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The Future of Photo Sharing

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It is increasingly evident that social media is no fad and within the medium online photo sharing is quickly becoming a significant force behind increased user engagement and interaction. Buddy Media, one of the more prominent social media consulting solutions, points out that user engagement on Facebook spikes 20% on pages that incorporate photographs into their content strategies.

Noting the power of photo sharing, companies are quickly adapting to respond to this dynamic. The companies below, and the tactics they’re leveraging, provide us with insight into the evolution of content sharing and a sense of what we can expect from the industry moving forward.

Color’s patent-pending advanced proximity algorithms locate all other smartphones using this application. Every photo and video is instantly shared with other nearby phones. Photo Credit: color.com

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 time line 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 proximity algorithms locate all other smartphones using this application. The work is done for you on the spot. Every photo and video is instantly shared with other nearby phones. Seamless and intricate – with no uploading, emailing, or attaching required. Their website and brief 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 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. Exclusivity really is key here. You may stumble and scroll through recent photos behind the Yankee dugout or backstage at Dylan’s rehearsal. My imagination may be getting ahead of itself. Nonetheless, the possibilities are endlessly intriguing.

Kaptur allows a user to easily arrange all media from an event so everyone’s photos, videos, and status updates can all be found in one place. Photo Credit: kaptur.com

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 all at once, share with friends, and organize however you like. A great use case for this are weddings – as exampled on their website  at wedding.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. From the looks of it, they are poised to move the photo sharing industry further along towards a more synchronized, all-inclusive digital destination.

Twitter’s recent integration of a native, in-house photo and video sharing service into it’s platform is a real game changer. You are able to enter a keyword or search term which will return results, in addition to a filmstrip of photos and videos. Photo Credit: twitter.com

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 is the real game changer. Third party companies, such as TwitPic and YFrog, become rendered obsolete. Only time will tell if they are the ones that evolve and adapt to this shift of power.

This would also mean that all of these photos and videos, uploaded by the Twitter community, would become searchable. Very similar to the hashtag 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 pre-specified privacy restrictions. The “public domain” that Twitter has created will only compliment the search-ability of their photo sharing service. Google Images might have to watch it’s back.

This brief overview of emerging tactics confirms that an exponential number of innovations are being made in the field of digital photo sharing. 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 is a contributor for the Social Media Week Global Editorial Team based in New York City. He runs stanmichaelbash.com, a social media consulting service and online blog covering social media, creative advertising, and events. Follow him on twitter (@stanmichaelbash).

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