.
By and large those users aren’t really bothered that it ‘only’ has 85 million users. And if I were (for example) a luxury car manufacturer or a premium beer, I’d be quite interested in finding so many high end customers in one place.
I’m convinced that a similar role exists for someone in the mobile photo-sharing space. Back in May I thought there were a few candidates including two German tech start-ups: Hamburg based Tadaa and Berlin-based EyeEm.
Both recently reached a million users, which for tadaa is particularly impressive as it is iOS only. EyeEm works on iOS, Android - and is one of the few on windows mobile.
However having been on both for the past few months, my money is on EyeEm.
While Tadaa is all about high end content and creating an app with some unique bells and whistles, EyeEm has been more about the community. I think this is the right way to go, and a route that as a user I prefer.
How it works
On the surface, EyeEm is a lot like Instagram. You download the app, create a profile and follow people. Like Twitter and Instagram, the follower relationship can be asynchronous.
You then take a pic and put it through either the in-app filters or whatever third party photo apps you have on your phone, before uploading it.
You geo-tag the post if you want, and cross-post to the usual suspects - Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Flickr.
However, there are three key differences, all I think of interest to brands:
1 - Topics become albums
Once you upload a photo, topics and locations are suggested for you, or you can select them yourself (you can also add an old fashioned caption).
Those topics can revolve around the location (e.g. ‘Skateboarding’ at ‘South Bank Skate Park’), a common theme (for instance ‘black and white’), one of EyeEm’s weekly challenges (a recent example was night lights), or in fact anything you choose.
Each topic and location forms its own album, click on each and you get a stream of images.
That’s where the opportunity for brands lies.
Say you are the owner of a chain of fast food restaurants called ‘The Happy Burger Emporium’. You could create the topic ‘having a happy burger’ and all photos taken by your customers using that topic would appear in an album. You could then run a weekly competition, with the best post getting a free shake.
Speaking from the perspective of a user I find the topic / album route both a more elegant solution to Instagram’s hashtag chaos where mass tags are bunched under posts, as well as a better way to discover content and people to follow.
2 - EyeEm’s community engagement is first class
Using the Vimeo parallel I made earlier, EyeEm takes great care to nurture its community. The blog is a genuinely good read packed with a useful mix of news, selected user profiles and tutorials. EyeEm also publishes regular challenges which appear in news streams.
Finally though there is as yet no organisation of super-fans like Phil Gonzalez’s worldwide Instagramers group, EyeEm is trying to facilitate real world meet ups and photo-walks.
Sure, you could argue that it’s easier to shepherd 1 million as opposed to 100 million users, but likewise EyeEm isn’t sitting on Instagram’s endless piles of Facebook cash.
3 - EyeEm is more responsive to brands
A recent article in Techcrunch looked at EyeEm starting to offer ‘photo missions’ for brands such as Red Bull and Lufthansa.
Good idea, and kudos to Lufthansa and Red Bull for considering them. From personal experience at Rabbit, I’ve also found the team at EyeEm responsive and proactive in coming up with ideas without even being asked.
Will Red Bull get a ton of likes that look good on a spreadsheet by doing this? That depends how they intend to use what they get of course, but any brand which sends a man skydiving down from space probably has the confidence to try out a relatively small scale experiment like this without tying itself in a knot about KPIs.
I am fairly certain though that they will get some good content at a fraction of the cost had they worked with a larger network, and excellent community engagement driven by EyeEm itself.
TechCrunch makes a good point in that eventually, dozens of brands doing what amounts to in-app advertising will get annoying for users. True.
For now though, I think EyeEm is worth considering for anyone looking to roll out a campaign with some kind of photo-sharing element. And for the reasons I mention in a previous post, arguably that should be most campaigns