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Brandon Bohling

Is it best to leverage social networks

For years I have been developing my own web sites and hosting my own content (text, photos, and videos). I guess I took this approach mainly so I would have full control over everything…us developers can be a little power hungry at times. Sometimes I have different sites (URLs) with specific content for each and sometimes I cram everything together, but before I go into any further details, let’s look at some of the purposes of my site(s).

Types of content I post to the world:

  • Semi-pro photos (a gallery), that I share and potentially sell
  • Daily photos of our son, Bryce
  • A blog that covers my interests: photography, food/wine/espresso (sustenance), and technology
  • Videos of Bryce and my other interests (eventually some training on those interests)

Our current site is back to cramming everything together (read: How We Got Here for more background) though I have not yet really posted any semi-pro photos, nor have I done a whole lot with videos yet. Someday I will take the time to port over the years with of content that I have posted previously. The one topic (and the point of this post) I have not yet reconciled is where to host the content, specifically photos. Due to the size of videos I am convinced that hosting them on a social network site like YouTube or Vimeo is best…and for me that means Vimeo due to its superior quality (I can post HD videos). In addition, blog content makes sense to keep within your blog software (Blogger, WordPress, etc.) or Content Management System (CMS), again I am using ExpressionEngine for this site. However, those pesky little photos are another story. Currently I am hosting all of our photos within my own site (ExpressionEngine), again mainly for full control. However, the idea of embedding them in my site from a social network like Flickr does intrigue me a great deal. I hope this post will generate some online discussion with folks like Ken who has tried both ways. Let’s take at my initial attempt at some pros and cons. Hopefully this list will grow as some discussions occur.

Pros of Leveraging a Social Network site (like Flickr):

  • Photos will get more exposure (though Ken states otherwise in his post, Migrating off Flickr (partially))
  • Add metadata to photos only once in software (I use Aperture, but many similar products available)
  • Ability to reuse same photos (and metadata) for multiple sites
  • Allow people (in my case family and friends) to order prints themselves instead of printing myself and then sending to people
  • Provides an additional backup if the multiple backups that I have at home get destroyed

Cons of Leveraging a Social Network site (like Flickr):

  • No control over photo sizes (I would have to slightly change the design of this site to allow for larger photos)
  • Seems like photos on social network sites are more likely to be used without permission. I do not have scientific proof of this, but I read about more instances of photos being “stolen” from Flickr than personal web sites.
  • When viewers want to see a larger version they are taken away from my own site
  • Viewers may choose to track my social network presence rather than my web site which sort of defeats the purpose of having a site in the first place.

OK, I admit this is just a conversation starter. I really want to put more time and thought into this, but between getting my new espresso gear today, work, and dealing with a sick little boy this is all I have time for at the moment. Please leave your thoughts and/or provide me links to your blog posts on this topic. I’d love to start a virtual conversation (among various blogs) about this topic.