Flickr Expands Facebook Sharing Capabilities, Settles Into Photo Syndication

Flickr has revamped its social media sharing features, increase the prominence of share buttons and allowing more content types to be distributed. The changes come as a sign that Flickr has accepted its role as the number two photo site behind Facebook, and is ready to focus on helping users syndicate their photos to other destinations.

Once the world’s largest photo sharing site, Flickr was usurped by Facebook and its viral friend tagging. The site became more of a tool for professional and semi-professional photographers since it allowed high resolution uploads, but Facebook added its own high-res option in September 2010.

In January 2011, Flickr’s parent site Yahoo! began allowing new users to register and login using their Facebook credentials, and Flickr soon followed suit. While certainly a useful option, it was also signal that Yahoo and Flickr had conceded to Facebook and needed to re-concentrate on their strengths.

The enhanced Facebook sharing options point to photo syndication as that strength. Facebook doesn’t offer any syndication options but some of its users operate blogs and other social media presences that users want their photos on too. Flickr can serve this syndication need, letting users upload and distribute rather than trying to be a photo-viewing destination.

The tiny gray “Share” button in the top corner of photo pages have been replaced by a much larger, more colorful sharing panel that displays the Facebook icon. With one click, users can launch the Facebook share composer and publish to the news feeds of friends.

The social media sharing panel, which also supports email, Twitter, and Tumblr, now also appears on photostreams, sets and groups, making it easy to share a collection of photos. Users who aren’t signed in can now access the sharing panel, and private photos are allowed to be shared.

With improving sharing, Flickr may actually be able to draw new signups from Facebook, who can easily join thanks to it accepting OpenID. Similar to MySpace before it, Flickr has moved to differentiate itself from Facebook rather than compete directly. While not the most glamorous strategy, it is one that will keep Flickr relevant into the future.