Many of you probably heard the news last week that Imagekind (my review here) is partnering with Flickr. This partnership gives Flickr members the ability to upload photos directly from their Flickr account to Imagekind.
But really, this is just a huge marketing push to get more users from Flickr, right? After all, Flickr users could have gotten an Imagekind account like anyone else up until now, too.
Apparently not. Imagekind says this partnership will benefit everyone. In their last email they contend that, “By driving more traffic to our site and increasing brand awareness, the new partnership is sure to benefit all Imagekind artists.”
I’m not so sure about that. Lets break it down:
Driving more traffic = benefit to Imagekind artists.
Well, that depends on the type of traffic, doesn’t it? All of this new traffic will most likely be Flickr users, not people looking to buy art. See, everybody on Flickr probably loves the idea of selling their work online. Who wouldn’t? But the reality of it is that only a very small percentage of photographs on Flickr are print-worthy to anyone other than the photographer themselves.
So what does that tell us? That this traffic will only benefit the owners of Imagekind. I know, it sounds harsh, but it’s true. Imagekind has a lot to gain by getting Flickr’s prolific photographers to use their service and print their own photos. It’s a smart move for Imagekind, the company, but it doesn’t really benefit the Imagekind artists.
Increasing brand awareness = benefit to Imagekind artists.
Now this one I agree with. The more that Imagekind gets out there, the better. Naturally I’d prefer that any “brand awareness” took place among potential buyers of art, but I’m not going to deny the fact that “any publicity is good publicity.”
And finally, here’s the unspoken but obvious ramification:
Driving more user traffic + increasing brand awareness = An even bigger user community.
From the very beginning I had misgivings that Imagekind was more focused on building a web 2.0 community rather than selling art by original artists. This partnership just reinforces that idea.
Besides, there’s already a glut of work on Imagekind making it hard for people to find art, and Imagekind’s search function still needs improvement as well which just compounds the problem. For example, try searching by color.
There’s no need to list six different sizes of the same print, is there? Of course not. Then again, the option to search by color isn’t even available for member artwork at all, which you’d really think it should be.
Look, in general I like Imagekind’s stated objectives, so I don’t want to bash them too much here. But in this case I think they took one step forward and two steps backward. That is, as long their actual goal is helping artists sell their work online.
If they want to focus more on just being a self-service photo printing company, then that’s a whole different story.