Social Software Works For Organizations Too

Ignore the politics for a moment. MoveOn‘s CTO, Patrick Michael Kane, remarked that the organization’s membership to Flickr, the photo sharing site, has paid off: “Flickr has got to be the best $24.95 we’ve ever spent.”


Micah Sifry explains in a story at AlterNet that MoveOn had been soliciting photos of events from members for some time, but their ability to move those photos through the process and make them available to the public was limited. The irony, for an organization built on grass roots participation, is that they couldn’t deal with the photos people were submitting from events and actions. So they started looking at Flickr, which now hosts over 80 million photos.

The group started using the service in April 2005, and now hosts almost 9000 photos at Flickr. MoveOn allows members to submit photos via email, then then uses a review application based on the Flickr API that allows other members to vote for photos to be posted on the public site. Those reviewers can also push some photos to the top of the pile by tagging them “great”.

As it turns out, tags (folksonomies) are among the most valuable features for MoveOn. Kane explains: “one of our campaigners wanted a slideshow of photos from a recent action and was able to put it together himself, just by selecting the tags he was interested in and using the Flickr slideshow app.”

Again, ignore the politics. Look at this carefully and tell me if there’s any better application to meet their needs. Now tell me how social software can better meet your organizations needs.

Need help? Here’s Sifry’s conclusion:

The larger lesson for other organizations is this: As social networking sites like Flickr, (also just bought by Yahoo!), and MySpace attract millions of users, it may make sense to go where the people already are and start playing with the same tools, not only because those tools may offer all kinds of benefits to the organization, but also to see what unexpected benefits may engage people. What MoveOn is doing with Flickr is just a beginning.