Users have countless options when they want to share their photos or videos on social networks — but this can pose a challenge for a brand that wants to tap into its fans’ social sharing. Photo storage and sharing site Photobucket recently unveiled a new feature that consolidates social media sharing beyond its own network. With “Photobucket Hashtags” (now available in beta), photos uploaded by anyone on Twitter, Instagram, or Photobucket will be added to a Photobucket album — so long as the images have a custom hashtag attached.
“Using hashtags to bring photos and videos together makes it a universal solution,” explains Jessica Canale, Product Manager with Photobucket. “Anyone can contribute to a Photobucket hashtag album from anywhere, with any phone using the social apps they already have and know.” Tapping into the social behavior its users already had just made sense for Photobucket.
Though the feature hasn’t been available long, user response has already been positive. Beyond the obvious use of hashtags to collect images from specific events, Canale notes that Photobucket has seen individuals using their hashtag albums in a lot of creative ways. “There are some users that have shared their hashtags with others and are using their hashtag albums as an email inbox of sorts to receive photos and videos from friends and family. A few photographers are using their hashtag albums as galleries of the work they have posted on Twitter and Instagram. We’ve also seen a hashtag used for a scavenger hunt — very clever!”
How to Use Photobucket Hashtags
The first step to making a hashtag album is claiming your custom hashtag. You can’t just claim any hashtag — or cash in on the success of popular hashtags. Hashtags must be unique and include “pb” to ensure that images going into your album are images that are intended to go into your album. While all images with the appropriate hashtag are copied to your album, they’re accurately sourced with attribution and a link back to the original; Photobucket won’t grab any images that aren’t public.
Once your hashtag is up and running, you can enable, disable, or delete it at any time to control the flow of images into your album. The album acts much the same as any other gallery on Photobucket. You can add or delete, organize, and share a single item or multiple items as a slideshow or story. Once your album (or slideshow or story) is just right, you can share it with your fans by linking it or embedding it on your website or social network of choice.
How Brands Are Using Photobucket Hashtags
It’s no surprise that brands are getting in on the action and using Photobucket as a central location to consolidate images and videos, and share curated, crowdsourced content with their fans. “We have had lots of interest from businesses large and small,” says Canale. “We’ve worked with concert venues, charity events, and local shops during testing and the results were very positive.”
Your creativity is the only limit when it comes to using these albums. Perhaps you want to collect photos from your store’s grand opening, hold a photo (or video) contest, or collect images of your products being used in the real world. Just tell your fans to share to Twitter, Instagram, or Photobucket using your hashtag. Once they do, the images are stored in an album where you can organize them however you’d like before sharing them with your fans.
As to how brands are using Photobucket Hashtags already, Paula Abdul used the #PaulaInOz hashtag to create an album of her recent Australia trip, which she shared as a Photobucket story. More recently, WorldNow has partnered with Photobucket to create social news aggregation using the custom hashtag feature. If you’re a brand interested in starting your own social campaign with Photobucket, anyone can create an account — though right now the beta version of hashtag features are only available for Plus users (though that will change when the beta ends).
However, if you’re looking to do business on Photobucket, you should reach out to the company by email at email@example.com.
What’s Next for Photobucket Hashtags?
Right now, hashtags on Photobucket come with some limitations: for the beta period, only Plus users have access to the feature and each Photobucket user can only claim a single hashtag. But there’s a lot of room to grow. “We are watching closely at how our users are taking advantage of the feature and we’re listening to their feedback,” says Canale.
After the beta phase, Photobucket intends to release the feature for all users as well as potentially adding the ability to claim multiple hashtags. If you just can’t wait, touch base with Photobucket directly to see what the brand can do for you.