What’s ahead for 2020

Chinese New Year NYC

Dear Flickr friends,

Yesterday, we recapped Flickr’s many accomplishments in 2019. We’re proud of the year’s successes, but we’re particularly excited for what lies ahead in 2020. Now that our system migration is truly behind us, we can focus even more of our efforts on making Flickr the best place for photographers to share and connect.

When our Chief Geek and CEO, Don MacAskill, reached out in December, there was an outpouring of support, an impressive number of new Pro members ready to stand behind their passion for this product we all love, and a staggering amount of valuable feedback for which we’re incredibly grateful. Added to the input you’ve shared with our team over the last year and a half since we joined SmugMug, we certainly feel we’ve heard your priorities:

You’ve told us that Flickr is about discovery, not popularity; it’s about permanence, not the ephemeral; and it’s about community, not influence. Put simply, Flickr is about photography, not photos — so that’s where we’ll focus in 2020 and beyond.

Community, community, community

First, we need to do better at fostering and nourishing the overall Flickr community, as well as the myriad sub-communities of which it’s composed. That starts with more frequent communication from the team about what’s underway and what lies ahead (we hope you’ve noticed some early momentum in this direction with recent blog posts like this one, this one, and this one) and certainly requires continually listening to our members.

But community goes so much further: helping photographers with shared interests find one another, getting more exposure for our members’ photos—on Flickr and out in the world—ensuring our product work aligns with the needs of our members, and expanding our work with cultural heritage institutions, non-profits, and educational institutions. To this end, we’re making a major investment by hiring a senior leader to take the helm of our Community team.

Saying we’re about community and acting on that vision are two different things. Beyond that crucial new hire, we also want to share Flickr’s goals for 2020 with you to give an inside look at our priorities and what we plan to deliver. We’ll talk in more detail about specific projects in the weeks and months ahead, but they’re all in support of these goals.

Goal #1: Make Flickr cash-flow positive

I hate to start with the money because even though this is a business, we prefer to spend our time focused on building features our community will love. But, as Don’s previous message made clear, running the world’s largest photography community requires funding to cover our operational costs, so we will need to continue to focus on this area to ensure Flickr’s health.

Fortunately, these goals are aligned: delighting Flickr’s members also happens to be the best way to grow the business.

That delight starts with site stability and performance. Despite massive improvements on many performance metrics in the last few months, we have lots more work to do, so 2020’s main focus for our operations team is on increasing our ability to detect and prevent site issues. Members should see this as a steady decrease in the amount of overall downtime and number of panda pages served, as well as overall improvements in speed—particularly for uploads.

Some of the team will also be exploring additional money-saving opportunities and developing additional paid offerings. This includes additional work on the recently-launched Flickr Prints offering, which provides easy access to prints and ready-to-hang wall art from your photostream, printed by some of the world’s best photo labs. We’ll also continue evaluating many of the suggestions our members have shared—subscription tiers for example.

Goal #2: Increase exposure and engagement on public photos

When Flickr members share their work, we know they generally want it to be seen, appreciated, and maybe even critiqued by the world’s photography community. There’s no better place on Earth for photographers to get that high-quality exposure and engagement than on Flickr, but we know we can do far better and make it easier for our members to reach the world. Therefore, boosting these metrics for our members is a key goal of ours for 2020. Views, comments, faves, shares, and even your photo being added to another member’s Gallery are all quantifiable measures of engagement, and we’re aiming to increase them in aggregate on public photos. When we’re successful, you’ll feel the difference each time you share.

Goal #3: Foster community discussion

We also understand vividly that not all engagement is equally valuable—if all you wanted was a bunch of “likes” on your photo, you could look elsewhere. What makes Flickr special is the rich connection, interaction, and discussion between members, and our goal for 2020 is to foster that with improvements that bolster real, interactive discussion. To that end, we’re aiming to increase the depth of conversations on Flickr, including comments on public photos and replies on Group discussion threads. These person-to-person interactions are where the real magic happens: the story behind the photo comes into focus and the shared connection between two photographers who may never have found one another without Flickr comes to life.

Beyond views, faves, and comments

Of course, this is an overly simplistic view of Flickr: condensing our focus into three bullet points misses much of the nuance, and counting views, faves, and comments can’t possibly capture the complex social and photographic magic of Flickr—but they’re quantifiable indicators of forward progress and we hope you’ll agree that if the work we do boosts these metrics, we’ll be on the right path forward.

We always welcome constructive feedback and we’d love to hear from you if you have input on these goals or how to achieve them. Please feel free to contact our Support Heroes directly here or to share your thoughts on the Help Forum.

Here’s to a great 2020 for you and for Flickr!